Ashoka, the Beloved of the Gods Summary Notes

Ashoka, the Beloved of the Gods About the Author

Jawaharlal Nehru (November 1889 – 27 May 1964) was an Indian independence activist, and subsequently, the first Prime Minister of India and a central figure in Indian politics before and after independence. He emerged as an eminent leader of the Indian independence movement and served India as Prime Minister from its establishment as an independent nation in 1947 until his death in 1964.

Glimpses of World History, a book published by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1934, is a panoramic sweep of the history of humankind. It is a collection of 196 letters on world history written from various prisons in British India between 1930 and 1933.

The letters were written to his young daughter Indira, and were meant to introduce her to world history. It covers the rise and M of great empires and civilizations from Greece and Rome to China and West Asia; great figures such as Ashoka and Genghis Khan, Mohandas K. Gandhi and Vladimir Lenin; wars and revolutions, democracies and dictatorships.

Ashoka, the Beloved of the Gods Summary

The essay ‘Ashoka, The beloved of the Gods’ is an extract from the book ‘Glimpses of World History’ written by our first Prime minister of Independent India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The book is a collection of 196 letters in world history written from various prisons in British India between 1930 and 1933. The letters were written to his young daughter Indira Priyadarshini. In this letter Nehru dwells on Ashoka, the great, of the Mauryan Empire.

He begins the letter by noting that power and possession of best weapons of warfare bring destruction even if one conquers the whole world, he cannot have inner peace. He gives the example of Ashoka, who established the Mauryan Empire in entire Indian sub – continent without bloody warfare. Ashoka is the only emperor in the world who eschewed warfare after he won, Kalinga, in one of bloodiest wars in history. Disgusted at the loss of life and property in the war he embraced Bhuddism and strived to spread its message all over the Asian Continent until his desth.

Nehru points out the letter aimed to inculcate the teachings and eight fold paths of non – violence and peace in the minds of students. Nehru reveals that he is found of running down kings as he has little reverence and admiration for them, but he admits that Ashoka, the great is worthy of admiration.

He cites H.G. Wells from his book ‘Outline of History ’ in which he writes “ Amidst the tens of thousands of names ofmonarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name ofAshoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star.

From the Volga to Japan his name is still honoured. China, Tibet, and even India, though it has left his doctrine, preserve the tradition of his greatness. More living men cherish his memory today than have ever heard the names of Constantine or Charlemagne.”

Pt. Nehru considered Ashoka, the great, as the only king and emperor worthy of admiration. Ashoka was the grand son ofEmperor Chandragupta Maurya. He ascended the Mauryan throne in 268 BC after the death ofhis father, Bindhusara, who had trade relationship with Greece, Egypt and west Asia.

Eight years after Ashoka ascended the throne of the Mauryan Empire he set out to conquer a tiny state in the south, Kalinga. One ofhis edits proclaim that after the war the victorious Mayuran’s had held one hundred and fifty soldiers as prisoners of war after killing nearly one lakh soldiers. More than one lakh soldiers from both sides of the army had been killed.

Pt. Nehru considered Ashoka, the great, as the only king and emperor worthy of admiration. H.G. Wells is right in claiming “We have Ashoka’s own words telling us of what he thought and what he did.” The numerous edicts carved on rocks, metal and pillar, such as the Ashoka pillar in Allahabad, are evidences to his beliefs and thoughts. These edicts of Ashoka tell us of his horror and remorse at the slaughter which war and conquest involve. According, to Ashoka, the only true conquest is the conquest of self and the conquest of men’s hearts through Dharma.”

Ashoka, the great turned to Buddhism, horrified at the carnage he had caused in the Kalinga war. He gave up violence and chose to spread Buddhism throughout his empire and many other countries. He sent his messengers and ambassadors to west Asia to spread Buddhism His own brother Mahendra and sister Sanghamitra went to Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Sumatra to spread Buddhism According to Ashoka ‘Dharma’ meant performance of good deeds and social upliftment.

Accordingly, he built hospitals, public gardens, wells and roads all over India. He promoted education of women. In order to spread Buddhism and education he established four great universities in Taxila in Peshawar in the north, Mathura in the west, Ujjain in central India and Nalanda near Patna in Bihar.

Students not only from India but many other countries came to these universities to pursue education. He built Buddhist Monasteries called Viharas, all over the country for education of local people. He had great compassion for animals and built hospitals for them. He banned animal sacrifice and any citizen who ill-treated animals was punished.

He inscribed Buddhist teachings rocks and pillars. He did not forcefully convert people to Buddhism but was tolerant of other religious. According to Ashoka, the greatest conquest is the conquest of self and the conquest of men’s heart by ‘Dharma’.

Ashoka’s passion for protecting life extended to animals also. Hospitals especially meant for then were erected, and animal- sacrifice was forbidden. In both these matters he was somewhat in advance of our own time.

Unhappily, animal-sacrifice still prevails to some extent, and is supposed to be an essential part of religion; and there is little provision for the treatment of animals. Ashoka’s example and the spread of Buddhism resulted in vegetarianism becoming popular. Till then Kshatriyas and Brahmas in India generally ate meat and used to take wine and alcoholic drinks. Both meat-eating and wine-drinking grew much less.

The renowned Chinese traveler, Fa-hien, visited Maghada during the reign of Ashoka. He found a flourishing city, rich and prosperous, but emperor Ashoka’s palace was in ruins. Even those ruins impressed Fa-hien, who says in his travel record that they did not appear to be human work.

Ashoka is referred to as ‘Devanampriya’ in his edicts because he was intensely religions but did not force people of other religions to convert to Buddhism He was tolerent to all other religions. Hence he is referred to as Devanampriya- the beloved of Gods, either of his own religion or others.

Ashoka, the Beloved of the Gods Glossary

  • Reverence: An act of showing respect
  • Serenities: The state of being calm/peaceful
  • Volga: The longest river in Europe flowing through western Russia to the Caspiaz Sea
  • Doctrine: The body of teaching of an ideology
  • Constantine: Name of a Roman emperor
  • Charlemagne: One of the kings of the Franks from the Roman Empire
  • Indigo: An indigo plant, with purplish blue colour
  • Subdued: Conquered, Empowered
  • Refrained: To hold back
  • Edicts: An official order or proclamation issued by a person in authority
  • Posterity: All the future generations
  • Remorse: A feeling of regret or sadness
  • Consecrated: To declare something holy
  • Slain: Those who have been killed
  • Annexation: A legal merging of a territory into another body
  • Zealous: Full of enthusiasm or strong passion
  • Piety: Devotion to God
  • Profound: Very deep/serious
  • Dominions: Power or the use of power
  • Repentance: Feeling of regret
  • Ardent: Frill of passion
  • Seldom: Rarely, Hardly
  • Scrupled: Hesitant or reluctant to do something that one thinks may be wrong.
  • Persecution: Hostility and ill-treatment especially because of political or religious beliefs
  • Bayonet: A pointed instrument of the dagger kind fitted on the rifle
  • Gaya: A Korean confederacy of territorial politics in the river basin
  • Monasteries: Building for housing monks or who have taken religious vows
  • Apparently: Plainly, Clearly

Ashoka, the Beloved of the Gods Questions and Answers

Question 1.
Name the son of Chandragupta Maurya?
Answer:
Bindurusara.

Question 2.
Who was the Greek ambassador who came to the court of Chandragupta Maurya?
Answer:
Megasthenes.

Question 3.
Who succeeded Bindusara?
Answer:
Ashoka.

Question 4.
Why was Ashoka disgusted by war?
Answer:
The Maurgan empire included the entire north and central India and parts of central Asia. As soon as Ashoka succeeded, Bindusara, he desired to bring south-east and south India into his empire. He Mahanadi, Godhavari and Krishna rivers. Though the people of Kalinga fought bravely, the Mauryan army eventually laughtred and subdued them. The war and slaughter affected Ashoka so deeply that he was disgusted with war and and he vowed to abstain from war for life.

Question 5.
What is the only true conquest, according to Ashoka?
Answer:
According to Ashoka, the great, true conquest consists of conquest of self and conquest of men’s hearts by the law of Duty or Piety.

Question 6.
What began after the annexation of the Kalinga state?
Answer:
After the annexation of the Kalinga began his Sacred Majesty’s zealous protection of the law of piety, his love of law and his inculcation of that law (Dharma).

Question 7.
What does the Sacred Majesty desire for all animate beings?
Answer:
His Sacred Majesty, Ashoka, the great desired that all animate beings should have security; self – control, piece of mind and joyousness.

Question 8.
Name the four great university towns during the reign of Ashoka?
Answer:
Takshashila or Taxila near Peshawar in the north. Mathura in the west, Ujjain in central India and Nalanda near patna in Bihar.

Question 9.
What were the great monasteries called during Ashoka’s reign?
Answer:
Viharas.

Question 10.
How does Nehru conclude his letter?
Answer:
Nehru ends the essay saying that the great Mauryan kingdom of Ashoka is relegated to history but its ruins are the only evidences of his greatness. He quotes one ofAshoka’s edicts, “All sects deserve reverence for one reason or the other. By thus acting a man exalts his own sect and at the same time does service to the sects of other people.

II. Answer the Following Questions in About a Page Each:

Question 1.
How do Nehru and H. G Wells shower praises on Ashoka?
Answer:
H. G. Wells in his book ‘Outline of History’ writes “Amidst the tens ofthousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their mejesties and graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Ashoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star. From the Volga to Japan his name is still honoured.

China, Tibet, and even India, though it has left his doctrine, preserve the tradition of his greatness. More living men cherish his memory today than have ever heard the names of Constantine or Charlemagne. Pt. Nehru considered Ashoka, the great, as the only king and emperor worthy of admiration.

Question 2.
Describe the reign of Bindusara?
Answer:
Bindusara secceeded to the Mauryan throne after the death of his father Chandragupta Maurya in the 3rd G B.G. He ruled the empire for nearly twenty five years. He had friendly relationship with greece and many greek ambassadors visited his court. Egyptian ambassadors represented ptolemy and Antiochus of central Asia also graced his court. Antiochus was the son of Seleucus Nicator. Bindusara had establish he external trade relationships across the world. Egyptians imported Indigo (a dye) from India. There is evidence that Egyptians imported Indian Muslim fabrics to wrap the mummies of their dead. King Bincjusara died in 265 BC.

Question 3.
H.G Wells claims, “We have Ashoka’s own words telling us of what he thought and what he did”. Illustrate.
Answer:
H.G Wells is right in claming “We have Ashoka’s own words telling us of what he thought and what he did.”. The numerous edicts carved on rocks, metal and pillar, such as the Ashoka pillar in Allahabad, are evidences to his beliefs and thoughts. These edicts of Ashoka tell us of his horror and remorse at the slaughter which war and conquest involve. According, to Ashoka, the only true conquest is the conquest of self and the conquest of men’s hearts through Dharma.

Question 4.
“Kalinga was conquered by His Sacred and Gracious Majesty”. Elucidate?
Answer:
Eight years after Ashoka ascended the throne of the Mauryan empire he set out to conquer a tiny state in the south, Kalinga. One of his edits proclaim that after the war the victorious Mayuran’s had held one hundred and fifty soldiers as prisoner’s of war after killing nearly one lakh soldiers. More than one lakh soldiers from both sides of the army had been killed.

Question 5.
How did Ashoka, an ardent Buddhist spread Dharma in his kingdom?
Answer:
Ashoka, the Great turned to Buddhism, horrified at the carnage he had caused in the Kalinga war. He gave up violence and chose to spread Buddhism throughout his empire and many other countries. He sent his messengers and ambassadors to west Asia to spread Buddhism His own brother Mahendra and sister Saghamitra went to SriLanka, Indonesia and Sumatra to spread Buddhism.

According to Ashoka ‘Dharma’ meant performance of good deeds and social upliftment. Accordingly, he built hospitals, public gardens, wells and roads all over India. He promoted education of women. In order to spread Buddhism and education he established four great universities in Taxila in Peshawar in the north, Mathura in the west, Ujjain in central India and Nalanda near Patna in Bihar.

Students not only from India but many other countries came to those universities to pursue education. He built Buddhist Monasteries called Vihara all over the country for education of local people. He had great campossion for animals and built hospitals for them.

He banned animal sacrifice and any citizen who ill treated animals was punished. He inscribed Buddhist teachings rocks and pillars. He did not forcefully convert people to Buddhism but was tolerant of other religious. According to Ashoka, the greatest conquest is the conquest of self and the conquest of men’s heart by ‘Dharma’.

Question 6.
Describe the role played by Ashoka in the spread of Buddhism in India?
Answer:
Ashoka, the Great, turned to Buddhism, horrified at the carnage he had caused in the Kalinga war. He gave up violence and chose to spread Buddhism throughout his empire and many other countries. He sent his messengers and ambassadors to west Asia to spread Buddhism His own brother Mahendra and sister Saghamitra went to SriLanka, Indonesia and Sumatra to spread Buddhism.

According to Ashoka ‘Dharma’ meant performance of good deeds and social upliftment. Accordingly, he built hospitals, public gardens, wells and roads all over India. He promoted education of women. In order to spread Buddhism and education he established four great universities in Taxila in Peshawar in the north, Mathura in the west, Ujjain in central India and Nalanda near Patna in Bihar.

Students not only from India but many other countries came to those universities to pursue education. He built Buddhist Monasteries called Viharas. All over the country for education of local people. He had great campossion for animals and built hospitals for them. He banned animal sacrifice and any citizen who illtreated animals was punished. He inscribed Buddhist teachings rocks and pillers. He did not forcefiilly convert people to Buddhism but was tolerant of other religious. According to Ashoka, the greatest conquest is the conquest of self and the conquest of men’s heart by ‘Dharma’.

Question 7.
“Work I must for the commonweal”. What is Ashoka referring to?
Answer:
In his reign of thirty-eight years, Ashoka strived to promote peacefully the welfare of his subjects. He made sure that he was available to this officials and subjects day or night. He instructed his officials to inform him immediately of any crisis in his kingdom He made sure his officials update him constantly about the affairs ofhis subjects. He proclaimed that he had no other work except to work for the common weal – the welfare of the public.

Question 8.
Fa-hien was impressed by the ruins of Pataliputra. Explain?
Answer:
The renowned chainese traveller, Fa-hien, visited Maghada during the rein of Ashoka. He found a flourishing city, rich and prosperous, but emperor Ashoka’s palace was in mins. Even those mins impressed Fa-hien, who says in his travel record that they did not appear to be human work.

Question 9.
How did Ashoka’s passion for protecting life extend to the animals?
Answer:
Ashoka’s passion for protecting life extended to animals also. Hospitals especially meant for them were erected, and animal- sacrifice was forbidden. In both these matters he was somewhat in advance of our own time.

Unhappily, animal-sacrifice still prevails to some etent, and is supposed to be an essential part of religion; and there is little provision for the treatment of animals. Ashoka’s example and the spread of Buddhism resulted in vegetarianism becoming popular. Till then Kshatriyas and Brahmas in India generally ate meat and used to take wine and alcoholic drinks. Both meat-eating and wine-drinking grew much less.

Question 10.
‘Why is Ashoka referred to as Devanampriya in his edicts?
Answer:
Ashoka is referred to as ‘Devanampriya’ in his edicts because he was intensely religions but did not force people of other religions to convert to Buddhism He wastolerentto all other religions. Hence he is referred to as Devanampriya – the beloved of Gods, either of his own religion or others.

III. Answer the Following Questions in About two Pages Each:

Question 1.
In these modern times, can we live by the teachings of Dharma as propagated by Ashoka? Discuss.
Answer:
Ashoka, the great, was not only a religious emperor he was also a champion of human rights, conservation of nature, compassionate to animals, tolerent to other religious, just ruler and an able administrator and a rigid follower of non-violance. In this modem were we and must live by the teachings of Dharma as Promulgated by Ashoka. For example, Mahatma Gandhi was a great follower of Ashoka’s principle of non-violence.

India has adopted ‘non-violence’ as the first principle of its foreign policy. Indeed Indian foreign policy is inspired by the Panchsheela edict of emperor Ashoka. India is a champion of human rights in the world. By adopting secularism in the constitution India follows tolerence towards all relligions in letter and spirit.

In fact, we won our freedom from the Brtish imperialists through non-violence. We Indians are peace loving citizens and thereby India abstains from invading other countries unless it is provoked to refort. We Indians respect and protect, children, women and elders. We respect our teachers and have given them the status of God, ‘ Acharya devo Bhava’. We extended our hospitality to every body considering them as ‘Atiti devo Bhava’. We Indian’s have lived peacefully in this country with ‘unity in diversity’, where we embrace all religions, castes, sects, culture and traditions as our own.

Question 2.
Emperor Ashoka played a pivotal role in reinforcing the ideals of Buddhism during his reign. Explain?
Answer:
Ashoka, the great turned to Buddhism, horrified at the carnage he had caused in the Kalinga war. He gave up violence and choose to spread Buddhism throughout his empire and manyother countries. He sent his messengers and ambassadors to west Asia to spread Buddhism.

His own brother Mahendra and sister Saghamitra went to SriLanka, Indonesia and Sumatra to spread Buddhism. According to Ashoka ‘Dharma’ meant performance of good deeds and socialupliftment. Accordingly, he built hospitals, public gardens, wells and roads all over India. He promoted education of women. In order to spread Buddhism and education he established four great universities in Taxila in Peshawar in the north, Mathura in the west, Ujjain in central India and Nalanda near Patna in Bihar.

Students not only from India but many other countries came to those universities to pursue education. He built Buddhist Monasteries called Vihara. All over the country for education of local people. He had great campossion for animals and built hospitals for them.

He banned animal sacrifice and any citizen who illtreated animals was punished. He inscribed Buddhist teachings rocks and pillers. He did not forcefully convert people to Buddhism but was tolerant of other religious. According to Ashoka, the greatest conquest is the conquest of self and the conquest of men’s heart by ‘Dharma’.

Question 3.
“All sects 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”. Elaborate?
Answer:
Ashoka became an ardent Buddhist and tried his utmost to spread the Dharma. But there was no force or compulsion. It was only by winning men’s hearts that he sought to make converts. Men of religion have seldom, very seldom, been as tolerant as Ashoka. In order to convert people to their own faith they have seldom scrupled to use force and terrorism and fraud.

The whole of history is full of religious persecution and religious wars, and in the name of religion and of God perhaps more blood has been shed than in any other name. It is good therefore to remember how a great son of India, intensely religious, and the head of apowerful empire, behaved in order to convert to his ways of thought.

It is strange that any one should be so foolish as to think that religion and faith can be thrust down a person’s throat at the point of the sword or a bayonet. So, Ashoka, the beloved of the gods – Devanampriya, as he is called in the edicts – sent his messengers and ambassadors to the kingoms of the West in Asia, Europe and Africa. To Ceylon, he sent his own brother Mahendra and sister Sanghamitra, and they are said to have carried a branch of the sacred people tree from gaya. We are told that this was the very tree which grew out of that ancient branch.

In India Buddhism spread rapidly. And as the Dharma was for Ashoka not just the repetition of empty prayers and the performance of pujas and ceremonies, but the performance of good deeds and social uplift, all over the country public gardens and hospitals and wells and roads grew up.

Special provision was made for the education of women. Four great university towns-Takshashila or Taxila in the far north, near Peshawar; Mathura, vulgarly spelt Muttra now by the English; Ujjain in central India; and Nalanda near Patna in Bihar – attracted students not only from India, but from distant countries – from China to western Asia – and these students carried back home with them the message of Buddha’s teaching. Great monasteries grew up all over the country – Vihara they were called. There were apparently so many round about Pataliputra or Patna that the whole province came to be known as Vihara, or as it is called now, Bihar.

Question 4.
According to H.G Wells ‘Ashoka is the only military monarch who abandoned warfare after victory”. Substantiate?
Answer:
According to H.G. Wells, he is the only military monarch on record who abandoned warfare after victory. In numerous edicts which were carved out in the rock or on metal, we still have his messages to his people and to posterity. There is such an Ashoka pillar in the fort at Allahabad.

There are many others in our provinces. In these edicts Ashoka tells us of his horror and remorse at the slaughter which war and conquest involve. The only true conquest, he says, is the conquest of self and the conquest of men’s hearts by the Dharma. But I shall quote for you some of these edicts. They make fascinating reading and they will help us to understand Ashoka.

“Kalinga was conquered by His Sacred and Gracious Majesty”, so runs on edict, “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 annexation of the Kalingas began His Sacred Majesty’s Zealous protection of the Law of Piety, his love of that Law, and his inculcation of that Law (Dharma). Thus, arose his sacred Majesty’s remorse for having conquered the Kalingas, because the conquest of acountrypreviously unconquered involves the slaughter, death and carrying away the captive of the people. That is a matter of profound sorrow and regret to His Sacred Majesty.

The edict goes on to say that Ashoka would not tolerate any longer the slaughter or captivity of even a hundredth of thousandth part of the number killed and made captive in Kalinga.

Moreover, should any one do him wrong, that too must be borne with 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 if he did not, repentance would come upon His Sacred Majesty. For His Sacred Majesty desires that all animate beings should have security, self – control, peace of mind, and joyousness.

Ashoka further explains that true conquest consists of the conquest of men’s hearts by the Law of Duty or Piety, and to relate that he had already won such real victories, not only in his own dominions, but in distant kingdoms. The Law, to which reference is made repeatedly in these edicts, was the Law of the Buddha.

Question 5.
Ashoka redefined monarchy – Discuss?
Answer:
In his reign of thirty-eight years, Ashoka strived to promote peacefully the welfare of his subjects. He made sure that he was available to this officials and subjects day or night. He instructed his officials to inform him immediately of any crisis in his kingdom. He made sure his officials update him constantly about the affairs of his subjects. He proclaimed that he had no other work except to work for the commonweal – the welfare of the public.

Ashoka, the Great turned to Buddhism, horrified at the carnage he had caused in the Kalinga war. He gave up violence and chose to spread Buddhism throughout his empire and many other countries. He sent his messengers and ambassadors to west Asia to spread Buddhism. His own brother Mahendra and sister Saghamitra went to SriLanka, Indonesia and Sumatra to spread Buddhism. According to Ashoka ‘Dharma’ meant performance of good deeds and social upliftment.

Accordingly, he built hospitals, public gardens, wells and roads all over India. He promoted education of women. In order to spread Buddhism and education he established four great universities in Taxila in Peshawar in the north, Mathura in the west, Ujjain in central India and Nalanda near Patna in Bihar.

Students not only from India but many other countries came to those universities to pursue education. He built Buddhist Monasteries called Vihara all over the country for education of local people. He had great campossion for animals and built hospitals for them.

He banned animal sacrifice and any citizen who illtreated animals was punished. He inscribed Buddhist teachings rocks and pillars. He did not forcefully convert people to Buddhism but was tolerant of other religious. According to Ashoka, the greatest conquest is the conquest of self and the conquest of men’s heart by ‘Dharma’.

Question 6.
Do you think that Devanampiya, the beloved of the Gods is an appropriate description of King Ashoka? Justify?
Answer:
Yes, I certainly think ‘Devanampiya’ is an appropriate description of Ashoka, the great. Ashoka is referred to as ‘Devanampriya’ in his edicts because he was intensely religions but did not force people of other religions to convert to Buddhism He was tolerent to all other religions. Hence he is referred to as Devanampriya – the beloved of Gods, either of his own religion or others.

H.G Wells is right in claming “We have Ashoka’s own words telling us of what he thought and what he did”. The numerous edicts carved on rocks, metal and pillar, such as the Ashoka pillar in Allahabad, are evidences to his beliefs and thoughts. These edicts ofAshoka tell us of his horror and remorse at the slaughter which war and conquest involve. According, to Ashoka, the only true conquest is the conquest of self and the conquest of men’s hearts through Dharma.

Question 7.
Edicts give an insight into Ashoka’s psyche. Explain?
Answer:
According to H.G. Wells, he is the only military monarch on record who abandoned warfare after victory. In numerous edicts which were carved out in the rock or on metal, we still have his messages to his people and to posterity. There is such an Ashoka pillar in the fort at Allahabad.

There are many others in our provinces. In these edicts Ashoka tells us of his horror and remorse at the slaughter which war and conquest involve. The only true conquest, he says, is the conquest of self and the conquest of men’s hearts by the Dharma. But I shall quote for you some of these edicts. They make fascinating reading and they will help us to understand Ashoka.

“Kalinga was conquered by His Sacred and Gracious Majesty”, so runs on edict, “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 annexation of the Kalingas began His Sacred Majesty’s Zealous protection of the Law of Piety, his love of that Law, and his inculcation of that Law (Dharma). Thus, arose his sacred Majesty’s remorse for having conquered the Kalingas, because the conquest of acountrypreviously unconquered involves the slaughter, death and carrying away the captive of the people. That is a matter of profound sorrow and regret to His Sacred Majesty.

The edict goes on to say that Ashoka would not tolerate any longer the slaughter or captivity of even a hundredth of thousandth part of the number killed and made captive in Kalinga.

Moreover, should any one do him wrong, that too must be borne with 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 if he did not, repentance would come upon His Sacred Majesty. For His Sacred Majesty desires that all animate beings should have security, self – control, peace of mind, and joyousness.

Ashoka further explains that true conquest consists of the conquest of men’s hearts by the Law of Duty or Piety, and to relate that he had already won such real victories, not only in his own dominions, but in distant kingdoms. The Law, to which reference is made repeatedly in these edicts, was the Law of the Buddha.

Question 8.
“Letters are means to pass on the wealth of information to the posterity in an informal way”. Discuss?
Answer:
Yes, Letters are means to pass on the wealth of information to the postevity in an informal way. Pt. Nehru had the habit of writing Letters to his doughter, when he was incarcerated in jail during the Indian Independence struggle.

The essay ‘Ashoka, The beloved of the Gods’ is an extract from the book ‘Glimpses of World History’ written by our first Prime minister of Independent India Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The book is a collection of 196 letters in world history written from various prisons in British India between 1930 and 1933. The letters were written to his young daughter Indira Priyadarshini. In this letter Nehru dwells on Ashoka, the great, of the Mauryan Empire.

He begins the letter by noting that power and possession of best weapons of warfare bring destruction even if one conquers the whole world, he cannot have inner peace. He gives the example of Ashoka, who established the Mauryan Empire in entire Indian sub – continent without bloody warfare. Ashoka is the only emperor in the world who eschewed warfare after he won, Kalinga, in one of bloodiest wars in history. Disgusted at the loss of life and property in the war he embraced Bhuddism and strived to spread its message all over the Asian Continent until his desth.

Nehru points out the letter aimed to inculcate the teachings and eight fold paths of non – violence and peace in the minds of students. Nehru reveals that he is found of running down kings as he has little reverence and admiration for them, but he admits that Ashoka, the great is worthy of admiration.

He cites H.G Wells from his book ‘Outline of History’ in which he writes “Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name ofAshoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star. From the Volga to Japan his name is still honoured. China, Tibet, and even India, though it has left his doctrine, preserve the tradition ofhis greatness. More living men cherish his memory today than have ever heard the names of Constantine or Charlemagne.”

Pt. Nehru considered Ashoka, the great, as the only king and emperor worthy of admiration. Ashoka was the grand – son ofEmperor Chandragupta Maurya. He ascended the Mauryan throne in 268 BC after the death ofhis father, Bindhusara, who had trade relationship with Greece, Egypt and west Asia.

Eight years after Ashoka ascended the throne of the Mauryan Empire he set out to conquer a tiny state in the south, Kalinga. One ofhis edits proclaim that after the war the victorious Mayuran’s had held one hundred and fifty soldiers as prisoners of war after killing nearly one lakh soldiers. More than one lakh soldiers from both sides of the army had been killed.

Pt. Nehru considered Ashoka, the great, as the only king and emperor worthy of admiration. H.G. Wells is right in claiming ‘We have Ashoka’s own words telling us of what he thought and what he did.” The numerous edicts carved on rocks, metal and pillar, such as the Ashoka pillar in Allahabad, are evidences to his beliefs and thoughts.

These edicts of Ashoka tell us of his horror and remorse at the slaughter which war and conquest involve. According, to Ashoka, the only true conquest is the conquest of self and the conquest of men’s hearts through Dharma.” Ashoka, the great turned to Buddhism, horrified at the carnage he had caused in the Kalinga war.

He gave up violence and chose to spread Buddhism throughout his empire and many other countries. He sent his messengers and ambassadors to west Asia to spread Buddhism His own brother Mahendra and sister Sanghamitra went to Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Sumatra to spread Buddhism According to Ashoka ‘Dharma’ meant performance of good deeds and social upliftment.

Accordingly, he built hospitals, public gardens, wells and roads all over India. He promoted education of women. In order to spread Buddhism and education he established four great universities in Taxila in Peshawar in the north, Mathura in the west, Ujjain in central India and Nalanda near Patna in Bihar.

Students not only from India but many other countries came to these universities to pursue education. He built Buddhist Monasteries called Viharas, all over the country for education of local people. He had great compassion for animals and built hospitals for them. He banned animal sacrifice and any citizen who ill-treated animals was punished. He inscribed Buddhist teachings rocks and pillars. He did not forcefully convert people to Buddhism but was tolerant of other religious.

According to Ashoka, the greatest conquest is the conquest of self and the conquest of men’s heart by ‘Dharma’. Ashoka’s passion for protecting life extended to animals also. Hospitals especially meant for then were erected, and animal – sacrifice was forbidden. In both these matters he was somewhat in advance of our own time.

Unhappily, animal-sacrifice still prevails to some extent, and is supposed to be an essential part of religion; and there is little provision for the treatment of animals. Ashoka’s example and the spread of Buddhism resulted in vegetarianism becoming popular. Till then Kshatriyas and Brahmas in India generally ate meat and used to take wine and alcoholic drinks. Both meat-eating and wine-drinking grew much less.

The renowned Chinese traveler, Fa-hien, visited Maghada during the reign of Ashoka. He found a flourishing city, rich and prosperous, but emperor Ashoka’s palace was in ruins. Even those ruins impressed Fa-hien, who says in his travel record that they did not appear to be human work.

Ashoka is referred to as ‘Devanampriya’ in his edicts because he was intensely religions but did not force people of other religions to convert to Buddhism He was tolerent to all other religions. Hence he is referred to as Devanampriya- the beloved of Gods, either of his own religion or others.

English Summary

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