Causes and Effect of Kalinga War on Ashoka

Causes and Effect of Kalinga War on Ashoka

Ashoka Priyadarsi ascended the Magadhan throne as the new Maurya ruler in 273 B.C.  Ashoka was anxious to distinguish himself as a conqueror. Ashoka was ascended to the throne in 273 B.C.. But he was coronated four years later and in the 9th year of his reign after coronation, he invaded Kalinga and conquered it.

Causes of Kalinga War

The Modern day Orissa and Ganjam was the Ancient Kalinga. The exact reason of invading Kalinga is not known. It is known that Kalinga was a part of Magadhan Empire during the time of the Nandas. Then what led Ashoka to re-conquer it.

Historians have divergent views while answering this question ‘What prompted Ashoka to invade Kalinga’.

  1. According to Dr. H. C. Raychowdhury, Asoka attacked Kalinga because Kalinga had asserted its independence taking the opportunity of general revolt during the time of Bindusara’s rule.
  2. According to some historians, Kalinga had increased its military power from the time of Chandragupta to that of Asoka and Asoka could not ignore the complexity of the situation. Kalinga had a vast army and could be detrimental for the security of the Maurya Empire. It was also true that due to her commercial relation with Malay, Java and Ceylon Kalinga had enormous material prosperity. Possibly this had also provoked Asoka to invade Kalinga.
  3. According to  Dr. R.S.Tripathy during that period of confusion that followed the overthrow of the Nandas, Kalinga declared independence. Chandragupta had no time to reconquer it and Bindusara had no intension for this. Moreover since its independence Kalinga became an arch enemy of Magadha and allied itself with Chola and Pandya countries of South against Magadha. Thus, Ashoka invaded Kalinga.

Severe Losses during Kalinga War

Ashoka invaded Kalinga and after a fierce battle Kalinga was conquered. Kalinga suffered with horrifying loss. Asoka himself had described the horrifying story of killing, death and deportation of the Kalingan people.  Thousands had died, about 100,000 men were slain and 1, 50,000 people deported. Countless people suffered as a result of the brutality, severance and other eventualities of war.  There were Blood and tears everywhere and the magnificence of the world turned into the flaming pits of hell. Asoka himself witnessed the brutality of Kalinga war.

Effect of Kalinga War on Ashoka

The invasion of Kalinga was a big milestone in the history of Magadha, and of India. It had influential consequences. It had incredible influence on the personal life and policy of Asoka. The despair and casualty which he had inflicted upon the people of Kalinga filled his heart with deep sorrow and regret. The cry of the wives and women of the deads, the tears of the children, the terrifying sufferings of the dying men, all had changed his heart and mind. He found his consolation in Buddhism. He was repenting for his deeds. He embraced Buddhism and took the vow of inculcating ‘Dhamma’ to all men throughout his life. The King Asoka left behind the policy of Digevijaya and adopted the policy of Dhamma-vijaya.

There were significant changes in state policy. It ended the policy of Magadhan imperialism. Asoka ended the age old policy of aggression and conquest of the Magadhan Kings. A new policy of Peace and non-violence began to be adopted in the realm of inter-state relation.

The call of Dharma – where all are equal and where all feels for all began to flourish. The blood-thirsty tyrant became a lover of mankind who preached non-violence.