Asoka 304 BC – 232 BC
- Asoka was the third and the greatest of the Mauryan rulers.
- He occupies a high position not only in the history of India but in the world history also.
- He was coroneted four years after the death of his father, Bindusara (273BC).
- The early life of Asoka is not very clear due to scanty historical resources.
- Buddhist sources say that he killed all his possible 99 rivals and then acceded the throne, however none of the Asoka inscriptions gives such proofs.
- In his adolescence Asoka was a frightening warrior and a heartless general. Because of this quality he was sent to destroy the riot of Avanti.
- Buddhist sources call him Chandasoka turned Dhammasoka. However most of the historians call it a fabrication.
- Rock Edict No. XIII says that after Kalinga War (261BC) Asoka was a thoroughly changed man. He discarded Digvijay and followed Dhammavijay.
- Asoka assumed following titles :
Priyadarshi (pleasing to look at)
Devanampriya (beloved of Gods)
In the Sarnath inscription, he adopted the third title i.e., Dharmasoka.
- Before he became King, he was viceroy of Taxila & Ujjain.
- In Bhabru Edict he admitted that he believed in the principles of Buddhism.
- In several of his edicts he has prescribed rules of punishment for those Bhikshus (monks) who violated the principles of Buddhism.
- He also called Buddhist Councils to meet in his time. (Third Buddhist council – 250-253 BCE)
- He appointed a new class of officers called dharmayuktas, dharma-mahamatras and stri adhyaksha for the moral and spiritual uplift of the subjects.
- He strongly supported the doctrine of Ahimsa.
- Mahedra , his son had become a Buddhist monk who had gone to Ceylon and King of Ceylon Devanampiya Tissa was his first convert.
- Asoka died in 232 BC.
Ashoka’s hellenistic contemporaries
- Antiochus II Theos -Syria
- Ptolemy II philadelpus -Egypt
- Mages -Cyrne
- Antigonus Gonatas -Macedonia
- Alexander -Epirus
Various names and epithets of Asoka
- Devanampriya –Monarchial Epithet
- Piyadassiraja- Barabar cave inscription
- Ashoka Maurya- Junagarh Inscription
- Piyadasi –Kandahar inscription
Related Post : Edicts of Asoka