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Rock Edict of Ashoka

Rock Edict of Ashoka


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Ashoka's 14 Rock Edicts

The Edicts of Ashoka set in stone are found throughout the Subcontinent ranging from as far as in Afghanistan and in south as Andhra, the edicts state his policies and accomplishments. Although predominantly written in Prakrit, two of them were written in Greek and one in Aramaic.Ashoka’s edicts refer to the Greeks,Kambhojas and Gandharas as people forming a frontier region of his empire. The major Rock Edicts are

Ist MRE
Declares prohibition of animal sacrifice also prohibits the holding of festivals royal hunting was discontinued only 2 peacocks and deer were killed in the kitchen of beloved of Gods.

IInd MRE
It mentions medical treatment of humans and animals also mentions construction of roads,wells etc and also tree planting.

IIIrd MRE
It mentions about the Pradeshikas,Rajuks and Yuktasdeclares the liberty towards Brahmanas and the Sramanas.

IVth MRE
It mentions that the Beri Ghosa has been replaced by dharma gosha.it also mentions that the Rajuks had the power to punish.

Vth MRE
Reference to the appointment of Dhamma mahatamas for the first time in the 14th year of his regime. It also mentions that Dhamma Mahatamas promoting the welfare of prisoners.

VIth MRE
Mantri parishad has been mentioned officials like Pulisani and Pratividikar has also been mentioned it mentions All Times I am available to the Mahamattas- Mahamattas could bring their report to the king at any time.

VIIth MRE
It mentions religious toleration amongst all the sects it gives information that tension among the sects was expressed intensely it gives information about self-centre and purity of mind.

VIIIth MRE
In his 10th Regnal year Ashoka went to Dharmyatras to Sambodhi in Bodhgaya.

IXth MRE
It mentions about the uselessness of the various ceremonies it stresses on morality and moral code of conducts it also mentions about the ceremony of Dhammait includes regards for slaves and servants,respect for teachers,restrained behaviour towards living beings and donation to Sarmanas and the Brahmanas.

Xth MRE
It mentions that the king desires no more fame or glory except in the field of Dhammait mentions about the supreme quality of Dhamma policy.

XIth MRE
It further explains the policy of Dhammasit emphasizes on giving respect to the elders,abstain from killing animals and liberalism and charity towards friends,Sramanas and Brahmans and good behaviour towards slaves and servants.

XIIth MRE
Ithijika Mahamatta has been mentioned appeal for toleration among sects to honor the other sectsit mentions that the beloved of the Gods does not consider gifts or honor to be as important as the progress of the essential doctrines of all sects.

XIIIth MRE
It is the largest inscription from the edict .King considered the victory by Dhamma to be the foremost victorymention the Dhamma victory on the Greek being named Antiochusit also mentions the Dhamma victory over the following foreign brings-
Ptolemy II Philadelphus- King of Egypt ( 285-247 BC)
Alexander –King of Epirus (273-255 BC)
Antigonous Gonatus- King of Macedonia ( 276-239 BC)
Magas- King of Cyrene
It also mentions the Dhamma victory in south over the Cholas and Pandyas as far as Ceylon
IInd and 13th RE mentions that Pandyas,Cholas had Dhamma victory over Ceylon.

XIVth MRE
The purpose of the Rock Edicts has been mentioned.


Ashoka

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Ashoka, also spelled Aśoka, (died 238? bce , India), last major emperor of the Mauryan dynasty of India. His vigorous patronage of Buddhism during his reign (c. 265–238 bce also given as c. 273–232 bce ) furthered the expansion of that religion throughout India. Following his successful but bloody conquest of the Kalinga country on the east coast, Ashoka renounced armed conquest and adopted a policy that he called “conquest by dharma” (i.e., by principles of right life).

How did Ashoka become so famous?

Ashoka’s fame is largely due to his pillar and rock edicts, which allowed him to reach a wide audience and left a lasting historical record. He is remembered as a model ruler, controlling a vast and diverse Mauryan empire through peace and respect, with dharma at the centre of his ideology.

What were Ashoka’s achievements?

Ashoka was able to rule over the vast and diverse Mauryan empire through a centralized policy of dharma that favoured peace and tolerance and that administered public works and social welfare. He likewise patronized the spread of Buddhism and art throughout the empire.

How did Ashoka come to power?

Ashoka was the third emperor of the Mauryan dynasty, grandson of its founder Chandragupta and son of the second emperor, Bindusara. Upon Bindusara’s death, Ashoka and his brothers engaged in a war of succession, and Ashoka emerged victorious after several years of conflict.

What were Ashoka’s beliefs?

After Ashoka’s successful but devastating conquest of Kalinga early in his rule, he converted to Buddhism and was inspired by its doctrine of dharma. Thereafter, he ruled his empire through peace and tolerance and focused on public works and building up the empire rather than expanding it.

In order to gain wide publicity for his teachings and his work, Ashoka made them known by means of oral announcements and by engravings on rocks and pillars at suitable sites. These inscriptions—the rock edicts and pillar edicts (e.g., the lion capital of the pillar found at Sarnath, which has become India’s national emblem), mostly dated in various years of his reign—contain statements regarding his thoughts and actions and provide information on his life and acts. His utterances rang of frankness and sincerity.

According to his own accounts, Ashoka conquered the Kalinga country (modern Orissa state) in the eighth year of his reign. The sufferings that the war inflicted on the defeated people moved him to such remorse that he renounced armed conquests. It was at this time that he came in touch with Buddhism and adopted it. Under its influence and prompted by his own dynamic temperament, he resolved to live according to, and preach, the dharma and to serve his subjects and all humanity.

Ashoka repeatedly declared that he understood dharma to be the energetic practice of the sociomoral virtues of honesty, truthfulness, compassion, mercifulness, benevolence, nonviolence, considerate behaviour toward all, “little sin and many good deeds,” nonextravagance, nonacquisitiveness, and noninjury to animals. He spoke of no particular mode of religious creed or worship, nor of any philosophical doctrines. He spoke of Buddhism only to his coreligionists and not to others.

Toward all religious sects he adopted a policy of respect and guaranteed them full freedom to live according to their own principles, but he also urged them to exert themselves for the “increase of their inner worthiness.” Moreover, he exhorted them to respect the creeds of others, praise the good points of others, and refrain from vehement adverse criticism of the viewpoints of others.

To practice the dharma actively, Ashoka went out on periodic tours preaching the dharma to the rural people and relieving their sufferings. He ordered his high officials to do the same, in addition to attending to their normal duties he exhorted administrative officers to be constantly aware of the joys and sorrows of the common folk and to be prompt and impartial in dispensing justice. A special class of high officers, designated “dharma ministers,” was appointed to foster dharma work by the public, relieve suffering wherever found, and look to the special needs of women, of people inhabiting outlying regions, of neighbouring peoples, and of various religious communities. It was ordered that matters concerning public welfare were to be reported to him at all times. The only glory he sought, he said, was for having led his people along the path of dharma. No doubts are left in the minds of readers of his inscriptions regarding his earnest zeal for serving his subjects. More success was attained in his work, he said, by reasoning with people than by issuing commands.

Among his works of public utility were the founding of hospitals for people and animals, the planting of roadside trees and groves, the digging of wells, and the construction of watering sheds and rest houses. Orders were also issued for curbing public laxities and preventing cruelty to animals. With the death of Ashoka, the Mauryan empire disintegrated and his work was discontinued. His memory survives for what he attempted to achieve and the high ideals he held before himself.

Most enduring were Ashoka’s services to Buddhism. He built a number of stupas (commemorative burial mounds) and monasteries and erected pillars on which he ordered inscribed his understanding of religious doctrines. He took strong measures to suppress schisms within the sangha (the Buddhist religious community) and prescribed a course of scriptural studies for adherents. The Sinhalese chronicle Mahavamsa says that when the order decided to send preaching missions abroad, Ashoka helped them enthusiastically and sent his own son and daughter as missionaries to Sri Lanka. It is as a result of Ashoka’s patronage that Buddhism, which until then was a small sect confined to particular localities, spread throughout India and subsequently beyond the frontiers of the country.

A sample quotation that illustrates the spirit that guided Ashoka is:

All men are my children. As for my own children I desire that they may be provided with all the welfare and happiness of this world and of the next, so do I desire for all men as well.


Edicts of Ashoka – Rock Edict XII

१. देवानं पियं पियदसि राजा सवपासंडानि च पवजितानि च घरस्तानि च पुजयति दानेन च विविधाय पूजाय पुजयति [.]
२. न तुं तथा दानं व पुजा व देवानं पियो मञते तथा किति साखढिय अस सवमूलं [.] सारवढीति बहुविधा [.]
३. तस तु सञ इदं मुलं य वचिगुत्य किंति आत्पपासंडापूजा व परपासंडगरहा वा नो भवे अपकरणम्हि लहुका व असं |
४. तम्हि तम्हि पकरणे पूजताय तु एव परपासंडा तेन पकरणेन एवं करुं आत्पपासंड वढयति परपासुंडस च उपकारोति [.]
५. तद्येथा करोतं आत्पपासंडे च छ्णति परपासंडस च अपकारोति योहि कोचि आत्पपासंडे पुजयति परपासंड वा गरहति
६. सवं आत्पपासंडभतिया किंति आत्पपासंड दिपयेम इति सो च पुन तथ करोता आत्पपासंडा बाढतर अपहनाति [.] तासमवायो एवं साधुं
७. किति आयामयास धमं सुणारु च सुसुसारचं एवं देवानं पियस्स इछा किति सवपासंडा च असु कलाणगमा च असु
८. ये च तता पसना तेहि वतव्यं पियो ना तथा दानं च पूजा व मंञते यथा किति सारवढि अस सवपासंडे न बहुका च एताय
९. अथा व्यापता धंममहामता च ईथीझरव महामता च वचभूमिका च अये च निकाया अयं च एतस फला आत्पपासंड वढी च पि ते धमस दीपना |

English translation by Meena Talim

1. King Devanamppiya Piyadassi worships all sects, ascetics and those who live in the house. He worships them with clarity and in various ways of honoring (worshiping) them.
2. Devanamppiya does not hold the worship and gift as of a great value as the fame of growing essence of sectarian philosophy in various ways. Let there be growth of roots and of essence in various ways.
3. Therefore, one should have sense to understand the root, but watchful towards, speech. Do not indulge in praising one’s sect and blaming other’s sect even for small reasons it should be less.
4. For those small reasons, even other sects should be praised (worshiped). By doing this act one increases his sect and favors (helps) other sects too.
5. If one acts otherwise, then he leaves (discards) his own sect and harms the other sects. The one who worships his own sect and blames other’s sect ,(he)
6. does it put of brotherly devotion to increase the fame of his sect or in order to enlighten his sect. If he does it again he immensely harms his own sect. Therefore, right (balanced) exertion is good.
7. Devanappiya desires that all sects should listen to one another’s Dhamma and (understand) its true essence. Let there be fame and all sects lead towards merit.
8. Whatever is pleasing that should be said.Devanamppiya wants charity and worship be increased as fame of essence be increased. This is an instruction to all and many sects.
9. Here, Dhamma-mahamattas, ministers looking after womenfolk, cattle, cultivators of land and other departments have been occupied with their work and these are the fruits, whereby glory of one’s sect will be increased and proper guidance to Dhamma will be given.

English translation of the Shahbazgarhi text by G Buhler

King Priyadarsin, beloved of the gods, honors men of all creeds, both ascetics and householders, by gifts and honors of various kinds. But the Beloved of the gods thinks not so much of gifts and honors as of what? – that an increase of essentials may take place among men of all creeds. But the increase of essentials may happen in various ways. But this is its root, viz. guarding one’s speech – how so? “Honoring one’s own creed and blaming other creeds shall not be in unimportant point, or it shall be moderate with respect to this or that important point.” But other creeds must even be honored for this or that reason. Acting thus, one exalts one’s creed and benefits also the other creeds. Acting differently, one hurts one’s own creed and injures the other creeds. How so? For he who honors his own creed and blames all other creeds out of reverence for his own creed thinking “I promote thereby the interests of my own creed,” however, acting thus, injures his own creed exceedingly. Hence self-restraint alone is commendable. How so? “They shall hear each other’s law and love to hear it.” For this is the desire of the Beloved of the gods. What? –“That men of all creeds shall have heard much and shall possess holy doctrines. And to those who adhere to this or that faith it must be said :”The Beloved of the gods thinks not so much of gifts and honors as of what? – “that an increase of essentials may take place among men of all creeds and a large one.” For this end are working the Overseers of the Sacred Law, the Superintendent of women, the Vachabhumikas and other bodies of officials. And this is its result, viz. the exaltation of one’s own creed and the promotion of the interest of the law.

English translation of the Girnar text by V A Smith

His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King does reverence to men of all sects, whether ascetics or householders, by gifts and various forms of reverence. His Sacred Majesty, however, cares not so much for gifts or external reverence as that there should be a growth of the essence of the matter in all sects. The growth of the essence of the matter assumes various forms, but the root of it is restraint of speech, to wit, a man must not do reverence to his own sect or disparage that of another without reason. Depreciation should be for specific reasons only, because the sects of other people all deserve reverence for one reason or another. By thus acting a man exalts his own sect, and at the same time does service to the sects of other people. By acting contrariwise a man hurts his own sect, and does disservice to the sects of other people. For he who does reverence to his own sect while disparaging the sects of others wholly from attachment to his own. with intent to enhance the splendor of his own sect, in reality by such conduct inflicts the severest injury on his own sect. Concord, therefore, is meritorious, to wit, hearkening and hearkening willingly to the Law of Piety as accepted by other people. For this is the desire of His Sacred Majesty that all sects should hear much teaching and hold sound doctrine. Wherefore the adherents of all sects, whatever they may be, must be informed that His Sacred Majesty does not care so much for gifts or external reverence as that there should be growth in the essence of the matter and respect for all sects. For this very purpose are employed the Censors of the Law of Piety, the Censors of the Women, the (?) Superintendents of pastures, and other [official] bodies. And this is the fruit thereof the growth of one’s own sect and the enhancement of the splendor of the Law of Piety.

English translation by D R Bhandarkar

King Priyadarsin, Beloved of the gods, honors men of all sects, ascetics and householders, with gift and manifold honor. But the Beloved of the gods does not think so much of gift and honor as – what? – as that there should be a growth of the essential among (men of) all sects. The growth of the essential, however, is of various kinds. But the root of it is restraint of speech, – how? – namely, there ought not to be any honor to one’s own sect or condemnation of another’s sect without any occasion, or any depreciation (of the latter) on this and that occasion. On the contrary, other’s sect should be honored on this and that occasion. By so doing one exalts one’s own sect, and does service to another’s sect. By doing otherwise one injures one’s own sect and also harms another sect. For one who does honor to one’s own sect and condemns another’s sect, all through the attachment to one’s own sect, – why? – in order that one may render one’s own sect effulgent, in reality by so doing injures severely one’s own sect. Concourse is therefore condemnable, – why?- in order that they may hear and desire to hear (further) one another’s Dhamma. For this is the desire of the Beloved of the gods, – what? – that all sects shall be well-informed and conducive of good. and those who are favorably disposed towards this or that sect should be informed: “The Beloved of the gods does not so much think of gift or honor as – what? – as that there may be a growth of essential among all sects and also mutual appreciation.” For this end are engaged the Dharma-Mahamatras, Superintendents of women, the Vrajabhumikas and other bodies (of officials). And this is its fruit – the exaltation of one’s own sect and ths illumination of Dharma.

English translation of the Girnar text by R K Mookerji

His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King is honoring all sects, both ascetics, and house-holders by gifts and offerings of various kinds is he honoring them. But his Sacred Majesty does not value such gifts or honors as that how should there be the growth of the essential elements of all religious sects. The growth of this genuine matter is, however, of many kinds. But the root of it is restraints of one’s speech, that is, that there should not be honor of one’s own sect and condemnation of other’s sect without any ground. Such slighting should be for specified grounds only. One the other hand, the sects of others should be honored for this ground and that. Thus doing, one helps his own sect to grow, and benefits the sects of others, too. Doing otherwise, one hurts his own sect and injures the sects of others. For whosoever honors his own sects and condemns the sects of others wholly from devotion to his own sect, i.e., the thought, “How I may glorify my own sect,” – one acting thus injures more gravely his own sect on the contrary. Hence concord alone is condemnable, in this sense that all should listen and be willing to listen to the doctrines professes by others. This is, in fact, the desire of His Sacred Majesty, viz., that all sects should be possessed of wide learning and good doctrines. And those who are content in their respective faiths, should all be told that His Sacred Majesty does not value so much gift or external honor as that there should be growth of the essential elements, and breadth, of all bodies. And the fruit of this is that the promotion of one’s own sect takes place as well as the glorification of the Dharma.

English translation of the Shahbazgarhi text by D C Sircar

King Priyadarsi, Beloved of the Gods, honors men of all religious communities with gifts and with honors of various kinds, irrespective of whether they are ascetics or householders. But the Beloved of the Gods does not values either the offering of gifts or the honoring of people so highly as the following, viz., that there should be a growth of the essentials of Dharma among men of all sects.
And the growth of the essential of Dharma is possible in many ways. But its root lies in restraint in regard to speech, which means that there should be no extolment of one’s own sect or disparagement of other sects on inappropriate occasions and that it should be moderate in every case even on appropriate occasions. On the contrary, other sects should be duly honored in every way on all occasions.
If a person acts in this way, he not only promotes his own sect but also benefits other sects. But, if a person acts otherwise, he not only injures his own sect but also harms other sects, Truly, if a person extols his own sect and disparage other sects with a view to glorify his own sect owing merely to his attachment to it, he injures his own sect very severely by acting in that way. Therefore, restraint in regard to speech is commendable, because people should learn and respect the fundamentals of one another’s Dharma.
This indeed is the desire of the Beloved of the Gods that persons of all sects became well-informed about the doctrines of different religions and acquire pure knowledge. And those who are attached to their respective sects should be informed as follows: “The Beloved of the Gods does not value either the offering of gifts or the honoring of people so highly as the following, viz., that there should be a growth of the essentials of Dharma among men of all sects.”
Indeed many of my officers are engaged for the realization of the said end, such as the Mahamatras in charge of the affairs relating to Dharma, the Mahamatras who are superintendent of matters related to the ladies of the royal household, the officers in charge of my cattle and pasture lands, and other classes of officials. And the results of their activities, as expected by me, is the promotion of each one’s sect and the glorification of Dharma.

English translation by S Dhammika

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, honors both ascetics and the householders of all religions, and he honors them with gifts and honors of various kinds. But Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, does not value gifts and honors as much as he values this — that there should be growth in the essentials of all religions. Growth in essentials can be done in different ways, but all of them have as their root restraint in speech, that is, not praising one’s own religion, or condemning the religion of others without good cause. 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. One should listen to and respect the doctrines professed by others. 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.

Observations:

Ashoka, the Secular Emperor – Ashoka continues from RE VII to build up his image as a secular emperor. He tells that all should honor all religions or sects even if they belong to some other sect. He also explains this behavior with its merits. Though his emphasis is to follow Dhamma, however he does not seem here to force upon his Dhamma onto others. He shows concern towards following this principle, respecting all sects, and for that he appoint few officers like Dhamma-mahamatras, whose work was to make sure that this is followed among the subjects of Ashoka.

One thing to take concern here is how many sects were present at that point of time. We can be sure of three, Hindu or Vedic, Buddhism and Jainism. Were there many others apart from these three? In one statement of his, Ashoka points to the existence of many sects at his time. Were there further divisions among the above mentioned three major sects by his time?

Veiled Reference of Third Buddhist Convocation – Is this edict a result of the Third Buddhist Convocation which as per legends was sat during the time of Ashoka at Pataliputra? In this convocation, various disputes among different Buddhist sects were settled in the presence of Thera Mogaliputta. This edict might be result after that convocation therefore. But then why Ashoka is silent about such a great convocation in his inscriptions. Why he had to take the route of a veiled reference instead of direct communication?

His essential growth, viz., retrain on speech, is clear indication that such ill-talks between various sects were in practice and quite frequent. This might have resulted in some great discord between major sects and hence it reached to the ears of the emperor, that’s why he had to tell his subject to restrain over their speech against other’s sect.


Edicts of Ashoka – Rock Edict XIII

१. सतसहस्त्रमंत दत हतं बहुतावतकं मता तता पछा अधुना लंघेसु कलिंगस्तु तीवो धंम ….
२. …. वधो व मरणं व अपवहो व जनस त बाढ वेदनामत च गरुमत च देवानं …..
३. …. मातपितरि सुसुसां गुरु सुसुसा मितस व त सहायञतिकेसु दासभ …..
४. ……. य ञतिका व्यसना पुरे बहु प्रापुणांति तत सो पि तेसं उपघातो होति | पथिभागो चे सा म ….
५. ….. य ञतिका पि न पूरे बहु दता सो पि लेसं उपघातो परिभागो चेस कम …. स्ति इभे निकाया अञत्र योने (सु) …. यत्र ता नास्ति मनुसानं एकतरम्हि पासंडम्हि च नाम … पि ता यावतको मे ….. जन तद …..
६. न थ सक छमितवे या च पि अटवियो देवानंपिय पिजिते ….
७. …. सवभूतानम अछति चा सयम … समचैर च मादव….
८. ….पिय राजा परं च तेनं हि सा राजानो तुरमयो च अतंकिय …. च मगा च
९. …. धपारिदेसु सवत देवानंपिय धमानुसस्टिं अनुवतरे | वत पि च …
१०. …. विजयो सवथ पुन विजयो पितिरसो लधा सा पिति होति धंमविजयम्हि
११. …. विजयं मा विजेतव्यं मया सरसके एव विजये छत …
१२. …लोकिकं च पार….. लोकिकं च …

English translation by Meena Talim

1. … at that time hundred thousands have been restrained (controlled) slained and on that account many died. After that, recently there has been change over Kalinga, Acute Dhamma …..
2. …. slaughter, death and deportation of people is very paonful and censurable, Devanam ………
3. …… Looking after mother and father, taking care of elders (teachers), friends, helpers, relatives, slaves ……
4. ….. Those who have formerly caused misfortune to relatives have caused injury to themselves and this shall be shared …..
5. …. formerly relatives who were not giving charity and that was injurious to them. This act was shared …. there are no different classes amongst Yonas … where there is not a single sect and as far as men (are concerned)
6. …. they are pardoned (by me) and also … the forest land of Devanamppiya …. has been conquered ….
7. …. for all living beings, let there be self-restrain, equality to all and kindness ….
8. …. King Piya (admonishes) to others and kings of Turamaya, Antekiya, Maga ….
9. …. Adhras and Parindas …. everywhere let there be teaching of Dhamma of Devanamppiya … and ….
10. …. let conquest be every where again by conquest one can obtain an essence of love and that love (for all beings)
11. …. do not be victorious about the conquest, know that victory lies in exposition of (Dhamma), thsi will be victory of people ….
12. … for this world and next world too ….

English translation of the Shahbazgarhi text by V A Smith

Kalinga was (or “the Kalingas were”) conquered by His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King when he had been consecrated eight years. One hundred and fifty thousand persons were thence carried away captive, one hundred thousand were there slain, and many times that number died. Directly after the Kalinga had been annexed began His Sacred Majesty’s zealous protection of the Law of Piety, his love of that Law, and his inculcation of that Law. Thence arises the remorse of His Sacred Majesty for having conquered the Kalingas, because the conquest of a country previously unconquered involves the slaughter, death, and carrying away captive of the people. That is a matter of profound sorrow and regret to His Sacred Majesty. There is, however, another reason for His Sacred Majesty feeling still more regret, inasmuch as the Brahmans and ascetics, or men of other denominations, or householders who dwell there, and among whom these duties are practised, [to wit], hearkening to superiors, hearkening to father and mother, hearkening to teachers (or ” elders”), and proper treatment (or “courtesy to”) of friends, acquaintances, comrades, relatives, slaves, and servants, with steadfastness of devotion to these befalls violence (or “injury”), or slaughter, or separation from their loved ones. Or violence happens to the friends, acquaintances, comrades, and relatives of those who are themselves well protected, while their affection [for those injured] continues undiminished. Thus for them also that is a mode of violence, and the share of this distributed among all men is a matter of regret to His Sacred Majesty, because it never is the case that faith in some one denomination or another does not exist. So that of all the people who were then slain, done to death, or carried away captive in Kalinga, if the hundredth part or the thousandth part were now to suffer the same fate, it would be matter of regret to His Sacred Majesty. Moreover, should anyone do him wrong, that too must be borne with by His Sacred Majesty, so far as it can possibly be borne with. Even upon the forest folk in his dominions, His Sacred Majesty looks kindly, and he seeks to make them think, [aright], for [otherwise] repentance would come upon His Sacred Majesty. They are bidden to turn from their [evil] ways that they be not chastised. Because His Sacred Majesty desires for all animate beings security, self-control, peace of mind, and joyousness. And this the chiefest conquest in the opinion of His Sacred Majesty, that conquest of the Law of Piety, which, again, has been won by is Sacred Majesty both here [in his own dominions] and among all his neighbours as far as six hundred leagues, where the king of the Greeks named Antiochos dwells, and to the north of that Antiochos [where dwell] the four (4) kings named severally Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas, and Alexander [likewise] in the south, the Cholas and Pandyas as far as the Tamraparni [river] and here, too, in the King’s dominions among the Greeks, Kambojas, the Nabhapantis of Nabhaka among the Bhojas, Pitinikas- ndhras, and Pulindas everywhere they follow the instruction of His Sacred Majesty in the Law of Piety. Even where the envoysof His Sacred Majesty do not penetrate, these people, too, hearing His Sacred Majesty’s ordinance based upon the Law of Piety and his instruction in that Law, practice and will practice the Law. And, again, the conquest thereby won everywhere is everywhere a conquest full of delight. Delight is won in the conquests of the Law. A small matter, however, is that delight. His Sacred Majesty regards as bearing much fruit only that which concerns the other world. And for this purpose has this scripture of the* Law been recorded, in order that my sons and grandsons, who may be, may not think it their duty to conquer a new conquest. If, perchance, a conquest should please them (?) they should take heed only of patience and gentleness, and regard as a conquest only that which is effected by the Law of Piety. That avails for both this world and the next. Let all their joy be that which lies in effort that avails for both this world and the next.
(Only in Girnar Tex) the white elephant bringing indeed happiness to the whole world.

English translation by D R Bhandarkar

(The country of) Kalinga was conquered when king Priyadarsin, Beloved of the gods, had been anointed eight years. One hundred and fifty thousand were therefore captured, one hundred thousand were there slain, and many times as many died. Thereafter, now, in that acquired (country) of Kalinga are found Beloved of the gods’s zealous protection of Dhamma, longing for Dhamma, and teaching of Dhamma. That is the remorse of the Beloved of the gods on having conquered Kalinga. Verily the slaughter, death and captivity of the people, that occurs when an unconquered (country) is being conquered, is looked upon as extremely painful and regrettable by the Beloved of the gods. But this is to be looked upon as more regrettable than that, namely, that there dwell Brahmanic, Sramanic, and other sects and householders, among whom are established this hearkening to the elders, hearkening to the parents, hearkening to the preceptors, seemly behavior and steadfast devotion to friends, acquaintances, companions and relatives, and to slaves and servants. There (in the war) to such (pious) people befall personal violence, death, or banishment from the loved ones. And in case they are settled in life and possess undiminished affection, their friends acquaintances, companions, and relatives (thereby) meet with a calamity, (and) there that (calamity) becomes their personal violence. This is the lot of all men and is considered regrettable by the Beloved of the gods. And there is no country except that of the Yavanas where there are not these congregations, namely, the Brahmans, and the Sramanas, and there is no place in any country where men have no faith in one sect or another. Even one-hundredth or one-thousandth part of those who were slain, died, or were captured in Kalinga, is today considered regrettable by the Beloved of the gods. Nay if any one does (him) wrong, the Beloved of the gods must bear all that can be borne. And to (the people of) the forests which are in the dominions of the Beloved of the gods he shows conciliatoriness and seeks their cessation (from evil ways). The Beloved of the gods is mighty though repentant. Unto them (therefore) it is said, – what? – “they should express sense of shame, and they shall not be killed.” The Beloved of gods desires for all beings non-injury, self-control, impartiality and gentleness.
But this conquest is considered to be the chiefest by the Beloved of the gods, which is conquest through Dhamma. And that again has been achieved by the Beloved of the gods here and in the bordering dominions, even as far as six hundred yojanas, where dwells the Yavana king called Amtiyoka, and beyond this Amtiyoka to where (dwell) the four kings called Turmaya, Amtekina, Maga and Alikasundara, – (likewise) down below, where are the Cholas, the Pandyas, as far as the Tamraparniyas, – likewise here in the king’s dominions among the Yavanas and Kambojas, the Nabhapamtis in Nabhaka, the hereditary Bhojas, Andhras and Pulindas, – everywhere they follow the teaching of the Beloved of the gods in the respect of Dhamma. Even where the envoys of the Beloved of the gods do not do, they, hearing the ordinances uttered according to Dhamma and the teaching of Dhamma by the Beloved of the gods, practice Dhamma and will so practice. And the conquest which is thereby achieved is everywhere a conquest flavored with love. That love is attained in the conquest through Dhamma. A petty thing, however, is that love. The Beloved of the gods esteems, as bearing great fruit, only that which concerns the next world. And this edict of Dhamma has been recorded for this purpose, – why? – in order that my sons and grandsons, whoever they may be, may not think of a new conquest as worth achieving, that in regard to a conquest, possible only through (the use) of arrow, they may observe forbearance and lightness of punishment, and that they may regard that to be the (real) conquest which is a conquest through Dhamma. That is (good) for this world and the next. May all (their) strong attachment be attachment to exertion. That is (good) for this world and the next.

English translation of Shahbazgarhi text by R K Mookerji

By His Sacred and Gracious Majesty consecrated eight years was Kalinga conquered. One hundred and fifty thousand in number were those carried off from there, a hundred thousand in number were those who were slain there, and many times as many those who were dead. Thereafter, now, the Kalingas being annexed, became intense His Sacred Majesty’s observance of Dharma, love of Dharma, and his preaching of the Dharma. There was the remorse of His Sacred Majesty having conquered the Kalingas. For where an independent country is forcibly reduced, that there are slaughter, death, and deportation of people has been considered very painful and deplorable by His Sacred Majesty. But this is considered even more grievous by His Sacred Majesty in as much as there dwell Brahmana and Sramana ascetics, or followers of other sects, or householders, among whom are established (the following virtues), viz., obedience to elders, to parents, and preceptors, proper conduct towards friends, companions, supporters and relatives, servants and dependents and steadfastness of devotion, whom befalls there injury or slaughter or removal of their loved ones. Or, if there are then incurring misfortune the friends, acquaintances, helpmates, and relations of those whose affection (for them) is unabated, this becomes the affliction of them, too, though they are (themselves) well provided for. Thus these (ills) are of all men in equal shares but felt most by His Sacred Majesty. There is, again, no country where do not exist these classes, viz., Brahmana and Sramana ascetics, except among the Yonas. There is no (place) in any country where there is not a faith of people in one or other of the sects. Therefore, even a hundredth or the thousandth part of all those people who were wounded, slain, or carried off captives, in Kalinga, would now be considered grievous by His Sacred Majesty. Nay, even if any one does mischief, what can be forgiven is considered as fit to be forgiven by His Sacred Majesty. Even those forest peoples who have come under the dominions of His Sacred Majesty even these he seeks to win over to his way of life and thought. And it is said unto them how even in his repentance is the might of His Sacred Majesty, so that they may be ashamed (of their crimes) and may not be killed. Indeed, His Sacred Majesty desires towards all living beings freedom from harm, restraint of passions, impartiality and cheerfulness. And what is Dharma-vijaya, moral conquest, is consideredby His Sacred Majesty the principal conquest. And this has been repeatedly won by His Sacred Majesty both here (in his dominions) and among all the frontier peoples even to the extent of six hundred yojanas where (are) the Yona king, Antiochos by name, and, beyond that Antiochos, the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander below, the Cholas, Pandyas, as far as Tamraparni. Likewise, here in the king’s dominion, among theYonas and Kambojas, among the Nabhakas and Nabhitis, (Nabhapamtis in K.), among Pitinikas, among the Andhrasand Palidas, everywhere are (people) following the religious injunction of His Sacred Majesty. Even those to whom the envoys of His Sacred Majesty do not go, having heard of His Sacred Majesty’s practice, ordinances, and injunctions of Dharma, themselves follow, and will follow, the Dharma. The conquest that by this is won everywhere, that conquest, again, everywhere is productive of a feeling of Love. Love is won in moral conquests. That love may be, indeed, slight, but His Sacred Majesty considers it productive of great fruit, indeed, in the world beyond. For this purpose has this religious edict been indited that my sons and great-grandsons that may be, should not think that a new conquest ought to be made but that if a conquest is theirs (or pleases them), they should relishforbearance and mildness of punishment, and that they should consider that only as conquest which is moral conquest. That is of both this world and the next. And be their pleasure in the renunciation of all (other aims), which is pleasure in morality. That is of both this world and the next.

English translation by S Dhammika

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, conquered the Kalingas eight years after his coronation. One hundred and fifty thousand were deported, one hundred thousand were killed and many more died (from other causes). 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 war), and 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. Therefore the killing, death or deportation of a hundredth, or even a thousandth part of those who died during the conquest of Kalinga now pains Beloved-of-the-Gods. 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. And it (conquest by Dhamma) has been won here, on the borders, even six hundred yojanas away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Tamraparni. Here in the king’s domain among the Greeks, the Kambojas, the Nabhakas, the Nabhapamkits, the Bhojas, the Pitinikas, the Andhras and the Palidas, everywhere people are following Beloved-of-the-Gods’ instructions in Dhamma. 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.

Observations:

Impact of Kalinga War – The common understanding among scholars is that Ashoka got converted to Buddhism after the Kalinga war under remorse. However there are few who do not adhere to this understanding. Lets see who all agree on conversion after the war:

Ashoka, the missionary – In this edict, Ashoka mentions that he had achieved Dhamma-vijaya across his dominions by sending envoys to those countries. Is there a veiled reference to the envoys mentioned in the Third Buddhist Council here?

Mahavamsa mentions that the Third Buddhist Council was held in the seventeenth year of reign. Many scholars state that this edict can be dated to the eighth regnal year of Ashoka as it appears to have been written just after the war with Kalinga.

However, the edict also talks about Dhamma-vijaya achieved by the king. Now this Dhamma-vijaya would have taken some time after the war. We need to provide periods first to conversion of Ashoka, if he was not already a Buddhist at the time of Kalinga war, and then some period for his Dhamma-vijayas. Can it be a period of 9 years so that it coincides with the Third Buddhist Council?

If we want this to coincide with the Third Buddhist Council then a legitimate question would be that why there is no mention of the envoys sent after the council was over? After the completion of the Third Buddhist Council, Ashoka’s son was sent as an envoy, and it would be matter of worth mentioning.

We are trying to reconcile legends with the actual and such problems will happen in this situation. It can be said the sending envoys was not dedicated to a certain period of time, but it was an on going running practice. Envoys were sent at many times to different countries. Therefore Ashoka mentioned his Dhamma-vijaya and sending of envoys in this edict. This edict would have been written before the Third Buddhist Council otherwise he must have mentioned his son as the recent envoy.

Contemporaneity with Greek-Egyptian kings – There are mentioned four Greek-Egyptian kings in this edict. This helps us to put Ashoka in the right space and time. In fact, this is the only worthy fact which can be utilized in identifying the time period of Ashoka and therefore of the Mauryas. Various scholars have agreed upon the time period of these four kings, with minute differences of 1 or 2 years here and there.

Amtiyoka of thsi edict is also mentioned in RE II and he has been discussed there. He is identified with Antiochus II Theos of Syria. Turmaya can be identified with Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt, Amtekina with Antigonus Gonatus of Macedonia, Maga with Magas of Cyrene. Identification of Alikasundara is disputed as some scholars identify him with Alexander of Corinth and some with Alexander of Epirus.

Scholars do not much vary for the dates of these contemporary kings, various proposed dates is listed in the below table.

King P L Bhargava/E Hultzsch D R Bhandarkar R K Mookerji D C Sircar Wikipedia
Antiochus II Theos of Syria 261-246 260-247 261-246 261-246 261-246
Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt 285-247 285-247 285-247 285-247 283-246
Antigonus Gonatus of Macedonia 276-239 278-242 278-239 285-239 319-239
Magas of Cyrene 300-250 Died 258 300-258 282-258 276-250
Alexander of Corinth 252-244 Died between 262 & 258 272-255 253-247
Alexander of Epirus 272?-258 272-255 272-242

Date of Ashoka -Before starting with dates, we need to fix which Alexander Ashoka is talking about, whether it is Alexander of Corinth or Alexander of Epirus. Alexander of Corinth was a Macedonian governor. He was the nephew of Antigonus II Gonatas with whom he later resulted in the war of independence kingdom. He was assisted by the Egyptian king Ptolemy II Philadelphus in this war.

Alexander of Epirus was also involved in war with the Macedonian king Antigonus II Gonatas, which in fact was started by his father. Wikipedia mentions that he was mentioned in Ashokan edict, reference provided of S Dhammika.

If we have to chose between Alexander of Corinth or Epirus, I would prefer to go for the former. The reason being his connections Antigonus II Gonatas & Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the two kings mentioned by Ashoka in the same edict.

For the dates of these various kings, we can take Wikipedia as a reliable source. From the able table, it is derived that all the kings were alive by 250 BCE. Therefore it can be said that this edict can latest be proclaimed by 250-249 BCE and not before 253-254 BCE. But then which regnal year it was of Ashoka at that time? This is not very clear from the edict except it was some year later than eighth.

It should also be taken as a fact that these fourteen rock edicts were engraved at the same time. The latest date mentioned in these rock edicts is the thirteenth year of Ashoka, therefore his fourteenth year should be the latest year in which these can be engraved or procailmed.

This suggests that the fourteenth regnal year of Ashoka fell on or before 246 BCE. R K Mookerji takes 257 BCE as the thirteenth year of Ashoka, on assumption that his rock edicts were issued in his thirteenth year and all his contemporary rulers were alive latest by 258 BCE. Thus the year of Ashoka’s coronation was dated to 270 BCE and his accession to 274 BCE by him.

Romila Thapar takes Aliksundara as Alexander of Epirus, therefore comes to conclusion that 256-255 BCE was the time when everyone was alive. She takes this edict to be proclaimed in his fourteenth regnal year, thus the year of his coronation comes to 270-269 BCE.

From the above table, 14th year of Ashoka = 249 BCE or 253 BCE, thus the year of his coronation = 263 BCE or 267 BCE. We will later see that the theory of 4 years gap in his accession and coronation is not true, therefore he ascended the throne in 263 BCE. Bindusara ruled for 28 years, his accession would be in 291 BCE or 295 BCE. And Chandragupta ruled for 24 years therefore he would have ascended the throne in 315 BCE or 319 BCE.

Indian Kingdoms – Cholaa, Pandyas & Tamraparnis, mentioned in this edict, were also mentioned in RE II and were discussed there. Apart from these, we found mention of Kamboja, Nabhakas (Nabhas), Nabhapamtis (Nabhitis), Andhras, Pulindas, Pitinika and Bhojas. We should discuss these in details here.

Kambojas – They have been discussed in RE V.

Nabhakas/Nabhas – G Buhler cites a passage from the Vaivartta Purana which mentions a city Nabhikapura as belonging to the Uttara-Kurus, so that the Nabhapamtis might be a Himalayan people towards the north-west, neighbors of Kambojas.

Bhoja – G Buhler places Bhoja country in Vidarbha while E Hultzsch somewhere in the western India.

Pitinika – R G Bhandarkar & R K Mookerji take the meaning of this word as ‘people outside Ashoka’s direct authority’. D C Sircar takes Pitinika as ‘hereditary chiefs’ and adds along with Bhojas to translate as Bhoja-paitryainkas meaning hereditary Bhoja chiefs.

Pulindas – Aitareya Brahmana mentionas Pulindas with Andhras. Panini mentions Pulinda-gana, suggesting a republic of Pulindas during his time. Vayu Purana mentions Pulindas with Vindhyamuliyas, people living at the foot of Vindya mountain. Sabha Parva of Mahabharata has a reference to Pulindas that they were neighbors of the Chedis.

E Hultzsch assigns them with Andras and suggests that they could be an eastern tribe.

Andhras – The matter with Andhras is more or less settled as they are identified with the dynasty bearing same name at later time. Andhra country was ruled by the Satavahanas after the Mauryas.


The 13th Major rock edict of Asoka

When king Devanampriya Priyadarshi had been anointed eight years, the country of the Kalingas was conquered by him. One Hundred and fifty thousand in number were the men who were deported thenceOne hundred and thousand in numbers were those who were slain there and many times as many those who died.

After that, now that the country of the Kalingas has been taken, Devanampriya is devoted to the pursuit of Dhamma, the love of Dhamma, and to instructing the people in Dhama. This is the repentance of Devanamprira an account of his conquest of the country of the Kalingas. For the slaughter, death, and deportation of people that take place in the course of conquering an unconquered country is considered very painful and deplorable by Devanampriya.

But the following is considered even more deplorable than this by Devanampriya- that Brahmanas and Shramanas, members of other sects or householders who are living there, and who practice obedience and firm devotion to superior persons, obedience to mother and father, obedience to elderd, proper courtesy to friends, acquaintances, companions, and relatives, to slave and servants-all these suffer injury or slaughter or deportation of their loved ones. And if misfortune befalls the friends, acquaintances, companions, and relatives of persons who are full of devotion towards them, even though they themselves be well provided for, this misfortune too becomes an injury to their own selves. This is shared by all and is considered deplorable be Devanampriya.

there is no place where men are not indeed attached to some sect. therefore, even the hundredth part or the thousands part of all those people who were slain, who died, and who were deported at that time in Kalinga, would now be considered very deplorable by Devanampriya. And Devanampriya thinks that even to one who should wrong him, what can be forgiven is to be forgiven. And even the inhabitanta of the forests which are included in the dominion of Devanampriya, even those he pacifies and conciliates. And they are told to the power to punish them which Devanampriya possesses in spite of his repentance, in order that they may be ashamed of their crimes and may not be killed. For Devanampriya desires towards all beings abstention from hurting, self control and impartiality in case of violence. And this conquest is considered the greatest one by Devanampriya- the conquest by Dhamma.

Source: Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum, Vol-I, Inscriptions of Asoka by E Hultzsch 1969


Edicts of Ashoka – Minor Rock Edicts

We are fortunate enough that many of Ashoka inscriptions are discovered across the present Indian territories and also in few foreign countries. His inscriptions are popularly known as edicts as made famous by the early historians. However, whether these can be termed as edicts is not very clear as though Ashoka commands his people however does not force them to follow his command.

Dr R K Mookerji writes, ‘In these sermons on stone we find his true self revealed and expressed, his philosophy of life, his conception of an emperor’s duties and responsibilities, and the extent to which he lived to realize the high ideals and principles he professed and preached’. Hence these were sermons or preachings of his rather then his edicts.

As these inscriptions are his sermons and preachings hence we find the same inscription at various places. Because of this nature of these epigraphs, the historians do not categorize them by the place where these are discovered but by the groups as per their characteristic. His inscriptions can be classified broadly into five categories.

  1. Rock Edicts
  2. Minor Rock Edicts
  3. Pillar Edicts
  4. Minor Pillar Edicts
  5. Cave and miscellaneous inscriptions

Minor Rock Edicts (MRE) – At present there are eighteen places where we find minor rock edicts. These are usually in sets of two, rarely in three.

1. Sasaram (Sahasram) – Sasaram is lies at the foot of Kaimurs in the present Bihar state. D K Chakrabarty tells that any land-route from Varanasi to Patna (Pataliputra) or Rajagir (Rajagriha) had to pass through Kaimurs. The ancient alignment was Rajagriha-Bodhgaya-Sasaram.

This edict was discovered in 1839 by E L Ravenshaw and was comprehensively discussed by Alexander Cunningham. Cunningham, however, assigns this to Dasaratha, the grandson of Ashoka instead to Ashoka. The edict is engraved inside a cave with 4 feet opening on a hill, little below the Chand Shahid shrine, a modern shrine of a Muslim Pir, on the outskirts of Sasaram. Only MRE1 is found at this site.

V A Smith says that it is probable that this place would have been visited by Hindus in past however it is a mere conjecture.

2. Ghurhupur (Ratanpurwa)/Basaha – This edict was discovered in 2009 and reported by K K Thaplyal. Ghurhupur is about 60 km from Varanasi via Chakia. The village can be approached from Chakia via Saidupur.

There are rock-shelters in the vicinity of Ghrhupur and few have paintings inside. The inscription is found in one of these shelters. The inscription has nine lines written in Brahmi of Ashoka’s period. The language is Magadhan Prakrit as mentioned by K K Thaplyal. Only MRE1 is found at this site.

There is some controversy about this find. The authenticity of the inscription is questioned by Tripathi, Upadhyay and Kumar, all from Banaras Hindu University. They say that the color of the rock on which this inscription is found is different from its adjacent surface color which suggests that the inscription was engraved recently. It is a wonder that there is no weathering of rocks in the inscribed area even after a lapse of several centuries and the rock face is open to sun and rain.

However D K Chakrabarty and K K Thaplyal are of opinion that it is not a fake. The cave inside which it is found would have saved this from weathering and other spoilers.

3. Ahraura – This edict is located on a hill-top shared with the local Bhandari devi temple. Ahraura is in Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh about 25 km from Varanashi. The edict was discovered by R G Pandeya in 1961 and translated by D C Sircar. Only MRE1 is found at this site.

Sircar says that Ahraura version of the edict is the only Ashokan record which states that the pilgrimage was undertaken immediately after the installation of the relics of Buddha on a platform no doubt for worship in the capital city of Pataliputra. Why he used word ‘platform’ instead of ‘stupa’ which seems more appropriate.

Translation by D C Sircar
This declaration (has been made by me while I am) on a tour (of pilgrimage) for 256 nights (i.e. days) since the relics of the Buddha ascended (i.e. were caused to be installed by me on) the platform (for worship).

4. Rupnath – Rupnath is located near Jabalpur. The edict is engraved on a boulder of dark red sandstone. Rupnath lies the foot of the Kaimur hills. A small stream here breaks the crest of the kaimur range and after three low falls, forms a deep secluded pool at the foot of the scarp.

These three low falls are locally known as Rama, Lakshmana and Sita in order from top to down. Alexander Cunningham tells that a fair was held at every Shivaratri however it was discontinued since 1857. I am not sure when this fair was started again, as when I visited the place the fair was in full swing.

D K Chakrabarty tells that Rupnath is situated near the ancient city of Kakrehta which antiquity goes back to the Mauryan period.

5. Panguraria – Panguraria is located on Vidisha-Nandner (south of Bhopal)-Panguraria-Ninnore route. Nadner and Ninnore are ancient sites. Panguraria has many rock-shelters which are known as Panguraria-Bayan complex of rock-shelters. The edict is in a rock-shleter, locally known as Saru-Maru rock-shelter.

Translation by Falk
The king, who (now after consecration) is called Piyadassi, (once) came to this place on a pleasure tour while he was still a ruling prince, living together with this (unwedded) consort.

Translation by D C Sircar
The king named Priyadarsin (speaks) to Kumara Samba from his march (of pilgrimage) to the Upunitha-vihara ( or Opunitha-vihara) in Mansema-desa. (this) declaration (was issued by me when I was) on tour (of pilgrimage and had stayed away from the capital for) 256 (nights).

6. Gujarra – It was discovered in 1953 CE. The edict is located north of the village Gujarra at the foot of a low hill locally known as Siddham ki Todiya. Gujarra is located on Agra-Gwalior-Jhansi route, near the town of Datia. The edict here refers Ashoka with his personal name. Only MRE I is found here.

7. Bahapur (Srinivaspuri) – This edict lies in the heart of New Delhi, below the famous Kalkaji hill. Antiquity of Delhi is unquestioned and the city has the patronage from the times of Mahabharata.

8. Bairat – It was discovered by A C L Carlleyle in 1870-71 CE. It is located just where the road coming from Sariska and Delhi approaches the fortified early historic site of Bairat. It falls on the modern route, Delhi-Gurgaon-Alwar via Sariska. The edict is engraved on a huge isolated block standing at the foot of a hill called the Hinsagir hill.

9. Nittur – Nittur is located NW of Bellary-Sirguppa road via Tekkalakota. It is few km SW of Tekkalakota village. The edict is engraved on a rock outcrop amidst the cultivate fields. It has both, MRE I and II, engraved on separate boulders. Both these edicts refer Ashoka with his personal name.

10. Udegolam – Udegolam is 5 km SW of Nittur and here also the edict is engraved on a rock outcrop amidst the cultivated fields. Only MRE II is found here.

11. Maski – It was discovered by C Beadon in 1915 CE. This was the first found edict which referred Ashoka with his personal name. Maski can be approached via Bellary-Sirguppa-Sindhnur-Maski route. Maski would be the corrupt form of the old Mosangi town.

D K Chakrabarty points that Maski could be the old Musangi, where a battle was fought between the Chalukyan king Jayasimha II and the Chola king Rajendra I as evident from the Thirumalai inscription of the latter.

12. Palkigundu – Only MRE I is found here. The edict is located on the top of a hill on west of the modern city of Koppal.

13. Gavimath – Only MRE I is found here. The edict is on the hill-spur on the east of the Palkigundu hill.

14. Brahmagiri – It was discovered by B Lewis Rice in 1892 CE. Both, MRE I and MRE II are found here. Brahmagiri is easily accessible from the modern town of Hanagal/Hangal.

15. Siddapur – It was discovered by B Lewis Rice in 1892 CE. Both, MRE I and MRE II are found here. Siddapur is about 1.5 km from Brahmagiri.

16. Jatinga Ramesvar – It was discovered by B Lewis Rice in 1892 CE. Both, MRE I and MRE II are found here. It is located 5 km north by west of Brahmagiri. The inscription is engraved on a floor immediately in front of the staircase leading up to the temple of Jatinga Ramesvar.

These edicts (Brahmagiri, Siddapur, Jatinga Ramesvar) alone contain a short supplementary edict giving a summary of Ashoka’s Dharma. D K Chakrabarty tells that just because there is an extra text at the end of these edicts, we should not separate them into two edicts but it should be considered same as MRE I.

17. Yerragudi/Erragudi – This edict lies by the side of the road from Gooti to Adoni. Both, MRE I and II, are found here. Suvarnagiri of Yerragudi could be Sannati but not Kanakagiri or Jonnagiri as the latter two do not have signs of ancient occupation.

18. Rajula Mandagiri – This site can be approached from Pattikonda. Both, MRE I and II, are found here. This inscriptions was discovered in 1953-54 CE and it is located 35 km from the Yerragudi inscription.

Nine out of the eighteen MREs are in Karnataka, and two in Andhra Pradesh. However these all are written in Pali and Brahmi script but not in any regional script. The reason might be, as suggested by Meena Talim, that the Buddhist community of South India might be comfortable with the Pali language as all the ancient Buddhist literature is in the same language. Dr R Thapar suggests that Ashoka did not try to use the local language of Southern India, though he did in the case of Greek and Aramaic speaking areas, as there was no local script in southern India at that time.

Meenal Talim does not agree with Thapar and the former tells that it was not only the change of script in Greek and Aramaic case but the language was also changed into the local diction. Also the argument of missing local script in southern India cannot be upheld as we have many Tamil inscriptions in Brahmi script which can be dated close to Ashoka’s period. There is no trend of change of diction among Ashoka’s edicts within India, except the change in script to Kharoshti at Mansehra and Shahbazgarh, which probably was due to their closeness to the north-west frontier kingdoms.


THE EDICTS OF KING ASHOKA

An English rendering by
Ven. S. Dhammika

The Wheel Publication No. 386/387
ISBN 955-24-0104-6
Published in 1993
BUDDHIST PUBLICATION SOCIETY
KANDY SRI LANKA
Copyright 1993 Ven. S. Dhammika
DharmaNet Edition 1994
This electronic edition is offered for free distribution
via DharmaNet by arrangement with the publisher. DharmaNet International
P.O. Box 4951, Berkeley CA 94704-4951
PREFACE
INTRODUCTION
THE FOURTEEN ROCK EDICTS
KALINGA ROCK EDICTS
MINOR ROCK EDICTS
THE SEVEN PILLAR EDICTS
MINOR PILLAR EDICTS
NOTES
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Original texts
Buddhism in India
The Edicts of King Asoka

King Asoka, the third monarch of the Indian Mauryan dynasty, has come to be regarded as one of the most exemplary rulers in world history. The British historian H.G. Wells has written: "Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history . the name of Asoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star." Although Buddhist literature preserved the legend of this ruler -- the story 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. The Australian bhikkhu Ven. S. Dhammika, the compiler of the present work, is the spiritual director of the Buddha Dhamma Mandala Society in Singapore.
PREFACE

This rendering of King Asoka's Edicts is based heavily on Amulyachandra Sen's English translation, which includes the original Magadhi and a Sanskrit and English translation of the text. However, many parts of the edicts are far from clear in meaning and the numerous translations of them differ widely. Therefore, I have also consulted the translations of C. D. Sircar and D. R. Bhandarkar and in parts favored their interpretations. Any credit this small book deserves is due entirely to the labors and learning of these scholars.
INTRODUCTION

//Dhamma sadhu, kiyam cu dhamme ti? Apasinave, bahu kayane, daya, dane, sace, socaye//.
Dhamma is good, but what constitutes Dhamma? (It includes) little evil, much good, kindness, generosity, truthfulness and purity.
KING ASOKA

With the rediscovery and translation of Indian literature by European scholars in the 19th century, it was not just the religion and philosophy of Buddhism that came to light, but also its many legendary histories and biographies. Amongst this class of literature, one name that came to be noticed was that of Asoka, a good king who was supposed to have ruled India in the distant past. Stories about this king, similar in outline but differing greatly in details, were found in the Divyavadana, the Asokavadana, the Mahavamsa and several other works. They told of an exceptionally cruel and ruthless prince who had many of his brothers killed in order to seize the throne, who was dramatically converted to Buddhism and who ruled wisely and justly for the rest of his life. None of these stories were taken seriously -- after all many pre-modern cultures had legends about "too good to be true" kings who had ruled righteously in the past and who, people hoped, would rule again soon. Most of these legends had their origins more in popular longing to be rid of the despotic and uncaring kings than in any historical fact. And the numerous stories about Asoka were assumed to be the same.

But in 1837, James Prinsep succeeded in deciphering an ancient inscription on a large stone pillar in Delhi. Several other pillars and rocks with similar inscriptions had been known for some time and had attracted the curiosity of scholars. Prinsep's inscription proved to be a series of edicts issued by a king calling himself "Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi." In the following decades, more and more edicts by this same king were discovered and with increasingly accurate decipherment of their language, a more complete picture of this man and his deeds began to emerge. Gradually, it dawned on scholars that the King Piyadasi of the edicts might be the King Asoka so often praised in Buddhist legends. However, it was not until 1915, when another edict actually mentioning the name Asoka was discovered, that the identification was confirmed. Having been forgotten for nearly 700 years, one of the greatest men in history became known to the world once again.

Asoka's edicts are mainly concerned with the reforms he instituted and the moral principles he recommended in his attempt to create a just and humane society. As such, they give us little information about his life, the details of which have to be culled from other sources. Although the exact dates of Asoka's life are a matter of dispute among scholars, he was born in about 304 B.C. and became the third king of the Mauryan dynasty after the death of his father, Bindusara. His given name was Asoka but he assumed the title Devanampiya Piyadasi which means "Beloved-of-the-Gods, He Who Looks On With Affection." There seems to have been a two-year war of succession during which at least one of Asoka's brothers was killed. In 262 B.C., eight years after his coronation, Asoka's armies attacked and conquered Kalinga, a country that roughly corresponds to the modern state of Orissa. The loss of life caused by battle, reprisals, deportations and the turmoil that always exists in the aftermath of war so horrified Asoka that it brought about a complete change in his personality. It seems that Asoka had been calling himself a Buddhist for at least two years prior to the Kalinga war, but his commitment to Buddhism was only lukewarm and perhaps had a political motive behind it. But after the war Asoka dedicated the rest of his life trying to apply Buddhist principles to the administration of his vast empire. He had a crucial part to play in helping Buddhism to spread both throughout India and abroad, and probably built the first major Buddhist monuments. Asoka died in 232 B.C. in the thirty-eighth year of his reign.

Asoka's edicts are to be found scattered in more than thirty places throughout India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Most of them are written in Brahmi script from which all Indian scripts and many of those used in Southeast Asia later developed. The language used in the edicts found in the eastern part of the sub-continent is a type of Magadhi, probably the official language of Asoka's court. The language used in the edicts found in the western part of India is closer to Sanskrit although one bilingual edict in Afghanistan is written in Aramaic and Greek. Asoka's edicts, which comprise the earliest decipherable corpus of written documents from India, have survived throughout the centuries because they are written on rocks and stone pillars. These pillars in particular are testimony to the technological and artistic genius of ancient Indian civilization. Originally, there must have been many of them, although only ten with inscriptions still survive. Averaging between forty and fifty feet in height, and weighing up to fifty tons each, all the pillars were quarried at Chunar, just south of Varanasi and dragged, sometimes hundreds of miles, to where they were erected. Each pillar was originally capped by a capital, sometimes a roaring lion, a noble bull or a spirited horse, and the few capitals that survive are widely recognized as masterpieces of Indian art. Both the pillars and the capitals exhibit a remarkable mirror-like polish that has survived despite centuries of exposure to the elements. The location of the rock edicts is governed by the availability of suitable rocks, but the edicts on pillars are all to be found in very specific places. Some, like the Lumbini pillar, mark the Buddha's birthplace, while its inscriptions commemorate Asoka's pilgrimage to that place. Others are to be found in or near important population centres so that their edicts could be read by as many people as possible.

There is little doubt that Asoka's edicts were written in his own words rather than in the stylistic language in which royal edicts or proclamations in the ancient world were usually written in. Their distinctly personal tone gives us a unique glimpse into the personality of this complex and remarkable man. Asoka's style tends to be somewhat repetitious and plodding as if explaining something to one who has difficulty in understanding. Asoka frequently refers to the good works he has done, although not in a boastful way, but more, it seems, to convince the reader of his sincerity. In fact, an anxiousness to be thought of as a sincere person and a good administrator is present in nearly every edict. Asoka tells his subjects that he looked upon them as his children, that their welfare is his main concern he apologizes for the Kalinga war and reassures the people beyond the borders of his empire that he has no expansionist intentions towards them. Mixed with this sincerity, there is a definite puritanical streak in Asoka's character suggested by his disapproval of festivals and of religious rituals many of which while being of little value were nonetheless harmless.

It is also very clear that Buddhism was the most influential force in Asoka's life and that he hoped his subjects likewise would adopt his religion. He went on pilgrimages to Lumbini and Bodh Gaya, sent teaching monks to various regions in India and beyond its borders, and he was familiar enough with the sacred texts to recommend some of them to the monastic community. It is also very clear that Asoka saw the reforms he instituted as being a part of his duties as a Buddhist. But, while he was an enthusiastic Buddhist, he was not partisan towards his own religion or intolerant of other religions. He seems to have genuinely hoped to be able to encourage everyone to practice his or her own religion with the same conviction that he practiced his.

Scholars have suggested that because the edicts say nothing about the philosophical aspects of Buddhism, Asoka had a simplistic and naive understanding of the Dhamma. This view does not take into account the fact that the purpose of the edicts was not to expound the truths of Buddhism, but to inform the people of Asoka's reforms and to encourage them to be more generous, kind and moral. This being the case, there was no reason for Asoka to discuss Buddhist philosophy. Asoka emerges from his edicts as an able administrator, an intelligent human being and as a devoted Buddhist, and we could expect him to take as keen an interest in Buddhist philosophy as he did in Buddhist practice.

The contents of Asoka's edicts make it clear that all the legends about his wise and humane rule are more than justified and qualify him to be ranked as one of the greatest rulers. In his edicts, he spoke of what might be called state morality, and private or individual morality. The first was what he based his administration upon and what he hoped would lead to a more just, more spiritually inclined society, while the second was what he recommended and encouraged individuals to practice. Both these types of morality were imbued with the Buddhist values of compassion, moderation, tolerance and respect for all life. The Asokan state gave up the predatory foreign policy that had characterized the Mauryan empire up till then and replaced it with a policy of peaceful co-existence. The judicial system was reformed in order to make it more fair, less harsh and less open to abuse, while those sentenced to death were given a stay of execution to prepare appeals and regular amnesties were given to prisoners. State resources were used for useful public works like the importation and cultivation of medical herbs, the building of rest houses, the digging of wells at regular intervals along main roads and the planting of fruit and shade trees. To ensue that these reforms and projects were carried out, Asoka made himself more accessible to his subjects by going on frequent inspection tours and he expected his district officers to follow his example. To the same end, he gave orders that important state business or petitions were never to be kept from him no matter what he was doing at the time. The state had a responsibility not just to protect and promote the welfare of its people but also its wildlife. Hunting certain species of wild animals was banned, forest and wildlife reserves were established and cruelty to domestic and wild animals was prohibited. The protection of all religions, their promotion and the fostering of harmony between them, was also seen as one of the duties of the state. It even seems that something like a Department of Religious Affairs was established with officers called Dhamma Mahamatras whose job it was to look after the affairs of various religious bodies and to encourage the practice of religion.

The individual morality that Asoka hoped to foster included respect (//susrusa//) towards parents, elders, teachers, friends, servants, ascetics and brahmins -- behavior that accords with the advice given to Sigala by the Buddha (Digha Nikaya, Discourse No. 31). He encouraged generosity (//dana//) to the poor (//kapana valaka//), to ascetics and brahmins, and to friends and relatives. Not surprisingly, Asoka encouraged harmlessness towards all life (//avihisa bhutanam//). In conformity with the Buddha's advice in the Anguttara Nikaya, II:282, he also considered moderation in spending and moderation in saving to be good (//apa vyayata apa bhadata//). Treating people properly (//samya pratipati//), he suggested, was much more important than performing ceremonies that were supposed to bring good luck. Because it helped promote tolerance and mutual respect, Asoka desired that people should be well-learned (//bahu sruta//) in the good doctrines (//kalanagama//) of other people's religions. The qualities of heart that are recommended by Asoka in the edicts indicate his deep spirituality. They include kindness (//daya//), self-examination (//palikhaya//), truthfulness (//sace//), gratitude (//katamnata//), purity of heart (//bhava sudhi//), enthusiasm (//usahena//), strong loyalty (//dadha bhatita//), self-control (//sayame//) and love of the Dhamma (//Dhamma kamata//).

We have no way of knowing how effective Asoka's reforms were or how long they lasted but we do know that monarchs throughout the ancient Buddhist world were encouraged to look to his style of government as an ideal to be followed. 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 (capitalism), hatred (communism) and delusion (dictatorships led by "infallible" leaders), Asoka's edicts may make a meaningful contribution to the development of a more spiritually based political system.

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, has caused this Dhamma edict to be written.[1] Here (in my domain) no living beings are to be slaughtered or offered in sacrifice. 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.
2

Everywhere [2] within Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi's domain, and among the people beyond the borders, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Satiyaputras, the Keralaputras, as far as Tamraparni and where the Greek king Antiochos rules, and among the kings who are neighbors of Antiochos,[3] everywhere has Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, made provision for two types of medical treatment: medical treatment for humans and medical treatment for animals. 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.[4]
3

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus:[5] Twelve years after my coronation this has been ordered -- Everywhere in my domain the Yuktas, the Rajjukas and the Pradesikas shall go on inspection tours every five years for the purpose of Dhamma instruction and also to conduct other business.[6] Respect for mother and father is good, generosity to friends, acquaintances, relatives, Brahmans and ascetics is good, not killing living beings is good, moderation in spending and moderation in saving is good. The Council shall notify the Yuktas about the observance of these instructions in these very words.
4

In the past, for many hundreds of years, killing or harming living beings and improper behavior towards relatives, and improper behavior towards Brahmans and ascetics has increased.[7] But now due to Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi's Dhamma practice, the sound of the drum has been replaced by the sound of the Dhamma.[8] The sighting of heavenly cars, auspicious elephants, bodies of fire and other divine sightings has not happened for many hundreds of years. 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.[9]

These and many other kinds of Dhamma practice have been encouraged by Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, and he will continue to promote Dhamma practice. 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.
5

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus:[10] To do good is difficult. 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.[11]

In the past there were no Dhamma Mahamatras but such officers were appointed by me thirteen years after my coronation. 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.[12] They work among soldiers, chiefs, Brahmans, householders, the poor, the aged and those devoted to Dhamma -- for their welfare and happiness -- so that they may be free from harassment. 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.
6

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus:[13] In the past, state business was not transacted nor were reports delivered to the king at all hours. 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.
7

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, desires that all religions should reside everywhere, for all of them desire self-control and purity of heart.[14] But people have various desires and various passions, and they may practice all of what they should or only a part of it. But one who receives great gifts yet is lacking in self-control, purity of heart, gratitude and firm devotion, such a person is mean.
8

In the past kings used to go out on pleasure tours during which there was hunting and other entertainment.[15] But ten years after Beloved-of-the-Gods had been coronated, he went on a tour to Sambodhi and thus instituted Dhamma tours.[16] During these tours, the following things took place: visits and gifts to Brahmans and ascetics, visits and gifts of gold to the aged, visits to people in the countryside, instructing them in Dhamma, and discussing Dhamma with them as is suitable. It is this that delights Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, and is, as it were, another type of revenue.
9

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus:[17] In times of sickness, for the marriage of sons and daughters, at the birth of children, before embarking on a journey, on these and other occasions, people perform various ceremonies. 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: "This is good, this is the ceremony that should be performed until its purpose is fulfilled, this I shall do."[18] Other ceremonies are of doubtful fruit, for they may achieve their purpose, or they may not, and even if they do, it is only in this world. 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.
10

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, does not consider glory and fame to be of great account unless they are achieved through having my subjects respect Dhamma and practice Dhamma, both now and in the future.[19] For this alone does Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, desire glory and fame. 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.
11

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus:[20] There is no gift like the gift of the Dhamma,[21] (no acquaintance like) acquaintance with Dhamma, (no distribution like) distribution of Dhamma, and (no kinship like) kinship through Dhamma. And it consists of this: proper behavior towards servants and employees, respect for mother and father, generosity to friends, companions, relations, Brahmans and ascetics, and not killing living beings. Therefore a father, a son, a brother, a master, a friend, a companion or a neighbor should say: "This is good, this should be done." One benefits in this world and gains great merit in the next by giving the gift of the Dhamma.
12

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, honors both ascetics and the householders of all religions, and he honors them with gifts and honors of various kinds.[22] But Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, does not value gifts and honors as much as he values this -- that there should be growth in the essentials of all religions.[23] Growth in essentials can be done in different ways, but all of them have as their root restraint in speech, that is, not praising one's own religion, or condemning the religion of others without good cause. 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.[24] One should listen to and respect the doctrines professed by others. 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.
13

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, conquered the Kalingas eight years after his coronation.[25] One hundred and fifty thousand were deported, one hundred thousand were killed and many more died (from other causes). 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 war), and 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.[26] Therefore the killing, death or deportation of a hundredth, or even a thousandth part of those who died during the conquest of Kalinga now pains Beloved-of-the-Gods. 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.[27] And it (conquest by Dhamma) has been won here, on the borders, even six hundred yojanas away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Tamraparni.[28] Here in the king's domain among the Greeks, the Kambojas, the Nabhakas, the Nabhapamkits, the Bhojas, the Pitinikas, the Andhras and the Palidas, everywhere people are following Beloved-of-the-Gods' instructions in Dhamma. 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.
14

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, has had these Dhamma edicts written in brief, in medium length, and in extended form.[29] Not all of them occur everywhere, for my domain is vast, but much has been written, and I will have still more written. 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.

KALINGA ROCK EDICTS

Beloved-of-the-Gods says that the Mahamatras of Tosali who are judicial officers in the city are to be told this:[30] I wish to see that everything I consider to be proper is carried out in the right way. 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: "May these things not be in me." And the root of this is non-anger and patience. 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: "See that you do your duty properly. Such and such are Beloved-of-the-Gods' instructions." Great fruit will result from doing your duty, while failing in it will result in gaining neither heaven nor the king's pleasure. 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: that the judicial officers of the city may strive to do their duty and that the people under them might not suffer unjust imprisonment or harsh treatment. 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.
2

Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus:[31] This royal order is to be addressed to the Mahamatras at Samapa. I wish to see that everything I consider to be proper is carried out in the right way. And I consider instructing you to be the best way of accomplishing this. 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.[32]

The people of the unconquered territories beyond the borders might think: "What is the king's intentions towards us?" My only intention is that they live without fear of me, that they may trust me and that I may give them happiness, not sorrow. 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. 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: "The king is like a father. He feels towards us as he feels towards himself. We are to him like his own children."

By instructing you and informing you of my vow and my promise I shall be applying myself in complete fullness to achieving this object. 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. Acting thus, you will be doing your duty.
MINOR ROCK EDICTS

Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus:[33] It is now more than two and a half years since I became a lay-disciple, but until now I have not been very zealous.[34] But now that I have visited the Sangha for more than a year, I have become very zealous. 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.
2

Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus:[35] Father and mother should be respected and so should elders, kindness to living beings should be made strong and the truth should be spoken. 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. Written by the scribe Chapala.
3

Piyadasi, King of Magadha, saluting the Sangha and wishing them good health and happiness, speaks thus:[36] You know, reverend sirs, how great my faith in the Buddha, the Dhamma and Sangha is. Whatever, reverend sirs, has been spoken by Lord Buddha, all that is well-spoken.[37] I consider it proper, reverend sirs, to advise on how the good Dhamma should last long.

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.[38] Likewise the laymen and laywomen. I have had this written that you may know my intentions.
* * *
THE SEVEN PILLAR EDICTS

Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus:[39] This Dhamma edict was written twenty-six years after my coronation. 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 evil), and 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: to protect with Dhamma, to make happiness through Dhamma and to guard with Dhamma.
2

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: Dhamma is good, but what constitutes Dhamma? (It includes) little evil, much good, kindness, generosity, truthfulness and purity. I have given the gift of sight in various ways.[40] To two-footed and four-footed beings, to birds and aquatic animals, I have given various things including the gift of life. 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.
3

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: People see only their good deeds saying, "I have done this good deed." But they do not see their evil deeds saying, "I have done this evil deed" or "This is called evil." But this (tendency) is difficult to see.[41] One should think like this: "It is these things that lead to evil, to violence, to cruelty, anger, pride and jealousy. Let me not ruin myself with these things." And further, one should think: "This leads to happiness in this world and the next."
4

Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus: 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 same), that 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 nurse will keep my child well," even so, the Rajjukas have been appointed by me for the welfare and happiness of the people in the country.

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.
5

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: Twenty-six years after my coronation various animals were declared to be protected -- parrots, mainas, //aruna//, ruddy geese, wild ducks, //nandimukhas, gelatas//, bats, queen ants, terrapins, boneless fish, //vedareyaka//, //gangapuputaka//, //sankiya// fish, tortoises, porcupines, squirrels, deer, bulls, //okapinda//, wild asses, wild pigeons, domestic pigeons and all four-footed creatures that are neither useful nor edible.[42] Those nanny goats, ewes and sows which are with young or giving milk to their young are protected, and so are young ones less than six months old. 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.
6

Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus: 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. Thinking: "How can the welfare and happiness of the people be secured?" I give attention to my relatives, to those dwelling near and those dwelling far, so I can lead them to happiness and then I act accordingly. 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.

This Dhamma edict was written twenty-six years after my coronation.
7

Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus: 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: "It occurs to me that 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. Now how can the people be encouraged to follow it? How can the people be encouraged to grow through the promotion of the Dhamma? How can I elevate them by promoting the Dhamma?" Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, further said concerning this: "It occurs to me that I shall have proclamations on Dhamma announced and instruction on Dhamma given. When people hear these, they will follow them, elevate themselves and grow considerably through the promotion of the Dhamma." It is for this purpose that proclamations on Dhamma have been announced and various instructions on Dhamma have been given and that officers who work among many promote and explain them in detail. The Rajjukas who work among hundreds of thousands of people have likewise been ordered: "In this way and that encourage those who are devoted to Dhamma." Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus: "Having this object in view, I have set up Dhamma pillars, appointed Dhamma Mahamatras, and announced Dhamma proclamations."

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, says: Along roads I have had banyan trees planted so that they can give shade to animals and men, and I have had mango groves planted. At intervals of eight //krosas//, I have had wells dug, rest-houses built, and in various places, I have had watering-places made for the use of animals and men. But these are but minor achievements. Such things to make the people happy have been done by former kings. I have done these things for this purpose, that the people might practice the Dhamma.

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: My Dhamma Mahamatras too are occupied with various good works among the ascetics and householders of all religions. I have ordered that they should be occupied with the affairs of the Sangha. I have also ordered that they should be occupied with the affairs of the Brahmans and the Ajivikas. I have ordered that they be occupied with the Niganthas.[43] In fact, I have ordered that different Mahamatras be occupied with the particular affairs of all different religions. And my Dhamma Mahamatras likewise are occupied with these and other religions.

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: These and other principal officers are occupied with the distribution of gifts, mine as well as those of the queens. In my women's quarters, they organize various charitable activities here and in the provinces. I have also ordered my sons and the sons of other queens to distribute gifts so that noble deeds of Dhamma and the practice of Dhamma may be promoted. And noble deeds of Dhamma and the practice of Dhamma consist of having kindness, generosity, truthfulness, purity, gentleness and goodness increase among the people.

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: Whatever good deeds have been done by me, those the people accept and those they follow. Therefore they have progressed and will continue to progress by being respectful to mother and father, respectful to elders, by courtesy to the aged and proper behavior towards Brahmans and ascetics, towards the poor and distressed, and even towards servants and employees.

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: This progress among the people through Dhamma has been done by two means, by Dhamma regulations and by persuasion. Of these, Dhamma regulation is of little effect, while persuasion has much more effect. The Dhamma regulations I have given are that various animals must be protected. And I have given many other Dhamma regulations also. But it is by persuasion that progress among the people through Dhamma has had a greater effect in respect of harmlessness to living beings and non-killing of living beings.

Concerning this, Beloved-of-the-Gods says: Wherever there are stone pillars or stone slabs, there this Dhamma edict is to be engraved so that it may long endure. It has been engraved so that it may endure as long as my sons and great-grandsons live and as long as the sun and the moon shine, and so that people may practice it as instructed. For by practicing it happiness will be attained in this world and the next.

This Dhamma edict has been written by me twenty-seven years after my coronation.

THE MINOR PILLAR EDICTS

Twenty years after his coronation, Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, visited this place and worshipped because here the Buddha, the sage of the Sakyans, was born.[44] He had a stone figure and a pillar set up and because the Lord was born here, the village of Lumbini was exempted from tax and required to pay only one eighth of the produce.
2

Beloved-of-the-Gods commands:[45] The Mahamatras at Kosambi (are to be told: Whoever splits the Sangha) which is now united, is not to be admitted into the Sangha. Whoever, whether monk or nun, splits the Sangha is to be made to wear white clothes and to reside somewhere other than in a monastery.[46]
NOTES

1. Girnar version issued in 257 B.C. These fourteen edicts, with minor differences, are found in five different places throughout India. In two other places, they are found minus numbers 11, 12 and 13.

2. Girnar version, issued in 257 B.C.

3. The Cholas and Pandyas were south Indian peoples living outside Asoka's empire. The Satiyaputras and Keralaputras lived on the southwest seaboard of India. Tamraparni is one of the ancient names for Sri Lanka. On Antiochos see Note 28.

4. By so doing, Asoka was following the advice given by the Buddha at Samyutta Nikaya, I:33.

5. Girnar version, issued in 257 B.C.

6. The exact duties of these royal officers are not known.

7. Girnar version, issued in 257 B.C.

8. This probably refers to the drum that was beaten to announce the punishment of lawbreakers. See Samyutta Nikaya, IV:244.

9. Like many people in the ancient world, Asoka believed that when a just king ruled, there would be many auspicious portents.

10. Kalsi version, issued in 256 B.C.

11. This seems to be a paraphrase of Dhammapada 163.

12. The Greeks (Yona) settled in large numbers in what is now Afghanistan and Pakistan after the conquests of Alexander the Great, although small communities lived there prior to this.

13. Girnar version, issued in 256 B.C..

14. Girnar version, issued in 256 B.C.

15. Girnar version, issued in 256 B.C.

16. Bodh Gaya, the site of the Buddha's enlightenment, was known in ancient times as either Sambodhi or Vajirasana.

17. Kalsi version, issued in 256 B.C. Asoka obviously had the Mangala Sutta (Sutta Nipata 258-269) in mind when he issued this edict. The word here translated as ceremony is //mangala//.

18. Other versions substitute the following up to the end of the edict. It has also been said: "Generosity is good." But there is no gift or benefit like the gift of the Dhamma or benefit like the benefit of the Dhamma. There a friend, a well-wisher, a relative or a companion should encourage others thus on appropriate occasions: "This should be done, this is good, by doing this, one can attain heaven." And what greater achievement is there than this, to attain heaven?

19. Girnar version, issued in 256 B.C.

20. Girnar version, issued in 256 B.C.

21. Similar to Dhammapada 354.

22. Girnar version, issued in 256 B.C.

23. Asoka probably believed that the essentials (//saravadi//) of all religions were their ethical principles.

24. (//Ta samavayo eva sadhu//). This sentence is usually translated "Therefore concord is commendable." //Samavayo// however comes from //sam// + //ava// + //i//, "to come together."

25. Kalsi version, issued in 256 B.C. Kalinga corresponds roughly to the modern state of Orissa.

26. The Buddha pointed out that the four castes of Indian society likewise were not found among the Greeks see Majjhima Nikaya, II:149.

27. Perhaps Asoka had in mind Dhammapada 103-104.

28. Antiochos II Theos of Syria (261-246 B.C.), Ptolemy II Philadelphos of Egypt (285-247 B.C.), Antigonos Gonatos of Macedonia (278-239 B.C.), Magas of Cyrene (300-258 B.C.) and Alexander of Epirus (272-258 B.C.).

29. Girnar version, issued in 256 B.C.

30. Dhauli version, issued in 256 B.C. These two edicts are found in two different places.

31. Dhauli version, issued in 256 B.C.

32. This is reminiscent of the Buddha's words: "Just as a mother would protect her only child even at the risk of her own life, even so, let one cultivate a boundless heart towards all beings." Sutta Nipata 149.

33. Gavimath version, issued in 257 B.C. This edict is found in twelve different places.

34. First Asoka was a lay-disciple (//upasaka//) and then he visited or literally "went to the Sangha" (//yam me samghe upeti//). Some scholars think this means that Asoka became a monk. However it probably means that he started visiting Buddhist monks more often and listening to their instructions more carefully.

36. This edict was found inscribed on a small rock near the town of Bairat and is now housed at the Asiatic Society in Calcutta. Its date is not known. 37. This sentence is the converse of a similar one in the Tipitaka:

". that which is well-spoken is the words of the Lord." Anguttara Nikaya, IV:164.

38. There is disagreement amongst scholars concerning which Pali suttas correspond to some of the text. Vinaya samukose: probably the Atthavasa Vagga, Anguttara Nikaya, 1:98-100. Aliya vasani: either the Ariyavasa Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya, V:29, or the Ariyavamsa Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya, II: 27-28. Anagata bhayani: probably the Anagata Sutta, Anguttara Nikaya, III:100. Muni gatha: Muni Sutta, Sutta Nipata 207-221. Upatisa pasine: Sariputta Sutta, Sutta Nipata 955-975. Laghulavade: Rahulavada Sutta, Majjhima Nikaya, I:421.

39. The following seven edicts are from the Delhi Topra version, the first six being issued in 243 B.C. and the seventh in 242 B.C. The first six edicts also appear on five other pillars.

40. //Cakhu dane//. The meaning is unclear. It may mean that Asoka has given "the eye of wisdom," but taking into account the context, it more likely means he has stopped blinding as a form of punishment.

41. Similar to the ideas expressed by the Buddha in Dhammapada 50 and 252.

42. The identification of many of these animals is conjectural.

43. The Ajivikas were a sect of ascetics in ancient India established by Makkhali Gosala, a contemporary of the Buddha. The Niganthas are the Jains.

44. This inscription is found on a pillar in Lumbini where the Buddha was born. It was issued in 249 B.C., probably at the time of Asoka's visit to the place.

45. Allahabad version, date of issue not known. The words in brackets are missing due to damage on the pillar, but they can be reconstructed from the three other versions of this edict.

46. The white clothes of the lay followers rather than the yellow robe of a monk or nun.
BIBLIOGRAPHY

D. R. Bhandarkar, //Asoka//. Calcutta, 1955

R. Mookerji, //Asoka//. Delhi, 1962

A. Sen, //Asoka's Edicts//. Calcutta, 1956

A. Seneviratna (editor), //King Asoka and Buddhism//. Kandy. Scheduled for 1993.

D. C. Sircar, //Inscriptions of Asoka//. Delhi, 1957
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The Archeological Significance of Maski Rock Edict

Even before the discovery of the Maski rock edict, the British archeologists had uncovered many rock edicts and pillar edicts all over India. They could infer that these were inscribed by an emperor in the 3rd Century BCE (BC). These edicts contained administrative orders of the emperor as well as many counsels about moral life, and notes on the Dharma and the Buddha. Some of the edicts also contained mentions about his relationship with neighboring countries such as Yonas (Greece), Kamboja and Gandharas to the West and, Chola and Pandya (Tamil Nadu), Keralaputra (Kerala), Satyaputra (Southern Karnataka) and Tamraparni (Sri Lanka) to the South.

At that time, the archeologists had a puzzle that was not completely solved. All those edicts had the name of the emperor inscribed as Devanampriya (The Beloved of the Gods) or Priyadarshin (He who Watches with Love). or Devanampriya Priyadarshin Raja (The King who Watches with Love, and the Beloved of Gods). It wasn’t clear whom this was referring to, though the inferences from the historical time period indicated that it is an Emperor from Magadha with Pataliputra as the capital. Finally, the Maski edict revealed the name as “Devanampriya Ashoka”. This proved beyond doubt that it is none other than Emperor Ashoka whose glory has been eulogized widely in the Buddhist legends. Devanampriya and Priyadarshin were the titles he chose to address himself. As all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fit together nicely, the history of India of the 3rd Century BCE was coming to light vividly.


Ashoka's Rock Edicts

After the Mauryan emperor Ashoka (269-232), or Piyadasi, had conquered almost the entire Indian subcontinent, he was sick of all violence (below), converted to Buddhism and adopted a more pacifist world view. On several places in India and Pakistan (and Bangla Desh and Afghanistan), he left large rock edicts, in which he tried to establish dhamma, justice, which the king defines as much good and little evil, kindness, generosity, truthfulness and purity.

The translation of these fourteen edicts was made by Ven. S. Dhammika. A similar text, from Kandahar, can be read here.

[1] The beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, has caused this dhamma edict to be written. Here (in my domain) no living beings are to be slaughtered or offered in sacrifice. Nor should festivals be held, for the beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, sees much to object to in such festivals, although there are some festivals that the beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, does approve of.

Formerly, in the kitchen of the 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.

[2] Everywhere within the beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi's domain, and among the people beyond the borders, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Satiyaputras, the Keralaputras, as far as Tamraparni and where the Greek king Antiochus rules, and among the kings who are neighbors of Antiochus, note [These people lived outside Ashoka's realm. The Cholas, Pandyas, Satiyaputras, and Keralaputras lived in the deep south of India Tamraparni, or Taprobane, is modern Sri Lanka. King Antiochus II Theos was ruler of the Seleucid Empire.] everywhere has the beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, made provision for two types of medical treatment: medical treatment for humans and medical treatment for animals. 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.

[3] The beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, speaks thus: Twelve years after my coronation this has been ordered - Everywhere in my domain the Yuktas, the Rajjukas and the Pradesikas shall go on inspection tours every five years for the purpose of dhamma instruction and also to conduct other business. note [The exact responsibilities of the Yuktas, Rajjukas and Pradesikas, which are obviously royal inspectors, are unknown.] Respect for mother and father is good, generosity to friends, acquaintances, relatives, Brahmans and ascetics is good, not killing living beings is good, moderation in spending and moderation in saving is good. The Council shall notify the Yuktas about the observance of these instructions in these very words.

[4] In the past, for many hundreds of years, killing or harming living beings and improper behavior towards relatives, and improper behavior towards Brahmans and ascetics has increased. But now due to the beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi's dhamma practice, the sound of the [war] drum has been replaced by the sound of the dhamma. The sighting of heavenly cars, auspicious elephants, bodies of fire and other divine sightings has not happened for many hundreds of years. But now because the 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.

These and many other kinds of dhamma practice have been encouraged by the beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, and he will continue to promote dhamma practice. And the sons, grandsons and great-grandsons of the 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. The beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, has had this written twelve years after his coronation.

[5] The beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, speaks thus: To do good is difficult. 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.

In the past there were no dhamma Mahamatras note [Teachers and missionaries.] but such officers were appointed by me thirteen years after my coronation. 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, note [Alexander the Great, who conquered the area now known as Pakistan between 327 and 325, had left many Greeks and Macedonians in Sogdia and Gandara. By the end of his reign, the Europeans of the Punjab and Sind were resettled in Gandara.] the Kambojas, the Gandharas, the Rastrikas, the Pitinikas and other peoples on the western borders. They work among soldiers, chiefs, Brahmans, householders, the poor, the aged and those devoted to dhamma -for their welfare and happiness- so that they may be free from harassment. The 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.

[6] The beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, speaks thus: In the past, state business was not transacted nor were reports delivered to the king at all hours. 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 dispatching business. Truly, I consider the welfare of all to be my duty, and the root of this is exertion and the prompt dispatch 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.

[7] The beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, desires that all religions should reside everywhere, for all of them desire self-control and purity of heart. But people have various desires and various passions, and they may practice all of what they should or only a part of it. But one who receives great gifts yet is lacking in self-control, purity of heart, gratitude and firm devotion, such a person is mean.

[8] In the past kings used to go out on pleasure tours during which there was hunting and other entertainment. But ten years after the beloved of the gods had been coronated, he went on a tour to Sambodhi note [Sambodhi, or Bodh Gaya, was the place of Buddha's enlightenment.] and thus instituted dhamma tours. During these tours, the following things took place: visits and gifts to Brahmans and ascetics, visits and gifts of gold to the aged, visits to people in the countryside, instructing them in dhamma, and discussing dhamma with them as is suitable. It is this that delights the beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, and is, as it were, another type of revenue.

[9] The beloved of the gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: In times of sickness, for the marriage of sons and daughters, at the birth of children, before embarking on a journey, on these and other occasions, people perform various ceremonies. 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: "This is good, this is the ceremony that should be performed until its purpose is fulfilled, this I shall do." Other ceremonies are of doubtful fruit, for they may achieve their purpose, or they may not, and even if they do, it is only in this world. 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.

[10] The beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, does not consider glory and fame to be of great account unless they are achieved through having my subjects respect dhamma and practice dhamma, both now and in the future. For this alone does the beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, desire glory and fame. And whatever efforts the 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.

[11] The beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, speaks thus: There is no gift like the gift of the dhamma, no acquaintance like acquaintance with dhamma, no distribution like distribution of dhamma, and no kinship like kinship through dhamma. And it consists of this: proper behavior towards servants and employees, respect for mother and father, generosity to friends, companions, relations, Brahmans and ascetics, and not killing living beings. Therefore a father, a son, a brother, a master, a friend, a companion or a neighbor should say: "This is good, this should be done." One benefits in this world and gains great merit in the next by giving the gift of the dhamma.

[12] The beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, honors both ascetics and the householders of all religions, and he honors them with gifts and honors of various kinds. But the beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, does not value gifts and honors as much as he values this - that there should be growth in the essentials of all religions. Growth in essentials can be done in different ways, but all of them have as their root restraint in speech, that is, not praising one's own religion, or condemning the religion of others without good cause. 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. One should listen to and respect the doctrines professed by others. The 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: the 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.

[13] The beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, conquered the Kalingas note [In eastern India.] eight years after his coronation. One hundred and fifty thousand were deported, one hundred thousand were killed and many more died from other causes. After the Kalingas had been conquered, the beloved of the gods came to feel a strong inclination towards the dhamma, a love for the dhamma and for instruction in dhamma. Now the beloved of the gods feels deep remorse for having conquered the Kalingas.

Indeed, the beloved of the gods is deeply pained by the killing, dying and deportation that take place when an unconquered country is conquered. But the 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 war, and this pains the 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. Therefore the killing, death or deportation of a hundredth, or even a thousandth part of those who died during the conquest of Kalinga now pains the beloved of the gods. Now the 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 the beloved of the gods' domain, are entreated and reasoned with to act properly. They are told that despite his remorse the 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, the 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 the beloved of the gods considers to be the best conquest. And conquest by dhamma has been won here, on the borders, even six hundred yojanas away, where the Greek king Antiochus rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonus, Magas and Alexander rule, note [Antiochus II Theos of the Seleucid Empire (261-246), Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Ptolemaic Egypt (282-246), king Antigonus II Gonatas of Macedonia (283-239), king Magas of Cyrenaica (275-250/249) and king Alexander of Epirus (272-258).] likewise in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Tamraparni. Here in the king's domain among the Greeks, the Kambojas, the Nabhakas, the Nabhapamkits, the Bhojas, the Pitinikas, the Andhras and the Palidas, everywhere people are following the beloved of the gods' instructions in dhamma. Even where the 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 the 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. The 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.

[14] The beloved of the gods, king Piyadasi, has had these dhamma edicts written in brief, in medium length, and in extended form. Not all of them occur everywhere, for my domain is vast, but much has been written, and I will have still more written. 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.


Watch the video: Edicts of Emperor Ashoka - समरट अशक क शललख और अधयदश - Ancient Indian History (May 2022).