Kalinga War a Change of Heart
During Ashoka's grandfather's time
the Kalinga army had only 60,000 infantry, 1,000 cavalry and 700 elephants.
During Bindusara's reign and at the beginning of Ashoka's reign Kalinga
must have improved its armed forces considerably.
The mighty Magadha army marched towards
Kalinga. Ashoka himself went at the head of his vast army.
The Kalinga army resisted the Magadha
army and fought bravely. They were not afraid even of death. But their
valor and sacrifices were in vain. Every thinner and finally it accepted
Ashoka won a glorious victory.
'What Have I done!
True, Ashoka was victorious and Kalinga
What was the price of this victory?
One of Ashoka's own inscriptions describes
One and a half people were taken prisoners.
A lake was killed during the battle. Many more died as a result of the
Ashoka who led the army saw the battlefield
with his own eyes.
As far as his eye could see he saw
only the corpses of elephants and horses, and the limbs of soldiers killed
in the battle. There were streams of blood. Soldiers were rolling on the
ground in unbearable pain. There were orphaned children. And eagles flew
about to feast on the dead bodies.
Not one or two but hundreds of terrible
sights greeted Ashoka's eyes. His heart was broken with grief and shame.
He felt unhappy over the victory, which
he had won at the cost of so much suffering. 'What a dreadful deed have
I done! I was the head of a vast empire, but I longed to subjugate a small
kingdom and caused the death of thousands of soldiers; I widowed thousands
of women and orphaned thousands of children. With these oppressive thoughts
in his minds he could not stay there any longer. He led his army back towards
Pataliputra with a heavy heart.