Ashoka the Great

Emperor Ashoka is remembered as the greatest ruler and politician of all times for founding the first ‘modern’ welfare state in the world in antiquity and for writing down the core human values in stones as operating principles of governance.

In a world where peace is unknown…..
Where Alexander brought terror and war to the people…
and Cyrus II withheld the peace…
Ashoka dared to bring peace to the world *
by formulating, implementing and propagating the state ideology of non-violence, respect for diversity, tolerance for various sects, separation of state from personal faith, and welfare of people and the animals….
thus becoming the legend…
for founding the first ‘modern’ welfare state in the world in antiquity…
and for writing down the core human values in stones as operating principles of governance.

“Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Ashoka shines, and shines, almost alone, a star. From the Volga to Japan his name is still honoured. China, Tibet, and even India, though it has left his doctrine, preserve the tradition of his greatness. More living men cherish his memory today than have ever heard the names of Constantine or Charlemagne.
H.G. Wells: The Outline of History, p. 247

“Now because I have mentioned the name of Asoka, I should like you to think that the Asokan period in Indian history was essentially an international period of Indian history. It was not a narrowly national period. it was a period when India’s ambassadors went abroad to far countries and went abroad not in the way of an empire and imperialism but as ambassadors of peace and culture and goodwill.” 
– Jawaharlal Nehru at the Constituent Assembly 

Ashoka and his Queen at the Deer Park

Attribution:: Biswarup Ganguly, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

* Emperor Asoka by Victoria Dunigan

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SELECTED VIDEOS ON ASHOKA’S LIFE & IDEOLOGY:

1. ASHOKA IN ANCIENT INDIA: ARCHAEOLOGY & BIOGRAPHY by Nayanjot Lahiri

2. Emperor Ashoka – History, Memory, Memorialization by Nayanjot Lahiri

3. Readings- Ashoka the Great by Charles Allen

4. Ashoka: History and Memory | Prof. Nayanjot Lahiri, Ashoka University

5. Struggling with History, Living with Ashoka: My encounter with Biography by Nayanjot Lahiri

6. BBC Ashoka the Great (In Our Time)

7. Who Is Ashoka? India’s Pacifist King Part 2

8. DOORDARSHAN – BHARAT EK KHOJ PART 1

8a. DOORDARSHAN – BHARAT EK KHOJ PART 2

9. Ashoka , The Great by Uday Shankar

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KEY TEXTS

  1. Chronicle of the King Asoka: As Depicted in the History of Buddhism
  2. Asokavadana   by Mukhopadhyaya, Sujitkumar | pdf file  
  3. Divyâvadâna | microform | by E. B. Cowell | Andy Rotman | pdf file
  4. Rulers of India: Asoka the Buddhist Emperor of India by VA Smith
  5. Asoka – RK Mookerji
  6. Heritage of India Asoka by JM Macphail
  7. King Aśoka as a Role Model of Buddhist Leadership by Thomas Voss
  8. King Aśoka And Buddhism – Historical and Literary Studies — edited By Anuradha Seneviratna 
  9. Emperor Ashoka and Buddhism: Some Unresolved Discrepancies between Buddhism Traditions and Ashokan Inscriptions

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SELECTED MUSIC COMPOSITIONS

1. Asoka Theme Music Lord Buddha

2. Asoka Movie Theme Song

3. “King Ashoka” by Sandeep Das

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Umesh Prasad
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