Ashoka (273 B.C. - 232 B.C)

Ashoka was the most famous ruler of the Mauryan dynasty,. He was also the first National ruler, He Commanded universal respect and regard. He started his career as a great Conquer.

The Kalinga War (261 B.C.)

Asoka’s extended from Kashmir in the North to Godavari Krishna basin in the South. Kalinga (modern Orissa) was not included in his kingdom. So he wanted to conquer Kalinga for Security and economic Prosperity He invaded Kalinga in 261 B.C. The Kalinga king resisted Asokas Army, but was defeated. Thousand of people were killed and several thousand were severely wounded in the war. When Asoka saw the misery and bloodshed caused by the war he was shocked He vowed not to wage any more war in future. This war was a turning point in his life. He was attracted by the teachings of Buddha He gave up war and followed the policy of non-violence.

Asoka’s Religious Policy and Dhamma Initially Asoka worshipped Lord Siva. After the Kalinga war, he embraced Buddhism Under the influence of Upagupta a Buddhist monk, Asoka became a Buddhist Asoka’s wife Devi also influenced Asoka to convert to Buddhism Asoka gave up Digvijaya. Instead he promoted Dharmavijaya. He wanted to use religion to win over the hearts of the people.

Though Asoka was a Buddhist the Dhamma that he preached was much more broad based. It included the good principles of both Hinduism and Buddhism Dhamma is a Prakrjt word for dharma. It means religious or moral duty. The chief features of Asoka dhamma are tolerance, non-violence, love and compassion. It also insists that masters should be kind to their servants and slaves; the young people should obey the elders.

Asoka did not impose his Dhamma on his people. His Dhamma was mostly drawn from Buddhism. But he made a clear distinction between his personal belief in Buddhism and his duty as an emperor. He stopped animal sacrifices. He himself gave up hunting and meat eating. He had constructed rest houses for travelers. He planted trees on either side of the roads to give shade. He established hospitals for human beings and animals alike. He convened the third Buddhist council at Pataliputra.

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