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Ajatasatru - Ajatasattu

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Ajatasatru; Ajatasattu


See also: Bimbisara; Jivaka; Longer Amitabha Sutra; Meditation Sutra.

w “A king of Magadha in Shakyamuni’s day. While still a prince, he became friendly with Devadatta, who incited him to have his father Bimbisara killed and become king in his stead. He made Magadha into the most powerful kingdom in India.

Later he converted to Buddhism and supported the First Buddhist Council for the compilation of Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings.

According to the Nirvana Sutra, since King Bimbisara had no heir by his wife Vaidehi, he consulted a diviner, who said that there was a hermit presently living in the mountains who, after he died, would be reborn as Bimbisara’s son.

Bimbisara was so impatient for the birth of an heir that he had the hermit killed. Shortly after, Vaidehi conceived, but the diviner foretold that the child would become the king’s enemy.’

In fear of this child, the king dropped him from atop a tower [but the child survived the fall]… It is said that as a young man Ajatasatru was persuaded to rebel against his father by Devadatta, who told him the story of his birth.” Sokk: 7-8


Ajatasattu’s name means ‘enemy before birth,’ which according to the legend, derives from his mother’s wish to drink blood from the knee of her husband [when she was pregnant with him].

This was interpreted by the astrologers to mean that her child would kill his father.

Ajatasattu is described as an ambitious prince who wanted to become ruler of the kingdom as quickly as possible and could not wait for the death of his father.

Together with Devadatta, he contrived a double conspiracy: since Devadatta was eager to take over the leadership of the Buddhist order, he was to murder the Buddha, and Ajatasattu was to kill his own father.

The plot was discovered. Bimbisara pardoned his son and ceded him the throne.

Ajatasattu, nevertheless, did not feel secure with his father still alive and had him incarcerated and starved together with his wife, Queen Vaidehi.” Sham: 3


“After Bimbisara’s death, Ajatasatru came to regret his conduct deeply. Tormented by guilt over the death of his father, he broke out in virulent sores during the second month of his fiftieth year, and it was predicted that he would die in the third month.

At the advice of his physician and minister Jivaka, he sought out Shakyamuni Buddha who taught him the doctrines of the Nirvana Sutra, enabling him to eradicate his evil karma and prolong his life.”


Note: The story of Ajatasatru has been immortalized in the prologue of the Meditation Sutra, one of the three core texts of the Pure Land school.