/mah hen drah"/, n.
(Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Deva) 1920-72, king of Nepal 1955-72.

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▪ Buddhist missionary
Pāli  Mahinda  
born c. 270 BC, , Pāṭaliputra, India
died c. 204 BC, , Anurādhapura, Ceylon [now Sri Lanka]

      propagator of Buddhism in Ceylon. Generally believed to be the son of the Indian emperor Aśoka (Ashoka), he is honoured in Sri Lanka as a founding missionary of that country's majority religion.

      When Aśoka, a convert to Buddhism from Hinduism, sent Mahendra and Princess Saṅghamitthā as missionaries to Ceylon about 251 BC, they converted King Tissa and the royal family, who helped them in the conversion of many of the common people. In the tradition of Aśoka, Mahendra did not propagate Buddhism by force but by works of practical piety and benevolence. Mahendra's name has not been found in any of the inscriptions of Aśoka, but his existence and works seem substantiated by the Ceylonese chronicles Dīpavaṃsa and Mahāvaṃsa. Other evidence consists of the monuments that the Sinhalese raised in his honour at the Buddhist holy city and ancient Ceylonese capital, Anurādhapura.

▪ king of Nepal
in full  Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah Deva  
born June 11, 1920, Kathmandu, Nepal
died Jan. 31, 1972, Bharatpur

      king of Nepal from 1955 to 1972.

      Mahendra ascended the throne in 1955 upon the death of his father, King Tribhuvan. The new king came into conflict with his Cabinet, which was dominated by a coalition of the Nepali Congress Party and the Ranas (a line of hereditary prime ministers). In order to assert his control, Mahendra staged a coup in 1960, dissolving the National Assembly, abrogating the constitution, and imprisoning political leaders. He had a new constitution promulgated in 1962 that in effect instituted direct rule by the Nepalese monarchy. Mahendra died in 1972 and was succeeded by his son Birendra.

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Universalium. 2010.

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