However, Bimbisara was imprisoned by his ambitious son
Kunika Ajatasatru and is said to have committed suicide by taking poison.
Ajatasatru ascended to the throne of Magadha and expanded his territory by
conquests. He was a very staunch follower of Mahavira though even
Buddhists claim his devotion to Buddha. Ajatasatru schemed a plan to break
the unity and strength of Vajjis and became successful after the long
efforts of sixteen years. Ajatasatru waged war with King Prasenajit of
Kosala but was defeated. He quarreled with the strong confederacy of
Vajjis led by Cetaka for reasons which are differently given by Buddhists
and Jainas. However it was not easy to break the solidarity of the
Licchavis and other members of confederacy. Ajatasatru, therefore resorted
to dubious method of first sowing the seeds of discord among different
classes of the confederacy through one of his ministers who settled
amongst the Vajjis and became successful in destroying the social unity of
the people. In this connection, the Buddhist scripture
Mahaparinibbana-sutta records a very interesting dialogue between Lord
Buddha and his principal pupil Ananda - a dialogue which is very
instructive and relevant to the present conditions of our country. It is
said that Ajatasatru wanted to know the opinion of Lord Buddha through his
pupil Ananda as to the advisability of invading the Vajjis. The Master is
said to have replied that it was not possible to vanquish the Vajjis so
long as they stuck of the following seven principles viz. :
(1) They continued to hold public assemblies
(2) They continued to discuss their affairs freely and
tried to arrive at unanimity in their resolutions and execution of their
(3) They continue to act in accordance with their
time-tested ancient institutions and enact nothing which is not yet
(4) They continue to honour the advice of their elders.
(5) They honor their womanhood.
(6) They continue the traditional worship of their
(7) They protect and defend the respectful persons who
came to reside with them.
Obviously, this was the prescription for unity because
unity of a nation is its strength. Ajatashatru seems to have taken a clue
from this and prepared for a preliminary grounding by a carefully planned
espionage, which sowed seeds of disunity amongst the Vajjis, who were
finally defeated and destroyed by Magadha. Lord Mahavira never approved of
this aggressive attitude of Ajatasatru and remonstrated him by telling him
that he earned his place in Hell by invading the Vajjis.