Why Did Ashoka Attack Kalinga?

By Aarna Tiwari|Updated : July 22nd, 2022

Ashoka Attacked Kalinga in order to expand the Mauryan Empire. Ashoka and his empire followed an expansionist policy and Kalinga had a sound geographical location with trade routes leading to Southeast Asia. Ashoka, thus conquered the empire of Kalinga to bring it under the Mauryan Empire in 262 BC.

Ashoka’s War with Kalinga

Kalinga was modern Odisha, and Ashoka attacked Kalinga due to its strategic location. It had many important ports, a strong navy, and a strategic geographical location with trade routes leading to Southeast Asia. Ashoka followed an expansionist policy, and at that time, Kalinga was the only independent kingdom that was not under the Mauryan Empire. So, Ashoka, under the guidance of his Guru, Chanakya, attacked the Kingdom of Kalinga, ruled by Raja Ananta Padmanabha.

The Battle of Kalinga was one of the bloodiest battles ever fought in the Indian subcontinent and had a profound effect on Ashoka. The Battle of Kalinga led Ashoka, a ‘would-be conqueror’ to give up his sword and follow the path of ahimsa (non-violence) and to dharma-Vijaya (victory through dharma).

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Why Did Ashoka Attack Kalinga FAQs

  • Ashoka Attacked Kalinga in order to expand the Mauryan Empire. Kalinga was an important kingdom as it controlled the important trade routes with Southeast Asia. Ashoka, under his expansionist policy, wanted to capture it and thus lead his huge army to Kalinga in 262 BC.

  • After Ashoka's successful conquest of Kalinga, he converted to Buddhism and was inspired by its doctrine of dharma. Thereafter, he ruled his empire through peace and tolerance and focused on public works and building up the empire rather than expanding it. 

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