Kalinga War - One of the largest and bloodiest battles in Indian history


Kalinga (the ancient name of Odisha) an independent feudal kingdom located on the east coast, in the present-day state of Odisha and north of Andhra Pradesh . In 262 BCE, the Kalinga war was fought during the Mauryan's invasion between the emperor Ashok and the state of Kalinga. It included one of the largest and bloodiest battles in Indian history. This is the only major war Ashoka fought after his accession to the throne of Kalinga. Kalinga was under the rule of the Nanda Empire until the empire's fall in 321 BCE. Chandragupta Maurya, the grandfather Ashoka had previously attempted to conquer Kalinga, but had been repulsed. Ashoka set himself to the task of conquering the newly independent empire as soon as he felt he was securely established on the throne.

According to his own rock edicts of Ashoka, The war was completed in the eighth year of Ashoka's reign, probably in 262 BCE. In the bank of river Daya, the supposed battlefield of Kalinga from atop Dhauli hills near Bhubaneswar. No war in the history of India as important either for its intensity or for its results as the Kalinga war of Ashoka. No wars in the annals of the human history has changed the heart of the victor from one of wanton cruelty to that of an exemplary piety as this one. The bloodshed of this war is said to have prompted Ashoka to adopt Buddhism. Ashoka had seen the bloodshed and felt that he was the cause of the destruction. The whole area of Kalinga was plundered and destroyed. Some of Ashoka's later edicts state that about 100,000 people died on the Kalinga side and an almost equal number of Ashoka's army, though legends among the Odia people, descendants of Kalinga's natives, claim that these figures were highly exaggerated by Ashoka. As per the legends, Kalinga armies caused twice the amount of destruction they suffered. Thousands of men and women were deported.

Ashoka's response to the Kalinga War is recorded in the Edicts of Ashoka. The Kalinga War prompted Ashoka, already a non-engaged Buddhist, to devote the rest of his life to non-violence and to victory through dharma. Following the conquest of Kalinga, Ashoka ended the military expansion of the empire and began an era of more than 40 years of relative peace, harmony, and prosperity.

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