King Asoka, the third monarch in the Indian Mauryan dynasty, has come to be regarded as one of the most exemplary rulers in world history. Though historical evidence was long missing, his name was preserved in legend as a great emperor who ruthlessly united all of India under one rule and then, after he began to practice Dhamma, reversed directions to establish an ideal reign of virtuous action. In the nineteenth century a large number of edicts carved on rocks and stone pillars were discovered in the subcontinent of India. They not only proved Asoka's existence but showed that he attempted to rule his vast kingdom by means of Dhamma. This translation of Asoka's edicts gives us insight into this remarkable period of history when a great empire was devoted primarily to the moral and spiritual welfare of its subjects.
This 29-page booklet includes a 7-page introduction.
[Emperor Asoka speaks thus:] "This progress among the people through Dhamma has been done by two means, by Dhamma regulations and by persuasion. Of these, Dhamma regulation is of little effect, while persuasion has much more effect. The Dhamma regulations I have given are that various animals must be protected. And I have given many other Dhamma regulations also. But it is by persuasion that progress among the people through Dhamma has had a greater effect in respect of harmlessness to living beings and non-killing of living beings….
"Wherever there are stone pillars or stone slabs, there this Dhamma edict is to be engraved so that it may long endure. It has been engraved so that it may endure as long as my sons and great-grandsons live and as long as the sun and the moon shine, and so that people may practice it as instructed. For by practicing it happiness will be attained in this world and the next. This Dhamma edict has been written by me twenty-seven years after my coronation." (p.28)
see also King Asoka and Buddhism
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