(Last Updated on : 17/04/2012)
The Kalinga War is among the most famous war fought between the Mauryan Emperor the Great Ashoka and the state of Kalinga. Kalinga was a feudal republic state located on the now Orissa of India. This Kalinga battle was first and last battle ever fought by Ashoka and changed the course of his life totally that turned him from 'Chadashok' to 'Dharmashok'. It was during the Kalinga war, Ashoka earned his name Ashoka the Great.
Kalinga was a prosperous kingdom located between the Godavari and Mahanadi river, close to Bay of Bengal. Itcorresponds to the area of modern northern Andhra Pradesh, most of Orissa and a portion of Madhya Pradesh. The infantry of Kalinga consisted about sixty thousand men, ten thousand horsemen and six hundred elephants. Ashoka wanted to win over this fertile land and so he surrounded it. The brave and loyal people of Kalinga did not want to loose their motherland and so they took ammunitions to protect their motherland. A fierce battle started between the Mauryans and the people of Kalinga.
Ashoka's father Bindusara had previously attempted to win over Kalinga but his effort was all in vain. The Kalinga war began at the eleventh year of Ashoka's reign, probably in either 265 or 264 BC. Ashoka was able to conquer the throne through a bloody battle with his brothers and relatives after the death of his father Bindusara. He was successful to include Kalinga in his sovereignty after a savage war. But the bloody scenes of war and its consequences changed Ashoka's view on war and he avowed not to take part in any war again. It was said that after the Battle of Kalinga, the Daya River running next to the battle field turned red from the blood of the slain as thousands and thousands of Kalinga civilians and ten thousand of Ashoka's own army died in the battle. The war took place underneath the Dhauli Hills, situated in the banks of Daya River, now 8km south of Bhubaneswar in Orissa. Dhauli hills have the edicts of Ashoka on a mass of rock, by the side of the road leading to the summit of the hill.
After seeing the bloodshed in his own eyes Ashoka could realize that he was responsible for this massacre and pathos of people. His response to the Kalinga War is recorded in the 'Edicts of Ashoka'. Some of these rock edicts, e.g. the Rock Edict XIII and Minor Rock Edict I states that the Kalinga War prompted Ashoka to take Buddhist religion and to adopt the path of 'Dhamma Vijaya' (win through religion) and 'Ahimsa'(non-violence). After conquring Kalinga, Ashoka stopped the expansion of his empire and concentrate on spreading the Buddhist religion. He send his brother Mahendra and daughter Sanjukta to Simhal to propagate Buddhist religion.Ashoka reigned for more than forty years more and brought prosperity and harmony to his sovereignty.