Bimbisara: The Warrior King of Magadha who Became a Buddhist Convert

Who was Bimbisara?

Bimbisara was a legendary king of Magadha, an ancient Indian kingdom. Bimbisara ruled Magadha during the 5th century BCE and was known for his skills as a warrior and administrator.

Bimbisara was the son of Bhattiya, who was a nobleman of the Haryanka dynasty that ruled over Magadha. He was married to Kosaladevi, the daughter of King Mahavijita of Kosala. Together they had a son named Ajatashatru, who would go on to become a powerful ruler in his own right.

Bimbisara is known for the expansion of the Magadha kingdom. He was a skilled warrior. He was also a wise ruler and is credited with introducing several administrative and economic reforms.


Quick Facts

  • Full Name: Bimbisara
  • Born: c.543 BCE
  • Died: 491 BCE
  • Religion: Hindu
  • Dynasty: Mauryan
  • Famous as: King of Magadha Empire

Spiritual interest

Bimbisara was also known for his interest in spiritual matters. He was a patron of the Jain and Ajivika sects, but later in life, he became a Buddhist convert. It is said that he was introduced to Buddhism by the famous Buddhist monk, Gautama Buddha. Bimbisara was so impressed by Buddhism that he became a disciple of the Buddha and even offered him a portion of his kingdom to establish a monastery. Bimbisara had a great impact on the history and culture of ancient India.

The rise of Bimbisara to the throne of Magadha

When his father passed away, Bimbisara was just 15 years old. Despite his young age, he immediately took control of the kingdom and became the king of Magadha.
One of his first acts as king was to form an alliance with the neighboring kingdom of Kosala. This alliance allowed him to expand his kingdom and establish Magadha as a powerful and influential state in the region.
Over time, Bimbisara continued to expand his kingdom by conquering neighboring territories.

Bimbisara and his family life

Bimbisara had two known wives named Kosala Devi and Vaidehi Devi. Bimbisara had five known children, three sons named Ajatshatru, Udayabhadra, and Jeevak, and two daughters named Rhodhavali and Vajiraa. Bimbisara had a close relationship with his first-born son Ajatshatru, who later became his successor, but their relationship took a turn for the worse when Ajatshatru overthrew him and imprisoned him until his death.

The conversion of Bimbisara to Buddhism

The conversion of Bimbisara to Buddhism is a significant event in the history of Magadha. It is said that Bimbisara had heard the teachings of the Buddha and was deeply impressed by them. He started to visit the Buddha regularly and began to practice meditation and other Buddhist teachings. This led to his eventual conversion to Buddhism.

Read also: The second Mughal Emperor Humayun

The impact of Bimbisara on Buddhism in India

  • Bimbisara supported the ideas and philosophies of Buddha and provided the necessary resources to propagate his teachings.
  • Under his patronage, many Buddhist monasteries were built, and Buddhist monks were given protection and support.
  • As an impact, many common people followed the footsteps of Bimbisara and became followers of Buddha. This led to a significant increase in the number of Buddhists in the region, and the religion gained a firm foothold in India.