Indian History
General Knowledge


( 273 BC - 232 BC )

Ashoka ( 273 BC - 232 BC )

» According to Buddhist texts when Ashoka, the son of Bindusara, was born, his mother, happy to have a child, said, 'Now I am Ashoka', i.e., without sorrow. And so the child was named.
» It appears from the available evidence (Buddhist literature mainly) that there was a struggle for the throne among the princes on the death of Bindusara. According to Buddhist tradition, Ashoka usurped the throne after killing his 99 brothers and spared Tissa, the youngest one. Radhagupta a minister of Bindusara helped him in fratricidal struggle.
» This war of succession accounts for interregnum of four years (273-269 BC) and only after securing his position on the throne, Ashoka had himself formally crowned in 269 BC.
» Under Ashoka, the Mauryan Empire reached its climax. For the first time, the whole of the sub-continent, leaving out the extreme south, was under imperial control.
» Ashoka fought the Kalinga war in 261 BC in 9th years of his coronation. The king was moved by the massacre in this war and therefore abandoned the policy of physical occupation in favour of policy of cultural conquest. In other words, Bherighosa was replaced by Dhammaghosa.
» Ashoka was not an extreme pacifist. He did not pursue the policy of peace for sake of peace under all conditions. Thus, he retained Kalinga after his conquest and incorporated it into his empire.
» Ashoka sent missionaries to the kingdoms of the Cholas and the Pandyas, and five states ruled by Greek kings (Antiochus II, Syria; Philadelphos Ptolemy II, Egypt; Antigonus, Mecedonia; Maggus, Syrina; Alexander, Epirus). We also know that he sent missionaries to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Su varnbhumi (Buma) and also parts of South-East Asia.

Ashoka's Dhamma

» Ashoka's Dhamma cannot be regarded as a sectarian faith. Its broad objective was to preserve the social order it ordained that people should obey their parents, pay respect to Brahmanas and Buddhist monks and show mercy to slaves and servants.
» He held that if people behaved well they would attain Swarga (heaven). He did never say that they would attain Nirvana, which was the goal of Buddhist teachings.