|Ashoka's rock edict. Jagran Josh|
|Sayna Buddha, Dahuli,Orissa HolidayIQ|
Ashoka was one of the greatest Indian rulers, presiding over a vast land in the Indian subcontinent, including the adjaacent lands as well. The great Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan Empire
(third Monarch) during his reign from 269 BCE to 232 BCE is credited with the expansion of Buddhism across the vast land of india and beyond. Dejected as he was after the gruesome Kalinga war in the present state of Odisha, the resulting carnage, pain and destruction changed his perception of life and attitude. Feeling remorse and resentful, he eschewed violence as a means to achieve victories, he became a convert of Buddhism, and dedicated much of his later years to expound its philosophy and its significance in the society. These inscriptions were dispersed throughout the areas of modern-day Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan and represent the first palpable evidence of Buddhism.
The Edicts of Ashoka are quite popular historical record of great antiquity well researched by historians. It is a collection of 33 inscriptions on
the Pillars of Ashoka as well as boulders and cave walls made by Ashoka in public place to get
the attention of the people. In all these inscriptions, he identified himself as "the Servant of Gods"
(Devanampiyadasi). He made an attempt to find a reasonable solution to the problems being faced by the society, using Dharma as a main moral force. His focus is more on moral fabric than to the adherence to the practices and philosophy of Buddhism. From the edicts, we come to know that the extent of Buddhist proselytism during this period reached as far as the Mediterranean, and many Buddhist monuments were created. His edicts inscribed in rocks are found in many parts of India - (Sopara, MH, Girnar, GJ, Jugada & Dhauli, Odisha), Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In general, three languages were used, Prakrit, Greek and Aramaic in the inscriptions .
At Dhauli, Odisha, these edicts were brought to light way back in 1837-38 by one Lieut. M. Kittoe or the first time. and were deciphered by James Princep.
The rock edicts of at Dhauli were written in Magadhi Prakrita Language and the early Brahmi script was used for it. Similar Rock Edicts of Ashoka is also seen at the Jaugada, which was present near Kabisurya Nagar in Ganjam district of Odisha.
Dhauligiri: Summary of the famous major Rock Edicts of Ashoka:
In all major Rock Edicts of Ashoka contains all fourteen Edicts, but in Dhauligiri Rock Edicts and Jaugada Rock Edicts, Edict No. XI, XII, XIII are missing.
The entire Rock edicts are arranged in three distinct columns. The Rock Edicts are started with Ashoka's famous doctrine of paternalism: "All men are my children"
Rock Edict – I: Prohibition of Killing of animal in the kingdom including his palace kitchen and imposition of restrictions over animal sacrifices on festive occasions.
Rock Edict – II: Making available medical facilities for both human and animals and raising of medical herbs in the kingdom. He encouraged planting of trees and digging of wells on the road sides.
Rock Edict – III: Ordered his officials to tour his kingdom every five years to implement moral codes among his subjects. He encouraged generosity towards Brahmanas.Inscription was done 12 years after his coronation.
Rock Edict – IV: Ordered his officials to propagate the practice of morality and compassion in their duties. Dhammagosha is ideal to the society, not
Rock Edict – V: Appointment of Mahamatras from all sections to establish and promote morality. expressed concerns about slaves. He said, Every human being is my child".
Rock Edict – VI: Ordered his officials to report to him directly on matters related to administration - welfare of his subjects.
Rock Edict – VII: Preached tolerance for other religions. To foster one’s own sect, depreciating the others out of affection for one’s own, to exalt its merit, is to do the worst harm to one’s own sect." All sections need to attain Self control and purity of mind.
Rock Edict – VIII: Description of his pilgrimage damma Yatra to Bodhgaya and the Bodh tree. He encouraged generosity towards Brahmanas.
Rock Edict – IX: Shunning of unwanted ceremonies related to birth, death, etc., that cause stressful situation. Emphasis was given to the practice of morality and good behaviour when dealing with slaves and servants, besides reverence to elders, kindness to animals and all.
Rock Edict – X: Proclaimed that morality (Dhamma) is the only act through which life can be led. Do not go after fame and glory.
Rock Edict – XI: Elaboration and practice of Dhamma towards elders and friends; abstain from killing animals.
Rock Edict XII: Strong request for tolerance among different religious sects. (Also written in Greek in the Kandahar Greek Edict of Asokha).
Rock Edict XIII: Largest inscription in the edict. To Ashoka, of all the victories, the greatest one is the victory of Dhamma. He drew examples from various rules in India, including Cholas and Pandyas of the south and and Greek.
other edicts mention about people being his sons, his second queen, giving away the Barara ces in Kanddhar (Afghanistan) to a sect there, biligual inscription, etc.
Ashoka's pillar edicts are found in many places - seven major pillar edicts have been found at Kausambhi (Allahabad), Topra, Meerut (Delhi), Lauriya-Araraj, Lauriya-Nandangarh, Rampurva (Champaran) and Nigalisagar/Nigliva. Minor pillar edicts have been found at Sanchi, Sarnath, Kausambhi and Rummindei/Lumbini.
The following are the brief descriptions of Pillar edicts:
Pillar Edict I - Asoka’s principle of protection to people.
Pillar Edict II - Defines Dhamma as minimum of sins, many virtues, compassion, liberality, truthfulness and purity.
Pillar Edict III - Abolishes sins of harshness, cruelty, anger, pride etc.
Pillar Edict IV - Deals with duties of Rajukas.
Pillar Edict V - List of animals and birds which should not be killed on some days and another list of animals which have not to be killed at all occasions. Describes release of 25 prisoners by Asoka.
Pillar Edict VI - Dhamma Policy.
Pillar Edict VII Works done by Asoka for Dhamma Policy. He says that all sects desire both self-control and purity of mind.
While the Special Rock Edict – I, addressing the Mahamatras of Toshali, Ashoka proclaims that all his subjects are just like his own children and he wishes their welfare and happiness
In the Special Rock Edict – II, he ordered the Mahamatras of Toshali to assure his piety to the unconquered border territories of forest region (Atavikas).
Now Odisha State Government developed a garden around this historical place, which is known as Shanti Park.