Ashoka – The Great Emperor

08 Feb 2018  Thu

In the history of the world, there have been thousands of kings and emperors who call themselves "their highnesses," "their majesties", and "their exalted majesties" and so on. They shone for a brief moment, and as quickly disappeared. But Ashoka shines and shines brightly like a bright star, even unto this day."

Ashoka also referred as Devanampriya (Pali Devana?piya or "the Beloved of the Gods"), and Priyadar?in (Pali Piyadasi or "He who regards everyone with affection") was born in 304 BC, in Pataliputra (close to modern-day Patna), to the second emperor of the Mauryan Dynasty, Bindusara, and Maharani Dharma.

He is considered to be one of India’s greatest monarchs and was the third ruler of the Mauryan Empire. Whilst Ashoka’s conquests pale in comparison to his illustrious grandfather’s, he is widely remembered as a Buddhist ruler, and it was his contributions to Buddhism and morality that made him such a renowned figure in Indian history.

The stories of a cruel and ruthless king who converted to Buddhism and thereafter established a reign of virtue definitive historical records of his reign were lacking. Then in the nineteenth century there came to light a large number of edicts, in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. These edicts, inscribed on rocks and pillars, proclaim Asoka’s reforms and policies and promulgate his advice to his subjects. The present rendering of these edicts, based on earlier translations, offers us insights into a powerful and capable ruler’s attempt to establish an empire on the foundation of righteousness, a reign which makes the moral and spiritual welfare of his subjects its primary concern.

He died in 232 BC after doing a great deal of good for his kingdom and the world at large. His fame has spread far and wide. To commemorate his rule and its implications India post has released 500 paisa (5 rupee) postage stamp on 24th August 2015.

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