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Emperor of the Magadha Empire
Bimbisara welcomes the Buddha
Reign 544–492 BCE
Successor Ajatashatru
Born 558 BCE
Died 491 BCE
Spouse Kosala Devi
Issue Ajatashatru, Abhay
House Haryanka dynasty
Religion Buddhism, Jainism

Bimbisara (558 BC –491 BC)[1][2] or Srenika[3][4] was a King of Magadha (r. 542 BC - 492 BC)[5] and belonged to the Haryanka dynasty.[6] His expansion of the kingdom, especially his annexation of the kingdom of Anga to the east, is considered to have laid the foundations for the later expansion of the Maurya Empire.[7]

He is also known for his cultural achievements and was a great friend and protector of the Buddha. Bimbisara built the city of Rajgir, famous in Buddhist writings. He was succeeded on the throne by his son Ajatashatru.[7]


  • Buddhism 1
  • Jainism 2
  • Marriage alliances 3
  • Annexation of Anga 4
  • Death 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8


King Bimbisara, depicted in Burmese art, offering his kingdom to the Buddha.

According to Buddhist scriptures, King Bimbisara met the Buddha for the first time prior to the Buddha's enlightenment, and later became an important disciple that featured prominently in certain Buddhist suttas. He is recorded to have attained sotapannahood, a degree of enlightenment in Buddhist teachings.


King Bimbisara is referred to as King Shrenika of Rajgir in Jain literature who became a devotee of Jainism impressed by the calmness of Yamadhar (a Jain Muni).[8] He frequently visited Samavasarana of Lord Mahavira seeking answers to his queries. He asked about the true version of Ramayana[9] and an illuminating sage (King Prasana).[10]

Bimbisara sent Jivaka to Ujjain for medical treatment of King Pradyota, the king of Avanti.

He was Baldev in a previous life. Per scriptures, this soul is to become the first tirthankara of the next cycle.[11]

Marriage alliances

Bimbisara used marriage alliances to strengthen his position.

His first wife was Kosala Devi, the daughter of Mahā Kosala the king of Kosala, and a sister of Prasenjit. His bride brought him Kashi, which was then a mere village, as dowry.[12] This marriage also ended the hostility between Magadha and Kosala and gave him a free hand in dealing with the other states. His second wife, Chellana, was a Lichchhavi princess from Vaishali and daughter of King Chetaka.[13] As per Indologist Hermann Jacobi, Vardhaman Mahavira's mother Trishala was sister of Chetaka. His third wife, Kshema, was a daughter of the chief of the Madra clan of Punjab.[14] These marriage alliances paved the way for the expansion of Magadha Empire both westward and northward.

Although Bimbisara let the women in his palace visit Buddha in his monastery in the evenings; the women wanted a hair and nail stupa they could use to venerate the Buddha any time. After Bimbisara spoke with Buddha who complied with their request.[15]

Annexation of Anga

Brahmadatta, king of Anga, is actually known to have defeated Bhattiya, king of Magadha and father of Bimbisara. Anga had, in this time, an ally in the king of Vatsas. Disarming the hostility of his northern and western neighbors by marriage alliances and shrewd policy, Bimbisara focused on Anga and annexed it by defeating Brahmadatta. He enacted Ajatashatru as his Viceroy at Champa, capital of Anga.

Anga is the only kingdom that Bimbisara annexed during his 52 years of reign.


Bimbisara's jail, where King Bimbisara was imprisoned, in Rajgir

According to the tradition, Bimbisara was imprisoned by his son Ajatashatru to ascend the throne of the kingdom of Magadha.[16] Ajatashatru later ordered his father's release after the birth of his first child, but by then it was too late and Bimbisara had already died. This was reported to have taken place around 491 BC.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Rawlinson, Hugh George. (1950) A Concise History of the Indian People, Oxford University Press. p. 46.
  2. ^ Muller, F. Max. (2001) The Dhammapada And Sutta-nipata, Routledge (UK). p. xlvii. ISBN 0-7007-1548-7.
  3. ^ von Glasenapp 1999, p. 40-41.
  4. ^ Jain & Upadhye 2000, p. 59.
  5. ^ Indian History -APC - APC Publishers, India
  6. ^ a b Stearns, Peter N. (2001) The Encyclopedia of World History, Houghton Mifflin. pp. 76-78. ISBN 0-395-65237-5.
  7. ^ a b "Bimbisara". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  8. ^ Queen Chelna and King Shrenik 
  9. ^ Dalal, Roshen (2010), Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide,  
  10. ^ Leshyas 
  11. ^ Choksi & Chhapia 2011.
  12. ^ Eck, Diana. (1998) Banaras, Columbia University Press. p. 45. ISBN 0-231-11447-8.
  13. ^ Luniya, Bhanwarlal Nathuram. (1967) Evolution of Indian Culture, Lakshmi Narain Agarwal. p. 114.
  14. ^ Krishna, Narendra. (1944) History of India, A. Mukherjee & bros. p. 90.
  15. ^ John S. Strong (2007). Relics of the Buddha. p. 72. 
  16. ^ Devadatta#Amit.C4.81yurdhy.C4.81na S.C5.ABtra


  • Choksi, Mansi; Chhapia, Hemali (10 February 2011), Now, meet Ravan the saint,  
  • Jain, Hiralal;  
  • von Glasenapp, Helmuth (1 January 1999), Jainism: An Indian Religion of Salvation,  
  • G. P. Singh, "Early Indian Historical Tradition and Archaeology"; page 164
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Emperor of Magadha
543–491 BCE
Succeeded by
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