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Bindusāra

King of Magadha and father of Asoka. He was the son of Candagutta and reigned for twenty-eight years. He had one hundred sons — the eldest being Sumana — ninety-nine of whom were killed by Asoka (Mhv.v.18 f., 38 f; Dpv.v.101; vi.15; some accounts, e.g., MT.324, say he had one hundred and one sons). Bindusāra patronised the brahmins and provided constant meals for sixty thousand brahmins of various sects (Sp.i.44).

His mother was Candagutta’s maternal cousin and chief queen. One day, while Bindusāra was yet unborn, she was eating with Candagutta and he fed her with some food prepared for himself. The food contained poison, placed there by the orders of Candagutta’s minister, Cāṇakka, that the king might gradually be made immune from poison. Cāṇakka entered as she was about to swallow the food, and, anxious to save the unborn child, he cut off the queen’s head with a sword before the food could travel down into her stomach, opened her womb, removed the child, and placed it in the womb of a freshly slaughtered goat. For seven days the child lay in the womb of a goat, each day a fresh one, until, at the end of these seven days, the child was ready for birth. Because of this, Bindusāra’s body was spotted in various places from the blood of the goats, and from this he obtained his name (MT.187 f).

Bindusāra’s chief queen was Dhammā of the Moriya clan. She bore two sons, Asoka and Tissa (MT.189, 324). Bindusāra had to kill the yakkha Devagabbha (q.v.) before he could ascend the throne (MT.188).

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