Friday, October 29, 2010

Early Life of Ashoka

We have to rely on the traditional accounts to know the early life of Ashoka, the greatest of the Indian kings. According to Buddhist accounts his mother was Janapada Kalyani or Subhadrangi. As a prince he served as a Viceroy of Ujjaini and Taxila. During his Viceroyalty he fell in love with the daughter of a merchant of Bidisha, referred to as Devi or Vedisa Mahadevi, whom he married.

Ashoka’s two other well-known queens were Karuvaki and Asandhimitra. The second queen, Karuvaki is mentioned in the Queen’s Edict inscribed on a pillar at Allahabad, in which her religious and charitable donations are referred to. She is described as the mother of Prince Tivara, the only son of Ashoka to be mentioned by name in edicts and inscriptions erected by the Great Mauryan Emperor throughout the kingdom.

According to the Sri Lankan Buddhist chronicle Mahavamsa, Ashoka usurped the throne by killing 99 of his brothers. Only the youngest brother named Tishya was spared.

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