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    eBUDDHANET'SBOOK LIBRARYE-mail: [email protected] site: www.buddhanet.net

    Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc.

    Edited by Anuradha Seneviratna

    King Asoka and BuddhismHistorical & Literary StudiesKing Asoka and BuddhismHistorical & Literary Studies

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    King Aoka and Buddhism

    HISTORICALAND LITERARY STUDIES

    EDITEDBY

    ANURADHA SENEVIRATNA

    BUDDHIST PUBLICATION SOCIETY

    KANDY SRI LANKA

    PUBLISHEDIN 1994

    BUDDHIST PUBLICATION SOCIETY

    P.O. BOX 61

    54, SANGHARAJA MAWATHA

    KANDY, SRI LANKA

    COPYRIGHT 1994 BY ANURADHA SENEVIRATNA

    ISBN 9552400652.

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    Buddhism / Indian History / Asian Studies

    King Aoka and Buddhism

    King Aoka, the third monarch of the Mauryan dynasty in thethird century B.C., was the first ruler of a unified India and oneof the greatest political figures of all time. After he embracedthe teachings of the Buddha, he transformed his polity fromone of military conquest to one of Dharmavijaya victory byrighteousness and truth. By providing royal patronage for the

    propagation of Buddhism both within and beyond his empire,he helped promote the metamorphosis of Buddhism into aworld religion that spread peacefully across the face of Asia.

    The present collection of essays by leading Indologicalscholars draws upon both the inscriptions and the literary tra-ditions to explore the relationship between King Aoka andthe religion he embraced. In highlighting the ways in which

    Aoka tapped the ethical and spiritual potentials of rulership,these papers deliver a message highly relevant to our owntime, when politics and spirituality often seem pitted againstone another in irreconcilable opposition.

    Contents: Richard Gombrich: Aoka-The Great Upsaka; RomilaThapar: Aoka and Buddhism as Reflected in the Aokan Edicts;Ananda W.P. Guruge: Unresolved Discrepancies between BuddhistTradition and Aokan Inscriptions; N.A.Jayawickrama: AokasEdicts and the Third Buddhist Council; Anuradha Seneviratna:

    Aoka and the Emergence of a Sinhala Buddhist State in Sri Lanka;John S. Strong: Images of Aoka; Ananda W.P. Guruge: EmperorAokas Place in History.

    Cover design by Mahinda Jeevananda

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    The Editor

    Anuradha Seneviratna is Professor of Sinhala at the Univer-sity of Peradeniya. His prior publications include The Springs

    of Sinhala Civilization; Buddhist Monastic Architecture in Sri Lanka;Mahintale: Dawn of a Civilization; and a two-volume work on theTemple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.

    The Buddhist Publication SocietyThe BPS is an approved charity dedicated to making knownthe Teaching of the Buddha, which has a vital message forpeople of all creeds. Founded in 1958, the BPS has publisheda wide variety of hooks and booklets covering a great rangeof topics. Its publications include accurate annotated transla-

    tions of the Buddhas discourses, standard reference works, aswell as original contemporary expositions of Buddhist thoughtand practice. These works present Buddhism as it truly is adynamic force which has influenced receptive minds for thepast 2,500 years and is still as relevant today as it was whenit first arose. A full list of our publications will be sent uponrequest with an enclosure of U.S. $1.50 or its equivalent to cover

    air mail postage. Write to:

    The Hony. SecretaryBuddhist Publication Society

    P.O. Box 614 Sangharaja, Mawatha,

    Kandy, Sri Lanka.

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    The Contributors

    Richard Gombrich is Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford

    University and Fellow of Balliol College. He is also theHonorary Secretary and Treasurer of the Pali Text Society.His previous publications include Precept and Practice:Traditional Buddhism in the Rural Highlands of Ceylon (1971),The World of Buddhism (with Heinz Bechert, 1984), TheravdaBuddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to ModernColombo (1988), and Buddhism Transformed (with GananathObeyesekere, 1990).

    Ananda W.P. Guruge has served as Sri Lankas Ambassador toFrance and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO in Paris. He ispresently the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States.He holds a Ph.D. and D. Litt. (Hon.) and is the author of

    The Society of the Ramayana (1960), From the Living Fountainsof Buddhism (1984), Buddhism The Religion and its Culture(2nd ed. 1984), and The Mahvasa An Annotated NewTranslation with Prolegomena (1989).

    N.A. Jayawickrama was Professor and Head of the Departmentof Pali of the University of Peradeniya and later Professor andHead of the Department of Pali and Buddhist Civilizationat the University of Kelaniya. He is at present EditorialAdviser to the Encyclopaedia of Buddhism and ProfessorEmeritus of the University of Peradeniya. His publicationsinclude The Inception of Discipline and the Vinayanidna (1962),The Epochs of the Conqueror (1968), and The Story of Gotama

    Buddha (1990).

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    Anuradha Seneviratna is Professor of Sinhala at the Universityof Peradeniya. His publications include The Springs of SinhalaCivilization (1989), Buddhist Monastic Architecture in Sri Lanka(1992), Mahintale: Dawn of a Civilization (1993), and a two-

    volume work on the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (1987,1990).

    John S. Strong is Associate Professor of Religion at Bates College,U.S.A., and author ofThe Legend of King Aoka (1983) andThe Legend and Cult of Upagupta.

    Romila Thapar is Professor of Ancient Indian History at theCentre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru Universityin New Delhi. Her publications includeAoka and the Declineof the Mauryas (1961),A History of India, Vol. I (1984),andFrom Lineage to State (1984).

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    Contents

    The Contributors .......................................................................................................................vi

    Editors Preface ..........................................................................................................................xi

    Editors Note .............................................................................................................................xii

    Acknowledgements ...............................................................................................................xiii

    1 Aoka The Great Upsaka

    RICHARD GOMBRICH ................................................................................................. 1

    1. Aokas Inscriptions ........................................................................................ 2

    2. Aoka in Buddhist Tradition ..................................................................... 6

    3. The Missions: Interpreting the Evidence ......................................... 10

    Notes ........................................................................................................................... 13

    2 Aoka and Buddhism as Reflected in the Aokan Edicts

    ROMILATHAPAR ......................................................................................................... 15

    3 Emperor Aoka and Buddhism:Unresolved Discrepancies betweenBuddhist Tradition & Aokan Inscriptions

    ANANDAW.P. GURUGE ......................................................................................... 37

    1. Introduction ........................................................................................................ 37

    2. Conversion of Aoka to Buddhism ..................................................... 42

    3. When, How and by Whom? ................................................................... 46

    4. Major Discrepancies in Events and Dates ....................................... 49

    5. Historical Reliability of Rock Edict XIII ........................................... 54

    6. Aokas Role in the

    Propagation of Buddhism in his Empire ........................................ 63

    7. Foreign Missions of Aoka ......................................................................... 70

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    8. Conclusions ......................................................................................................... 79

    Notes .......................................................................................................................... 84

    4 Aokas Edicts and the Third Buddhist Council

    N.A. JAYAWICKRAMA ............................................................................................... 92

    Notes ........................................................................................................................ 106

    5 Aoka and the Emergenceof a Sinhala Buddhist State in Sri Lanka

    ANURADHASENEVIRATNA.................................................................................. 111

    1. Introduction .................................................................................................... 1112. Sources .............................................................................................................. 112

    3. The Mission to Sri Lanka: Brief Account....................................... 115

    4. The Political Background ...................................................................... 118

    5. The Sri Lanka-Kalinga Tie ..................................................................... 122

    6. Aoka and Tissa ........................................................................................... 125

    7. The Advent of Mahinda .......................................................................... 130

    8. Saghamitt and the Bodhi Tree ...................................................... 132

    9. Conclusion ....................................................................................................... 135

    Notes ........................................................................................................................ 137

    6 Images of Aoka:

    Some Indian and Sri LankanLegends and their Development

    JOHN S. STRONG ..................................................................................................... 141

    A. The Early Traditions ......................................................... 146

    1. The Gift of Honey and the Gift of Dirt......................................... 146

    2. The Fate of the Bodhi Tree .................................................................. 152

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    3. The Gathering of the Relics ................................................................. 154

    4. The 84,000 Stpas or Vihras ............................................................. 157

    B. Later Developments ........................................................... 162

    1. The Gift of Dirt Reconsidered ............................................................ 162

    2. The Legends of the Queens ................................................................ 165

    3. The Collection of Relics: A New Story .......................................... 168

    4. The 84,000 Stpas Once More ........................................................... 170

    Conclusion .............................................................................................................. 173

    Notes ........................................................................................................................ 174

    7 Emperor Aokas Place in History:A Review of Prevalent Opinions

    ANANDAW.P. GURUGE ...................................................................................... 182

    1. Introduction .................................................................................................... 182

    2. Aoka in the Mainstream Indian Tradition and Literature 184

    3. Aoka of the Northern Buddhist Sources ................................... 188

    4. Aoka of the Sri Lankan Pali Sources ............................................ 195

    5. Aoka of Edicts and Inscriptions ...................................................... 201

    6. Aoka in the Eyes of Recent Writers & Scholars ..................... 203

    7. Aoka and the Decline and Fall of the Mauryan Empire .. 217

    8. Conclusion ....................................................................................................... 221Notes ........................................................................................................................ 224

    Maps

    Aokas Indian Empire ................................................................................................. 235

    Areas to which Buddhist Missions were sent ............................................. 236

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    Editors Preface

    ALARGENUMBEROFINTERNATIONALSCHOLARSagree that

    Emperor Aoka of India in the third century B.C. wasone of the greatest conquerors who later achieved the mostdifficult conquest of all the conquest of himself throughself-conviction and his perception of human suffering. Afterembracing the Dhamma of the Buddha as his guide and ref-uge, he transformed the goal of his regime from military con-

    quest to conquest by Dhamma. By providing royal patronagefor the propagation of Buddhism both within and outsidehis vast dominion, he helped promote the metamorphosisof Buddhism from one among many sects of Indian asceticspirituality into a world religion that was eventually to pene-trate almost all of southern and eastern Asia.

    The present collection of papers by leading Indological

    scholars is intended to highlight different aspects of the closeconnection between the political and religious life of this exem-plary Indian ruler. By underscoring from different angles theways in which Aoka tapped the ethical and spiritual poten-tials of rulership, and did so in ways which did not violate thereligious convictions of those who did not accept the same sys-tem of beliefs that he himself endorsed, these papers, in theirtotality, deliver a message that is highly relevant to our times,when political and ethical goals so often seem to ride a colli-sion course and religious tolerance is threatened by fanaticismand belligerent fundamentalism.

    This volume arose out of a seminar on King Aoka andBuddhism that had been scheduled to be held at the Buddhist

    Publication Society in March 1987, but had to be cancelled

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    owing to the inability of certain scholars from abroad to attendon time. Fortunately we were able to receive their contribu-tions, and the editor has undertaken to provide a paper onAokas influence on Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

    I am beholden to Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi for the trust and con-fidence he placed in me when he appointed me the editor ofthis volume. I owe a special word of thanks too to the eminentscholars who have contributed to this work.

    ANURADHA SENEVIRATNA

    Editors Note

    TWOVARIANTSPELLINGSAREUSEDfor the subject of thisvolume Aoka and Asoka. The former is used as the

    standard spelling, the latter when quoting from or referringto sources in Pali, which does not include the sibilant in itsalphabet. In other respects I have allowed the authors spell-ings of proper names to stand, and the differences in meth-ods of transliteration account for occasional differences in

    the spelling of the same names.

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    Acknowledgements

    THEEDITORANDPUBLISHEROFthis volume cordially thank

    the following:Routledge & Kegan Paul for permission to include pages

    127136 of Richard Gombrich, Theravda Buddhism: A SocialHistory from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo (1988) as thearticle entitled Aoka The Great Upsaka.

    The Jayawickrama Felicitation Volume Committee for

    permission to use Ananda W.P. Guruges essay EmperorAoka and Buddhism: Unresolved Discrepancies betweenBuddhist Tradition and Aokan Inscriptions, which originallyappeared in Buddhist Philosophy and Culture: Essays in Honour ofN.A. Jayawickrama (1987).

    The Sri Lanka Journal of Buddhist Studies for permission touse Ananda W.P. Guruges essay Emperor Aokas Place in

    History: A Review of Prevalent Opinions, which originallyappeared in the Journal (Vol. I, 1987), issued by the Buddhistand Pali University of Sri Lanka (214, Bauddhaloka Mawatha,Colombo 7).

    N.A. Jayawickrama for permission to use his article AokasEdicts and the Third Buddhist Council, originally publishedin the University of Ceylon Review (Vol. XVII, 1959).

    The map Aokas Indian Empire is taken from AokanInscriptions edited by Radhagovinda Basak (Calcutta:Progressive Publishers, 1959).

    The map Areas to which Buddhist Missions were sentwas drawn by J.F. Horrabin and is taken from Aoka and theDecline of the Mauryas by Romila Thapar (Oxford University

    Press, 1961).

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    1

    1Aoka The Great Upsaka

    RICHARD GOMBRICH

    T HEMOSTIMPORTANT BUDDHISTLAYMANin history hasbeen the Emperor Aoka, who ruled most of India forthe middle third of the third century B.C. On the capital

    of one of the pillars Aoka erected is beautifully carved awheel with many spokes. This representation of the wheel ofDhamma which the Buddha set in motion is the symbol cho-sen to adorn the flag of the modern state of India. The lionson the same capital are on the state seal. Thus India recallsits righteous ruler. Aoka is a towering figure for manyother reasons too, but we confine ourselves to his role in Bud-

    dhist history. Before Aoka Buddhism had spread throughthe northern half of India; but it was his patronage whichmade it a world religion.

    Aoka was the grandson and second successor of Candra-gupta, who founded the Mauryan dynasty and empire about324 B.C.We have very little evidence about the precise extent ofwhat Candragupta conquered and even less about the activitiesof his son Bindusra, but Candraguptas empire may alreadyhave covered northern India from coast to coast and probablycomprised about two-thirds of the sub-continent. Bindusraand Aoka extended it further to the south. The capital was thecity of Paliputta, which had been founded as the new capi-tal of Magadha fairly soon after the Buddhas death; modern

    Patna is on the same site. The Mauryan empire was a political

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    unit of a new order of magnitude in India, the first, for exam-ple, in which there were speakers of Indo-Aryan languages(derivatives of Sanskrit) so far apart that their dialects musthave been mutually incomprehensible.

    Aokas precise dates are controversial. Eggermont, thescholar who has devoted most attention to the problem, pro-poses 268239 B.C.1

    For our purposes, there are two Aokas: the Aoka knownto modern historians through his inscriptions, and the Aokaof Buddhist tradition. We shall say something about each in

    turn and then try to reconcile the two.1. Aokas Inscriptions

    Aoka left a large number of inscriptions on rocks and pil-lars. He dictated his edicts to scribes in Paliputta and hadthem carved in conspicuous places throughout his vast king-dom. They record a personality and a concept of rule unique

    not merely in Indian but perhaps in world history. The idea ofputting up such inscriptions probably came to Aoka from theAchaemenid empire in Iran; but whereas Darius has boastedof winning battles and killing people, and considered his ene-mies products of the forces of evil, Aoka recorded his revul-sion from violence and his wish to spare and care for evenanimals. He had begun in the usual warlike way, but aftera successful campaign in Kalinga (modern Orissa) he had achange of heart. He publicly declared his remorse for the suf-ferings he had caused in the war and said that henceforth hewould conquer only by righteousness (dhamma)2This remark-able conversion from what every proper Indian king consid-ered his dharma to a universalistic dhamma of compassion and,

    ethical propriety presumably coincided with the conversion to

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    Buddhism which Aoka announced in what may well be theearliest of his edicts. In that edict3 he says that he first becamean upsaka, a Buddhist lay follower, but did not make muchprogress for a year; then, however, he went to the Sagha

    and made a lot of progress. We cannot be sure just what hemeant by going to the Sagha the Buddhist tradition thatit meant going and living with monks may be an exaggera-tion but in any case it clearly involved getting to know moreabout Buddhism.

    Almost all of Aokas inscriptions are about dhamma. By

    this he did not mean specifically Buddhism, but righteousnessas he understood it. And it is clear that his understanding wasgreatly influenced by Buddhism. The best traditions of bothBuddhism and Indian kingship coincided in Aokas declaredsupport for all religions. This support went far beyond passivetoleration: he dedicated caves to non-Buddhist ascetics,4 repeat-edly said that Brahmins and renouncers (ramaa) all deserved

    respect, and told people never to denigrate other sects but toinform themselves about them.Aoka abolished the death penalty.6 He declared many ani-

    mal species protected species7 and said that whereas previouslymany animals were killed for the royal kitchens, now they weredown to two peacocks and a deer per day, and the deer notregularly and in future even these three animals will notbe killed.8 (Here as so often the rather clumsy style seems tohave the spontaneity of unrevised dictation.) He had wells dugand shade trees planted along the roads for the use of men andbeasts, and medicinal plants grown for both as well.8

    The influence of Buddhism appears in both substance andstyle. The Buddha took current terminology and adapted it

    to his purpose: who is the true brahmin; what should one

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    really mean by kamma, etc. Aoka does this repeatedly with hisdhamma. Other kings have victories; he has dhamma victories.10Other kings go on hunting expeditions; he gets much morepleasure out ofdhamma expeditions, on which he makes gifts

    to brahmins and renouncers and senior citizens,11 tours thecountry and finds instruction in the dhamma. Other kings haveofficials; he has dhamma officials to promulgate virtue and tolook after such disadvantaged groups as old people, orphansand prisoners.12 In an edict addressed to these officials13 hetells them to follow the middle path almost certainly ech-

    oing the Buddhist term by avoiding such vices as jealousy,cruelty and laziness. In another edict14 he says that people goin for all sorts of ceremonies on family occasions such as mar-riages, and women especially perform all kinds of paltry anduseless rites for good luck, but the only rewarding ceremonyis to practise dhamma, which means treating your slaves andservants properly, respecting your elders, acting with restraint

    towards all living beings, and making gifts to brahmins andrenouncers.

    This edict closely echoes theAdvice to Sigla and other ser-mons of the Buddha on lay ethics.15 Given that Aoka is mostunlikely to have had a text available, the resemblance couldhardly have been closer. Like Sigla, Aokas subjects are to sub-stitute ethical action for traditional ritual, and what they are todo is just what the Buddha recommended. The notion that theideal king portrayed by the Buddha is the ideal layman writlarge, fits Aoka perfectly. To follow all the details one shouldread these wonderful human documents for oneself.16 I shalljust cite two more points at which Aoka commends what wehave identified as distinctively Buddhist values. He says: It

    is good to have few expenses and few possessions.17

    And he

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    not only urges diligence on others, but leads by example: heattends to business at any time, whether he is eating, in thewomens quarters, in his bedroom, in his litter, in the garden,or even if our understanding is correct on the toilet. For

    I am never satisfied with my efforts and with settling busi-ness, because I think I must work for the welfare of the wholeworld.18

    Near the end of his last and longest inscription,19 after sum-marizing his efforts to propagatedhamma, Aoka says: Peoplesprogress in dhamma is achieved in two ways, by dhamma rules

    and by conviction. Rules count for little; most is by convic-tion. A perfect Buddhist sentiment, which I find touching inthe context.

    Some scholars have questioned Aokas Buddhism on thegrounds that he never mentions Nibbna or other key conceptsof Buddhist soteriology. A consideration of Buddhist lay-relig-iosity, both in the Canon and after, proves that this objection

    is foolish. There are also certain inscriptions, apart from theannouncement of his conversion, which have a purely Buddhistcontent in the narrowest sense. In an inscription found at thesite20 he announces that he has visited Lumbin, the Buddhas

    birthplace, and remitted the villages taxes. In another 21 he saysthat he has doubled the size of the stpa of a (named) formerBuddha and come himself to worship at it. So Aoka went onBuddhist pilgrimages. There are also two remarkable inscrip-tions addressed to the Sagha. In one22 he recommends thatthey study certain specific texts; most but not all have beenidentified. In another, which has been found at three sites23

    (though badly damaged at two), he says that any monk or nunwho splits the Sagha is to be made to wear white clothes

    (i.e. revert to lay status) and made to leave the monastery; the

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    laity are to come each uposatha to check that this is done. Wehave seen that this issue, the unanimity of the Sagha, is a cen-tral one in the Vinaya, and that, in lending his authority in-deed, his practical help to the expulsion of dissidents, Aoka

    is acting as the perfect Buddhist king who enables the Saghato keep itself pure.

    We have left to the last the passage in an inscription24 whichmentions Aokas missions. In it he says that he has won adhamma victory by sending messengers to five kings and sev-eral other kingdoms. The kings, all of whom ruled in the Hel-

    lenistic world, the Near East, have been identified; from theirdates we can deduce that the inscription was dictated in 256or 255 B.C., and this gave modern scholarship the key to dat-ing not merely Aoka but the whole of ancient Indian history.Unfortunately most of the other countries mentioned havenot been securely identified. An overlapping list of countries,equally problematic, is mentioned in another inscription25 in

    a similar context. We shall return below to the vexed problemwhether these missions correspond to the missions recordedin the Buddhist chronicles.

    2. Aoka in Buddhist Tradition

    The missions had a great influence on world history. But inother respects the Aoka who influenced later Buddhists,serving as the model for Buddhist rulers, was the Aoka por-trayed in the Buddhist chronicles. A large body of stories grewup around him. We shall, however, restrict ourselves to theTheravdin chronicles, and in particular to the account of theMahvasa.26

    Most features of the Aoka of legend are perhaps simple-

    minded inflations of the truth. Thus he is said to have built

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    84,000 monasteries and as many stpas; it seems that in latertimes almost every old stpa was attributed to him. He is alsosaid to have been preternaturally wicked before his conver-sion, killing 99 half-brothers.

    The story of Aokas conversion is that one day he chancedto see a Buddhist novice walking down the street and was soimpressed by his tranquil deportment that he conceived confi-dence in him and invited him in. (There is a romantic tale that,unbeknown to the king, he was his nephew; but that is not thepoint of the episode.) The king said, Sit down, dear sir, on a

    suitable seat. Seeing no other monk present, he went up to thethrone.27 This establishes that the most junior monk has prec-edence over the highest layman, the king. Again, significantly,the novice preaches to the king about diligence (appamda);he is thereupon converted and starts to feed monks on a vastscale. In due course Aokas younger brother, his son Mahinda,and his daughter Saghamitt enter the Sagha.

    The lavish state patronage has an unintended conse-quence; it tempts non-Buddhists to join the Sagha, or rather,to dress up as monks. The true monks cannot co-operate withthem, so no uposatha ceremony is held for seven years. Thekings first attempt to rectify this leads to disaster when histoo-zealous minister has some real monks beheaded for thisnon-co-operation. He then invites the venerable elder TissaMoggaliputta, who first assures him that without evil inten-tion there is no bad kamma. The king and the elder then pro-ceed to the big monastery the king has founded in Paliputta,and the king cross-examines its inhabitants to weed out thenon-Buddhists. (Notice that this says nothing about doctrinewithin Buddhism or Buddhist sect formation: the men who

    merit expulsion were never Buddhists at all.) Finally Aoka

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    says to the elder, Since the Sagha is purified, let it performthe uposatha ceremony,28 and they do so in concord. Tissathen organizes the Third Council; they compile the scriptures(by reciting them) and he composes the Kathvatthu, the last

    book in the Pali Abhidhamma Piaka. In effect he thus as itwere seals off the Tipiaka, the Pali version of the Canon, withthe possible exception of the large Collection of Minor Texts(Khuddaka Nikya) of the Sutta Piaka, the contents of whichremained somewhat fluid for many centuries. The Kathvatthuestablishes or reaffirms Theravdin orthodoxy on a host of

    points, mostly minor, on which they differed from some orother Buddhist schools.The story of the Third Council is peculiar to the Theravda

    tradition; evidently it concerned only them. The story of Aokasintervention to purify the Sagha is found in other Buddhisttraditions too, though with variant details. It is not corrobo-rated by inscriptional evidence, as the inscription cited above

    does not say that Aoka has actually expelled monks himself;on the other hand, it is almost certain that many of Aokasinscriptions have been lost new ones are still being discov-ered and the argument from silence is weak. The survivinginscription certainly proves that Aoka took an interest in theunanimity and purity of the Sagha. Scholars have treatedthe Theravdin account with scepticism because of variousimplausible features in it. Certainly, it confuses the fortunesof one sect, or perhaps even just one monastery, with those ofBuddhism throughout India: it is impossible to believe that nouposatha ceremony was held in all India for seven years, and inany case Aokas expulsion of pseudo-monks from one monas-tery would only have rectified matters in that particular sangha,

    not in the Sagha as a whole. It also seems odd that it should

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    be Aoka, a layman, who tests monks on their doctrine. Yetthis is hardly out of character for a king whom we know putup an inscription telling the Sagha which texts to study. It isthe occupational hazard of rulers to think they know best.

    Whether the story is essentially accurate or inflates a minorincident in which Aoka did not personally participate, it servesin the Theravdin literature to complement the Vinaya, sup-plying the missing piece to the puzzle of the Saghas regula-tion. Buddhist kings ever after Aoka saw it as their duty toact as Defender of the Faith to use the Christian phrase by

    expelling malefactors to purify the Sagha. For a Buddhist, todefend the faith is to defend the Sagha.Aoka has been the model for rulers all over the Buddhist

    world. Within the next thousand years at least five kings of SriLanka prohibited the killing of animals.29 In Burma, Aokasexample has constantly been invoked by kings,30 and PrimeMinister U Nu, modelling himself on Aoka, had innumerable

    small stpas put up.31 The great Khmer ruler Jayavarman VII(1181 after 1215) saw himself as a living Buddha and inhis inscriptions expressed Aokan sentiments on the materialand spiritual welfare of his subjects and announced that hehad had hospitals built.32 In eleventh-century Thailand, KingRma Khamhaeng ordered that for urgent business he shouldbe disturbed even on the toilet.33 In fifth-century China, theBuddhist emperor Lian-u-thi went and lived in a monasterywith monks.34 Of course no one before the nineteenth centuryhad access to the inscriptions, or even knew they existed; they based themselves on Buddhist literary sources. In moderntimes, Aokas precedent has been no less invoked but moredistorted. The great Sinhalese Buddhist reformer Anagrika

    Dharmapla, whose assumed name Dharmapla means

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    Defender of the Faith, called Aokas the greatest democraticempire,35 while the Sinhalese polemicist D.C. Vijayavardhana,who regarded the Buddha as somehow anticipating Karl Marx,described Aoka as the Lenin of Buddhism.36

    3. The Missions: Interpreting the Evidence

    Curiously enough, the Theravdin chronicles do not creditAoka directly with what we naturally think of as his mostimportant achievement, the dispatch of missions which estab-lished Buddhism over a far wider area, within the Indian sub-

    continent and beyond. According to those texts, it was theElder Tissa Moggaliputta who sent out nine missions to bor-der areas. This was inC.250 B.C. Each mission was headed byan elder whom the texts name and consisted of five monks, thequorum required for conferring higher ordination in remoteparts.37 The mission to Sri Lanka was headed by the ElderMahinda, whom Theravdin tradition considers to have been

    Aokas son; his daughter Saghamitt followed in due courseto establish the Order of Nuns in Sri Lanka.

    There is archaeological evidence to corroborate a piece ofthe chronicles story. Five named monks are said to have goneto various parts of the Himalayan region.38 In Bhilsa (= ancientVidis) in central India, relic caskets of the right period, theearly second century B.C., have been found inscribed with thenames of three of these monks and stating that they are of theHimalayan School.39

    Nevertheless, the great Buddhologist Etienne Lamotte notonly argues that these missions cannot be those to which Aokarefers in his inscriptions, he is even sceptical whether therewas a concerted missionary enterprise at all.40 He points out

    that Aokas dhamma messengers or ambassadors of right-

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    eousness can hardly have been Buddhist monks, because theemperor protected all faiths and used dhamma to mean some-thing much more generally acceptable than Buddhist doctrine.He argues that the lists of destinations in the Buddhist sources

    on the one hand and the inscriptions on the other are dis-crepant, though they overlap; that some of them were alreadyfamiliar with Buddhism by that date; and that the dates tooare discrepant.

    Erich Frauwallner, on the other hand, accepts the Buddhistaccount in most particulars.41 But he identifies it with Aokas

    embassies and thus holds the emperor directly responsible. Hefurther argues that the missions set out from Vidis in centralIndia, where the missionaries remains were found. He identi-fies the geographical names in Theravdin sources with someof those in the inscriptions, and glosses over the difficulty ofthe date.

    On the whole I side with Frauwallner. The geographical

    identifications are too uncertain to help us. While Lamotte isright to point out that some of the areas visited, notably Kash-mir, had Buddhists already, that does not disprove that mis-sions could be sent there. The chroniclers, as so often happens,had no interest in recording a gradual and undramatic proc-ess, and allowed history to crystallize into clear-cut episodeswhich could be endowed with edifying overtones; but thisoversimplification does not prove that clear-cut events neveroccurred. We know from the inscriptions that they did. Thereis a discrepancy of about five years in the dates; as the dates ofAokas embassies are certain, within a year or two, I suggestthat we must not flinch from concluding that on this point theBuddhist sources are slightly out. Maybe Frauwallner is also

    right about where the missions left from, for the Sri Lankan

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    sources say42 that Mahinda stayed a month at Vedisa (= Vidis)before going to Sri Lanka.

    Aokas ambassadors of righteousness would certainly nothave been men travelling alone. Such a mission could well

    have included monks, perhaps even representatives of morethan one religion. So Lamottes objection about the nature ofthe dhamma can also be parried.

    The monks who composed the chronicles would not havebeen pleased to record that Buddhism travelled as a sideshow.Nor would it indeed have been relevant to their main purpose as

    chroniclers, which was to show how valid ordination traditionscame to be established. I agree with Frauwallner that the mis-sions to remote parts were probably responsible for the creationof several of the early sects, which arose because of geographi-cal isolation. What is really most implausible, in my view, is thatit should have been Tissa Moggaliputta who sent out all themissions. The strong evidence of the Kathvatthu demonstrates

    that he was a polemicist for the particular doctrinal interpre-tations of the Pali school, whereas we know that Kashmir, forexample, had other sects and schools (i.e. disciplinary and doc-trinal traditions), not the Theravda or vibhajja-vda. EvidentlyTissa Moggaliputta was the chief Theravdin intellectual of hisday, and the Theravdin chronicles therefore grossly exagger-ated his role in general Buddhist history. Just as he cannot havepresided over the purification of the entire Sagha throughoutIndia, he cannot have been the prime mover in dispatching mis-sions throughout the known world. Indeed there is one accountwhich does not connect him with Mahindas mission.43 Aokamay well have sought his advice and secured his co-operation,but these missions, the evidence indicates, were from court to

    court, a product of state patronage.

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    Notes

    1. P.H.L. Eggermont, The Chronology of the Reign of AokaMoriya (Leiden, 1956);New Notes on Aoka and His

    Successors, Persica, (Leiden, 1965 66).2. Rock Edict (RE) XIII.3. Minor Rock Edict (MRE) I.4. Barabar inscription.5. RE XII.6. Pillar Edict (PE) IV. See K.R. Norman, Aoka and Capital

    Punishment,Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, no.1,pp. 16 24.7. RE V.8. RE I.9. RE II.

    10. RE XIII.

    11. RE VIII.12. RE V; PE VII.13. Kalinga Separate Edict I.14. RE IX.15. Hammalawa Saddhatissa, Buddhist Ethics (London, 1970),

    p. 143.

    16. N.A. Nikam and Richard McKeon, eds. and trans.,The Edicts of Aoka (Chicago, 1959).17. RE III.18. RE VI.19. RE VII.20. Rummindei inscription.

    21. Nigalisagar inscription.

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    22. Bhabra inscription.23. Kosam, Saci and Srnth.24. RE XIII.

    25. RE V.26. Mahvasa (Mhv.), mainly chap. V.27. Mhv. V,63.28. Mhv. V,273.29. Walpola Rahula,History of Buddhism in Ceylon: The

    Anuradhapura Period (Colombo, 1956), pp. 73 fn., 86.

    30. E. Sarkisyanz, Buddhist Backgrounds of the BurmeseRevolution (The Hague, 1965), pp. 33 36, 66 67, 93 94, 97.31. Heinz Bechert, Buddhismus, Staat und Gesellschaft in den

    Landern des Theravada Buddhismus, Vol. II (Wiesbaden,1967), pp. 143, 168.

    32. Ibid., p. 253.

    33. Professor Trevor Ling, personal communication.34. Rahula, p. 5 fn.35. Bechert, Vol. I (Frankfurt & Berlin, 1966), p. 128.36. Ibid.37. Vinaya Nidna, para. 64.38. Ibid., para. 71

    39. Etienne Lamotte,Histoire du Bouddhisme Indien (Louvain,1958), p. 333.40. Ibid., pp. 320 39.41. Erich Frauwallner, The Earliest Vinaya and the Beginnings of

    Buddhist Literature (Rome, 1956), pp. 12 23.42. Vinaya Nidna, paras. 73 75; Mhv. XIII.

    43. Dpavasa XII, 5ff.

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    2Aoka and Buddhism as Reflected

    in the Aokan Edicts

    ROMILATHAPAR

    INTHE PURANIC TEXTSOF the brahmins, Aoka occurs

    merely as an undistinguished name in a list of Mauryankings. From the brahmanical point of view the Mauryas werepatrons of heretical sects such as the Jainas, jvikas, andBuddhists and therefore little time and space was wastedon them. But in the traditions of the so-called heretical sects,these kings are depicted as major patrons. Thus the Jainatradition associates Candragupta Maurya with the major

    events of the early history of the Jaina sangha. A parallel por-trayal is given of the association of Aoka with the Buddhistsangha in the Buddhist tradition. The latter is however moredetailed and makes of Aoka an exemplar for all kings whowere patrons of the Buddhist sangha. Implicit in this por-trayal is the question of the relation between temporal andsacral power: a subject which has been analysed extensivelyby both historians and anthropologists in recent years.

    In the nineteenth century the inscriptions of Aoka weredeciphered and by the early twentieth century the identity ofAoka was established. Because of the portrayal of Aoka inthe Buddhist tradition, historians initially tended to read theedicts merely as documents asserting his belief in Buddhism.

    But if the edicts are examined more analytically they not only

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    reflect a more complex situation but one that is also enrichedby reference to the preoccupations of the contemporary scene.I would like to propose therefore that an assessment of theimpact of Buddhism on the Mauryan emperor Aoka requires

    analyses from many perspectives. Since he was a person ofconsiderable public importance, such an assessment wouldhave to consider both his personal beliefs as well as his pub-lic use of an ideology drawn from the ethical perspectives ofreligion a consideration which would necessitate a famili-arity with the contemporary situation in the third century B.C.

    in India.It is rare in Indian history to have access to the person-alized edicts of a king. In this we are fortunate in the cor-pus of Aokan inscriptions, which are substantially of thisnature. These inscriptions can be categorized as those whichare directed to the Buddhist Sagha and which are fewer innumber, and those which are addressed to the people at large

    and which constitute the majority of the edicts. The latter cate-gory includes what are referred to as the Minor Rock Inscrip-tions, the Major Rock Inscriptions, and the two Separate Edictsat Kalinga. It is from these that we can gather his definition ofdhamma. What is even more fortunate in some ways is that wehave versions of some of these edicts in Aramaic and Greek.These are significant not only in themselves but also in the factthat they provide us with another perspective on the conceptswhich he uses. It is my intention in this paper to base myselflargely on the inscriptional data and to try to determine fromthis what might have been Aokas relation with Buddhism.

    I would like to begin by looking at the evidence whichwe have for arguing that Aoka was a Buddhist. Buddhism

    in this period has often been referred to as a heterodoxy in

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    relation to Brahmanism. There was certainly a clear-cut dis-tinction between the two. This is reflected in the quotationfrom Megasthenes which refers to the category of philosophersbeing divided into brahmins and ramaas, the term ramaa

    referring not only to Buddhists but to the large range of non-brahmanical sects. It is also reflected in a passage from Pata-jali which indicates the hostility between the two by compar-ing their relationship to that of the snake and the mongoose.Nevertheless, as far as the middle Ganges valley was concerned,where the state of Magadha was located, the question may well

    be asked as to whether in this area Buddhism was a heterodoxyor whether it was the dominant sect. Candragupta Maurya isstrongly associated with the Jaina tradition and Bindusra, thefather of Aoka, with the jvikas. It would seem therefore thatin this area all these religious ideologies were prevalent andpopular and therefore Aokas exposure to them may not havebeen an exposure to heterodoxy but to current religious ideas.

    His support of any of these sects need not therefore be seen asa major departure from the norm.Possibly his first close association with Buddhism in an

    administrative capacity was when he was viceroy at Ujjain.This region was developing as a major centre of Buddhist activ-ity, which is also attested in the brief inscription precedingthe Minor Rock Edict at the site of Panguraria near Roshanga-bad in Madhya Pradesh. According to the Buddhist tradition itwas also here that his son Mahinda was born, and Mahindasmother Dev is said to have been an ardent lay follower, thusintroducing a very private element into his association withBuddhism. However, whatever this association may have been,it is not referred to in his edicts:

    Eight years after he had been crowned, Aoka campaigned

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    in Kalinga. The Major Rock Edict XIII records his remorse atthe suffering caused by this campaign. He mentions in thisedict that after Kalinga had been annexed he came close tothe practice and teaching ofdhamma. This is often taken to be

    a dramatic conversion to Buddhism. However, it should bekept in mind that in the Minor Rock Edict issued in his thir-teenth regnal year, i.e. five years after the Kalinga campaign,he states that I have been an upsaka for more than two and ahalf years, but for a year I did not make much progress. Nowfor more than a year I have drawn closer to the Sagha (sang-

    ham upagate) and have become more ardent. The Ahraura ver-sion of the Minor Rock Edict refers to the placing of the rel-ics of the Buddha on a platform. In Major Rock Edict VIII hestates that after he had been consecrated ten years he went tothe Bodhi Tree, the Buddhas tree of enlightenment (ayya sam-bodhim). His statements suggest that there was no sudden con-version but rather a gradual and increasingly closer associa-

    tion with Buddhism.This is somewhat different from the treatment of the con-version in the Buddhist tradition. No mention is made of thecampaign in Kalinga in spite of the dramatic and narrativepotential of such an event. Instead the conversion significantlyrelates to close relatives, a younger brother in one case anda nephew in another, who are responsible for showing theway to the king. There is the well known story of the wickedCandoka who changes to the pious Dharmoka which is,of course, a familiar stereotype in many such sudden conver-sion stories. Once the king is associated with the sangha, therelationship matures and reaches its fruition, as it were, in thedecision to call the Third Council at Paliputra. Here the doc-

    trine is clarified and the Theravda position is established as

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    the correct doctrine. What is of significance in this event is themutual legitimation of the emperor and the sangha. Temporalpower is legitimized by a religious assembly and the latter isin turn legitimized by the authority of the king. One of the out-

    comes of the Council is missionary activity. Missions are sentnot only within the subcontinent but also to the northwest, theHellenized states in the trans-Indus region, and of course toSri Lanka.

    The later years of the emperor, according to the tradition,were filled with palace politics. Subsequent to the death of

    Asandhimitt, the pious chief queen of Aoka, there are anumber of episodes involving her successor, Tissarakkh. Hermachinations lead to the blinding of the kings son Kunla, tothe kings being cured of a peculiar disease, and to the harm-ing of the Bodhi Tree. Ultimately, Tissarakkhs evil ways areexposed and she is removed from the scene. In the last phaseof his reign the king is said to have made a number of dona-

    tions to the sangha, some of which are so magnanimous thatthey embarrass the ministers of state, and others which areso paltry that they suggest that the income of even the might-iest of kings can be reduced to a pittance. In the inscriptions,donations by the king are referred to only indirectly. Oneinscription states that the donations of the Queen Karuvki,the mother of Tivara, are to be recorded. The donations of theBarabar caves to the jvikas are engraved in the vicinity. Butthere is a striking absence of any record of direct donationsto the sangha.

    The inscriptions addressed specifically to the Buddhistsangha carry an echo of some of these events. In the Bhabrainscription the king seems to speak as an upsaka and takes

    the unostentatious title ofrj mgadha, the king of Magadha,

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    in addressing the sangha. He states his faith in the Buddha, theDhamma and the Sagha and in the teachings of the Buddha.He goes on to list the particular texts which he thinks areimportant and which he wishes monks and nuns to hear fre-

    quently and meditate upon.Even more forceful is the Schism Edict issued at three

    major monastic centres, at Kosamb, Snchi and Sarnath. Ithas been argued that this edict was issued after the Coun-cil of Paliputra. The king takes it upon himself to order theexpulsion of dissident monks and nuns. It certainly is sugges-

    tive of an attitude towards dissidents subsequent to the correctdoctrine being established. But, on the other hand, it does gorather contrary to his appeal for tolerance among all sects andopinions, which is voiced in the Major Rock Edicts. Possibly adistinction has to be made between the king in his role as apatron of the sangha, even though an upsaka, and the king asa statesman governing an empire. As a royal patron he rises

    above sectarian rivalries and donates caves to the jvikas eventhough there was hostility between them and the Buddhists.Interestingly, these donations are made in the thirteenth andtwentieth year of his reign when at the same time he was trav-elling to places sacred to Buddhism.

    The Rummindei Pillar Inscription records a visit of theking to Lumbin. This has been associated with the statementin the tradition that he made a pilgrimage to places sacredto Buddhism. Curiously, he exempts the village from bali, theland tax, and reduces the bhga to one-eighth, but even hispiety does not permit him to totally exempt the village fromall taxes, the revenue demands of the empire receiving priority.The Nigalisagar Pillar inscription records his enlargement of

    the stpa of Konakamana and his pilgrimage to the site. This

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    is the nearest that we get in the inscriptions to a direct refer-ence to his embellishing a stpa and thus making a donationat the site. These inscriptions are specific to the concerns of thesangha and to places of Buddhist pilgrimage. They are to that

    extent affirmations of his adherence to Buddhism.We now come to the Minor Rock Inscription, which raises

    a number of interesting questions. These are some seventeenversions either exact or approximate of this edict and doubtlessmore will be discovered. Unlike the Major Rock Edicts thereis a greater variation in these texts: some are shorter, some are

    addressed to local officers, some occur only in certain placesand even the language varies. The question of why certainsections were omitted remains unanswered and suggests thatsome sections were considered more important than othersand were perhaps issued separately although within a brieftime span.

    The earlier part of the inscription occurs at all the sites. The

    latter half occurs only at seven sites and that too in a clusterin three districts of Kurnool, Bellary and Chitradurga in Kar-nataka. The third segment occurs only in the sites in Chitra-durga. Strangely, these do not even occur across Tungabhadrain the sites of the Raichur district. It is possible that these seg-ments were issued by Aoka when he was actually touring inthis area and were issued as after-thoughts.

    The first segment is in some cases addressed to the officersof the area and the inscription therefore becomes one which isintended for the general public. This becomes amply clear inthe statement that the officers are to make public its contents.He describes himself as a Buddhist upsaka. It contains thecontroversial statement, y imya klya jabudipassi amiss

    dev husu to dni miss ka. This has been interpreted either

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    as a reference to true and false gods (ifamiss derives fromama meaning false) or that the gods who did not associatewith men now do so (deriving amiss from amira, not min-gled). Ifdeva can be taken in its wider sense of things celestial

    then the second meaning seems more correct. The plural formdev would suggest superhuman beings. Taken in a metaphor-ical sense it would suggest that Aoka believed that by follow-ing the injunctions ofdhamma, the righteousness so generatedwould attract even celestial beings. This is further suggested inthe next few sentences where he explains the required behav-

    iour according to the precepts ofdhamma; and that it is opento both the humble and the mighty.In the second segment he again calls upon the officers and

    particularly the rajuka, the rural officers, and the local chiefs toinstruct the people of the countryside, assembling them withthe sound of the drum. The virtues ofdhamma are explainedas obeying mother and father, obeying teachers, having mercy

    on living beings and speaking the truth. These precepts are sobroad-based that they did not require any religious sectarianidentification. Such virtues were common to a large numberof religious sects. The third segment reiterates these virtuesand particularly calls on professional groups such as elephant-keepers, scribes and fortune tellers, as well as brahmins, toinstruct their apprentices that they must honour their mas-ters and that within a family relatives must treat each otherwith respect. This is described as an ancient custom condu-cive to long life. At the single site of Brahmagiri the name ofthe engraver, Capaa, is written in kharohi.

    The basic edict was presumably issued at the sametime namely, the 256th night on tour and was engraved

    at a number of places. Why nights are mentioned rather than

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    days remains unclear unless the computation was lunar orwas connected with the worship of the relics. The locations ofthe inscriptions are also not consistent. He states that it is tobe inscribed on rocks and stone pillars all over his kingdom.

    Existing stone pillars would certainly be associated with a siteand probably a site of religious importance. Were the rocks alsoin the vicinity of sacred sites or of populated centres? Not allthese inscriptions are at important Buddhist monastic centresand some seem to have been located close to megalithic settle-ments. The later imposition of Buddhist centres at certain mega-

    lithic sites (such as Amarvat) suggests an association whichmay have been evolving at this time. However, the presuppo-sition of a sacred site is not necessary to the location of theseinscriptions since the text itself makes it clear that the primepurpose was to reach large numbers of people.

    What is perhaps more significant about the locations of thisedict is that it occurs in large numbers in the peninsula and in

    the north along routes leading into the peninsula. The domi-nant culture of the peninsula at this time was the megalithicculture. It is generally agreed that the megalithic culture waseither prior to state formation or consisted of incipient states.Chiefdoms therefore would have been the recognized polit-ical forms and doubtless it was these that were gathered upinto the net of Mauryan conquest. The imperial administrationwould thus use two avenues of control: one would be throughits own officers, the ryaputras, kumras, mahmtras and rajukas;the other would be through local chiefs. The reference to offic-ers and local chiefs would point to the ethic being propagatedthrough these channels. Interestingly, the definition ofdhammain this edict is rudimentary and carries none of the refine-

    ments evident in the Major Rock Edicts. Possibly the reference

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    to elephant-keepers was to chiefs who rode on elephant backand the scribes would of course be the officials.

    The reference to scribes raises another set of interestingquestions. The Mauryan inscriptions in the peninsula are com-

    posed in Prakrit and inscribed in brhm. Numerically the clus-ter in the south is in areas which were Dravidian-speaking buthad no script. Mauryan brhmwas subsequently adapted tosuit Tamil and the earliest post-Mauryan inscriptions are inTamil brhm. These inscriptions would therefore have had tobe read out to gatherings and possibly translated, since it is

    unlikely that people other than the elite would have followedPrakrit. The royal scribe Capaa was clearly from the north-west as he signs himself in the script of the northwest, kharohi.Possibly local officers were being trained as scribes by theMauryan administration. The additional segments to the orig-inal edict were obviously intended for the local situation. TheMauryan official was playing the important role of the inter-

    mediary between the imperial power and the local chiefs. Thesites in the Karnataka were crucial to the Mauryas since thiswas the major gold-bearing region of the sub-continent andthe Raichur doab is proverbial for its agricultural fertility.

    In the first section of this edict a reference is made to peoplewho live in the neighbouring areas also being made familiarwith these ideas. It was perhaps in this context that a possibleversion of the Minor Rock Edict was issued in both Ara-maic and Greek and was inscribed at Kandahar in southernAfghanistan which was then a major centre of Hellenistic set-tlement. The local population here spoke Aramaic and Greek.In this case Aoka took the trouble to render his inscriptioninto the local language. The edict was issued in the eleventh

    year of his reign. He claims that men have become more pious

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    since he showed them the way and the world has prospered.In explaining this he emphasizes the restraint on the killingof animals, self-control, and obedience to parents and elders.The Aramaic version carried a statement that there is no judge-

    ment for pious men. This is almost certainly a reference to theZoroastrian concept of a final judgement when the good andevil of an individuals actions will be weighed, as part of theZoroastrian eschatology. The Aramaic-speaking populationat this time was largely Zoroastrian and therefore this state-ment becomes significant in terms of an appeal which empha-

    sizes the piety of the present and its merit, rather than theagony of waiting for the final judgement. The Greek versionuses the term eusebeia for dhamma, the literal meaning of whichis sacred duty and can include piety or pious conduct. It wasa general term and had no link with any specific religious orphilosophical school.

    It is curious that Aoka makes no reference to the teach-

    ings of the Buddha particularly in an area where Buddhismhad hardly reached and where therefore a specific referencewould have made his intentions very clear. It does raise thequestion of whether he was intending to propagate Buddhismin his reference to dhamma. This question is perhaps betteranswered by looking at the larger corpus of edicts, namely, theMajor Rock Edicts and the Pillar Edicts in which he defines ingreater detail his understanding ofdhamma. In order, however,to clarify the context of these edicts it is perhaps necessary tolook at the historical situation in Mauryan India. In the largercorpus of edicts he was more clearly identifying himself as theruler of an empire and speaking to his subjects. The implicitaudience of these edicts is therefore far wider than that of the

    inscriptions discussed so far.

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    We are used to treating the Mauryan empire as undifferen-tiated territory extending over almost the entire sub-continentexcluding only the area south of Karnataka. In effect, how-ever, as I have argued elsewhere, the empire has to be seen

    in terms of differentiated political control. This is also par-tially reflected in the location of the inscriptions. There weresome areas which had experienced state systems prior to therise of the Mauryas such as the Ganges valley, Gandhara andMalwa. Magadha in particular had been the nucleus of politicalpower controlling the Ganges valley in the preceding period

    under the Nandas and it continued to play that role under theMauryas. It emerged therefore as a metropolitan area withinthe empire. That Aoka referred to himself as rj mgadha wasnot altogether an act of humility. Earlier states which had beenannexed provided the core areas of the empire and traditionhas it that Aoka while still a prince was placed in charge ofthe administration both at Taxila and at Ujjain. The agricultur-

    ally rich regions of Kalinga, Saurashtra and Raichur with theirpotential as states can also be viewed as core regions. Interme-diate areas were probably regarded as peripheral. The degreeof political control would vary in these regions. The metropol-itan area was under a highly centralized system of administra-tion and this was doubtless what Kaualya had in mind whenhe wrote of the political economy of a state.

    It was to this region that the revenue was directed and itwas regarded as economically the most developed area. Theset of seven pillar edicts are addressed to this region. The coreareas had the potential of becoming metropolitan areas, whichmany of them did in the post-Mauryan period. The Major RockEdicts are largely located in such areas. The ones at Kalsi and

    Sopr indicate not so much the importance of agriculture as

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    the importance of trade, the first being on the uttarpatha orthe long-established northern route and the second being theemerging port for trade along the west coast and possibly withArabia. The revenue from these core areas was again directed

    to the metropolitan state and the economy of these areas mayhave been reorganized for this purpose. The locations of theMajor Rock Edicts also point to their becoming nuclei of tradecentres. The peripheral regions would be those least tamperedwith by Mauryan administration as long as the revenue fromthem could be creamed off. There is little evidence of the Maur-

    yan presence at megalithic sites in the peninsula except for thearea of Raichur and the adjoining districts where the inscrip-tions are located. Western Rajasthan, Sind and Punjab do notprovide Mauryan associations.

    This differentiated political control is also suggested by thevariations in the major economic activities of these regions. Themetropolitan and core areas drew their revenue from agricul-

    ture and commerce. Mention is made of state-supervised agri-culture but this did not preclude landowners and a variety ofpeasant tenures. Megasthenes account suggests a fairly securepeasantry kept unarmed. Artisanal production and trade alsoprovided revenue in taxes. It is likely that in the peripheralareas Mauryan control was concentrated on keeping the traderoutes open and encouraging trade. The KaualyaArthastraindicates a concern by the state to derive the maximum rev-enue from commerce, which if it reflects actual practice, mayalmost have had a suffocating effect. Where peripheral areasprovided lucrative resources such as the gold-bearing regionsof Karnataka, there the Mauryan pressure is apparent. Suchareas were largely the domain of forest tribes and pastoral

    groups with pockets of agriculturists. Forest tribes are referred

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    to in the edicts and in relation to these Aokan paternalismwas at its maximum.

    Mauryan society shows a wide range of diversity whichis reflected both in the archaeological picture and that avail-

    able from literary sources. The Greek and Aramaic-speakingpeoples of the northwest would have appeared as alien tothose of the Ganges valley as were the megalithic peoples ofthe peninsula. The governance of such a diversity requiredboth political control as well as persuasive assimilation. Themachinery of political control had to be backed by force and

    finance. Persuasive assimilation required an ideology whichwould appeal to this diversity at all levels. The question thenis whether Aokas concept of dhamma provided such anideology.

    The corpus of Major Rock Edicts (hereafter RE) and PillarEdicts (hereafter PE) provide us in some detail with a pic-ture of what Aoka meant by dhamma or what has since been

    referred to by historians as his policy ofdhamma. Those whoobserve the precepts ofdhamma are said to be people of fewfaults, many good deeds, mercy, charity, truth andd purity(PE 2, 7). Where he refers movingly to having given a gift ofinsight, cakkhudne, to people through dhamma he describes itas an awareness of the sins of cruelty, harshness, anger, prideand envy. Elsewhere he mentions the behaviour required ofthose who observe the dhamma. This consists of obedience toparents, elders and teachers; concern for friends and relatives;gifts to brahmins and ramaas; abstention from killing; goodtreatment towards slaves, servants and the poor; and moder-ation in attachment to possessions (RE 3, 9, 1). Perhaps to thiscan also be added his negative attitude to rituals, ceremonies

    and assemblies (RE 1, 9) and his suggestion that behaviour in

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    accordance with dhamma was preferable to the performance ofceremonies.

    Repeated emphasis is given to tolerance of all sects (RE 6,7, 12). True tolerance lies in honouring anothers sect and

    his aim is the progress of the essential doctrine of all sects.This sentiment is in strong contrast to the Schism Edict inwhich he demands the expulsion of dissident monks andnuns. Whereas dissidence was not to be tolerated within thesangha, for the world at large dissident sects were as impor-tant as any other. He states that his concern for tolerance

    arises out of his involvement with the welfare of the wholeworld and helps him discharge his debt to his people, pre-sumably in his role as emperor. The ultimate purpose of thisis the attainment of heaven (RE 9; PE 3; Separate Edict 1).Even the officers who function well will attain heaven aswill the frontier people if they follow dhamma as explainedby Aoka. It is curious that there is repeated reference to

    heaven (svarga) but no reference to Nirvna or to transmi-gration. He argues that the purpose of the edicts is to elevatepeople through the observance ofdhamma and he calls uponhis specially appointed officers, the dhamma-mahmattas, toexplain dhamma to the people.

    The propagation ofdhamma is such a central concern thathe denounces any interest in fame and glory and wishes onlythat his sons and grandsons will also advance dhamma (RE 4,5, 6, 13; PE 7). It is when people follow dhamma that celestialbeings and supernatural phenomena appear on earth (RE 4),a statement which is reminiscent of the earlier one referringto the gods associating with the people of Jambudvipa whendhamma is prevalent. In the same edict where he expresses his

    remorse over the Kalinga campaign he expresses the hope that

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    all future conquests will be by persuasion and dhamma and notby force and violence, a hope which is extended to the activitiesof his sons and grandsons; but he adds that should they haveto use violence, their punishments should be light (RE 13). By

    the time of his twenty-seventh regnal year, when he issued thefirst Pillar Edict, he seemed fairly satisfied with the increasein the observance ofdhamma and states For this is my prin-ciple: to protect through dhamma, to administer affairs accord-ing to dhamma, to please the people with dhamma, to guard theempire with dhamma. This is the sentiment of a statesman and

    emperor, a man of power. His gradual obsession in the pil-lar edicts with what he was able to establish through dhammabegins to carry traces of what might have developed into animperial cult.

    The edicts are not concerned only with dhamma. There aresubstantial references to the administrative acts which bearon his perceptions of the state. He mentions the frequency of

    his going on tours so as to be in touch with his people (RE 8).His officers similarly have to travel and to make reports backto the king (RE 3). He declares his availability to the adminis-tration at all times irrespective of what he is doing (RE 6). Heemphasizes judicial procedures and the need for impartiality

    before the law and introduces a respite of three days for thosecondemned to death. Doubtless the administrator in him didnot permit the abolition of capital punishment in spite of theprecepts ofdhamma. His concern for the welfare of his subjectsleads him to establish medical centres and to build an exten-sive network of roads lined with shady trees and interspersedwith resthouses and wells (RE 2; PE 7).

    The famous thirteenth Major Rock Edict, which carries his

    statement of remorse at the suffering caused by his campaign

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    in Kalinga, is interestingly omitted in Kalinga itself. This andthe fourteenth edict are replaced by two separate edicts whichmake no reference to his remorse. Possibly it was not consid-ered politically apposite to make this confession to the people

    of Kalinga. The Separate Edicts are addressed to the officersof the Mauryan administration and call upon them to concernthemselves with the welfare of the people. Tours of inspec-tion are initiated and judicial officers are required to be impar-tial. The well-known statement that all men are my childrenoccurs in these edicts as well as the simile that the officers of

    the state are to the subjects as nurses are to children, lookingafter their well being.The rock and pillar edicts also refer to a new category

    of officers instituted by Aoka, whom he referred to as thedhamma-mahmattas or officers ofdhamma (RE 5, 12; PE 1, 7).Their functions were again linked to the welfare of his sub-jects. They were in part concerned with what would today be

    called the weaker sections of society the aged, the infirm,women and children. They were also sent on diplomatic mis-sions to the neighbouring Hellenistic kingdoms of west Asia,for their major function was the propagation ofdhamma. Inthis connection they were also required to attend to the wel-fare of various religious sects and among these are mentionedthe sangha, brahmins, jvikas and Nirgranthas. There is aninsistence in the inscriptions that donations are to be made toall religious sects (RE 8, 12; PE 7). Royal patronage, it is gen-erally assumed, if it is to be politically effective, should beimpartial. Such an attempt at impartiality is suggested by themaking of donations to religious sects without attention to thehostilities prevailing among them. The dhamma-mahmattas

    appear to have been powerful officers with special privileges,

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    possibly fully aware of their role in propagating an imperialideology.

    Historians over many decades have debated the questionwhether the dhamma of Aoka amounted to a propagation of

    the Buddhist religion. Some have argued that it was because ofthe imperial patronage extended to Buddhism that it becamea major religion. They argue that the teachings of the Buddhawere referred to as the Dhamma and that Aoka was usingthe word in the identical sense. Others have taken the oppo-site position that there is nothing specifically Buddhist in the

    dhamma as defined by Aoka, for the same ethical teachingsare to be found in various brahmanical Hindu sects.To narrow the meaning of Aokan dhamma to the teachings

    of a single religious sect is perhaps to do an injustice both toAoka and to the concept ofdhamma as it prevailed at that time.The general code of ethics and rules of behaviour as defined byAoka are certainly familiar to Buddhist teaching and occur

    in Buddhist scripture. However, it needs to be kept in mindthat such ideas are not unknown to Jaina teaching nor to var-ious other ramanic sects which were popular during thatperiod. Aoka may well have used the phraseology from thetexts which he knew best, but at the same time it was part ofthe currency of ethical norms propounded by various teachers.The Aokan dhamma not only addressed itself to a large spec-trum of opinion but drew its inspiration from an equally largebody of ethical doctrine. His insistence on the honouring ofall sects and his careful withdrawal from specifying particu-lar loyalties would be an indication of this. This becomes evenmore pertinent in a situation where there were sectarian hos-tilities and antagonisms. His repetitive emphasis on the need

    for tolerance is suggestive of a situation where such tolerance

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    was largely absent. The phrase that donations were to be madeto brahmins and ramaas is not a restrictive request referringonly to the brahmin caste and the Buddhist monks. The com-pound was used as a short-hand to cover a variety of brah-

    manical and ramanic sects. That he himself made such dona-tions is clear not only from the references to donations in theedicts but also from the fact that he made a major donation tothe jvika sect even though the relations between jvikasand the Buddhists were not cordial. I have already mentionedthat his references to heaven rather than to Nirvna or to trans-

    migration were also addressed to this larger body of belief.The functions of dhamma-mahmattas are a further indi-cation of this wider concern. They are instructed to look tothe welfare of all sects and the ones listed are quite diverseand some such as the Jainas and jvikas were disapproved ofby the Buddhist sangha. The Jainas on their side included theBuddhassana among what they regarded as the products of

    false knowledge. The dhamma-mahmattas are also expected toexplain dhamma to the various people in whose welfare they areinvolved. The officers of the administration are given the sameinstructions. It is curious that no mention is made of bhikkhusbeing associated in this work. If it had been the intention of theemperor to propagate a particular religious sect then surelythe functionaries of that sect would have been associated withexplaining its teachings. Even more telling is the fact that inthe Aramaic and Greek inscriptions the word dhamma is trans-lated as good conduct in the one case and as pious conductin the other. Aoka informs us that there are no brahmins andramaas among the Yona (RE 13), the Hellenized kingdoms. Ifhe was concerned with the propagation of Buddhism it would

    have been more effective to have specifically stated this.

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    The discussion on what constitutes dhamma was at thistime the prevailing concern among a variety of religious andphilosophical sects, which are referred to in the Aokan edictsaspsaa or diatribe. The brahmanical concept ofdharma in

    the sense of sacred duty included the observances of ritualsand sacrifices as well as social conduct in accordance withthe rules ofvara-arama-dharma, where the notion of the sep-arate rules of caste activities was clearly delineated. The asceticsects of the ramaas either questioned these rituals or substi-tuted others for them. Thus many disapproved of animal sac-

    rifice but the worship of trees was regarded as appropriate.Behaviour according to the rules of the four castes receivedscant attention among the ramanic sects, where the rules ofsocial class were seen as the actual ordering of society relat-ing as they did more closely to kinship and occupation. Theramanic sects favoured a universalizing ethic which cut acrosscaste demarcations. The wandering ascetics, drawn from both

    brahmanical and ramanic sects, taught the importance ofdna-dhamma (charity) and soca-dhamma (purity), the precise termsreferred to among the requirements of Aokas definition ofdhamma. It would seem therefore that Aoka was participat-ing in the wider discussion of what constituted dhamma, wasproviding his own views in the edicts, and was clearly moresympathetic to the general ramanic definition, although atthe same time emphasizing that as the ruler of a vast domainhis patronage extended even to sects such as some of the brah-manical ones which did not necessarily endorse this defini-tion. Aokas dhamma, it would seem, provided an ideology ofpersuasive assimilation. It arose as much from his personalconviction of Buddhist teaching as from the wider discussion

    of ethical precepts and from the demands of imperial policy.

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    That the larger corpus of edicts were the pronouncementsof political authority is also evident from the title used byAoka. He does not refer to himself as rj of Magadha butcalls himselfDevnampiya, the Beloved of the Gods. The

    notion of a connection between divinity and kingship wasfamiliar to brahmanical thinking particularly in the traditionof major sacrificial rituals associating kingship with divinity.It was, however, alien to much of the ramanic notions associ-ated with political power. The indirect legitimation whichAoka seeks from deities and celestial beings would have

    had a popular comprehension but may have been difficult tojustify in the ideological framework of those sects for whomdeities were irrelevant.

    In arguing that we have to distinguish between Aoka asthe individual with his personal belief system and Aoka per-forming the function of a royal statesman, the attempt is not toreduce the importance of the former but to insist that his poli-

    cies, even if motivated by personal reasons, would have had apublic repercussion and would have to be conditioned by pub-lic reaction. Aoka used the symbols of Buddhism but saw hisrole in the context of a broader ideology. Such an argumentrequires the historian to look beyond the symbols. Thus dona-tions, dna, are at one level voluntary offerings made out of asense of piety for the acquisition of merit, puya. At anotherlevel donations build institutions. In the context of govern-ance, institutions can become centres of loyalty or otherwise,depending on the nature and the recipient of the donation.Welfare can also relate to piety but an imperial concern withwelfare in the context of differentiated identities and econo-mies can also speak to ideological concerns.

    Aokas personal commitment to Buddhism and the royal

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    patronage which he extended to it doubtless helped to estab-lish it in various parts of the subcontinent and in the neigh-bouring areas. The association with Sri Lanka was not onlypersonal but very close, both in the sending of Mahinda and in

    his relations with Devnampiya Tissa. But even royal patron-age has its limitations. It is interesting that in the post-Mauryanperiod both Buddhism and Jainism were evident in Karnatakaand Tamil Nadu, but despite the strong Mauryan presence inKarnataka, Jainism was the more dominant of the two. Else-where, as in northwestern India and the western and eastern

    Deccan, it is Buddhism which more rapidly becomes the estab-lished religion. In such areas Buddhist sacred centres developalong trade routes and in urban settlements linked to com-merce. Inscriptional evidence points to the fact that the estab-lishment of Buddhism in these areas owes more to the sehi-gahapatis, the merchants, traders, landowners and the artisanalguilds, who were all dedicated supporters of the religion and

    the more significant donors to the embellishment of the sacredcentres.It was during this period that the Buddhist tradition began

    to reflect on the relationship between Aoka and Buddhism areflection which, as has been rightly pointed out, endorsed thecakkavattin ideal of universal kingship in Buddhist thought.Possibly the political role of Aoka was appropriated by thetradition to a greater degree than historical reality permitted.But at the same time this reflection did underline the socialidealism of Aokas policies, which however were set within animperial framework. Ideology can be a driving force of historybut it is not a sufficient cause of history. Nevertheless, Aokasideology did make of him an emperor of rare quality in as

    much as he reached out to more than mundane politics.

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    3Emperor Aoka and Buddhism:

    Unresolved Discrepancies

    between Buddhist Tradition& Aokan Inscriptions

    ANANDAW.P. GURUGE

    1. Introduction

    It was H.G. Wells, who in The Outline of History, said: Amidsttens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the col-umns of history, their majesties and graciousnesses and seren-ities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Aokashines, and shines alone, a star.1 This statement reflects a

    widely held appraisal of this unique personality in Indian his-tory by the informed intelligentsia of the world. The appraisalis based in general on the numerous edicts and inscriptionsthrough which he sought to teach his subjects a sublime moralway of life. Among these edicts, the one which has won forhim the highest admiration is Rock Edict (RE) XIII, whichvan Buitenan describes as the most moving document of anydynamic history.2

    Writing not earlier than five years after the event, EmperorAoka portrays in this Edict the dramatic change of heart heexperienced on account of the havoc of death and deportation,famine and pestilence that was caused by his war of conquestagainst Kalinga. The text, as found at Erragudi, Girnar, Kalsi,

    Maneshra, Shahbazgarhi and Kandahar, runs as follows:

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    The country of the Kalingas was conquered by King Priyadar,Beloved of the Gods, eight years after his coronation. In this warin Kalinga, men and animals numbering one hundred and fifty thou-sand were carried away captive from that country; as many as one

    hundred thousand were killed there in action and many times thatnumber perished. After that, now that the country of the Kalingashas been conquered, the Beloved of the Gods is devoted to anintense practice of the duties relating to Dharma,3 to a longingfor Dharma and to the inculcation of Dharma among the people.This is due to the repentance of the Beloved of the Gods on having con-quered the country of the Kalingas.

    Verily the slaughter, death and deportation of men which take place

    in the course of the conquest of an unconquered country are now con-sidered extremely painful and deplorable by the Beloved of the Gods.But what is considered even more deplorable by the Beloved of theGods is the fact that injury to or slaughter or deportation of the belovedones falls to the lot of the Brhmanas, the ramaas, the adherents ofother sects and the householders, who live in that country and amongwhom are established such virtues as obedience to superior personages,

    obedience to mother and father, obedience to elders and proper cour-tesy and are full of affection towards the former; even though they arethemselves well provided for, the said misfortune as well becomes aninjury to their own selves. In war, this fate is shared by all classes ofmen and is considered deplorable by the Beloved of the Gods.

    Now really there is no person who is not sincerely devoted toa particular religious sect.4Therefore, the slaughter, death or depor-tation of even a hundredth or thousandth part of all those people who

    were slain or who died or were carried away captive at that time inKalinga is now considered very deplorable by the Beloved of the Gods.

    Now the Beloved of the Gods thinks that, even if a person shouldwrong him, the offense would be forgiven if it was possible to forgiveit. And the forest-folk who live in the dominions of the Belovedof the Gods, even them he entreats and exhorts in regard totheir duty. It is hereby explained to them that, in spite of his

    repentance, the Beloved of the Gods possesses power enough

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    to punish them for their crimes, so that they should turn awayfrom evil ways and would not be killed for their crimes. Verily,the Beloved of the Gods desires the following in respect of allcreatures: non-injury to them, restraint in dealing with them,

    and impartiality in the case of crimes committed by them.So, what is conquest through Dhamma is now considered to bethe best conquest by the Beloved of the Gods. And such a conquesthas been achieved by the Beloved of the Gods not only here inhis own dominions, but also in the territories bordering on hisdominions, as far away as at a distance of six hundred yojanas,where the Yavana king named Antiyoka is ruling and where, beyond the kingdom of the said Antiyoka, four other kings

    named Turamaya, Antikini, Maka and Alikasundara are alsoruling, and, towards the south where the Choas and Pyasare living as far as Tmrapari. Likewise here in the domin-ions of His Majesty, the Beloved of the Gods-in the countries ofYavanas and Kmbojas, of the Nbhakas and Nbhapanktis, ofthe Bhoja-paitrynikas and of the Andhras and Paulindas eve-rywhere people are conforming to the instruction in Dharma

    imparted by the Beloved of the Gods.Even where the envoys of the Beloved of the Gods have notpenetrated, there too men have heard of the practices of Dharmaand the ordinances issued and the instruction in Dharma im-parted by the Beloved of the Gods, and are conforming toDharma and will continue to conform to it.

    So, whatever conquest is achieved in this way, verily that conquestcreates an atmosphere of satisfaction everywhere both among the vic-

    tors and the vanquished. In the conquest through Dharma, the satis-faction is derived by both the parties. But that satisfaction is indeed oflittle consequence. Only happiness of the people in the next world iswhat is regarded by the Beloved of the Gods as a great thing resulting

    from such a conquest.And this record relating to Dharma has been written on stone

    for the following purpose, that my sons and great-grandsons

    should not think of a fresh conquest by arms as worth achieving,

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    that they should adopt the policy of forbearance and light pun-ishment towards the vanquished even if they conquer a people by arms, and that they should regard the conquest throughDharma as the true conquest. Such a conquest brings happiness

    to all concerned both in this world and in the next. And let alltheir intense joys be what is pleasure associated with Dharma.For this brings happiness in this world as in the next. (Empha-sis mine.)5

    It also appears in a somewhat condensed version in Kandaharand its opening paragraph is as follows:

    In the eighth year of his reign, Priyadar conquered Kalinga.One hundred and fifty thousand persons were captured thereand deported from there, one hundred thousand others werekilled, and almost as many perished. Since t