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Invasion of the kingdom of Kāliṅga (Kāliṅgaraṭṭha) by King Aśoka and his consequent Dhamma policy is a recurrent theme in the Buddhist folk lore. In fact, the Kāliṅga event is often cited as an example in Buddhism of a cruel king becoming a righteous king by taking shelter in Buddhism. The long term consequences of the Kāliṅga War as well as the motive of Aśoka behind the war and its subsequent justificatory politics have been debated by historians. In this paper an attempt has been made to understand Aśoka’s reason for invading Kāliṅga as well as Kāliṅga’s importance in the spread of Buddhism in South East Asia and Sri Lanka. In the paper it has been shown that Aśoka had invaded Kāliṅga primarily because of its commercial importance. Its port of Kaliṅgapaṭnam carried on maritime trade with South East Asia and the Roman empire and Buddhist missionaries travelled from here to popularize Buddhism in South East Asia and Sri Lanka.Various inscriptions from Sālihuṇḍām Vihāra hint at its international profile.The left eye-tooth of the Buddha as well as a branch of the Bodhi Tree were taken to Sri Lanka via the Kāliṅgaraṭṭha. King Vijaya, the founder of Siṃhālā race was also connected to Kāliṅgaraṭṭha. In all likelihood, Sālihuṇḍām served the religious and spiritual needs of Kāliṅgaraṭṭha.



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