The Mauryan Legend - Ashoka

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  Ashoka - The Mauryan Legend 

            c.268 - c. 232 BCE


 

In the history of the world there were many Kings who referred themselves as ‘The Greatest’ but their reign shone only for a very little time but Ashoka’s legend is widely known by many people even in the modern era,so were his good deeds and practical qualities as a king.

Ashoka was born in Pataliputra to Bindusara,the second mauryan emperor and Subhadrangi also known as Dharma,a mere consort in the courts of Bindusara, she was considered a lowly ranked queen and so was her predecessors.Ashoka had many elder half brothers and sisters and just one younger brother,Vitthashoka who was also born to Dharma and Bindusara.

The Rivalry between the brothers for the throne was said to be significant but Ashoka has seemed to excel in administration,academics and all the disciplines that were tutored to the princes.One of the noted Rivalry to Ashoka was his elder brother,Susima who was an equivalent to Ashoka ,both as an administrator and a warrior.


Takshashila -The First Rule and Exile of Ashoka 

Ashoka grew up to be a abled warrior and a shrewd commander,his name was spoke across the country,increasing his chances of inheriting his father’s place.This fueled the feud between Susima,the traditional heir to the throne  and Ashoka, Susima persuaded Bindusara to send Ashoka to quell the volatile city of Takshashila in the northern province.Ashoka complied to the emperor’s orders,the news of Ashoka’s visit trickled an unrest among the citizens,he was welcomed to the province by the unmanaged revolting militants but due to his practical qualities and warriorship the revolt ended without a fight.Ashoka’s success made the situation even worse,Susima incitements made Bindusara to Exile Ashoka

Exile of Ashoka In Kalinga 

Ashoka was exiled and stayed at Kalinga as a fugitive,complying to his father’s orders.Even though there was not much information on what he did there,Recently found inscriptions state that Ashoka fell in love with a fisherwoman named ,Kaurwaki who later became his second or third queen.

Ujjain- The Teachings of Buddha 

Ashoka was summoned by Bindusara after two years of exile since there was a violent uprising in Ujjain and the emperor needed more commanders in order to control any further revolting of the militants.Unfortunately,Ashoka was injured in the ensuing battle of Ujjain ,in order to keep him safe from the loyalists in Susima’s camp he was treated in hiding by the monks and the nuns -This is were he first learned about the teachings of Buddha.After recovering completely he married Devi,the daughter of a merchant who was also his personal nurse while he was injured.

Ashoka - The Chand (Murderer)

After a year later, Bindusara,the emperor was terminally sick.The throne was to be inherited by any of his sons,Bindusara preferred Susima but this was greatly opposed by the clique of ministers who called themselves The Radhagupt,they summoned Ashoka to take the crown.Angered by his father’s choices Ashoka attacked Pataliputra and killed all his brothers including Susima and ascended the throne as the Third Emperor of Maurya.At this point of time many called him Chand which means murderer.There are also many historical paintings of the Buddhist that depicts the sadisticall and goriest form of Ashoka.

The Battle Of Kalinga 

Ashoka as the Emperor of Maurya started extending his rule by conquering land after land,executing and deporting men after men.His last conquest was Kalinga-Present day Orrisa.Kalinga was a prosperous land and uniquely followed the system of democracy with monarchial parliment.The pretext of the war remains uncertain but it’s said to be around 265 BC or 263 BC .Ashoka send a diktat asking the Kalinga’s royalty to submit to him ,when they defied it ,he was greatly humiliated ,therefore he send one of his generals to Kalinga to make them submit to his supremacy but he failed miserably.Ashoka was baffled by this,he gathered a huge army and approached Kalinga with the greatest Invasion.He succeeded and so did he lose many generals.A rough estimate states that 10,000 mauryan warriors and 100,000 Kalinga warriors were killed.

The Legend of A Change of Heart 

There were many legends which claimed as to why Ashoka changed his way of living but by far,the most realistic one was -

Ashoka was taking a stroll in the Eastern City and all he could see was burnt houses and corpses and wails and cries of the people.The blood of the innocent people were in his hands and all he could ask himself was,” What have I done ?”

The brutality that he done so far made him change his way of living to Buddhism with the help of Sage Radhaswami and Manjushri.He gave up war and violence,released prisoners and declared in his edicts and started preaching Buddhism as far as Egypt and Rome.

Dharmashoka-The Real Mauryan Legend 

Though the goriest of wars was associated with Ashoka he is widely known for his peace and preaching of Buddhism.He propagated the Vibhajjavada School Of Buddhism in 250 BC.Silver punch mark coins bear the symbol of Buddhism- Dharmacakra and Elephant and also the tree where Buddha received enlightment- Bodhgaya .Ashoka was one of the noted rulers who preached Buddhism in the early 3rd century, where only war and swords were considered bravery. From his edicts and teachings we may always see him as Ashoka - The Greatest.

Textual Reference:

The Outline Of History by H.G.Wells

The Mauryan : The Legend Of Ashoka by Bhanver Komal

Ashoka the Great by Wytze Keuning

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