Samprati was the second king to ascend the throne in the Mauryan Empire after Asoka (268 – 232 BCE). He succeeded the throne from Dashratha Maurya (232 – 224 BCE). Both Dashratha and Samprati were grandsons of Asoka. Samprati’s father, Kunala (263 BCE) was the one who should have succeeded Asoka, but he was blinded at a young age due to a conspiracy to deny him kingship. This forced Asoka to hand over the authority to Dasharatha, Samprati’s cousin.
Samprati was said to be have been a skilled warrior and administrator and Asoka was fascinated by his skill, and as a result, assured Kunala that Samprati would ascend the throne after Dashratha. It is believed that the decline of the Mauryan Empire started around the time when Dashratha was the king. Dashratha was too young to take the responsibility of an empire which was splitting and declining.
Samprati Maurya – Religion – From Buddhism to Jainism
Samprati is regarded as the ‘Jain Ashoka’ for his patronage and effort in spreading Jainism in east India. While he was attending a religious ceremony, a Jain monk, Suhastin visited him. Samprati is said to have lost consciousness when he first saw Suhastin. Upon revival, he had said that he remembered Suhastin from a previous life where he himself was a homeless, starving beggar and Suhastin had initiated him to become a Jain monk. He believed that the karmic consequence of his previous life was the reason he was king now. This incident caused him to convert to Jainism and he was credited with actively spreading Jainism. He had built and renovated thousands of Jain temples. Adhering to Jain beliefs, he did not have any children.
Samprati is believed to have sent Jain scholars all over the world to spread Jain teachings, but research has not found any substantial evidence to support this claim.
Samprati Maurya – Rule and Empire – Unification of the Empire
Samprati had ascended the throne at a time when the Empire was divided into two halves and had two capitals, Ujjain and Pataliputra.
There are references in the ancient texts of Pariśiṣṭaparvan that say that Samprati unified these two separate kingdoms and ruled the Empire from both the capitals alike. After being converted to Jainism, it is said that Samprati built thousands temples, of which many are still in use. The Jain temples at Viramgam and Palitana in Gujarat, and Agar Malwa in Ujjain are examples of some temples which are in use today. He founded the Jain monasteries in non-Aryan regions as well. Most of the Jain temples that exist today, which are of unknown origin, are attributed to Samprati.
Samprati Maurya – Accomplished Peace in Nine Years of Rule
Samprati ruled till 215 BC and was succeeded by Shalishuka Maurya (215 – 202 BCE). Samprati is famous as a king who had ruled over the entire present day Indian subcontinent. The deterioration caused by Dashratha was slightly rectified by Samprati but the succeeding king Shalishuka Maurya could not continue what Samprati had accomplished.