Ashoka Biography Ancient Indian History

Ashoka Biography Ancient Indian History

Ashoka (273-232 B.C) Of Ancient Indian History

Ashoka Biography – Ancient Indian History

• Ashoka was the son of Bindusara who had served as governor of taxila and Ujjain previously. A Buddhist text ‘Dipavamsa’ says that he usurped the throne after killing his 99 brothers, except the youngest one.

• He fought the Kalinga war in 361 B.C. in the 9th year, of his reign, which proved to be a turning
point in his career and he became a Buddhist Ashoka and undertook Dharmayatras.

• He started his Dharmayatras from the 11th year of his reign by, visiting Bodhgaya.

• In the 14th year of his reign he started the institution of ‘Dhamma Mahamatras’ (The officers of righteousness) to spread the message of Dhamma.

• During his reign, the policy of Bherighosa (physical conquest) was replaced by that of
Dhammaghosa (cultural conquest).

• In course of his second tour in the 21st year of his reígn he visited Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha and exempted the village from Bali (tribute) and the Bhaga (the royal shareof the produce), which were reduced to one eighth.

Ashoka Biography - Ancient Indian History

Ashoka’s Dhamma

• Ashoka was careful enough to make a distinction between his personal belief and his support for Buddhism and sectarian conflicts and to promote a harmonious relationship between the diverse elements of the vast empire. His Dhamma was an ethical code aimed at building up an attitude of social responsibility among the people.

• It was not synonymous with Buddhism; it was aimed at building up an attitude of mind of social responsibility based on man’s dignity and humanistic approach. It was not a sectarian faith. It emphasized truth, non-violence, toleration, compassion; obedience etc., which were common to almost all religious prevailing in India and none could object its basic tenets.

Ashokan Edicts

• There were 14 major rock edicts, two separate Kalinga edicts, 7 pillar edicts, and many other inscriptions engraved separately in areas such as Maski, Bhabru, Samapa, etc. In the North- West, the Ashokan Scripts were bi-lingual i.e., Greek and Aramaic. Generally, most of the edicts within Indian sub-continental boundaries have been composed in the Brahmi script.

There are 14 major Rock Edicts of Ashoka:

Ist Rock Edict: It puts prohibition on animal sacrifices, and festive gatherings. Interestingly, only three animals (2 peacocks and one deer) could be used for the royal kitchen instead of hundreds of them used earlier.

2nd Rock Edict: It mentions about the medical missions sent everywhere for both men and animals by Ashoka. It has also a list of herbs and trees to be planted in different areas. It also mentions Chola, Chera, Pandya and Satyaputra.

3rd Rock Edict: It urges people to be generous to the Brahmanas and exhorts the Yuktas to undertake tours of their circuit every five years at least and propagate Dhamma in course of By handling their other duties.

4th Rock Edict: It explains that the sound of the drum of war has become the sound of the Dhamma, which will take people out of the present chaos and confused state of living.

5th Rock Edict: For the first time, mentions about the appointment of the Dhamma Mahamattas to look after propagation of Dhamma. They were appointed in the 13th year of Ashoka’s consecration.

6th Rock Edict: Shows his concern for the people’s grievances. It says that he is available round the clock for consultations or any type of appeal and the Mahamattas should communicate to him all the matters conceming public business even if he is in his harem.

7th Rock Edict: Tells us that Ashoka, after ten years since his consecration, visited Bodhi tree, ended all pleasure tours and instead concentrated on the Dhamma tours.

9th Rock Edict: Shows the uselessness of all other ceremonies except the Dhamma as it includes ethical concepts within its fold. It is the best gift and leads to heaven, if properly followed.

10th Rock Edict: Ashoka shows the lack of any worldly desire except the desire to propagate Dhamma and to see people following it. Dhamma is nothing but freedom from evil.

11th Rock Edict: Suggests to people that the gift of Dhamma is the best gift as it brings gain in this world and merit in the next.

12th Rock Edict: Expresses Ashoka’s concern for the well being of all other sects. He says that he has respect for all of them, all the ascetics living in his realm and all the doctrines as well. Rather, he prefers to advance the essence of all the doctrines. He also requests all the officers to internalize this basic philosophy behind propagation of Dhamma.

13th Rock Edict: Ashoka shows his remorse for the devastation caused by the Kalinga war. The killing of so many people’s made Ashoka take resort to cultural conquest (Dhammavijaya) rather than think about any war and aggrandizement ever in the future. He advises his successors as well to resist from it.

14th Rock Edict: inscription of Dhamma was engraved at the command of the beloved of the Gods, the king Piyadassi. It exists in abridged, medium Length and extended versions for each classes has not been engraved everywhere. There is considerable reputation because of the beauty of certain topics and in Order that people may confirm to them.

Also Read : Inscriptions Of Ashoka Of Medieval Indian History

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