KING ASHOKA: His Edicts and His Times
Asoka's father Bindusara was fortunate for inheriting a vast and powerful He also maintained good relation with contemporary Greek rulers outside India. Ashoka was born in Aug BC Died: BC Bindusar was born on BC of Chandragupta Mouriya, although he gave all the suggestions and hints to the. The historical drama 'Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat' that airs on Colors TV and doesn't want the father-son to know anything about their relations. Bindusara then thanks Chanakya for giving him the advice before taking.
The Mauryan Empire was strict in revenue collection, but it also funded numerous public works projects to enhance productivity. Ashoka sponsored the construction of thousands of roads, waterways, canals, rest houses, hospitals, and other types of infrastructure. Would it be beneficial for Mauryan rulers to have a population that was able to read?
How was a nationally administered system of taxation helpful to citizens of the Mauryan empire? Chandragupta Maurya established a single currency across India, including these silver punch mark coins with symbols of wheel and elephant. During Ashoka's reign, government oversaw the building of major roadways, and the Mauryan international network of trade expanded. India's exports to places like Bactria and Persia included silk, textiles, and spices. Costly salaries for soldiers and government officials ended up bankrupting the central treasury.
In place of an expansive empire, local rulers began to take charge of smaller regions, placing themselves strategically along trade routes. The future leaders of the Gupta dynasty arose out of these small kingdoms a few centuries later.
They conquered many regions of the former Maurya Empire and forged alliances with kingdoms that chose not to fight against them.
Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat: Story so far...
What is one way life under a centralized government might have been different from a government under a large number of smaller kingdoms? Sri Gupta's son and successor, Ghatotkacha, ruled from around to CE. By his death in CE, Samudragupta had incorporated over 20 kingdoms into his realm and extended the Gupta Empire from the Himalayas to the Narmada River in central India and from the Brahmaputra River to the Yamuna—the longest tributary of the Ganges River in northern India.
Gupta Empire, CE. The Gupta Empire expanded through conquest and political alliances until CE, when it extended across the entire Indian subcontinent.
By CE, his control over India extended coast-to-coast. Just like Ashoka, Chandragupta II made Pataliputra the capital of his empire and centralized the government there.
He used tribute money from allies to fund government projects and salaries. Unlike Ashoka, Chandragupta did not rely on a network of spies or closely monitor the affairs of foreigners or allies.
Instead, he let regions make their own decisions about administration and local governance. Some scholars have argued that the Gupta empire was a golden age of India. The empire was marked by peace and public safety, and scholars flourished in this environment. Kalidasa, a poet of the time, is considered the greatest poet and dramatist of the Sanskrit language.
Aryabhata, who lived during Gupta empire, was the first of the Indian mathematician-astronomers who worked on the approximation for Pi. Vishnu Sharma is thought to be the author of the Panchatantra fables, one of the most widely-translated non-religious books in history. The Gupta empire ended with the invasion of the White Huns, a nomadic tribe of people from central Asia, at the end of the fifth century CE.
Until the sixteenth century, there was no unifying empire; regional political kingdoms ruled India. King Asoka has to be credited with the first attempt to develop a Buddhist polity.
Today, with widespread disillusionment in prevailing ideologies and the search for a political philosophy that goes beyond greed capitalismhatred communism and delusion dictatorships led by "infallible" leadersAsoka's edicts may make a meaningful contribution to the development of a more spiritually based political system.
Nor should festivals be held, for Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, sees much to object to in such festivals, although there are some festivals that Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, does approve of.
Formerly, in the kitchen of Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, hundreds of thousands of animals were killed every day to make curry. But now with the writing of this Dhamma edict only three creatures, two peacocks and a deer are killed, and the deer not always. And in time, not even these three creatures will be killed.
Wherever medical herbs suitable for humans or animals are not available, I have had them imported and grown. Wherever medical roots or fruits are not available I have had them imported and grown.
Along roads I have had wells dug and trees planted for the benefit of humans and animals. The Council shall notify the Yuktas about the observance of these instructions in these very words. But now because Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi promotes restraint in the killing and harming of living beings, proper behavior towards relatives, Brahmans and ascetics, and respect for mother, father and elders, such sightings have increased.
And the sons, grandsons and great-grandsons of Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, too will continue to promote Dhamma practice until the end of time; living by Dhamma and virtue, they will instruct in Dhamma. Truly, this is the highest work, to instruct in Dhamma. But practicing the Dhamma cannot be done by one who is devoid of virtue and therefore its promotion and growth is commendable.
This edict has been written so that it may please my successors to devote themselves to promoting these things and not allow them to decline. Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, has had this written twelve years after his coronation. One who does good first does something hard to do. I have done many good deeds, and, if my sons, grandsons and their descendants up to the end of the world act in like manner, they too will do much good.
But whoever amongst them neglects this, they will do evil. Truly, it is easy to do evil. Now they work among all religions for the establishment of Dhamma, for the promotion of Dhamma, and for the welfare and happiness of all who are devoted to Dhamma. They work among the Greeks, the Kambojas, the Gandharas, the Rastrikas, the Pitinikas and other peoples on the western borders.
They Dhamma Mahamatras work for the proper treatment of prisoners, towards their unfettering, and if the Mahamatras think, "This one has a family to support," "That one has been bewitched," "This one is old," then they work for the release of such prisoners.
They work here, in outlying towns, in the women's quarters belonging to my brothers and sisters, and among my other relatives. They are occupied everywhere. These Dhamma Mahamatras are occupied in my domain among people devoted to Dhamma to determine who is devoted to Dhamma, who is established in Dhamma, and who is generous. This Dhamma edict has been written on stone so that it might endure long and that my descendants might act in conformity with it.
But now I have given this order, that at any time, whether I am eating, in the women's quarters, the bed chamber, the chariot, the palanquin, in the park or wherever, reporters are to be posted with instructions to report to me the affairs of the people so that I might attend to these affairs wherever I am. And whatever I orally order in connection with donations or proclamations, or when urgent business presses itself on the Mahamatras, if disagreement or debate arises in the Council, then it must be reported to me immediately.
This is what I have ordered. I am never content with exerting myself or with despatching business. Truly, I consider the welfare of all to be my duty, and the root of this is exertion and the prompt despatch of business. There is no better work than promoting the welfare of all the people and whatever efforts I am making is to repay the debt I owe to all beings to assure their happiness in this life, and attain heaven in the next.
Therefore this Dhamma edict has been written to last long and that my sons, grandsons and great-grandsons might act in conformity with it for the welfare of the world. However, this is difficult to do without great exertion. But one who receives great gifts yet is lacking in self-control, purity of heart, gratitude and firm devotion, such a person is mean. It is this that delights Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, and is, as it were, another type of revenue.
Women in particular perform many vulgar and worthless ceremonies. These types of ceremonies can be performed by all means, but they bear little fruit. What does bear great fruit, however, is the ceremony of the Dhamma.
This involves proper behavior towards servants and employees, respect for teachers, restraint towards living beings, and generosity towards ascetics and Brahmans.
These and other things constitute the ceremony of the Dhamma. Therefore a father, a son, a brother, a master, a friend, a companion, and even a neighbor should say: But the ceremony of the Dhamma is timeless.
Even if it does not achieve its purpose in this world, it produces great merit in the next, whereas if it does achieve its purpose in this world, one gets great merit both here and there through the ceremony of the Dhamma. And whatever efforts Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, is making, all of that is only for the welfare of the people in the next world, and that they will have little evil. And being without merit is evil.
This is difficult for either a humble person or a great person to do except with great effort, and by giving up other interests. In fact, it may be even more difficult for a great person to do. And it consists of this: Therefore a father, a son, a brother, a master, a friend, a companion or a neighbor should say: And if there is cause for criticism, it should be done in a mild way.
But it is better to honor other religions for this reason. By so doing, one's own religion benefits, and so do other religions, while doing otherwise harms one's own religion and the religions of others.
Whoever praises his own religion, due to excessive devotion, and condemns others with the thought "Let me glorify my own religion," only harms his own religion. Therefore contact between religions is good. Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, desires that all should be well-learned in the good doctrines of other religions. Those who are content with their own religion should be told this: Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, does not value gifts and honors as much as he values that there should be growth in the essentials of all religions.
And to this end many are working -- Dhamma Mahamatras, Mahamatras in charge of the women's quarters, officers in charge of outlying areas, and other such officers. And the fruit of this is that one's own religion grows and the Dhamma is illuminated also. After the Kalingas had been conquered, Beloved-of-the-Gods came to feel a strong inclination towards the Dhamma, a love for the Dhamma and for instruction in Dhamma.
Now Beloved-of-the-Gods feels deep remorse for having conquered the Kalingas. Indeed, Beloved-of-the-Gods is deeply pained by the killing, dying and deportation that take place when an unconquered country is conquered.
But Beloved-of-the-Gods is pained even more by this -- that Brahmans, ascetics, and householders of different religions who live in those countries, and who are respectful to superiors, to mother and father, to elders, and who behave properly and have strong loyalty towards friends, acquaintances, companions, relatives, servants and employees -- that they are injured, killed or separated from their loved ones.
Even those who are not affected by all this suffer when they see friends, acquaintances, companions and relatives affected. These misfortunes befall all as a result of warand this pains Beloved-of-the-Gods. There is no country, except among the Greeks, where these two groups, Brahmans and ascetics, are not found, and there is no country where people are not devoted to one or another religion.
Asoka's Early Life and His Accession to Throne
Now Beloved-of-the-Gods thinks that even those who do wrong should be forgiven where forgiveness is possible. Even the forest people, who live in Beloved-of-the-Gods' domain, are entreated and reasoned with to act properly. They are told that despite his remorse Beloved-of-the-Gods has the power to punish them if necessary, so that they should be ashamed of their wrong and not be killed. Truly, Beloved-of-the-Gods desires non-injury, restraint and impartiality to all beings, even where wrong has been done.
Now it is conquest by Dhamma that Beloved-of-the-Gods considers to be the best conquest. Even where Beloved-of-the-Gods' envoys have not been, these people too, having heard of the practice of Dhamma and the ordinances and instructions in Dhamma given by Beloved-of-the-Gods, are following it and will continue to do so.
This conquest has been won everywhere, and it gives great joy -- the joy which only conquest by Dhamma can give. But even this joy is of little consequence. Beloved-of-the-Gods considers the great fruit to be experienced in the next world to be more important. I have had this Dhamma edict written so that my sons and great-grandsons may not consider making new conquests, or that if military conquests are made, that they be done with forbearance and light punishment, or better still, that they consider making conquest by Dhamma only, for that bears fruit in this world and the next.
May all their intense devotion be given to this which has a result in this world and the next. And also there are some subjects here that have been spoken of again and again because of their sweetness, and so that the people may act in accordance with them.
If some things written are incomplete, this is because of the locality, or in consideration of the object, or due to the fault of the scribe. And I consider instructing you to be the best way of accomplishing this. I have placed you over many thousands of people that you may win the people's affection. All men are my children. What I desire for my own children, and I desire their welfare and happiness both in this world and the next, that I desire for all men. You do not understand to what extent I desire this, and if some of you do understand, you do not understand the full extent of my desire.
You must attend to this matter. While being completely law-abiding, some people are imprisoned, treated harshly and even killed without cause so that many people suffer. Therefore your aim should be to act with impartiality. It is because of these things -- envy, anger, cruelty, hate, indifference, laziness or tiredness -- that such a thing does not happen.
Therefore your aim should be: Those who are bored with the administration of justice will not be promoted; those who are not will move upwards and be promoted. Whoever among you understands this should say to his colleagues: Such and such are Beloved-of-the-Gods' instructions.
Failure in duty on your part will not please me. But done properly, it will win you heaven and you will be discharging your debts to me. This edict is to be listened to on Tisa day, between Tisa days, and on other suitable occasions, it should be listened to even by a single person. Acting thus, you will be doing your duty. This edict has been written for the following purpose: To achieve this, I will send out Mahamatras every five years who are not harsh or cruel, but who are merciful and who can ascertain if the judicial officers have understood my purpose and are acting according to my instructions.
Similarly, from Ujjayini, the prince will send similar persons with the same purpose without allowing three years to elapse. Likewise from Takhasila also. When these Mahamatras go on tours of inspection each year, then without neglecting their normal duties, they will ascertain if judicial officers are acting according to the king's instructions. I wish to see that everything I consider to be proper is carried out in the right way. Furthermore, they should understand that the king will forgive those who can be forgiven, and that he wishes to encourage them to practice Dhamma so that they may attain happiness in this world and the next.
Life of Samrat Bindusara: Facts & History
I am telling you this so that I may discharge the debts I owe, and that in instructing you, that you may know that my vow and my promise will not be broken. Therefore acting in this way, you should perform your duties and assure them the people beyond the borders that: He feels towards us as he feels towards himself. We are to him like his own children. You are able indeed to inspire them with confidence and to secure their welfare and happiness in this world and the next, and by acting thus, you will attain heaven as well as discharge the debts you owe to me.
And so that the Mahamatras can devote themselves at all times to inspiring the border areas with confidence and encouraging them to practice Dhamma, this edict has been written here. This edict is to be listened to every four months on Tisa day, between Tisa days, and on other suitable occasions, it should be listened to even by a single person. Now the people in India who have not associated with the gods do so. This is the result of zeal and it is not just the great who can do this.
Even the humble, if they are zealous, can attain heaven. And this proclamation has been made with this aim. Let both humble and great be zealous, let even those on the borders know and let zeal last long.
Then this zeal will increase, it will greatly increase, it will increase up to one-and-a-half times. This message has been proclaimed two hundred and fifty-six times by the king while on tour.
In these ways, the Dhamma should be promoted. Likewise, a teacher should be honored by his pupil and proper manners should be shown towards relations. This is an ancient rule that conduces to long life. Thus should one act.
Ashoka - Wikipedia
Written by the scribe Chapala. Whatever, reverend sirs, has been spoken by Lord Buddha, all that is well-spoken. These Dhamma texts -- Extracts from the Discipline, the Noble Way of Life, the Fears to Come, the Poem on the Silent Sage, the Discourse on the Pure Life, Upatisa's Questions, and the Advice to Rahula which was spoken by the Buddha concerning false speech -- these Dhamma texts, reverend sirs, I desire that all the monks and nuns may constantly listen to and remember.
I have had this written that you may know my intentions. Happiness in this world and the next is difficult to obtain without much love for the Dhamma, much self-examination, much respect, much fear of eviland much enthusiasm.
But through my instruction this regard for Dhamma and love of Dhamma has grown day by day, and will continue to grow. And my officers of high, low and middle rank are practicing and conforming to Dhamma, and are capable of inspiring others to do the same.
Mahamatras in border areas are doing the same. And these are my instructions: I have given the gift of sight in various ways. And many other good deeds have been done by me. This Dhamma edict has been written that people might follow it and it might endure for a long time. And the one who follows it properly will do something good. People see only their good deeds saying, "I have done this good deed.
Let me not ruin myself with these things. This Dhamma edict was written twenty-six years after my coronation. My Rajjukas are working among the people, among many hundreds of thousands of people. The hearing of petitions and the administration of justice has been left to them so that they can do their duties confidently and fearlessly and so that they can work for the welfare, happiness and benefit of the people in the country. But they should remember what causes happiness and sorrow, and being themselves devoted to Dhamma, they should encourage the people in the country to do the samethat they may attain happiness in this world and the next.
These Rajjukas are eager to serve me. They also obey other officers who know my desires, who instruct the Rajjukas so that they can please me. Just as a person feels confident having entrusted his child to an expert nurse thinking: The hearing of petitions and the administration of justice have been left to the Rajjukas so that they can do their duties unperturbed, fearlessly and confidently.
It is my desire that there should be uniformity in law and uniformity in sentencing. I even go this far, to grant a three-day stay for those in prison who have been tried and sentenced to death. During this time their relatives can make appeals to have the prisoners' lives spared. If there is none to appeal on their behalf, the prisoners can give gifts in order to make merit for the next world, or observe fasts.
Indeed, it is my wish that in this way, even if a prisoner's time is limited, he can prepare for the next world, and that people's Dhamma practice, self-control and generosity may grow. Cocks are not to be caponized, husks hiding living beings are not to be burnt and forests are not to be burnt either without reason or to kill creatures. One animal is not to be fed to another.
On the three Caturmasis, the three days of Tisa and during the fourteenth and fifteenth of the Uposatha, fish are protected and not to be sold. During these days animals are not to be killed in the elephant reserves or the fish reserves either. On the eighth of every fortnight, on the fourteenth and fifteenth, on Tisa, Punarvasu, the three Caturmasis and other auspicious days, bulls are not to be castrated, billy goats, rams, boars and other animals that are usually castrated are not to be.
On Tisa, Punarvasu, Caturmasis and the fortnight of Caturmasis, horses and bullocks are not be branded. In the twenty-six years since my coronation prisoners have been given amnesty on twenty-five occasions. Twelve years after my coronation I started to have Dhamma edicts written for the welfare and happiness of the people, and so that not transgressing them they might grow in the Dhamma.
I do the same for all groups. I have honored all religions with various honors. But I consider it best to meet with people personally. In the past kings desired that the people might grow through the promotion of the Dhamma.
But despite this, people did not grow through the promotion of the Dhamma. Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, said concerning this: