Subject: History Category: Ancient History Topic: Ashoka’s edicts/Rock edicts of Ashoka UPSC
NCERT notes on important topics for the UPSC civil services exam. These notes will also be useful for other competitive exams like banking PO, SSC, state civil services exams and so on. This article talks about Ashoka’s edicts.
The great Emperor Ashoka, the third monarch of the Maurya dynasty converted to Buddhism after witnessing the horrific effects of war in Kalinga. He became a champion and patron of Buddhism and strove to spread Dhamma throughout his empire and beyond. He erected pillars and edicts all over the subcontinent and even in modern-day Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan to spread the Buddha’s word. James Prinsep, a British antiquary and colonial administrator was the first person to decipher Ashoka’s edicts. These inscriptions are the first tangible evidence of Buddhism.
They were kept in public places and along trade routes so that maximum number of people would read them. More than religious discourses, they talk about moral duties of the people, how to conduct life, Ashoka’s desire to be a good and benevolent ruler, and about Ashoka’s work towards this end.
These inscriptions can be classified into three:-
Pillar edicts, Major rock edicts and Minor rock edicts.