Showing posts with label Ashoka. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ashoka. Show all posts

Hinduism - What Are The Rock Edicts Of Ancient India?

The Mauryan emperor Ashoka (r. 269–32 B.C.E.) commissioned a collection of inscriptions.

The inscriptions included formal royal policy statements as well as advice and instructions to his subjects on a number of subjects, including religious tolerance.

In general, the rock edicts were carved into massive boulders or rock faces near the Mauryan Empire's frontiers, thereby symbolically marking the empire's bounds.

Even though various instances of these edicts were located in widely distant regions, the language remained largely consistent across the empire.

The pillar edicts, the second main type of Ashokan inscriptions, were engraved on polished Chunar sandstone pillars and placed along the empire's important highways, where they would have been visible to pedestrians.

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Hinduism And Hindu Theology - Who Was Ashoka?

Ashoka  (r. 269–232 B.C.E.), from his capital in Pataliputra, was the Maurya dynasty's greatest monarch ruled over an empire stretching from Afghanistan to southern India. 

  • Bindusara, Ashoka's father, and Chandragupta Maurya, his grandfather, had established a consolidated kingdom. 
  • Apart from the extreme south, the only place free of its impact was the Kalinga region (modern state of Orissa). 
  • Ashoka's troops invaded Kalinga in a violent war early in his reign, murdering hundreds of thousands of people; the carnage left a lasting impression on the youthful Ashoka. 

After a few years, Ashoka officially accepted Buddhism and the concept of nonviolence (ahimsa). 

  • He officially abandoned war as a method of conquest as a consequence of this. 
  • Early historians thought Ashoka utilized his royal authority to establish Buddhism as the official religion, however this interpretation seems to be based on a misunderstanding of the facts. 
  • Although Ashoka seemed to be drawn to Buddhism, his public statements on "Dhamma," which was previously associated with Buddhist doctrine, seems to have been intended at instilling societal responsibility, tolerance, nonviolence, and peace. 
    • Most rational individuals would agree with these characteristics, and historians have speculated that such ambiguous standards reflect an effort to unite a religiously diverse kingdom. 

Because he erected public inscriptions across his empire, Ashoka is by far the most well-known person of his time. 

  • Rock edicts were engraved on pillars built along the major highways, while pillar edicts were carved on rock faces at the empire's boundaries. 
  • The writing style employed for these inscriptions varied by area of the empire, but they were all written in Prakrit, a grammatically basic vernacular language derived from Sanskrit. 
  • These inscriptions are the oldest written Indian records of historical importance, and they tell a lot about Ashoka's public image, his exhortations to his people, and even a little about the man himself. 

In contemporary India, Ashoka is seen as a model for an enlightened king, and the Ashokan pillar, crowned with four lions, has been chosen as the national symbol.

You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.