Ashoka The Great

Ashoka The Great belonged to the Mauryan dynasty. The founder of the Mauryan dynasty was Chandragupta Maurya. This was more than 2300 years ago. One of the greatest rulers of Indian history, the great Ashoka's Kingdom was known as an empire. Ashoka the king, was one of the greatest rulers of his time and invested a lot of effort inscribing a lot of instructions around his Kingdom. His empire included cities like Pataliputra, Taxila, Ujjain, etc.

How are Empires different from Kingdoms?

Empire is comparatively larger than the Kingdom in terms of area under a single ruler. Therefore empires need more resources to function efficiently. They also require more taxes in order to run the territory. To keep the territory fully functional they also required an adequate number of officials to manage the whole area.

Ruling the Empire

The Mauryan Empire was ruled differently in each part due to its vast area. The same rule in each part was Virtually impossible as every locality had a different set of customs and local rules. Various officials were appointed to collect taxes from different areas in the kingdom. Certain regions like Pataliputra were under the direct control of the king. Here officials were appointed to directly collect taxes from various farmers, craft persons, traders, and others who lived in this region.

Other regions were controlled by provincial capitals like Ujjain or Taxila. The control from Pataliputra was minimal here. The Royal Princes often were the governors of these regions and follow the local customs and rules. All the officials who collected taxes and were under the emperor supervised by the help of the royal family, senior ministers, or spies.

As the kingdom was and resourceful it was Virtually impossible to rule it fully from the capital. The emperor therefore important resources under his control like roads, rivers, forests, etc. In certain regions, the tax was collected in terms of resources rather than money. People in the forest regions when expected to pay taxes in terms of elephant timber wax and honey.

Ashoka : A Unique Ruler

Ashoka the great king was a unique ruler in how he sent messages to his people. He was the first king of his times who inscribed messages on Pillars and slabs to connect to his people. He gave instructions in those inscriptions and set them up at various important locations for people to see and understand them. These instructions were mostly written in Brahmi And Prakrit script.

Ashoka’s War in Kalinga

We have understood a lot about Ashoka the Great King. Let's learn a bit about Ashoka the great history. One of the famous regions of Orissa was Kalinga. It is not only famous for its history but it has links to the transformation of one of the greatest Kings in history. Ashoka the great emperor had thought of war here which created a message of bloodshed and violence. Sing The bloodshed and violence all around him was so horrified that he gave up war. He is probably the only king in history who gave up war after winning one.

What was Ashoka’s Dhamma?

Ashoka's Dhamma did not involve the usual rituals and customs of worship. He was inspired by Buddhist teachings. He felt that as the king, he had a duty to teach his people just like a father. Due to the large Empire, there were a lot of issues among the subjects in his Empire. People belonged to different religions, followed different customs and this led to a number of problems amongst themselves. The great Ashoka noticed that animals were ill-treated and so were the slaves or servants. There were frequent quarrels among the neighbours which led to more problems.

Ashoka appointed dhamma mahamatta who were officials appointed to teach people about Dhamma. They went from place to place and taught everyone about this. Ashoka also inscribed his messages on Pillars and rocks so that people could read them and understand them. For people who could not read there were people who are instructed to read them out for the illiterate. He also sent messengers to two other kingdoms to spread his idea of dhamma. The messengers spread the ideas to Sri Lanka Greece Egypt Syria etc. He also built roads wells and rest houses for his people. He set up hospitals to treat humans and animals both.

Did You Know?

  • Chandashoka was another name of Ashoka.

  • The four-headed lion used as the national emblem was actually made to spread Buddhism.

  • Ashoka was appointed as Dharma Mahapatro, and was responsible for spreading Buddhism in his kingdom.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Briefly mention Ashoka’s Welfare initiatives.

Ans. Ashoka the Great was disturbed by numerous social issues including the ill-treatment of slaves and servants, killing of animals, quarrels in families and amongst neighbors. He thought it his duty to solve these issues. For that, he delegated officials, usually known as dhamma mahamatta who went to various places to guide the common man about dhamma.

Ashoka had also made provisions in consideration of medical facilities for both humans and animals as well as did a lot of work for public welfare like making rest houses, digging wells. He had also strictly forbidden sacrificing animals. He used to get his messages engraved on the rocks and pillars which later came to be known as Ashoka Pillars and Ashokan Edicts.

2. Mention some of the Important aspects of Ashoka’s Background.

Ans. Ashoka The Great is one of the greatest rulers known to Indian history. His empire was founded more than 2300 years ago by Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka's grandfather. Ashoka was strongly supported and led by the famous Chanakya, also known as Kautilya. The Maurya consisted of three major rulers known for their attributes – Chandragupta, his son Bindusara, and the son of Bindusara, Ashoka.

Ashoka was the third ruler of the Mauryan empire and became one of the most powerful kings of the ancient period. His reign was between 273 BC and 232 one of  the most flourishing periods in India's history. Ashoka was blessed to Mauryan King Bindusara, and his queen Devi Dharma, and was the grandson of the founding member of the Mauryan dynasty, the great Chandragupta Maurya.

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