Ashoka Indian Ruler


One of the greatest rulers of India's history is Ashoka (Asoka). Ruling
for thirty-eight years (274 B.C.-232 B.C.), he was generally mentioned
in his inscriptions as Devanampiya Piyadasi ("Beloved of the gods"). As
the third emperor of the Mauryan dynasty, he was born in the year 304
B.C. His greatest achievements were spreading Buddhism throughout his
empire and beyond. He set up an ideal government for his people and
conquered many lands, expanding his kingdom. The knowledge of Ashoka's
early reign is limited because little information was found. His edicts
and inscriptions allowed us to understand his reign and empire, and
have an insight into the events that took place during this remarkable
period of history. Eight years after he took his throne, Ashoka's
powerful armies attacked and conquered Kalinga (present day Orissa).
Although he had conquered many other places, this violent war was the
last war he ever fought and a turning point of his career. He was
disgusted by the extreme deaths of numerous civilians, especially the
Brahmans. All these misfortunes brought Ashoka to turn into a religious
ruler compared to a military ruler. As he turned to Buddhism, he
emphasized dharma (law of piety) and ahimsa (nonviolence). He realized
he could not spread Buddhism all by himself and therefore appointed
officers to help promote the teachings. These officers were called
Dhamma Mahamattas or "Officers of Righteousness"" They were in charge
of providing welfare and happiness among the servants and masters.
Preventing wrongful doings and ensuring special consideration was also
their duty. Emphasizing his role as king, he paid close attention to
welfare, the building of roads and rest houses, planting medicinal
trees, and setting up healing centers. In order to pursue ahimsa,
Ashoka gave up his favorite hobby of hunting and forbade the killing of
animals, spreading vegetarianism throughout India. Furthermore, his
soldiers were taught the golden rule- to behave to others the way you
want them to behave to you, which is the basic law of life. In the
nineteenth century, a large number of edicts written in Brahmi script
carved on rocks and stone pillars were discovered in India, proving the
existence of Ashoka. These edicts, found scattered in more than 30
places throughout India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan, are mainly
concerned with moral principles Ashoka recommended, his conversion to
Buddhism, his personality and his success as a king. The Minor Edicts
is a summary of Ashoka's instruction of dharma, which talks about the
purity of thoughts, kindness, thruthfulness, reverence, and other good
morals of life. The Fourteen Rock Edicts were the major edicts, and
issued the principles of the government. Some of these edicts tell of
animal sacrifices, the principles of dharma, the Kalinga War, and
religious toleration. There is also record of Ashoka's famous statement
of "All men are my children". The Seven Pillar Edicts deals with some
achievements of Samudragupta. Ashoka died in the thirty-eighth year of
his reign, 232 B.C. The Buddhist ideas no longer inspire the government
and at the same time, his descendents quarrel over the successions. In
addition, the army, having become less warlike, was no longer able to
defend the empire from invasion. In less than fifty years after his
death, the Maurya Empire collapsed and fell into pieces.


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