Samrat Ashoka: The tale of one of the greatest emperors of India

Bihar has invested widely in Indian Culture with variations of Mithila, Bhojpuri and Magadha. Among that varied culture, many known empires have held their pace. One important name in the history is Ashoka the Great, who is still known for  his peace and non-violence ethics and principles. Lesser people know that Bihar Government has discovered that the emperor was born on April 14th; this day is also celebrated as ‘Enlightenment Day’ by Buddhists.

Samrat Ashoka was born in 304 BC in Mauryan Dynasty to King Bindusara and Queen Dharma (also known as Subhadrangi). Belonging to a royal family, he was groomed up to be a man of courage and power along with good military training. Talking about his dynasty, he was born into Mauryan Dynasty which is one major name in Bihar’s history which was founded by Ashoka’s grandfather Chandragupta Maurya in 322 BC .The Empire was the largest among the expansions in India which extended more in the reign of Ashoka. When we count his achievements, he is said to be the great missionary ruler in the history of the ancient world.He promptly worked for political unification of the country.

Ashoka was also known by names like Devanampriya Priyadarsi, Dhammarakhit, Dharmarajika and more such names.He was trained by the great scholar Chanakya in his childhood which made him active participant in the kingdom ethics at very young age. In his young age, he was deputed to curb the riots in the Avanti province of the empire .With his success at the place, he was appointed the Viceroy Of Avanti province in 286 BC.Later on, he helped his half brother Sushima in winning over a battle at Taxila, where he ended up being the Viceroy of Taxila.

He fought over his half brothers in 272 BC after his father’s death and won the throne. In 269 BC, history added Ashoka as the third ruler of Mauryan Empire. A constant participation in war for first eight years made him expand the empire across the Indian Subcontinent, including Iran, Afghanistan in West and Bangladesh and Burmese border in the East.The King had a vision to expand his empire and he even stretched the Mauryan Dynasty towards Godavari – Krishna Basin and Mysore in the South.But later the conquest of Kalinga which made him witness the blood, deaths of more than 100,000 soldiers and civilians melted his heart. The large scale death of human turned a fierce king into a peaceful and non violent emperor and there the King Ashoka started transforming to Ashoka the Great.

The Emperor brought the political unification of the country, bounded it in one dharma, one language and one script.He even respected all Indian scripts and so his inscriptions appear in different languages. Some Buddhists sources say Samrat was totally influenced by the teachings of Buddhism, that he converted himself and made Buddhism as his state religion. He started working in order to spread Buddhism from India to Afghanistan, Syria, Greece, Italy, Persia, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, China , Cambodia, Laos and Burma.

Emperor Ashoka built up numerous stupas across his empire and even constructed pillars which consists the Lion Capital of Ashoka, presently India’s National Emblem. The Ashoka Chakra inscribed on many of his historic  creations is now at the center of the National Flag of India.

 

The growth of achievements  started since then, Samrat  built 84,000 stupas to keep teachings of Buddha alive.The Ashoka’s pillar, still  a magnificent achievement of Mauryan Dynasty were erected in all places bordening the empire which is now intact at its original position in Sarnath.The World famous ‘Nalanda University’ was supervised by Ashoka the Great. He even invested in building Taxila University, Dhamek Stupa, Bharhut Stupa,  Butkara Stupa, Barabar Caves and Sanchi Stupa. One of his major construction is Mahabodhi Temple to keep the teachings of Lord Buddha alive and is still a worldwide pilgrimage center for Buddhists and attracts a lot of foreign tourists.

Apart from his historic achievements, some sources talk about his family and successors .He is said to have 5 wives, though none of the sources confirm this information. Two of them were Devi – his first wife and Kaurwaki, princess of Kalinga as his second wife. His son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra played a vital role in establishing and spreading Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Died at the age of 72 in 232 BC , Samrat Ashoka left with a widely discussed history , teachings and is being remembered as a stable and merciful king who loved his statesmen. The land of Bihar feels proud to be the birthplace of such great emperor who contributed in  Indian History.

 

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