Susima (also Sushima or Sushim; c. 304 – c. 270
BCE) was a prince of the
Maurya Empire and the eldest
son and heir-apparent of the second Mauryan emperor Bindusara. He was
next in line for his father's throne, but was assassinated by his
younger half-brother, Ashoka, who eventually succeeded
the third Mauryan emperor.
1 Birth and family
3 Civil war after Bindusara's death
4 Cultural depictions
Birth and family
Susima was the eldest and favourite son of the second Mauryan emperor
Bindusara. Not only was
Susima the crown prince, but his mother was
also a princess as opposed to Ashoka's mother, Subhadrangi, who was a
commoner. All these factors proved to be highly favourable for
Susima and thus, made him a strong contender for his father's throne.
In contrast, Ashoka's chances of succeeding
Bindusara were pretty
slim: his mother was a commoner and
Bindusara is said to have not been
too fond of his younger son.
Susima had several younger siblings, his
half-brothers from other wives of Bindusara.
He had been the viceroy/governor to Takshashila during the reign of
Bindusara as his younger brother
Ashoka was to Ujjain. The
Maurya Empire was divided into four provinces, which looked like giant
crescents with the imperial capital at Pataliputra. From Ashoka's
edicts, the names of the four provincial capitals are
Tosali (in the
east), Ujjain (in the west),
Suvarnagiri (in the south), and
Takshashila (in the north). The head of the provincial administration
was the royal prince, who governed the provinces as the emperor's
representative. The prince was assisted by Mahamatyas and Council of
Ministers. This organizational structure was reflected at the imperial
level with the Emperor and his Council of Ministers.
Divyavadana refers to
Ashoka putting down a conflict in Ujjain due to
activities of some wicked ministers. This may have been a suppression
of a revolt in Bindusara's time, but some historians consider this as
a part of Bindusara's conquest of the Deccan. Following this Ashoka
was stationed at Ujjain as governor.
It is said that a popular revolt occurred at Takshashila during
Susima's time as the Governor which has been blamed upon his
administration. However, this was quelled by Emperor Bindusara.
Another revolt at Takshashila (the reason for the second revolt is
Bindusara could not suppress it in his lifetime) is said
to have been crushed by
Ashoka after Bindusara's death.[citation
Civil war after Bindusara's death
Bindusara's death in 273 BCE led to a civil war over succession.
According to Divyavadana,
Susima to succeed him but
Ashoka was supported by his father's ministers. A minister named
Radhagupta seems to have played an important role in this succession.
One of the Ashokavandana states that
Ashoka managed to become the
Emperor by getting rid of the legitimate heir to the throne, by
tricking him into entering a pit filled with live coals.
Mahavamsa refer to
Ashoka killing 6 of his brothers,
sparing only one, his uterine
Vitashoka or Tissa. Although there is no
clear proof about this incident. The coronation of
happened in 269 BCE, four years after his succession to the
Ajith Kumar portrayed
Susima in the 2001
Bollywood film Aśoka.
Sumedh Mudgalkar portrayed the role of Sushima in the historical drama
^ CUP Archive (1955). Rapson, Edward James, ed. The Cambridge History
of India, Volume 1. p. 500.
^ Singh, Upinder (2009), A history of ancient and early medieval
India : from the Stone Age to the 12th century (3rd impr. ed.),
New Delhi: Pearson Longman, p. 331, ISBN 9788131716779
^ Gupta, Subhadra Sen (2009). "
Taxila and Ujjaini". Ashoka. Penguin
UK. ISBN 8184758073.
^ Strong, John S. (1989). The legend of King Aśoka : a study and
translation of the Aśokāvadāna (1. Indian ed.). Delhi: Motilal
Banarsidass. p. 210. ISBN 97881208