The Kalinga war is one of the most important wars, which made it significant in Indian History and Ashoka the Great life. It happened in 262-261 BCE, between Maurya Empire Ashoka the great and Kalinga king Raja Ananta Padmanabha. Kalinga, the strongest kingdom, was a feudal republic in ancient India. After the accession of Ashoka as the king of the Mourya Kingdom, as usually concentrated on expanding the Maurya kingdom. He was successful in expanding the boundaries of the Maurya Empire. But the Kalinga kingdom was only left in the Eastern side of India. Therefore, he invaded Kalinga in full force and declared fierce war on the Kalinga rulers. Afterwards, the Kalinga war became one of the bloodiest battles in world history. Now Kalinga region is located between most parts of Odisha and some of Andhra Pradesh, India.
Causes of the Kalinga War :
According to a few historians, Kalinga itself declared an Independent country after the overthrown of Nandas by Chandra Gupta Maurya. After Chandra Gupta, Bimbisara did not intend to make more wars and concentrated on administration. Due to these situations, Kalinga King increased its military power and strengthened its economic levels by maintaining commercial relations with foreign countries like Malaya, Java, and Ceylon. Hence the kingdom had enormous material prosperity. These matters made Ashoka alert to take protective steps to strengthen the Maurya Empire’s security, determined to invade Kalinga.
Kalinga War Impact on Ashoka:
In 262 BCE, Ashoka started invading Kalinga with a vast army, horse force, and elephant force. After a fierce and courageous fight from both sides causes the cost of enormous bloodshed. Finally, Ashoka conquered; however, the brutal scenes of the war made Ashoka disheartened against the battles. In this battle, Kalinga suffered horrifying loss and the Maurya Kingdom. Nearly 1,00,000 men were slain, and 1,50,000 people were deported. Countless people suffered a lot.
The lamented situations in the war made Ashoka change his attitude towards imperialism. He saw the dead bodies without heads, decapitated soldiers, and disarmed innocent people. His soul was filled with despair about the loss of innocent people; his heart was rendered with deep sorrow and regret. The lamentation of the wives, women of the dead, the children’s tears, and the dying soldiers’ terrifying sufferings all changed his attitude.
This had an incredible influence on the personal life of Ashoka and also on the history of India. Kalinga’s war taught him many lessons; his soul searches to lead a peaceful life instead of a tyrant nature. Then he was influenced by the Dharmas preached by the monks who were following Buddhism. He found his consolation in Buddhism, intending to track Buddhism was only the way to thriving Peace worldwide. He embraced Buddhism and vowed to teach ‘Dharma’ to all men throughout his life.
After becoming a Buddhist, he brings significant changes in state policies. It ended the policy of Maghada Imperialism. Old policies revised. Conquest and aggression were replaced with a new policy of Peace and Non-Violence. Finally, the bloodthirsty tyrant Ashoka became a lover of humanity and preached Non-Violence all over the world.