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Amrapali: A Journey from Courtesan to Monk

48 pages28 minutes


Amrapali is a renowned woman of in Indian history who lived around 2500 years ago in Vaishali, a small town in modern Bihar state of India. Vaishali was the capital of the then state (or Mahajanapad) of Vajji Republic, the first known republic in the world. Amrapali was just 11 years old when she was declared the most beautiful girl in Vaishali. The recognition came with a price, King Manudev, one of the kings of Vaishali, murdered her childhood lover on the days of their marriage. Many other kings and noble men also wanted to ‘own’ Amrapali and thus declared war among themselves. To overcome the situation and keep unity of Vaishali, the royal court declared Amrapali as Nagarvadhu (Bride of Vaishali), a term used for courtesan.
Amrapali was famous not just within Vaishali but also outside the Vajji Republic for her beauty and charm. Various kings and other noble men wanted to be with her. Many used to attend the royal court of Vaishali to get a glimpse of the divine beauty who used to perform dance in the court. Though unwillingly she became a courtesan, Amrapali had a high stature in the society. It was all fine until she met a greedy king.
Ajatshatru, the king of neighboring state of Magadha, had had many failed attempts of conquering Vaishali until he met Amrapali. How would Amrapali have known that the soldier, with who she shared the love and affection, was in fact the biggest enemy of Vaishali! The king would later user her against her own motherland and bring the world’s first republic to an end.
This is the story of not just a person or a specific situation, it is the story of making of Bihar as we know it today. The book attempts to uncover the geopolitical issues of sixth century BCE that did not spare even the enlightened Buddha.

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