Everything about Vitashoka – The Brother of Samrat Ashoka!

Not much is known about the brothers of Samrat Ashoka except of course Rajkumar Sushim, the elder one who was entitled to the Mauryan throne. However, things changed and Ashoka killed all his brothers except Vitashoka.

Here we share facts and details about Vitashoka:


Image Source: @kajolsrivastav1 via Twitter

The Biological Mother of Vitashoka was same as that of Ashoka

According to the documents available, Vitashoka’s mother was Subhadrangi also known as Dharma in popular culture. So, while, Sushim and others were step brothers to Ashoka, Vitashoka was his real brother. He is younger to Ashoka though it is not known whether h was youngest of all the brothers.

Ashoka Killed All His Brothers except Vit

Though in the war of succession, Ashoka did not spare any of his brothers, he left Vit unharmed. The reason why he left Vit alive is not known but we assume since Vit was his own brother, he would have no intention to kill him.

Vit Ashoka Is Also Known as Tissa

In Sri Lankan chronicles, Vit Ashoka is also known as Tisya (Tissa). However, Theragatha (a collection of Buddhist poems) considers Tissa and Vit as two different individuals. Various other historical sources address him as Vigatashoka, Sugatra and/or Sudatta. The Mahavamsa calls Vit as Ekaviharika.

He was a follower of Tirthikas (Those Who Didn’t Follow Buddhism) 

According to Divyadana (Sanskrit compilation of Buddhist narratives) texts, Vit Ashoka was a Tirthika and this is the reason why he criticized the Buddhist monks. The Tirthikas didn’t approve of Buddhism at all and even feared that Ashoka would concert everybody into Buddhism.

Ashoka Persuaded Vitashoka to Become a Buddhist Monk

According to Ashokavadana, Vit was the first person to convert into Buddhism when Ashoka started working on the expansion of Buddhism. Next, he persuaded his ministers to respect the Buddhist monks. As a Buddhist monk, he practiced austerity very seriously.

The Death of Vitashoka : This is How Vit died

According to Divyavadana, the death of Vit Ashoka was an accident. The story goes that someone in Pundravardhana (place in North Bengal now in Bangladesh) drew a picture of Gautam Buddha bowing before Nirgrantha Nataputta (monk following Jainism). The picture spread in Patalputra too.  The news was heard by Ashoka.

Next, he decided to punish all the Nirgantha by rewarding people to kill them. Unfortunately, someone killed Vitashoka assuming him to be a Nirgrantha. The head was taken to Samrat Ashoka. When the Chakravartin identified the head of his brother, the remorseful brother ended the custom of giving orders for execution.

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