Life of Bimbisara
Bimbisara’s life is described in Buddhist sacred books. "Pabbaja Sutta" states that Bimbisara first saw ascetic Buddha before his enlightenment through the palace window. Bimbisara followed Gautama and invited him to visit his court. But Gautama turned down his invitation. Bimbisara then wished him luck for his enlightenment and asked him to visit Rajgir after he achieved enlightenment. Gautama promised and visited Rajgir after the enlightenment to fulfill his promise.
Buddha and his followers were the royal guests of Bimbisara. After they finished their meals Bimbisara poured water from a Golden jar in Buddha's hands to express his gratitude. Bimbisara donated Veluvana Park to Buddha. After that Bimbisara was converted to Buddhist religion and patronize the growth of Buddhism for the rest 37 years of his reign. He attained ‘Sotapannahood’, a degree of enlightenment in Buddhist teachings.
Matrimonial Alliances of Bimbisara
Bimbisara was an able ruler and established his empire firmly through matrimonial alliances. He made marriage alliances with many kings of India. He married ‘Kosala Devi’, the daughter of the king of Kosala. This bride brought him the village of Kashi as dowry. The marriage ended the hostility between Kosala and Magadha. Ajatshatru was Kosala Devi’s son. Besides this marriage, he made a second marriage with ‘Chelanna’ the daughter of Licchavi King Chetak and his third wife was the daughter of the chief of Madra clan in Punjab. Bimbisara had also other wives namely Khema, Silava and Jayasena. The beautiful and famous courtesan Ambapali had a son with Bimbisara who was given the name Vimala Kondanna. Thus through these matrimonial alliances he established friendly relations with powerful neighbourly states and pursued an imperialistic policy. According to "Mahavagga" he had 500 queens.
Expansion of the Empire of Bimbisara
His first campaign was against Anga. He defeated and killed king Brahamadatta and incorporated Anga into Magadha. According to "Mahavagga" there were 80, 0009 villages in his kingdom. According to "Buddhacharya" his empire was 300 Yojna vast. Kushagrapjur was the capital of Magadha. It was also called ‘Girivraja’. Due to the danger of Vijjis, Bimbisara made Rajgriha. This place was situated at north of Kushagrapura and was the capital of it.
Conspiracy to Kill Bimbisara
Bimbisara’s end was extremely tragic. The forecasters told him that Ajatshatru’s birth was inauspicious for him, yet he brought him up with great care and affection. When Ajatsatru was grown up he plotted to kill his father. Buddha’s cousin Devadatta inspired Ajatsatru as he abhorred king’s patronage to Gautama Buddha. Bimbisara came to know about Ajatshatru’s plot and could understand his son’s solemn urge to become a monarch. He abdicated the throne for his son but Ajatsatru imprisoned his father Bimbisara by the advice of Devadatta.
Bimbisara was kept in a very heated prison house and was compelled to starve till death. Except Queen Khema, no visitor was allowed to enter in the prison. First she carried food in a ‘Golden Bowl’ concealed in her dress. When her plan was revealed, she carried food in her footgear. When that was disclosed too she carried food concealed in her headdress. After that all means of carrying food was seized. After that the queen decided to take bath in scented water and smeared her body with honey so that the old king could lick it and survived. This was finally detected and the entry of the queen was banned.
Bimbisara survived by meditating during walking. Ajatsatru also came to know about this and understood that his father was not going to die easily. He sent some barbers inside the prison. Bimbisara thought that Ajatsatru had realized his fault and had sent barbers to shave him so that he could lead a life of a monk. But the brutal barbers cut his feet and filled the wounds with salt and burned them with coal so that the old king could walk no more. Thus Bimbisara met his tragic end of life.