Ajatashatru (Ajatasattu) ruled Magadha from 491 BC to 461 BC. He was the son of Bimbisara the founder of Magadha Empire. It is said that he killed his father Ajatashatru and took over the thrown. He is mostly known for fighting against Vajjis which was among the earliest democracy of the world and was called the Vaishali Republic. He also established the largest and most prosperous city of Ancient India Pataliputra.
Early Life and Struggle to Gain Crown
Ajatashatru was not the only son of Bimbisara so he had to fight with many of his step brother to gain the crown. After killing many of his brother and his father he expressed his remorse in front of Buddha who advised him not do more sins. It was Devadatta who influenced Ajatashatru to do all these crimes. Devadatta was cousin of Buddha. Later, Ajatashatru distanced himself from Devadatta.
Battle between Kashi and Magadha
Ajatashatru was challenged by Kashi’s ruler Pasendi. Pasendi was uncle of Ajatashatru and brother of Ajastshatru’s mother Kosala Devi. After the killing of Bimbisara, his wife went in a shocked state. To take revenge for his sister Pasendi declared war against his nephew Ajatashatru and Magadha.
The war was won by Ajatashatru. Ajatashatru spared life of Pasendi as he was his nephew. Pasendi in return married his daughter Vajira to Ajatashatru.
Battle between Magadha and Lichchhavis / Vajjis / Vaishali
Ajatashatru declared war against Vaishali for several reason:
- To acquire trade over river Ganga
- To conquer gem-mines in the Vaishali Republic
- To capture his step brother who was sheltered by the Vaishali government
- To stop the increasing power of Vaishali
The war extended for 16 years and Ajatashatru finally won the battle against Vaishali.
Orgainising First Buddhist Council
Ajatashatru was highly influenced by Buddhism. After death of Buddha he orgainsed first Buddhist council. It was organized near Sattapani caves in Rajgir it was headed by Mahakassapa.
According to Jain tradition Ajatashatru was killed by Dev, who, through his extraordinary power, burnt him. Buddhist text mention Udaybhadra, son of Ajatashatru as the prime culprit for the murder of Ajatashatru.