Ajātasattu was the son of Bimbisāra, king of Māgadha, and therefore half brother of Abhayarājakumāra.
Ajatashatru, also known as Kunika, was the son of Bimbisara. The ancient inscription in the Government Museum, Mathura refers to him as vaidehi putra Ajatashatru Kunika «Ajatashatru Kunika, the son of Vaidehi». The story of Ajatashatru is found in the Tripiṭaka of Buddhism and in the Jain Agamas.
The story of the birth of Ajatashatru is more or less similar in both traditions. During her pregnancy, Queen Chelna had a strong desire to eat fried meat from her husband’s heart and drink liquor. Meanwhile, the highly intelligent Prince Abhayakumara, son of King Bimbisara and Queen Nanda, fried a wild fruit that resembled a heart and gave it to the queen. The queen ate it and later was ashamed of having such a demonic desire and feared that the boy would grow up and be fatal to the family, so after a few months of birth the child, the queen expelled him from the palace.
When the child was lying near the garbage dump, a rooster bit his little finger. King Bimbisara, on learning that the child had been expelled, ran out, picked up the child and put his bleeding index finger in his mouth, sucked it until it stopped bleeding and continued it for days until it was cured.Kunika «Pain in the finger».
He murdered his father to win the throne, and conspired with Devadatta to kill the Buddha, but then he became. He had a Udāyibhadda son. DN.i.50
Devadatta was looking for ways and means to get revenge on Buddha, and seeing in the prince a very desirable weapon, he exerted all his strength to win it by his side. Ajātasattu was very impressed by the powers of Iddhi of Devadatta and became his faithful follower. He built a monastery for him in Gayāsīsay and waited for him morning and evening bringing him food, sometimes as many as five hundred wagons in five hundred pots. SN.ii.242.
Devadatta urged him to seize the throne, killing his father if necessary. When Bimbisara learned of the prince’s intentions, he abdicated the throne. But Devadatta was not satisfied until Bimbisāra, who was one of the Buddha’s main followers, was killed. Ajātasattu, therefore, in the words of Devadatta put Bimbisara behind the bars.
There are different versions in the Buddhist texts about the death of King Bimbisara.
In one version, Ajātasattu did not allow anyone except Kosala Devi to meet Bimbisara in the smoked cell. Ajātasattu wanted to starve him, as Devadatta had said «the father can not be killed by a weapon». So Kosala Devi used to take small packets of food to the cell, being trapped by the guards, she began to carry food hidden behind her hair, being trapped again, she began to slip into the food hiding her in her golden shoes again trapped, she He covered 4 layers of honey on his body that was licked by the king. When she was caught once again, Ajātasattu forbade Kosala Devi to meet the king. When Ajātasattu saw that the king was not yet dying, he ordered a barber to pierce his legs with a knife, then he poured salt, hot oil and fire made of khaira wood. When this was done, the king died.
In an alternative version, Ajātasattu imprisoned King Bimbisara and tried to starve him to death.Kosala Devi brought food to King Bimbisara, but he was discovered and stopped visiting him again.Bimbisara weakened, but consoled himself by looking at the mountain where the Buddha and his disciples resided. Then Ajātasattu requested that the windows of his cell be covered so that King Bimbisara could not see the mountain. One day, the Buddha visited the city and Bimbisara could see him and his disciples through the holes in his door. Because Bimbisara saw the Buddha and his disciples, he obtained consolation and continued to live. After knowing this, Ajātasattu ordered Bimbisara’s feet to flay. After this, King Bimbisara could not move, and then he lay down weaker and weaker.
Then, one day, King Ajātasattu was having dinner with his mother, Kosala Devi. He had a son, who was playing with a puppy. Ajātasattu asked: ‘Where are you now?’ The prince replied: ‘I’m playing with the puppy’. King Ajātasattu asked the prince to eat together. The prince arrived, but he did not want to eat. King Ajātasattu asked: ‘Why do not you want to eat?’ The prince said: ‘If you let me eat my puppy, I’ll eat’. King Ajātasattu said: ‘As you wish’. Then the prince took his food and also brought the food for the puppy.
King Ajātasattu told his mother: ‘I did something difficult. Why do I say that? I am a king, and because I love my son, I ate together with dogs. « The mother said: ‘This is not difficult at all. Why do I say that? There are people who eat dog meat, so what’s so strange about feeding dogs? Do you know that your father did difficult things? Ajātasattu asked: ‘What difficult things?’ The mother said: ‘When you were young, your finger was hurt. You could not sleep at night because of the pain. Your father held you in his lap and sucked your finger. Your father had a soft body, so you could sleep well. Due to the warmth of his mouth, the pus of your wound exploded. Your father thought that if he spit pus, it would increase your pain, so he swallowed the pus. Your father did such difficult things for you. Please release it.
Ajātasattu fell silent after hearing this. Kosala Devi thought he had agreed to release his father, so the palace made this news known. Everywhere in the city, people heard that Bimbisara was going to be released, so everyone was happy and went to jail saying: «Bimbisara is going to be freed!».Bimbisara heard this and thought to himself: «My son is bad and he has no compassion for me». I do not know what else he will do to hurt me. After this thought, he committed suicide in front of his bed.
Ajātasattu helped Devadatta in several of the latter’s attempts to kill the Buddha.
Later he was filled with remorse for these past misdeeds while confessing himself; DN.i.85 but evidently, out of shame, he refrained from visiting the Buddha until he was convinced by the persuasions of his physician Jīvaka Komārabhacca. And when in the end he went to the Buddha, he did it with great fear and trembling; he was so nervous that he imagined the conspirators in the silence that surrounded the Buddha where he lived in the monastery, in the Mango grove of Jīvaka in Rājagaha. DN.i.49-50
It was on the occasion of this visit that the Sāmaññaphala Sutta was preached. The king admits that he had attended several teachers before, but had not been able to find satisfaction in his teachings.It is noteworthy that the Buddha cordially greets the king upon his arrival and mentions nothing of the king’s impiety. On the other hand, when Ajātasattu expresses his repentance at the end of the discourse, the Buddha accepts his confession and leaves it almost lightly. But after the king was gone, Buddha tells the monks that the king’s misdeeds had caused his downfall both in this world and in the next, because if he had not been guilty of them, the Eye of Truth would have been open for him on the occasion. of this sermon. DN.i.85-8 6
The income of a Kāsī village had been given to him by his father, Mahākosala, as part of his dowry, but after the murder of Bimbisāra, Pasenadi refused to continue. Then Ajātasattu declared war on his uncle. Before this, the uncle and the nephew seem to have been on very friendly terms. Once Ajātasattu sent to Pasenadi a wonderful piece of foreign cloth, sixteen cubits long and eight wide, mounted on a pole to serve as a canopy. This Pasenadi gave to Ānanda. MN.ii.116
At first he was victorious in three battles, but, later, he was defeated by Pasenadi, who followed the military advice of an old monk, Elder Dhanuggahatissa; Ajātasattu was taken captive with his army.By committing himself not to resort to violence again, he was released, and to seal the friendship, Pasenadi gave his daughter Vajirā as his wife, and the income of the disputed village was given as bath money. SN.i.82-85
Later, when through the treachery of Pasenadi’s minister, Dīgha Kārāyana, his son Viḍūḍabha usurped the throne, Pasenadi, finding himself abandoned, went to Rājagaha to seek the help of Ajātasattu, but on the way he died and Ajātasattu buried him.
There was a diamond mine near a village on the Ganges River. There was an agreement between Ajatashatru and the Lichhavis / Vajjans that they would have an equal share of the diamonds. Due to the pure lethargy, Ajātasattu could not pick up his own part, and the Lichhavis took away all of the diamonds. This happened many times, and finally Ajātasattu became upset and thought: «It is almost impossible to fight against the entire confederation of Vaishali. I must uproot these powerful Vajjans and exterminate them. «
About a year before the Buddha’s death, Ajātasattu sent his chief minister and confidant, the Brahmin Vassakāra, to the Buddha to tell him of his desire to wage war on the Vajjans and discover what prediction the Buddha would make regarding his chances of victory. The Buddha informed the Brahmin that the Vajjans practiced the seven conditions of well-being that they had learned from him, and that, therefore, they were invincible. DN.ii.72 f. The Saṃyutta Nikāya mentions that Buddha said that the time would come when the Vajjian would abandon their strenuous lifestyle and that then the possibility of Ajātasattu would come. SN.ii.268.
Therefore, with the help of his Prime Minister Vassakara, Ajātasattu succeeded in dividing the Vajjans and also broke the chaityas within him. Ajātasattu used a straw-covered cart with oscillating mace and blades on both sides and attacked the city and conquered it.
After conquering Vaishali Kasi and Kosala (Kaushala) Ajātasattu they conquered 36 republican states that surround their kingdom and firmly established the predominance of Magadha. Ajātasattu was a monarch of a great kingdom, covering almost all modern India of Bihar, Chandigarh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, a quarter of northern Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh Point, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
Ajātasattu, with the help of his two ministers Sunidha and Vassakāra, built a fort near the banks of the Ganges River to strengthen the defense of Magadha and called it Pātali Grama (village). Later it became a city, which soon became popular as Pataliputra, now known as Patna, the capital of Bihar.
According to Mahāparinibbāna Sutta, when Pataliputra was erected, by chance, the Buddha came and praised the city of Pataliputra, and pointed out three things that could prove fatal to the city: fire, water and discord among the people.
Rumors are mentioned that King Candappajjota made preparations for a war in Ajātasattu to avenge the death of his friend Bimbisāra, but the actual fighting is not mentioned. MN.iii.7
Ajātasattu had Mahavira in the highest esteem. The same text also states that Ajātasattu had an officer to inform him of Mahavira’s daily routine. It was paid generously. The officer had a vast network and support field personnel through which he gathered all the information about Mahavira and informed the king. The Uvavai Sutta has a detailed and enlightening discussion on the arrival of Mahavira in the city of Champa, the honor shown to him by Ajātasattu, the sermon given by Mahavira in the Ardhamagadhi language, etc.
If the Sutta Samaññaphala and the Sutta Uvavai are placed side by side, then the Uvavai Sutta will appear to be deeper in depth and penetration. The only line in the Sutta de Samaññaphala that would support Ajātasattu becoming a Buddhist is: «From this day, Bhagavān please accept me as your follower, I seek your protection with folded hands. «
In contrast, the Uvavai has a more detailed account: The official in charge of Mahavira’s routine, Ajātasattu comes down from the throne expressing his feelings and obedience with the pronunciation of the word Namothhanam, his encounter with Mahavira and his final words, «What To say of the outstanding, no other Sramana or Brahmana could have given such a brilliant exposition of the Dhamma as you have done? «
In addition, Ajātasattu was present at the first council under the guidance of Sudharma Swami, Mahavira’s spiritual successor.
The claim that he was a Jain seems to be well founded. While Ajātasattu met Buddha only once, he had several meetings with Mahavira. Buddha spent only 5 monsoon camps in Rajgriha and none in Champa, the capital of Ajātasattu, while Mahavira spent 14 monsoon camps in Rajgriha and 3 in Champa.
While Mahavira and the Buddha were alive, Ajātasattu was a follower of Mahavira. Other evidence suggests that he could not have been a Buddhist, viz., His intimacy with Devadatta, who happened to be the Buddha’s enemy.
For the victory against the Vajjans, Ajātasattu sent his minister Vassakara to the Buddha. This was a conspiracy to know the secrets of the Vajjans from the mouth of the Buddha. If he was going to be a true follower of the Buddha, how could he use a trick like that with him?
Thomas William Rhys Davids, a pāli and Buddhist scholar, wrote: «There is not a single proof». in the Tripitaka declaring that Ajātasattu once became a follower of the Buddha. As far as I could understand, after meeting the Buddha once, he never saw the Buddha or any other monk of the Buddhist order, nor did he discuss religion with any of them; and he did not make any financial donation to the Buddhist order in the time of the Buddha’s life.
In addition, it is well known that he sent a request to share the bones and ashes of the Buddha; but his justification for this request was that «I am a Kshatriya and so was the Buddha» and then erected an altar over the bones.
Immediately after the death of the Buddha, the First Buddhist Council sponsored by Ajātasattu was convened, for which he erected a huge conference room near the entrance to the Saptparni cave, where the teachings were compiled, three months after the Parinibbāna of the Buddha.
But as far as the religion that Ajatasattu followed is concerned, it has to be Jainist by all evidence.Ajatasattu was a devout follower of the Jain religion as preached by Mahavira.
Ajatasattu was brutally murdered by his own son, Udayabhadra, who coveted his kingdom.Ajatasattu was reborn in hell called Lohakumbhiya.
Ajātasattu was the son of Bimbisāra, king of Māgadha, and therefore half brother of Abhayarājakumāra.