Who was Ashoka?

Ashoka was the third emperor of the Mauryan dynasty. The Mauryan empire had 3 important emperors – Chandragupta Maurya, Bindusara, and Ashoka. This article will briefly throw light on the life of Ashoka.

Ashoka – Massive Empire

Ashoka was the son of the second Mauryan emperor Bindusara and grandson of the first Mauryan emperor Chandragupta Maurya. Ashoka was also known as Ashoka the Great.

  • Ashoka ruled the entire Indian subcontinent (except parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala) from 268 B.C.E to 232 B.C.E.
  • Ashoka expanded the empire of Chandragupta Maurya.
  • It expanded from present-day Bangladesh in the east to Afghanistan in the west.
  • The capital of Ashoka’s empire was Pataliputra (present-day Patna).
  • Takshashila (later Taxila) and Ujjain were the provincial capitals of the empire built by Ashoka.

Ashoka – Gave up Violence after Kalinga War

  • Ashoka waged a massive war against Kalinga and conquered it in 260 B.C.E.
  • Kalinga war witnessed more than 1,00,000 deaths and 1,50,000 deportations.
  • Ashoka wanted to give up violence and bloodshed as he was horrified to see the bloodshed after winning the Kalinga war.
  • Ashoka converted to Buddhism and gave up violence after the Kalinga war.
  • Ashoka’s 13th Rock Edict describes the Kalinga war vividly.
  • Ashoka was perhaps the only king in the entire world who gave up his desire to conquer new territories after winning a major war.

Spread of Buddhism – Role of Ashoka and his Children

  • Ashoka appointed officials known as the dhamma mahamatta, to carry the message and teach people about dhamma.
  • Ashoka sent his children Sanghamitra and Mahendra to Sri Lanka to spread Buddhism.
  • They played an important role in the spread of Buddhism.
  • Mahendra was the first-born son of Emperor Ashoka.
  • Mahendra was sent as a Buddhist missionary to the Anuradhapura Kingdom in Sri Lanka.
  • Maharani Devi was the first wife of Emperor Ashoka.
  • Sanghamitra and Mahendra were the children of Maharani Devi.

Grandfather and Father of Ashoka – Famous Mauryan Emperors

  • Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the Mauryan Empire in India.
  • The Nanda Empire was defeated and conquered by Chandragupta Maurya.
  • Chandragupta Maurya was guided by the legendary strategist named Chanakya.
  • Chanakya is also called the ‘Indian Machiavelli”.
  • Chandragupta Maurya laid the first foundation for uniting most of India.
  • Bindusara was the son of Chandragupta Maurya and the father of the great Emperor Ashoka.
  • Bindusara inherited a massive empire from his father. He extended the Mauryan empire farther south to the area currently known as Karnataka.
  • Bindusara did not conquer the friendly kingdoms located in the Tamil Nadu region.
  • During the reign of Bindusara, Ashoka was serving as the viceroy of Ujjain.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Where is Ashoka Pillar situated?

The major Ashoka pillars are located in the Indian states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and some parts of Haryana.

What is our national emblem?

The State Emblem of India is the national emblem of the Republic of India. The emblem is an adaptation of the Lion Capital of Ashoka, an ancient sculpture dating back to 280 BCE during the Mauryan empire.

Where is the Lion Capital of Ashoka?

The Lion Capital of Ashoka is the capital of a column excavated by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, India. Sarnath was the site of Gautama Buddha’s first sermon.

Who built Ashoka stupa?

The great Sanchi Stupa was built by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka. It is one of the oldest Buddhist monuments. It is located in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is believed to house the ashes of Buddha. It was built in the 3rd century BCE. The stupa was 17 metres high, and 37 metres wide.

How many lions are in Ashoka Chakra?

There are four lions in Ashoka Chakra. The four lions, are mounted back to back, on a circular abacus, which itself rests on a bell-shaped lotus.