The great Mauryan emperor Ashoka ascended the throne of Magadh in the year 273 B.C.He as the son of the Mauryan emperor Bindusara and the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya. Walking on the footsteps of his forefathers he set out to expand his empire.One such expedition of Ashoka was against the strong Kalinga kingdom situated on the Bay of Bengal.
Attack on Kalinga: In 261 B.C., the 12th year of emperor Asoka's reign, he sent a message to Kalinga King Kalingraj, asking him to submit Kalinga to the Mauryan empire.but the Kalinga king refused to submit his kingdom to the Mauryan empire. As a result, angry and furious Ashoka led a huge army against Kalinga.
The freedom-loving people of Kalinga offered a stiff resistance to the mighty Mauryan army and fought fearlessly. The entire kingdom of Kalinga was turned into a battlefield. The Kalinga King Kalingraj himself led and commanded his army in the battlefield. However the small and limited forces of Kalinga were no match in front of huge and overwhelming Mauryan army. But the people of Kalinga fought fearlessly to retain their kingdom and freedom. Contrary to Ashoka's expectations, the people of Kalinga fought with great valor that on number of occasions they came very close to victory.The soldiers of Kalinga perished in the battlefield fighting till their last breathe for their freedom.The victory ultimately rested with Ashoka.
The war took a tremendous toll of life and property.The 13th Rock Edict of Ashoka throws light on the Kalinga war.At least 100000 Kalingans were killed while another 150000 were taken as prisoners.An almost equal number of Magadh soldiers were also killed. It was the bloodiest war, Ashoka had ever fought. There was not a single man left in Kalinga to live a life of subjection under the Mauryans.
Outcome of the Kalinga war: It is the only instance in the history of wars which brought a complete transformation of a stone hearted ruler like Ashoka. The scene of war of complete devastation and bloodshed presented a horrible picture in the eyes of Ashoka. There were dead bodies of soldiers, wounded soldiers groaned in severe pain and agony, vultures hovered over the dead bodies, orphaned children mourning the loss of their nears and dears, widows looked endorsed in grief and despaired old men.
At this sight of extreme misery, the cruel hearted emperor Ashoka was overwhelmed with remorse. He realized that his victory at the cost of such a tremendous human suffering was worse than a defeat.He took a vow that henceforward he would not use arms for the expansion of his empire.In future his campaigns would not be for military conquests but for peace and spiritual conquests called as 'Dhamma Vijaya'.
He then embraced Buddhism and devoted himself to propagate Buddhism among the people.
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