King Bimbisara’s connection with Gautam Buddha is well known in every available document that has a mention of Buddha, the great. Often, it is even said that without the royal patronage of Bimbisara, Buddhism would have not spread as widely as it could with it. Also, one cannot ignore his unconditional support to Buddha which shielded Buddha’s life at various episodes from several attacks, both from friends as well as foes.
Let Us Read More About Bimbisara in the Following Extract:
The Background of King Bimbisara
Bimbisara, the first King of the Haryanaka Dynasty ruled Magadha from 544 to 419 BCE. He became the King of Magadha when he was just 15 years old. His capital was Rajgriha, later Patliputra. Though he kept on expanding his kingdom, he had peaceful relations with most of the Kings during his times. One of them was King Suddodhana, the father of Gautam Buddha.
It was Bimbisara and not Chandra Gupta Maurya or Akbar who started the trend of Marital Alliances to expand their kingdom.His first wife was Kosala Devi, the daughter of King of Kosala and sister of Prasenjit. She not only brought Kashi, a small village back then as a dowry but also ended the hostility between Magadha and Kosala.
Bimbisara’s Connection with Mahavir Jain
King Bimbisara’s second wife Chellena was Lord Mahavir’s cousin sister. She was daughter of Chetaka, the Licchhavi king of Vaishali and maternal uncle of Mahavira. Chetaka’s sister Trishala was Mahavir’s mother. Both Bimbisara and Mahavira share cordial relation with each other. Because of this friendship between the brother-in-laws, people also sometimes wonder whether Bimbisara was a Jain follower or a follower of Buddha.
No wonder according to Jain tradition, it is said that Bimbisara’s son Ajatashatru was the son of Chellena. However, according to the Buddhist, Kosala Devi gave birth to Ajatashatru. Nonetheless, Ajatashatru had animosity with both Vaishali and Kosala.
The Bond Shared Between Bimbisara and Gautam Buddha
Bimbisara, the King of Magadha was 5 years younger to Siddhartha, the son of King Suddhodhana. According to Jataka tales, Bimbisara had met Siddharth when he was practicing ascetics in his capital. Bimbisara even offered half of his kingdom to Siddharth so that he could stop living life like an ascetic. However, Buddha declined the offer as he was keen to follow the path of enlightenment. To this, Bimbisara requested him to come first to his place once he attained what he was looking for.
Siddhartha, after becoming Buddha – The Enlightened One did come to Rajagriha with lot of disciples. No sooner than Buddha reached the city’s gateway, he was received by Bimbisara and his subjects. Here, half of his subjects were confused as to who is Buddha after seeing Venerable Kessapa and Gautam Buddha together as both of them were great religious teacher. However, the moment Kessapa touched the feet of Gautam Buddha by calling him the Exalted One, everybody knew who was the Buddha!
Bimbisara later also attained sainthood under the guidance of Buddha. Out of gratitude for all the spiritualism which was taught by Buddha to Bimbisara, he also gifted Buddha a park with Bamboo groves later known as The Bamboo Groove (Karana Venu Vana) so that Buddha and his disciples could stay there. Buddha stayed three consecutive rainy seasons there and three other rainy seasons in later stage.
The Tragic Death of Bimbisara
Bimbisara was a pious and strong ruler but had a wicked son who became the major cause of his father’s death. Yes, just like many of the monarchs, Bimbisara too became the victim of patricide whose son Ajatashatru was poisoned by Devadatta (Gautam Buddha’s cousin who tried to kill Buddha at several occasions) to kill his own father.
So, the moment Bimbisara made Ajatashatru the king of Magadha he imprisoned his own father in the darkest dungeon. He was neither given food nor was allowed to meet anybody other than his wife Kosala Devi. Whenever Kosala Devi tried taking food she was caught. Later, even she was not allowed to meet Bimbisara.
According to the Jain tradition it is said that Bimbisar did suicide by consuming the poison of his ring while, in the Buddhist tradition it is mentioned that Bimbisara was brutally killed by the royal barber on Ajatashatru’s instruction. However, in both the traditions it is mentioned that Ajatashatru later realized his mistake and repented the murder forever.
By: Deepti Verma
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