Tag Archives: ajatashatru

INTERESTING FACTS: THE BRIEF STORY OF MAGADH KING AJATASHATRU

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    (Ajatashatru means a person without enemies)

    Ajatashatru reigned during 492 to 460 BCE as a king of the Haryanka dynasty of Magadha in East India. He was the son of King Bimbisara and was a contemporary of both Mahavira and Gautama Buddha. He forcefully took over the kingdom of Magadha from his father, imprisoned him and finally murdered him. He fought a war against Vajji, ruled by the Lichchhavis, and conquered the republic of Vaishali.

    Ajatashatru followed policies of conquest and expansion just like present day China. He defeated his neighbours including the king of Kosala. When his brothers, were at odds with him and went to Kashi, which had been given to king Bimbisara as dowry, it led to a war between Magadha and Kosala. Ajatashatru occupied Kashi and captured the smaller kingdoms. Magadha under Ajatashatru became the most powerful kingdom in North India.

    Ajatashatru is the inventor of two weapons used in war, called Rathamusala (a scythe chariot) and a Mahashilakantaka (a weapon for hurling big stones on the enemy).

    Based on the correlation of dates in the ‘Mahavamsa,’ an epic poem, written in Pali language concludes that Buddha died in 483 BC. Basis that, Arthur Llewellyn Basham, a noted historian, Indologist from London and an author of a number of books, dated the accession of Ajatashatru to 491 BC. He estimates the first campaign of Ajatashatru to have taken place in 485 BC, and his second campaign against Vajjis in between 481–480 BC. The Samannaphala Sutta, a discourse that tells the story of King Ajatashatru, states that Ajatashatru visited in all, six teachers to hear their doctrines and at last visited Buddha, an event Basham estimated to have taken place in 491 BC.

    Ajatashatru, was also known as Kunika. The ancient inscription in Government Museum Mathura, refers to him as ‘Vaidehi putra Ajatashatru Kunika.” The story of Ajatashatru is also found in the Tripitaka—Buddhist scriptures, and Jain Agamas—the Jain texts. The account of Ajatashatru’s birth is more or less similar in both the traditions. According to Jainism, Ajatashatru was born to King Bimbisara and Queen Chelna. Buddhist tradition records Ajatashatru being born to Bimbisara and Kosala Devi. It is worthwhile to note that both the queens were called “Vaidehi” in both the traditions.

    According to the Jain Nirayavalika Sutra, during her pregnancy Queen Chelna had a strong desire to eat the fried flesh of her husband’s heart and along with it drink liquor. To deflect the issue the intelligent prince Abhayakumara, son of king Bimbisara and Queen Nanda, fried a wild fruit that resembled the shape of a heart and gave it to the queen. The queen ate it and later felt ashamed of herself for having such a demonic desire, as she feared that the child might grow up and prove fatal for the family. Thus, after a few months of the child being born, the queen had him, thrown out of the palace. When the child was lying near the garbage dump, a cock, bit his little finger. King Bimbisara, upon learning that the child had been thrown out, ran outside and picked up the child. He then put the child’s bleeding little finger in his mouth and sucked it until it stopped bleeding and continued this for days till it was healed. As the little finger of the child was sore, he was nicknamed Kunika “Sore Finger”. Later he was named Asokacanda.

    In the Buddhist Atthakatha, the above story is almost the same, except that Kosaladevi desired to drink blood from Bimbisara’s arm and the king obliged her. Later, when the child was thrown near the garbage dump, due to an infection he got a boil on his little finger and the king sucked it, and once while sucking it the boil burst inside the king’s mouth, but due to affection for his child he did not spit out the pus, rather swallowed it.

    Once Queen Padmavati, wife of Ajatashatru, was sitting in her balcony in the evening. She saw Halla and Vihalla, kumaras, with their wives sitting on Sechanaka elephant, where one of the wives was wearing the 18 fold divine necklace. Just then she heard one of the maidservants speaking from the garden below, ‘the necklace belongs to Halla and Vihalla kumaras and not the king who enjoys the real pleasures of the kingdom.” Queen Padmavati got upset at this. She thought, ‘what’s the use of the kingdom if I do not have both the jewels in my possession?’

    She shared her unease with Ajatashatru the same night and became excessively insistent in her demand of getting the necklace. Ajatashatru, at last, agreed and sent a request to both his brothers to give the elephant and the necklace to him, which both his brothers denied saying that these were gifts given by their dear father so why should they part with them? Ajatashatru sent the request thrice but got the same reply all three times. This greatly annoyed him, so he sent his men to arrest them. Meanwhile, Halla and the Vihalla kumaras, escaped to their maternal grandfather Chetaka who was the king of the great kingdom of Vaishali having both Vajjis and Lichchavis. Ajatashatru to arrest them sent three notices to Chetaka but he denied their release.

    This was enough for Ajatashatru. He called his half-brothers, Kalakumaras (10 kalakumaras, those born to King Bimbisara and 10 Kali Queens, Kali, Sukali, Mahakali, etc.) to merge their army with his, since it was well known to Ajatashatru that Vaishali had always been invincible in the past and he alone would not be able to defeat it. Each Kalakumara brought 3000 horses, 3000 elephants, 3000 chariots and 30000 infantrymen each. On the other hand, Chetaka invited his own allies 9 Mallas, 9 Lichhvis and 18 kings of Kasi-Kosala to fight his grandson Ajatashatru. All these kings came with 3000 horses, 3000 elephants, 3000 chariots and 30000 infantrymen each. Thus all together there were 57000 elephants, 57000 chariots, 57000 horses, and 570,000 infantrymen.

    The war began. King Chetaka was a devout follower of Lord Mahavira and had a vow, to not shoot, more than one arrow per day in a war. And, it was known to all, that Chetaka’s aim was perfect and his arrows were infallible. His first arrow killed one Kalakumara, commander of Ajatashatru. On the consecutive nine days the rest of the nine Kalakumaras were killed by Chetaka.

    As Ajatashatru was moving towards defeat he practised penance for three days and offered prayers to Sakrendra and Charmendra (Indra of different heavens) who then helped him in the war. They protected him from the infallible arrow of Chetaka. The war became very severe and by the divine influence of the Indras even the pebbles, straws, leaves hurled by Ajatashatru’s men were said to have fallen like rocks on the army of Chetaka. This weapon was thus named “Mahasilakantaka”, i.e. the weapon through which more than a lakh (1,00,000) people died. Next, the Indras granted a huge, automatically moving chariot with swinging spiked maces on each side, and said to have been driven by Charmendra himself, to Ajatashatru. The chariot moved about in the battlefield crushing lakhs of soldiers. This war-chariot was named Ratha-Musala.

    In this battle, Chetaka was finally defeated. But, Chetaka and others immediately took shelter inside the city walls of Vaishali and closed the main gate. The walls around Vaishali were so strong that Ajatashatru was unable to break through them. Many days passed, Ajatashatru became furious and again prayed to Indra, but this time Indra refused to help him. But Ajatashatru was informed by an oracle of a demi-goddess that “Vaishali can only be conquered if Sramana (monk)Kulvalaka gets married to a courtesan.”

    Ajatashatru inquired about the monk Kulvalaka and sent for the prostitute Magadhika disguised as a devout follower. The fallen women attracted the monk towards herself and finally, the monk gave up his monkhood and married her. Later Magadhika on Ajatashatru’s orders brainwashed Kulvalaka to enter Vaishali disguised as an astrologer. With great difficulty, he did enter Vaishali and learned that the city was saved by a Chaitya (shrine) dedicated to Muni-Suvrata. Kulvalaka then started telling people that this shrine is the reason why the city is going through a bad period. The people uprooted the shrine from its very foundation. Kulvalaka then gave a signal to Ajatashatru, and he proceeded as per their prior arrangement. This was the last attack. Vaishali was conquered by Ajatashatru.

    Sechanaka the elephant died after it fell in a pit with iron rods and fire made by Ajatashatru’s soldiers. Later Halla and Vihalla kumaras got initiated as monks in the holy order of Lord Mahavira. Chetaka committed Sallekahna (fast unto death). Ajatashatru not only conquered Vaishali but also Kasi-Kosala.

   Ajatashatru was born to King Bimbisara and queen Chellana, who was the daughter of Chetaka the king of Vaishali, and who was the brother of Queen Triśalá, mother of Mahavira. Ajatashatru had 500 wives but the principal consort was princess Vajira. The City of Kashi was given to Bimbisara as dowry by Maha-Kosala. After the murder of Bimbisara, Prasenajit took the city back. This resulted in a war between Ajatashatru and Prasenajit, in which Prasenajit was first defeated but he succeeded later. As Ajatashatru happened to be his nephew his life was spared. In a peace treaty, Prasenajit married his daughter Vajira to him. Ajatashatru later had a son named Udayabhadda.

    It is estimated the Ajatashatru died around 460 BCE. Ajatashatru too like his father was brutally murdered by his own son, Udayabhadra, who too was greedy of his father’s kingdom. As you sow, sow you reap.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be the undying characteristics of Lucknow. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014. It is included for reading in Askews and Holts Library Services, Lancashire, U.K.)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

MIRAGE

(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories. It is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)

Short stories published in Bhavan’s Journal: Reality and Perception 15.10.19; Sending the Wrong Message 31.5.20; Eagle versus Scholars June 15 & 20 2020.

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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BOOK CORNER:GODS AND ROBOTS: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology … by Adrienne Mayor

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Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines and Ancient Dreams of Technology’

Adriyana Mayor in 2018.

Published by Princeton University Press, New Jersey

    Albert Einstein had once said. “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” So, let ‘imagination’ be the tagline of this write-up. As books are indeed an exercise of the author’s imagination. For who could first imagine the concepts of robots, automation, human enhancements, and Artificial Intelligence? Historians tend to trace the idea of automation back to the medieval craftsmen who developed self- moving machines.

    Let me now take you to a research scholar at Stanford University. Her name is Adrienne Mayor. She is a historian of ancient science and warfare, and a classical forklorist who investigates natural knowledge contained in pre-scientific myths and oral traditions. She has recently come out with a book titled, ‘Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines and Ancient Dreams of Technology.’ It’s a long title.

    Adrienne feels Hindu epics are full of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and robots, and legend has it, that they guarded Buddha’s relics.

    In this book the lady author explores how ancient culture imagined futuristic technologies and left behind those imaginations in epics and scriptures. She tells how Ashoka battled robots, and other tech tales from the past.    Faith can move mountains. There is a belief in India among the Hindus that ancient Indians had invented everything from spacecraft to missiles to the internet. Lady author tries to link this theory with her research work. She feels her research got her into the first inklings of the scientific impulse and that took her into the world of mythology, where ancient people first envisioned making artificial life, automation (or robots), self-moving devices, and other marvelous things long before the present day technology made them possible. She states these stories about robots and other machines in ancient oral traditions were first written down during the time of Homer, about some 2,700 years ago. But the Greeks were not the only people to imagine automation and machines in antiquity. Similar stories exist in the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and other epics. In Hindu myths, automations are made by the engineer God Vishwakarma and the sorceress or more appropriately the mystique of Maya. In Greek myths they are made by the God of technology. His name is Hephaestus—the Greek God of fire and metal working and the brilliant artisan Daedalus, a craftsman and artist again from Greek mythology. I consider such myths to be the world’s first science fiction stories. No single civilisation had a monopoly on such ancient dreams of advanced technology. Whether one looks at Greek, Egyptian, Hindu, Islamic, Chinese, Etruscan—the modern name given to the powerful and wealthy civilization of ancient Italy or any other ancient cultural myths about artificial life. They all contemplate what wonders might have been achieved if only one could possess the divine creativity and abilities of the Gods. But it’s not possible to draw a direct line of development from mythology over the millennia to the modern scientific knowledge.

    Further the lady author goes on to say that the Indian and Hellenistic cultures borrowed and influenced each other, beginning in about the fifth century BC, The syncretism only intensified, after Alexander of Macedon and King Porus began relations in the fourth century BC. Jain texts mention that the engineers of Ajatasatru, the  king of Haryanka dynasty of Magadha, invented armoured war chariots with spinning blades, which may have inspired later the Persian scythed chariots. Ajatasatru had powerful machines to hurl massive boulders,  even before Philip—II of Macedon obtained torsion catapults—those huge launchers. India was known for perpetually burning oil lamps, suggesting knowledge of naphtha, that was unknown to the Greeks and the Romans until much later. The travelling Greek sage Apollodorus of Tyana observed automated servants and self-propelled carts in the court of a ruler of India, and India was centuries ahead of Europe in the technologies of distillation and hydraulics. There was probably more give and take than we know about.

    Myths featuring flying chariots and synthetic swans, animated servants, giant robots, machines, and the like appear in the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Kathasaritasagara, Harivamsa, and other works. Self-navigating ships appear in Egyptian texts and Homer’s odyssey; android and animal automations are described in Homer’s Iliad and in Chinese chronicles. And further examples are myriad.

    The book goes on to share the story of android warriors guarding Buddha’s relics. The most detailed account is in the Lokapanatti, a complicated compilation of tales from Burma. After Buddha’s death, the story recounts that King Ajatasatru preserved his bodily remains in a hidden chamber under a stupa. The precious relics were guarded by ‘bhuta vahana yantra’ (spirit transporting machine). These were robotic warriors with whirling swords—reminiscent of the king’s novel war machines with spinning blades. Greek myths tell of automation guardians in human and animal form defending palaces and treasures, but the historical and technological details of this legend make it unique. The story says the robots were constructed from plans and were secretly transported to Patliputra from Romavisaya, the Greek-influenced west, by a yantrakara, that is a robot maker who was originally from Patliputra. The automation soldiers guarded Buddha’s relics until the great Indian emperor Ashoka heard about the secret chamber. Ashoka battled the robots and after he defeated them he learned how to control them. They obeyed him. Historically, we know that Ashoka did unearth and distribute long hidden relics of Buddha across the land.

    By third century BC, craftspeople and engineers in the Greek world, Alexandria, Arabia, India and China began making self-moving devices, flying bird models, animated machines, and automations like those described in myths. Some were miniature and some monumental, some had simple mechanisms but some were quite complex. These inventions were powered by springs, levers, pulleys, water, air, heat, and so on.

    Overall it’s an extremely interesting book of around three hundred pages. The book really impacts you and leaves you enlightened. Where, you might just be inclined to even change your mindset. But yes don’t rush through the book as it is a little complex in terms of old historical words and even geographies and names. You might even have to refer the glossary or even the dictionary a little too often. I would give the book eight out of ten.

Synopsis by Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****