Ashoka (Devanāgarī: अशोकः, IAST: Aśokaḥ, IPA : [aɕoːkə(hə)], Prakrit Imperial title: Devanampriya Priyadarsi (Devanāgarī: देवानांप्रिय प्रियदर्शी), "He who is the beloved of the Gods and who regards everyone amiably") and Dhamma (Devanāgarī: धम्मः), "Lawful, Religious, Righteous") (304 BC – 232 BC) was an Indian emperor, of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled from 273 BC to 232 BC. Often cited as one of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests. His empire stretched from present-day Pakistan, Afghanistan and parts of Iran in the west, to the present-day Bengal and Assam states of India in the east, and as far south as the Mysore state. His reign was headquartered in Magadha (present-day Bihar state of India). He embraced Buddhism from the prevalent Vedic tradition after witnessing the mass deaths of the war of Kalinga, which he himself had waged out of a desire for conquest. He was later dedicated in the propagation of Buddhism across Asia and established monuments marking several significant sites in the life of Gautama Buddha.
His name "aśoka" means "without sorrow" in Sanskrit. In his edicts, he is referred to as Devānāmpriya (Devanāgarī: देवानांप्रिय)/Devānaṃpiya or "The Beloved Of The Gods", and Priyadarśin (Devanāgarī: प्रियदर्शी)/Piyadassī or "He who regards everyone amiably".
Science fiction novelist H. G. Wells wrote of Ashoka:
In the history of the world there have been thousands of kings and emperors who called themselves 'their highnesses,' 'their majesties,' and 'their exalted majesties' and so on. They shone for a brief moment, and as quickly disappeared. But Ashoka shines and shines brightly like a bright star, even unto this day.
Along with the Edicts of Ashoka, his legend is related in the later 2nd century Aśokāvadāna ("Narrative of Asoka") and Divyāvadāna ("Divine narrative"), and in the Sinhalese text Mahavamsa ("Great Chronicle"). Although there are many inscriptions of Ashoka, no coins which can be confidently linked to him have been found. This may be linked to the fact that his contemporary and neighbour Diodotus I has numerous coins but no inscriptions. Moreover, the Kandahar bilingual inscrption clearly indicates that Ashoka was the ruler of this area but the coins point to Diodotus-I as the ruler. Dr. Ranajit Pal attempts to resolve the problem by suggesting that Ashoka was the same as Diodotus_I. He maintains that Patali(28°19'58" La., 57°52'16" Lo.) near Kohnouj and Konarak in the Gulf Area was Pataliputra.
An emblem excavated from his empire is today the national emblem of India.
|273 BC-232 BC
|Devanampriya Priyadarsi, Dhamma
|Pataliputra (Modern Day, Patna)
Place of death
|Ashes immersed in Ganges River, possibly at Varanasi