Ashoka Indian Ruler Essay Research Paper One

Ashoka Indian Ruler Essay, Research Paper

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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