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LESSON 3079 Fri 2 Aug 2019…/buddhist-legacy-of-ka… Inauguration of KUSHINARA NIBBANA BHUMI CHETIYA By Monks of Maha Bodhi Society On 04-08-2019 Sunday at 10 AM at Analytic Insight Net - FREE Online Tipiṭaka Law Research & Practice University 
 112 CLASSICAL LANGUAGES including Classical Sanskrit. We are a Buddhist foundation based in 668, 5A Main Road, 8th Cross HAL 3rd Stage, Bangalore, Karnataka State, India and it is our goal to promote the Buddha Dhamma and to make the Teachings of Meditation in Buddha’s own words freely available to the general public. We do not favour any one school or sect over another, and all are afforded equal respect.Also to create the entire teachings of the Buddha in the latest 7D laser Hologram format for the welfare, happiness, peace to attain Eternal Bliss as Final Goal. WhatsApp 9449260443 SMS 9449835875 Emails:, ALL ARE WELCOME “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” “Buddha was asked,”what have you gained from mediation?” He replied “NOTHING”! However let me tell you what i have lost: anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death.”
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LESSON 3079 Fri 2 Aug 2019…/buddhist-legacy-of-ka…

Inauguration of


By Monks of Maha Bodhi Society

On 04-08-2019 Sunday at 10 AM

Analytic Insight Net - FREE Online Tipiṭaka Law Research & Practice
 112 CLASSICAL LANGUAGES including Classical Sanskrit.

We are a Buddhist foundation based in 668, 5A Main Road, 8th Cross HAL 3rd Stage, Bangalore,
Karnataka State, India and it is our goal to promote the Buddha Dhamma
and to make the Teachings of Meditation in Buddha’s own words freely
available to the general public. We do not favour any one school or sect
over another, and all are afforded equal respect.Also to create the
entire teachings of the Buddha in the latest 7D laser Hologram format
for the welfare, happiness, peace to attain Eternal Bliss as Final Goal.
WhatsApp 9449260443
SMS 9449835875
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
“Buddha was asked,”what have you gained from mediation?”
He replied “NOTHING”! However let me tell you what i have lost: anger,
anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death.”

About Us

Welcome to Maha Bodhi Society, Bengaluru, a place for finding peace,
happiness and meaning in life. It is dedicated for the welfare and
happiness of people irrespective of religion, race, color, nationality
or sex. Since its very inception, the Society has been actively engaged
in rendering various spiritual and humanitarian services. In keeping
with the vision of the founder Most Venerable Dr.Acharya Buddharakkhita,
today the Society has expanded its activities in different parts of
India and abroad with the message of compassion. The society has
established monasteries for monks and nuns, Hospitals, Meditation
centers, educational institutions and published over a hundred Dhamma
books benefiting thousands of people around the globe.
A glance at Mahabodhi activities:

Mahabodhi Monastic Training Center, Meditation Center, Publications,
Dhamma Classes, Hospital Dana services, Sunday Discourses, Meditation
Retreats, Buddhist Study Programs.

North Bengaluru:
long- 1 month 3 month meditation retreat, Short- 5 days, 7 days, 10
days meditation courses, Temporary monkhood programs, Dhamma Classes, 1
day meditation programs for college and school students.

Mahabodhi School, Carla Students Home, Mahabodhi Mettaloka Youth Center hostel for university students.

Mahabodhi Monastic Training Center, Meditation Center ,Publications
,Dhamma Classes ,Hospital Dana services,Sunday Discourses ,Meditation
Retreats ,Buddhist Study Programs

Bordums , AP:
GotamiVihara Nuns Training Center, Meditation Center ,Publications
,Dhamma Classes ,Hospital Dana services,Sunday Discourses ,Meditation
Retreats ,Buddhist Study Programs

Namsai, AP:
Mahabodhi Lord
Buddha College, Mahabodhi Maitri Girls home, Mahabodhi Monastery for
monks, Mahabodhi Monastery for nuns (under development).

Diyun, Arunachal Pradesh (AP):
Mahabodhi School, Mahabodhi Rita Girls Home, Boys Home, Monastery for
monks, Agriculture program, Mahabodhi Karuna Medical Center, Dairy

Tawang, AP:
Mahabodhi Home for Elders, Mahabodhi Girls home, Hospital Dana services, Dhammika Stupa, Village counseling programs.

Deomali, AP:
Mahabodhi Boys Home, Mahabodhi Meditation Center.

Chichingchera Tripura:
Mahabodhi School, Mahabodhi hostel for boys, Mahabodhi Monastery.

Suknachari Tripura:
Mahabodhi School, Mahabodhi Boys and Girls Home (under development), Mahabodhi monastery for monks.

Mahabodhi Bengaluru
Mahabodhi Meditation Center Bengaluru
Mahabodhi Mysore
Mahabodhi Hyderabad
Mahabodhi Diyun AP
Mahabodhi Tawang AP
Mahabodhi Deomali AP
Mahabodhi Namsai AP

Mahabodhi Bordumsa AP
Mahabodhi Sukanachari Tripura
Mahabodhi Chiching Chera Tripura
Mahabodhi Kanubari AP
Mahabodhi Bodhgaya Bihar
Mahabodhi Outside India

Story of Kannadiga , kannada and Karnataka

Glimpses of Kannada History and Greatness
Buddhist Legacy of Karnataka
Under the patronage of the Mauryas and Satvahanas, Buddhism flourished
in Karnataka, there are still numerous places of Buddhist interest
spread across the State.

Aihole, is today an
insignificant village in Bijapur district of north Karnataka and
reaching it involves an obstacle course: an excruciatingly slow
passenger train to Badami, an hour’s wait for a bus and jostling to get
on. The vehicle rattles across the interminable hot plains and flat
scrub of north Karnataka. To do just 46 kilometers from Badami to
Aihole, the bus needs four tedious hours. But alight at Aihole and the
travails are forgotten! For Aihole is one of the most remarkable temple
sites in the country with one hundred and twenty temples, big nad small,
in different styles, all in a small village.

Art historians say
Aihole was a workshop for temple architects and sculptors patronized by
early Chalukyan monarchs. Here are some of the earliest structural
temples in stone in the country, dating from 450 AD and, among them, is
one of the four Buddhist shrines in Karnataka. So we make our way to
Aihole’s hillock, Meguti, to the rock cut Buddhist shrine. It is of
special interest to us because it is the most important surviving
Buddhist temple in Karnataka.

The Chaitya, a double stories
structure, is half structural and half excavated in rock. The sanctum
sanctorum is in the upper storey. It has a rectangular verandah of 8.78 m
x 2.15 m. In the centre of the Verandah’s ceiling is a relief of Buddha
in preaching posture. Of the three Buddha sculptures at Aihole, this is
the best preserved and is 61cm in Height. He is seated on the
padmapitha in the satvaparyankasana, that is, his right hand is placed
against his chest in the vyakhyan mudra while the left is placed on the
right foot with the palm facing upwards. His right shoulder and right
breast are uncovered. There is a triple umbrella above him and his
attendants are nearby.

Ashoka and Buddhism
Buddhism was
founded in north India in about 500 BC when Siddharth Gautama, born a
prince, achieved enlightenment. It is widely held that the religion
first emerged during Mauryan times when there was a missionary zeal.
Parts of Karnataka were subject to the rule of the Mauryas. Chandragupta
Maurya’s son Bindusara (298-273 BC) and Bindusara’s son Asoka (269-232
BC) caused some of his edicts to be put up here. Asoka’s grandson
Samprati Chandragupta is believed to have come to Karnataka where he
spent his last years. Eleven Asokan edicts, four in Bellary district,
three in Raichur district and three others in Chitradurga district bear
witness to the Mauryan presence in Karnataka.

Some hold the view,
however, that such rock edicts merely prove that Karnataka was within
the jurisdiction of Mauryan kings, but not necessarily the advent of
Buddhism here. The Sinhalese chronicles, Mahavamsa and Dipavamsa,
mention Mangaliputtatissa, a contemporary of Asoka and reputed to be the
emperor’s teacher and mentor. He had sent missionaries to Mahishaka
(Today Mysore region) under Mahadeva, and to Banavasi under Rakkhita, to
preach the gospel. That would firmly indicate Buddhist prevalence in

In point of fact, Buddhist doctrine held sway in
Karnataka even before Asoka’s time. Mahisasana, a form of Hinayana
Buddhism, spread after the first convention of Buddhism in Rajgraha (477
BC) to Avanti, and to areas south of it to what are today’s Karnataka.
Thus, while Asoka accepted Buddhism only in 268 BC, Buddhism was
prevalent in Karnataka two centuries prior to the Mauryan monarch.

Early on, Buddhism separated into Sthavarvad (Hinayana) and
Mahasanghikvad (Mahayana) which developed into Mahisasana. This branch
stretched upto Banavasi from 5th century BC to 3rd century BC, that is,
after the very first Buddhist convention in 477 BC and certainly long
before Asoka.

Why then, are there are no Buddhist relics found from those centuries before Asoka?
The answer is quite simple. There was no idol worship in Buddhism.
There had been no sculptures, carvings nor erection of stupas and
inscriptions before the Asokan stupas at Sanchi and Sarnath. Prior to
them, there were only earthern stupas which could not survive the
ravages of time. There is one exception, however, excavations near
Banavasi in 1971 revealed stupas and bricks that have been dated to the
2nd and 3rd century BC. A Buddhist deepasthambha (lamp post) of those
times was found at the village Togarsi near Banavasi. By and large, in
Karnataka, the Hnayana Buddhism that prevailed did not deify Buddha but
looked upon him at human level, as perfect man. Paucity of actual
remnants before Asoka’s time is thus explained.

The Mauryan
inscriptions do not merely indicate the empire’s boundary. They also
assert that Buddhism flourished there because the very purpose of
Asoka’s edicts was to spread universal message to the masses. Buddhism
duly spread and flourished. In sum, the Mauryan was undoubtedly the
golden age of Buddhism.

The Satavahanas were
successors to the Mauryas and ruled in Banavasi, as is evident from the
Nasik inscription of Gautamiputra Satakarni and the copper plates from
Hirehadagali. There is a Prakrit inscription belonging to the second
century on the stone Naga effigy fund at the Madhukesvara temple, which
refers to the fact that Siva-skandanagar-sri, daughter of Satakarni of
Chutukula, the king of Vaijayantipura (i.e. Banavasi) was responsible
for the installation of that Naga effigy, and the Vihara. A copper plate
inscription of 338 AD likens a Banavasi king to a bodhisattva
(reincarnation) in his great compassion towards all living beings
(praninam parama karnikataya bodhisattvo pamanasya).

From 30 BC
to the second century AD, the Satavahanas ruled from Pratisthana (modern
day Paithan) on the bank of Godavari river at Aurangabad. Their support
to Buddhism is evident from Pliny (1st century AD) whose account
mentions Prakrit inscription of Gvinaya Pitaka, referring to
Setakannika, which shows that Buddhism was flourishing in Karnataka.
Mahavagga, a composer after Asoka’s time endorses this.

Satvahanas a Karnataka dynasty, as Dharwad and Bellary districts are
called Shantavahani Hara (or Shantavahana region). Satavahanas kings
were called Kunthala kings, the old name for Karnataka. At Sannati
(Gulbarga district), as well as Vadgoan Madhavpur (near Belgaum) and
Brahmagiri (Chitradurga district), there are remains of monuments of
their period. The Uttara Kannada area of Banavasi has their inscription
at Vasan in Dharwad district, and there are remains of a brick temple.
The Chandravalli inscriptions that were unearthed in 1888, strongly
suggest that worshipers of Buddha were here during the early centuries
of the Christian era. The leader coins of the Satvahana kings bear the
figure of a humped bull and on the other side of the coins are the
unmistakable emblems of the bodhi tree and the chaitya (cairn). Small
sculptures of Gandharva, a Buddhist yaksha, are also found.

earliest epigraphic evidence in this regard (latter half of second
century AD) is the stone memorial inscribed in Prakrit. It is that of
Vasistapura Sivasiri Pulamari Rajana Mahadevi Sirijantamula, wife of a
king of Banavasi who constructed a stambha and a Vihara for the
Mahisasanas at Nagarjunakonnda.

Lanka Source
chronicler, Mahavamso, cites an important event. In the first century,
Dattagamini, King of Ceylon, built a vihara and 80000 bhikus of Vanavasi
had attended! Bhutpala, a merchant of Banavasi, was responsible for
carving the famed Buddhist cave at Karla where an inscription says it
was the best in the whole country.

It is at Sannati,
(Chitapur, taluk, Gulbarga district), on both banks of the river Bhima,
that many Buddhist stupas of the Satvahana times have been found. It
resembles Amravati and was the Buddhist centre of the Satvahana period
of pre-Christian era and is spread over a three kilometer area. Fine
sculptures can be seen all along and the Buddhist ruins found there are
in large numbers. They include remnants of stupas, stone pottery for
holy bones and ayaka stambha which has symbolic representation of birth,
parinishnishkramana, enlightenment, preaching and nirvana (salvation)
of Buddha. Inscriptions in the Brahmi script contain names of those who
gave grants to sangharama, stupas and viharas. The words – visiriputa
sirisata Mahasataraha – show the beginning of the Christian era and
reference to Banavasi is found. There are stupas carved in stone, and
another stupa (1st to 3rd century AD) has Buddha’s feet. The Sannatis
(feudatories) of Satvahanas, known as Mahabhojas, had then ruled the
Banavasi area. An inscriptions of that period says: “Nagamulida, wife of
Maharathi, daughter of the Mahabhoja, King of Banavasi, mother of
Khanda Nagashtak, constructed a cave residence at Kanheri (near today’s
Bombay) of Buddhist bhikus.”

After Satavahanas
After the
Satavahanas, Karnataka fell into the hands of the Pallavas of Kanchi and
the Chuttu Shatkarnis (who were feudatories of the Satavahanas) ruling
from Banavasi after the fall of the Satavahanas. Pallava domination
ended when two dynasties, the Kadambas of Banavasi and the Gangas of
Kolar (345 AD) held sway.

The Gangas, ruling from Talakadu,
followed the vedic religion but were tolerant towards Buddhism. A
Sanskrit copperplate (400 AD) issued by Padangala Madhava (440-470 AD), a
Ganga ruler, indicated land grants to a Buddhist vihara (gangarajya
madhava-sarmanah sasana Buddha-sattvaya dattam). There were Buddhist
viharas alive and active and Buddhism was still powerful in the Ganga

Like the Gangas, the Kadambas were also tolerant
towards Buddhism as epigraphic evidence shows. The Kadamba capital was
also Banavasi, (known as Vaijayanti,) and their century was a prominent
one for Buddhism in Karnataka. Chinese traveller, Hieun Tsang, visited
Banavasi in the 7th century AD and saw 1000 sangharamas and three
stupas. He says: “By the side of the royal palace is a great sangharama
with 300 priests, all men of distinction. This convent has a great
vihara 100 in height.”

Recent excavations of the site of Banavasi
have given the remains of a Buddhist stupa. The large apsidal structure
is what remains and it was planned like a dharma-chakra.

Buddhist Chaitya in front of which we stood at Aihole, is pre western
Chalukyan and indicates the influence of Mahayana. It was built around
the 5th century and is 25 feet high. We now make our way to Badami in
another rickety bus headed toward the erstwhile capital city of the
western Chalukyas in the 6th century. These rulers were also associated
with Buddhism and relics here have survived in the shape of a Buddhist
cave datable to the 6th century. There is also a figure, identifiable as
Padmapani, the Bodhisattva of the same period. Hieun Tsang has stated
that during the time of Pulakesin II (642 AD) in Banavasi (or
Konkanpura), there were 400 Sangharamas and 10000 followers of Buddhism.

Situated about 8km northeast of Doddballapur near Bengaluru
(Bangalore), the Buddhist Mahayana group built the Rajaghatta Chaitya
(Shrine). According to M S Krishna Murthy, former professor and
chairman, Dos in Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Mysore,
the remains found at Rajaghatta is expected to open up a new chapter in
the history of Buddhism in Karnataka, who lead the excavation work. In
his report Rajaghatta, A unique Buddhist settlement in Karnataka.

Villagers, who found that some stupa at the site had a shaking object
inside, broke them open to find its contents. Stupa yielded Impressed
clay tablets. Unfortunately the villagers out of curiosity destroyed
hundreds of stupas. Still 300 stupas were unearthed under various stages
of preservation.
Though the Buddhist settlement did not yeild any
inscriptions, explorations indicate that settlement was destroyed in 6th
century AD. The structure was ransacked for building materials. The
deserted religious place of the Nirgranthas(heterodox people) became
burial ground of the Hindus. Thus ended the glorious period of centuries
of Buddhism in Rajaghatta.
The Chaitya and Vihara complex has
special type of layout at Rajaghatta. Construction of the chaitya and
Viahara was not an unknown tradition. The present town nof Kallya,
Magadi Taluk,near Rajaghatta is known to have been a Buddhist

Buddhist antiques of Satavahana period
were unearthed at Peruvaje in Dakshina Kannada. The Buddhist relics were
found on the slopes of a small hill near Jaladurga temple.According to a
press release issued by M S R S College, Shirva, Department of Ancient
History and Archeology Professor T Murugeshi,the antiques consist of a
Buddha’s head which is of 12 cms in height and a flake of Bodisatva face
which is of 9 cms in width and 9 cms in height. It is made out of soft
soap stone (balapa).The face of the Buddha’s head is totally damaged. It
has long ears and a small “ushnisha” over the head. These features
indicate that the image is of Buddha’s head which dates back to the 7th
century AD.The flake of Bodisatva face having lower portion of an ear on
right side, right eye is in intact and opened, eye ball shown very
prominently within the deep and broad eye cup, a small part of left eye
can be visible. It has two cm long nose with broad nostrils and thick
smiling lips. From nose to chin it is two cms in length. This clearly
indicates the image is proportionately prepared. The release said facial
expression, eyes and nose resembles with that of Yaksha image of Igunda
and Naga image of Banavasi in North Kanara and human heads of Sannati
in Gulbarga, which belongs to Satavahana period. Two bull heads, two
headless torsos of the bulls and one bull with the head and another
human leg was also found at the site. Anatomical details of the bulls
are really marvelous. The bull heads are very beautiful and having
projected eye balls as in the case of Bodisatva face and they have
striking similarities with that of animal figures found at Sannati of
Satavahana period, the release said. The original source of these
antiquities is not known. In Jaladurga temple the presiding deity is now
worshipped in “linga” form. The temple is renovated. At Tellaru in
Karkala taluk, there is a Jaladurga temple wh re the presiding deity is
sitting in “Pralambasana” and holding a child on her left lap. This is a
dominant feature of the Buddhist goddess Hariti, who is known as a
fertility goddess, the release added. Murugeshi says “I got an old
record in Peruvaje Guttu house. In that Kannada record different types
of gold and silver ornaments are described. Among them ‘Kirita’ is about
one and half ‘Seru’ in weight. Two bangles are also mentioned along
with other ornaments. This record dates back to 1930. During that period
the presiding deity might have been in human form and not in linga form
as it is now. The ‘bali devata’ is very small and unable to bare
ornaments of that weight and size.

In Gadag Taluk,
Dharwad district, at Dambal, there was a Buddhist centre as late as 12th
century. According to an inscription of 1095 AD, a temple of the
Buddhist deity Tara and a Buddhist vihara were built by 16 merchants
during the reign of Lakshmidevi, queen of Vikramaditya VI. Another
temple of Tara, built at Dambal was by Sethi Sangarmaya of Lokkigundi.
Karnataka was indeed the place where the worship of Tara gained ground.
Tara became celebrated in Mahayana Buddhism (especially Mantrayana) and
acquired popularity as the mother of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, as
the power of enlightenment and as the consort of the bodhisattva
Avalokitesvara, the patron divinity of the Mantrayana sect in Nepal,
Tibet, Mongolia and China.

Tara’s consort
Avalokitaesvara-bodhisattva is the Siva of the Saiva cult and there is
the correspondence of Tara with Durga. The association between Tara and
Avalokita (Lokesvara) is emphasized in Karnataka. In Balligame, on the
banks of the river Varada, a Buddhist Vihara known as Jayanti Prabuddha
Vihara was built in 1065 by Rupa Byhattaya, the minister of the
Chalukyan king Ahavamalla, and the deities that were worshipped there
were Tara Bhagavati, Kesava, Lokesvara and Buddha. A Dambala inscription
of 1095 AD begins with the customary invocation namo buddhyana and goes
go to describe at length the greatness of Tara-bhagavati.

Kolivada, Hubbali taluk, Dharwad district, an icon of Tara has been
discovered belonging to about the thirteenth century and inscribed on
the pedestal of this icon are the words siddham om namo bhagavatayai
Aryatarayai, followed by the usual statement of the Buddha’s teaching in

The Vihara on Kadari Hill in Mangalore (Dakshina Kannada)
was an important site for Mahayana Buddhism. There are three exquisite
bronze statues, now in the Manjunatha temple, one of which is of the
Mahayana deity Avalokitesvara bodhisattva (consort of Tara) called
Lokesvara. The other two bronzes are those of seated Buddha in

Buddhism, which never became prevalent in
Tulu-nadu, continued to survive till the thirteenth century. It
gradually got fused with Saivite ideology. Thereafter, it became
difficult for Buddhism to survive, especially as it lost its specific
identity and got merged with Saivism. There are estimated to be 75000
Buddhists in Karnataka of which Tibetans form a substantial portion.
Since the year 1900, the South India Buddhist Association saw Buddhism
taking roots and in Kolar Gold Fields near Bangalore there is a Buddhist
Vihara at Champion Reef. The Mahabodhi Society of India founded a
Buddhist Vihara in Bangalore in 1940 and since 1956, Buddhism has got a
fillip under Acharya Buddha Rakkkhita who has published over 50 books
and founded an institute, a vidyapeeth and a hospital. Very much in
evidence are the four Tibetan settlements of Karnataka, at Bailkuppe
(near Mysore), Mundgod (in north Kanara district), Cauvery Valley, and
at Kollegal. The most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries are
Thegchay Ling and Namgoling, both at Bailkuppe.
at Saturday, February 21, 2009
Labels: Aihole, Ashoka, Badami, Bodhisattva, Buddha, Buddhism, Chaitya, Lanka, Mahavamsa, relic, Sannati, Shrine, Tara, Vihara

PSJanuary 17, 2011 at 6:08 PM

Great article! Though I knew that like most other parts of India,
Karnataka too had a Buddhist legacy, I had never gone much into it.
Hindu, Muslim and Jaina legacies of the state are more often the
subjects of discussion.

I just had a couple of comments
regarding Aihole and how to get there (Having visited the place a couple
of years ago). Aihole is in Bagalkot district in Northern Karnataka,
and the best way to get there from Bangalore is by overnight Volvo bus,
which makes much better time than the usual passenger trains running in
the state. Also, the best way to get to Aihole from Badami is by hiring a
local autorickshaw for the day, which still gives you a bumpy ride, but
is much faster and a bit more comfortable.

PS. Post
independence, the state was also quite open to Tibetan migrant settling
in the state, where they allowed the refugee monks to setup camp at
Byalukuppe in Coorg and other places.
ModaSattvaJanuary 18, 2011 at 8:31 PM

In Today’s Deccan Hearld ,there was a article about Ankali Math
caves near Chandravali Gardens near the famous chitradurga fort.

The Cave about 70Ft deep having painted pottery from Satavahana to Kadamba- Hoysala period.

The Anakali Cave dates back to Pre-Christian era with Passages,
Hideouts and Prison cells. The painting interestingly shows Buddhist
Influences along with Hindu Influences.

This Cave shows that Buddhist influences have become internalised in Karnataka
A blog about Kannada and Karnataka Glimpses of Kannada and Karnataka Greatness

With Lots of Metta
Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan

The Three Pillars of Meditation

Meditation is a wonderful practice, full of proven benefits. We know it is good for our health, emotional well-being, and performance.

We know it reduces stress, helps us deal with anxiety, boosts positive moods, and gives us better sleep.

We know it decreases the risk of several heart and brain diseases, helps with pain management, and strengthens self-esteem.

Yes, meditation can help you relax, calm down, and get more clarity and contentment.

Yes, meditation helps you develop Four Superpowers, and can change your life in many ways.

But there is a missing piece.

Maybe you have tried meditation, hoping to experience some of these
benefits, but gave up. You may be thinking that “meditation is not for
me” or “I’m not good at it”.

Or maybe you are a meditator, and experience some of the benefits of the practice—but not as much as you’d hope for.

It’s because of the missing piece.

If you don’t have the missing piece, you will be missing peace. 😉 

The Three Pillars of Meditation

In my years of teaching meditation, researching and writing about it,
I have seen many people struggle with this. It was painful for me to
watch, because as a long-term meditator I know what meditation can do for you, if you learn it well and practice it properly.

After a while doing this work, I realized what the missing piece was. I call it The Three Pillars of Meditation.

If you have those three pillars in your life, your practice will
flourish, and you will experience the benefits. But if you don’t, if
even one of them is missing, then that will limit your practice, and how
much you will get from it.

The three pillars are: habit, technique, application.

In short, you need to
practice meditation daily, with the optimal technique and approach, and
then apply the skills you got from meditation into your daily life.

It is like any other skill you want to acquire.

Let’s now unpack what each of these three elements mean.

Pillar 1: Habit

Meditation is not like physical exercise, that you can get away with
practicing only two or three times a week. It’s actually the sort of
thing that you need to do daily—just like eating, sleeping, and brushing your teeth. It’s in that category of activities.


Because you are exposed to stress on a daily basis.

Because your mind may be bogging you down with negative thoughts and attachments on a daily basis.

Because your ego is working on a daily basis. 

So you need to meditate on a daily basis too.

Otherwise it will be very difficult to reverse negative pattern of
thoughts and emotions, and get in touch with deeper states of
consciousness. Thoughts are spinning in your head non-stop, and anxiety
doesn’t go on vacation. 

Do you want meditation to be

truly transformative for you?

There is only one way: practice it daily.

What happens if you meditate only once a week? 

There is no doubt that you will experience some benefits.
Right after the meditation, you will likely feel more calm, centered,
and focused. You may immediately feel more clear and present. But that
won’t last—because once a week is not enough for you to get real
momentum in the practice.

Suppose that you want to boil water. You need to leave your kettle on
for 5 minutes, so water will boil. But instead you leave it on for 2
minutes, then turn it off, and come back to it the following week to
turn it on for more 2 minutes…

You may do that for all the weeks of your life, but water will never
boil. Because in the following week the water doesn’t continue from the
temperature it was at the end of your 2 minutes; rather, it has now
completely cooled down, so you are starting from zero again.

In a way, meditation practice is like this. And that is why it’s
essential to practice it every day—even if for only 5 to 10 minutes a
day. If you do that, you will have some continuity in your practice, and
it will grow.

The daily habit is what makes a difference between having a practice that feels good when you do it, and one that will actually transform you and your daily life.

You don’t need to make it hard for yourself. Meditation doesn’t need
to take half an hour, involve difficult postures, and be a battle with
your mind. But it does need to happen daily.

Pillar 2: Technique

The second pillar is the right technique, and the right approach.

meditation experiments

The “right technique” doesn’t mean that there is one style of
meditation that is superior to all others, and that you should practice
that one. That’s just narrow-mindedness and dogmatism—unfortunately a
type of nonsense that I see in some meditation groups/teachers out

Right technique means the technique that is most optimal for you, at this moment in your life. There are many styles of meditation, each of them with its own taste and unique benefits.

The best meditation technique is the one that works best for you, at this point of your life.

When most people think of meditation techniques, what comes to mind
is either watching the breath, or repeating a mantra. Those techniques
are great, and they do work for some people—but not for everyone.

Maybe those practices even “work okay” for you, but until you
experiment with a variety of styles, you can’t know if there isn’t a
more effective technique out there for you.

The good news is that meditation is an incredibly vast and flexible
practice. There is a great variety of methods developed by different
contemplative traditions over more than 3,000 years. They were developed
not because the monks were bored, but because different people have
different needs and temperaments.

Some techniques…

  • may make you feel too passive, while others may energize you
  • make you feel more centered, while others make you feel more spaced-out or detached
  • will lift your energy (good for those with depression), while others will ground your energy (good for those with anxiety)
  • are
    more suited to improve work performance and concentration; others may
    be better for exploring the spiritual side of meditation
  • are
    easier for people who are more visual by nature, while others go
    smoother for people who are predominantly auditory or kinesthetic

So there is no “one size fits all” in meditation. Yet that is the way
it is often taught. Most teachers and courses teach you only one or two

In fact, it is safe to say that there are as many meditation
techniques as there are different types of sports and diets. Now imagine
the problem if everyone is only taught either basketball or running… Or
if everyone was given the same type of food, regardless of their
tastes, blood type, and allergies… 

While most meditation techniques share a great number of common benefits, there is still a big difference between practicing a technique that works for you and practicing a technique that is optimal
for you. Just like there is a big difference between an “okay job” and
your ideal job, or an “okay apartment” and your ideal apartment.

The bottom line here is: learn more than one style. Experiment withdifferent techniques and
philosophies for some time, and see what resonates, and moves the
needle for you the most. That will depend on what are your goals with
meditation—so starting by clarifying those is a good idea.

The second aspect is the right approach. This is about having the right attitudes in relation to your practice. I call them The Four P’s of Meditation:

  • Purpose. Practice with intention and interest.
    Don’t let meditation become mechanical and boring, just something you
    need to “tick off your to-do list”.
  • Pleasantness. Try
    to enjoy your meditation. Make it easy for you, and pleasant. This
    includes not criticizing, shaming or blaming yourself for getting
    distracted during the practice, or for not “doing it right”. 
  • Perseverance. Cultivate the
    commitment to continue meditating every day, no matter what. It also
    means to continue to learn about the practice, especially when you feel
  • Patience. Don’t be in a hurry, and don’t expect too much too soon. Self-transformation takes time. Because it is worth it. 

Meditate with these attitudes, and you will keep at it for a long
time. One day you will look back, realize how much you have changed, and
be grateful that you picked up the practice and stayed with it.

Pillar 3: Application

For most of us, our goal is that meditation will be not only a nice
experience and relaxing time, but something that actually changes us,
and impacts our daily life for the better. So here is where the rubber
meets the road…

It is true that if you practice meditation daily, with the right
technique for you, that over time some things will automatically start
to change. The way you see the world, the way you see yourself, how you
react to people around you—all will change.

But this process can be greatly accelerated if you do it on purpose.
And this is what the third pillar is about: applying the insights and
qualities that you experience in meditation to the rest of your life.
It’s taking meditation beyond the cushion.

Your daily life should be an extension

of your meditation.

There are many ways of how the application of meditation skills can
happen in your life. There are many skills that come with meditation,
and a whole book would not be enough to cover all of their applications.

But let’s get one of them to illustrate the point: the skill of “zooming in, zooming out” (which I call one of the superpowers of meditation).  

During meditation, we practice zooming in and zooming out with our attention. In most styles, we are told to focus on one object—like the breath, a mantra, a visualisation, a part of your body, etc.—and to keep our attention on that object for as long as we can, going deep into it (zooming in). 

We are then told that we need to be aware of our mind, so that when our attention wanders into thoughts, we notice it, let those thoughts go (zooming out), and bring our mind back to the meditation object.

Like that, we practice the ability to zoom in and zoom out with
our attention multiple times (dare I say hundreds of times?) whenever
we meditate. That is one of the skills that come with the practice.

So how do you apply that meditation skill in daily life? 

One way is noticing when our mind is going to places we don’t want it
to go. Places of fear, needless worries, and replays of traumatic
memories. Places of negativity, jealousy, and ego trips.

When we notice that our mind has gone there, we then have the power to zoom out from that rabbit hole, and zoom in our
attention into something more useful or productive—like the sensations
in the present moment, or the next step we need to take in our life.

The skill of zooming in, zooming out, that we develop in
meditation, needs to be applied to our daily life. It needs to be used
for the sake of our work, relationships, family, health, and finances.
If not, then we are practicing meditation, but not applying it. We are half-baked meditators.

The same happens with many other “skills” we develop through meditation, such as:

  • pausing
  • witnessing (being a neutral observer)
  • self-awareness (looking deep into oneself)
  • letting go
  • acceptance
  • managing emotional states

To take meditation beyond the cushion does take a bit of extra training, and pointers from a good book or skilful
teacher. At its highest point, it’s about seeing your daily life as an
extension of your meditation, and your meditation as the foundation of
your daily life. 

Your Next Steps

Meditation works. Even a single session can be good.

But if you have The Three Pillars of Meditation working for you, then it really works. That’s the missing piece for many of us. That is the next step for you.

Here is my recommendation: do what you need to do, but make sure to
develop these Three Pillars, so you can have a strong meditation

It’s absolutely worth it!

If you can do this on your own, great! May your efforts be blessed with success! 🙏🏻

The challenge is: very few people can develop these Three Pillars on
their own. It can take a lot of effort, trial and error, study and

If you feel that that’s just too hard…

If you would appreciate support in this journey… 

If you want a simple step-by-step system that you just need to follow… 

If you want a shortcut a more mentored approach…

Then I suggest you join the Limitless Life Membership.
It was created exactly for this purpose: making the Three Pillars as
easy as possible for you. And it also includes access to all my other

Ashoka the Great

18 Votes

Ashoka the Great

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and others

File:Maurya Dynasty in 265 BCE.jpg

Ashoka (Devanāgarī: अशोक, Bangla: অশোক, IASTAśoka, IPA: [aˈɕoːkə], ca. 304–232 BC), popularly known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC.[1] One
of India’s greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day
India after a number of military conquests. His empire stretched from
present-dayPakistanAfghanistan and eastern parts of Iran in the west, to the present-dayBangladesh and the Indian state of Assam in the east, and as far south as northernKerala and Andhra. He conquered the kingdom named Kalinga, which no one in his dynasty had conquered starting from Chandragupta Maurya. His reign was headquartered in Magadha (present-day Bihar, India). He embraced Buddhism from the prevalent Brahminism tradition after witnessing the mass deaths of the war of Kalinga, which he himself had waged out of a desire for conquest. He was later dedicated to the propagation of Buddhism across Asia and established monuments marking several significant sites in the life of Gautama Buddha. Ashoka was a devotee of ahinsa (nonviolence), lovetruthtolerance and vegetarianism. Ashoka is remembered in history as a philanthropic administrator. In the history of India, Ashoka is referred to as Samraat Chakravartin Ashoka – the Emperor of EmperorsAshoka.

His name “aśoka” means “painless, without sorrow” in Sanskrit (the a privativum andśoka “pain, distress”). In his edicts, he is referred to as Devānāmpriya (PaliDevānaṃpiya or “The Beloved Of The Gods”), and Priyadarśin (Pali Piyadasī or “He who regards everyone with affection”).

Along with the Edicts of Ashoka, his legend is related in the later 2nd centuryAśokāvadāna (“Narrative of Asoka“) and Divyāvadāna (“Divine narrative“), and in theSri Lankan text Mahavamsa (“Great Chronicle“).

Ashoka played a critical role in helping make Buddhism a world
religion. As the peace-loving ruler of one of the world’s largest,
richest and most powerful multi-ethnic states, he is considered an
exemplary ruler, who tried to put into practice a secular state ethic of
non-violence. The emblem of the modern Republic of India is an adaptation of the Lion Capital of Ashoka

Mauryan Samrat
A “Chakravartin” ruler, first century BC/CE. Andhra Pradesh, Amaravati. Preserved at Musee Guimet
Reign 274–232 BC
Coronation 270 BC
Full name Ashoka Bindusara Maurya
Titles Samraat Chakravartin; other titles include Devanampriya andPriyadarsin
Born 304 BC
Birthplace PataliputraPatna
Died 232 BC (aged 72)
Place of death PataliputraPatna
Buried Ashes immersed in the GangesRiver, possibly at Varanasi,Cremated 232 BC, less than 24 hours after death
Predecessor Bindusara
Successor Dasaratha Maurya
Consort Maharani Devi
Wives Rani Tishyaraksha
Rani Padmavati
Rani Kaurwaki
Offspring MahendraSanghamitra,Teevala, Kunala
Royal House Mauryan dynasty
Father Bindusara
Mother Rani Dharma or Shubhadrangi
Religious beliefs Hinduism, later on embracedBuddhism

Early life

Ashoka was born to the Mauryan emperor Bindusara and
his queen, Dharma (or Dhamma). Ashokavandana states that his mother was
a queen named Subhadrangi, the daughter of Champa. A palace intrigue
kept her away from the king. This eventually ended, and she bore a son.
It is from her exclamation “I am now without sorrow”, that Ashoka got
his name. The Divyavandana tells a similar story, but gives the name of
the queen as Janapadakalyani.

Ashoka had several elder siblings, all of whom were his half-brothers from other wives of Bindusara.


He had been given the royal military training knowledge. He was a
fearsome hunter, and according to a legend, he killed a lion with just a
wooden rod. He was very adventurous and a trained fighter, who was
known for his skills with the sword. Because of his reputation as a
frightening warrior and a heartless general, he was sent to curb the
riots in the Avanti province of the Mauryan empire.


Rise to power

The Divyavandana refers to Ashoka putting down a revolt due to
activities of wicked ministers. This may have been an incident in Bindusara‘s times.Taranatha‘s account states that Chanakya,
one of Bindusara’s great lords, destroyed the nobles and kings of 16
towns and made himself the master of all territory between the eastern
and the western seas. Some historians consider this as an indication of
Bindusara’s conquest of the Deccan while others consider it as
suppression of a revolt. Following this Ashoka was stationed at Ujjayini
as governor.


Bindusara’s death in 273 BC led to a four war over succession.
According to Divyavandana, Bindusara wanted his son Sushim to succeed
him but Ashoka was supported by his father’s ministers. A minister named
Radhagupta seems to have played an important role. One of the
Ashokavandana states that Ashoka managed to become the king by getting
rid of the legitimate heir to the throne, by tricking him into entering a
pit filled with live coals. The Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa refer to Ashoka killing 99 of his brothers, sparing only one, named Tissa.


Early life as Emperor

Ashoka is said to have been of a wicked nature and bad temper. He
submitted his ministers to a test of loyalty and had 500 of them killed.
He also kept a harem of around 500 women. Once when certain lot of
these women insulted him, he had the whole lot of them burnt to death.
He also built hell on earth, an elaborate and horrific torture chamber.
This torture Chamber earned him the name of Chand Ashoka (Sanskrit),
meaning Ashoka the Fierce.


Ascending the throne, Ashoka expanded his empire over the next eight years, from the present-day boundaries and regions ofBurmaBangladesh and the state of Assam in India in the east to the territory of present-day Iran / Persia and Afghanistan in the west; from the Pamir Knots in the north almost to the peninsular of southern India (i.e. Tamil Nadu / Andhra Pradesh).


Conquest of Kalinga

Main article: Kalinga War

While the early part of Ashoka’s reign was apparently quite bloodthirsty, he became a follower of the Buddha‘s teaching after his conquest of Kalinga on the east coast of India in the present-day state of Orissa.
Kalinga was a state that prided itself on its sovereignty and
democracy. With its monarchical parliamentary democracy it was quite an
exception in ancient Bharata where there existed the concept of Rajdharma. Rajdharma means the duty of the rulers, which was intrinsically entwined with the concept of bravery and Kshatriya dharma.

ashoka 4 lions.310171851 std Maurya Empire

Ashoka 4 Lions

The pretext for the start of the Kalinga War (265
BC or 263 BC) is uncertain. One of Susima’s brothers might have fled to
Kalinga and found official refuge there. Kalinga put up a stiff
resistance, but they were no match for Ashoka’s brutal strength. The
whole of Kalinga was plundered and destroyed. Ashoka’s later edicts
state that about 100,000 people were killed on the Kalinga side and
10,000 from Ashoka’s army. Thousands of men and women were deported.

Ashoka Maurya (c.272-c.232)


Buddhist conversion

As the legend goes, one day after the war was over, Ashoka ventured
out to roam the city and all he could see were burnt houses and
scattered corpses. This sight made him sick and he cried the famous

What have I done? If this is a victory, what’s a
defeat then? Is this a victory or a defeat? Is this justice or
injustice? Is it gallantry or a rout? Is it valor to kill innocent
children and women? Do I do it to widen the empire and for prosperity or
to destroy the other’s kingdom and splendor? One has lost her husband,
someone else a father, someone a child, someone an unborn infant….
What’s this debris of the corpses? Are these marks of victory or defeat?
Are these vultures, crows, eagles the messengers of death or evil?

The brutality of the conquest led him to adopt Buddhism, and he used
his position to propagate the relatively new religion to new heights, as
far as ancient Rome and Egypt. He made Buddhism his state religion
around 260 BC, and propagated it and preached it within his domain and
worldwide from about 250 BC. Emperor Ashoka undoubtedly has to be
credited with the first serious attempt to develop a Buddhist policy.

A similar four “Indian lion” Lion Capital of Ashoka atop an intact Ashoka Pillar at Wat U Mong near Chiang Mai, Thailandshowing another larger Dharma Chakra /Ashoka Chakra atop the four lions thought to be missing in the Lion Capital of Ashoka at Sarnath Museum which has been adopted as the National Emblem of India.

Prominent in this cause were his son VenerableMahindra and daughter Sanghamitra (whose name means “friend of the Sangha”), who established Buddhism in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). He built thousands of Stupas and Viharas for Buddhist followers. The Stupas of Sanchi are world famous and the stupa named Sanchi Stupa was built by Emperor Ashoka. During the remaining portion of Ashoka’s reign, he pursued an official policy ofnonviolence (ahimsa). Even the unnecessary slaughter or mutilation of animals was immediately abolished. Everyone became protected by the king’s law against
sport hunting and branding. Limited hunting was permitted for
consumption reasons but Ashoka also promoted the concept of
vegetarianism. Ashoka also showed mercy to those imprisoned, allowing
them leave for the outside a day of the year. He attempted to raise the
professional ambition of the common man by building universities for
study, and water transit and irrigation systems for trade and
agriculture. He treated his subjects as equals regardless of their
religion, politics and caste. The kingdoms surrounding his, so easily
overthrown, were instead made to be well-respected allies.


Ashokan Pillar at Vaishali

He is acclaimed for constructing hospitals for animals and renovating
major roads throughout India. After this transformation, Ashoka came to
be known as Dhammashoka (Sanskrit), meaning Ashoka, the follower of
Dharma. Ashoka defined the main principles of dharma (dhamma) as
nonviolence, tolerance of all sects and opinions, obedience to parents,
respect for the Brahmans and other religious teachers and priests,
liberality towards friends, humane treatment of servants, and generosity
towards all. These principles suggest a general ethic of behaviour to
which no religious or social group could object.

2011 Google Terms - Download Picasa - Launch Picasa -

 Chandragupta Maurya

Some critics say that Ashoka was afraid of more wars, but among his neighbors, including the Seleucid Empire and the Greco-Bactrian kingdom established by Diodotus I, none could match his strength. He was a contemporary of both Antiochus I Soter and his successor Antiochus II Theos of the Seleucid dynasty as well as Diodotus I and his son Diodotus II of
the Greco-Bactrian kingdom. If his inscriptions and edicts are well
studied one finds that he was familiar with the Hellenic world but never
in awe of it. His edicts, which talk of friendly relations, give the
names of both Antiochus of the Seleucid empire and Ptolemy III of Egypt. The fame of the Mauryan empire was widespread from the time that Ashoka’s grandfather Chandragupta Maurya defeated Seleucus Nicator, the founder of the Seleucid Dynasty.

Stupa of Sanchi.

The source of much of our knowledge of Ashoka is the many
inscriptions he had carved on pillars and rocks throughout the empire.
All his inscriptions have the imperial touch and show compassionate

The compound Buddhist symbols: Shrivatsa within atriratana, over a Chakrawheel, on the Torana gate at Sanchi.

He addressed his people as his “children”. These inscriptions
promoted Buddhist morality and encouraged nonviolence and adherence to
Dharma (duty or proper behavior), and they talk of his fame and
conquered lands as well as the neighboring kingdoms holding up his
might. One also gets some primary information about the Kalinga War and
Ashoka’s allies plus some useful knowledge on the civil administration.


Carved decoration of the Northern gateway to the Great Stupa of Sanchi

The Ashoka Pillar at Sarnathis
the most popular of the relics left by Ashoka. Made of sandstone, this
pillar records the visit of the emperor to Sarnath, in the 3rd century
BC. It has a four-lion capital (four lions standing back to back) which
was adopted as the emblem of the modern Indian republic. The lion
symbolizes both Ashoka’s imperial rule and the kingship of the Buddha.
In translating these monuments, historians learn the bulk of what is
assumed to have been true fact of the Mauryan Empire. It is difficult to
determine whether or not some actual events ever happened, but the
stone etchings clearly depict how Ashoka wanted to be thought of and

File:Sanchi stupa detail.jpg

Detail on the Sanchi stupa

Ashoka’s own words as known from his Edicts are:
“All men are my children. I am like a father to them. As every father
desires the good and the happiness of his children, I wish that all men
should be happy always.” Edward D’Cruz interprets the Ashokan dharma as a
“religion to be used as a symbol of a new imperial unity and a
cementing force to weld the diverse and heterogeneous elements of the

Also, in the Edicts, Ashoka mentions Hellenistic kings of the period
as converts to Buddhism, although no Hellenic historical record of this
event remain:

The conquest by Dharma has been won here, on the borders, and even six hundred yojanas (5,400–9,600 km) away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named PtolemyAntigonosMagas andAlexander rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Tambaparni (Sri Lanka).
Edicts of AshokaRock Edict 13 (S. Dhammika)

File:Stupa no. 3, Sanchi.jpg

Ashoka also claims that he encouraged the development of herbal medicine, for human and nonhuman animals, in their territories:

Everywhere within Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi’s [Ashoka’s] domain, and among the people beyond the borders, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Satiyaputras, the Keralaputras, as far as Tamraparni and where the Greek king Antiochosrules,
and among the kings who are neighbors of Antiochos, everywhere has
Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, made provision for two types of
medical treatment: medical treatment for humans and medical treatment
for animals. Wherever medical herbs suitable for humans or animals are
not available, I have had them imported and grown. Wherever medical
roots or fruits are not available I have had them imported and grown.
Along roads I have had wells dug and trees planted for the benefit of
humans and animals.

The Greeks in India even seem to have played an active role in the
propagation of Buddhism, as some of the emissaries of Ashoka, such as Dharmaraksita, are described in Pali sources as leading Greek (Yona) Buddhist monks, active in spreading Buddhism (theMahavamsa, XII)

Dhamek Stupa

Dhamek Stupa (also spelled Dhamekh and Dhamekha) is a massive stupalocated at Sarnath, 13 km away from Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh,India.

The Dhamek Stupa was built in 500 CE to replace an earlier structure commissioned by the great Mauryan king Ashoka in
249 BCE, along with several other monuments, to commemorate the
Buddha’s activities in this location. Stupas originated as circular
mounds encircled by large stones. King Ashoka built stupas to enshrine small pieces of calcinated bone and other relics of Buddha and his disciples. An Ashoka pillar with an edict engraved on it stands near the site.

File:History of Dhamekh Stupa on Stone.jpg

File:Dhamekh Stupa close-up, Sarnath.jpg

Dhamekh Stupa close-up, Sarnath

File:Dhamekh Stupa Close up.jpg

File:Dhamekh Stupa Closeup.jpg

Dhamekh Stupa wall Close Up

Death and legacy

Ashoka ruled for an estimated forty years. After his death, the
Mauryan dynasty lasted just fifty more years. Ashoka had many wives and
children, but many of their names are lost to time. Mahindra and Sanghamitra were twins born by his first wife, Devi, in the city of Ujjain. He had entrusted to them the job of making his state religion, Buddhism, more popular across the known and the unknown world. Mahindra and Sanghamitra went into Sri Lankaand converted the King, the Queen and their people to Buddhism. They were naturally not handling state affairs after him.

Bodh Gaya*
UNESCO World Heritage Site


Country  India
Type Cultural
Criteria (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(vi)
Reference 1056
Region** Asia-Pacific
Coordinates 24.696004°N 84.991358°ECoordinates24.696004°N 84.991358°E
Inscription history
Inscription 2002  (26th Session)

In approximately 250 BCE, about 250 years after the Buddha attained Enlightenment, Buddhist EmperorAsoka visited
Bodh Gaya with the intention of establishing a monastery and shrine. As
part of the temple, he built the diamond throne (called the Vajrasana),
attempting to mark the exact spot of the Buddha’s enlightenment, was
established. Asoka is considered the founder of the Mahabodhi Temple.
The present temple dates from the 5th–6th century,although in the words
of one scholar it is.

In his old age, he seems to have come under the spell of his youngest wife Tishyaraksha. It is said that she had got his son Kunala, the regent in Takshashila, blinded by a wilystratagem. The official executioners spared Kunala and he became a wandering singer accompanied by his favourite wife Kanchanmala. In Pataliputra,
Ashoka hears Kunala’s song, and realizes that Kunala’s misfortune may
have been a punishment for some past sin of the emperor himself and
condemns Tishyaraksha to death, restoring Kunala to the court. Kunala
was succeeded by his son, Samprati, but his rule did not last long after Ashoka’s death.

File:Ashoka Rock Edict at Junagadh.jpg

The Junagadh rock contains inscriptions by Ashoka (fourteen of the Edicts of Ashoka), Rudradaman I and Skandagupta.

The reign of Ashoka Maurya could easily have disappeared into history
as the ages passed by, and would have had he not left behind a record
of his trials. The testimony of this wise king was discovered in the
form of magnificently sculpted pillars and boulders with a variety of
actions and teachings he wished to be published etched into the stone.
What Ashoka left behind was the first written language in India since
the ancient city of Harappa. The language used for inscription was the then current spoken form called Prakrit.

File:General view of cave temples in the Barabar Hills, (Bihar).jpg

General view of cave temples in the Barabar Hills, (Bihar)

Barabar Hill contains four caves – Karan Chaupar, Lomas Rishi,
Sudama and Visva Zopri. Sudama and Lomas Rishi Caves are the earliest
examples of rock-cut architecture in India , with architectural
detailing, made in the Mauryan period, and became a trend the subsequent centuries , like the larger Buddhist Chaitya, that were found inMaharashtra, such as in Ajanta and Karla Caves, and greatly influenced the tradition ofSouth Asian rock-cut architecture


Mauryan architecture in the Barabar MountsGrotto of Lomas Rishi. 3rd century BCE.

File:Sudama and Lomas Rishi Caves at Barabar, Bihar, 1870.jpg

Sudama and Lomas Rishi Caves at Barabar, Bihar, a 1870 photograph

In the year 185 BC, about fifty years after Ashoka’s death, the last Maurya ruler, Brhadrata, was assassinated by the commander-in-chief of the Mauryan armed forces, Pusyamitra Sunga, while he was taking the Guard of Honor of his forces. Pusyamitra Sunga founded the Sunga dynasty (185
BC-78 BC) and ruled just a fragmented part of the Mauryan Empire. Many
of the northwestern territories of the Mauryan Empire (modern-day Iran,
Afghanistan and Pakistan) became the Indo-Greek Kingdom.

In 1992, Ashoka was ranked #53 on Michael H. Hart‘s list of the most influential figures in history. In 2001, a semi-fictionalized portrayal of Ashoka’s life was produced as a motion picture under the title Asoka.
King Ashoka, the third monarch of the Indian Mauryan dynasty, has come
to be regarded as one of the most exemplary rulers in world history. The
British historian H.G. Wells has written: “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 Asoka shines, and shines, almost alone, a star.”

Buddhist Kingship

Further information: Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Buddhism in Burma

One of the more enduring legacies of Ashoka Maurya was the model that
he provided for the relationship between Buddhism and the state.
Throughout Theravada Southeastern Asia, the model of ruler ship embodied
by Ashoka replaced the notion of divine kingship that had previously
dominated (in the Angkor kingdom,
for instance). Under this model of ‘Buddhist kingship’, the king sought
to legitimize his rule not through descent from a divine source, but by
supporting and earning the approval of the Buddhist sangha.
Following Ashoka’s example, kings established monasteries, funded the
construction of stupas, and supported the ordination of monks in their
kingdom. Many rulers also took an active role in resolving disputes over
the status and regulation of the sangha, as Ashoka had in calling a
conclave to settle a number of contentious issues during his reign. This
development ultimately lead to a close association in many Southeast
Asian countries between the monarchy and the religious hierarchy, an
association that can still be seen today in the state-supported Buddhism of Thailand and
the traditional role of the Thai king as both a religious and secular
leader. Ashoka also said that all his courtiers were true to their self
and governed the people in a moral manner.

File:Nalanda University India ruins.jpg

Ruins of Nalanda University :Nālandā (Hindi/Sanskrit/Pali: नालंदा) is the name of an ancient center of higher learning in BiharIndia. The site of Nalanda is located in the Indian state of Bihar, about 55 miles south east of Patna, and was a Buddhist center of learning from 427 to 1197 CE. It has been called “one of the first great universities in recorded history”.[2] Some buildings were constructed by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka the Great  (273–232 BCE) which is an indication of an early establishment of the Buddhist learning center Nalanda. The Gupta Empire also
patronized some monasteries. According to historians, Nalanda
flourished between the reign of the Gupta king Śakrāditya (also known as
Kumāragupta, reigned 415-55) and 1197 CE, supported by patronage from Buddhist emperors like Harsha as well as later emperors from the Pala Empire.The
complex was built with red bricks and its ruins occupy an area of 14
hectares. At its peak, the university attracted scholars and students
from as far away as ChinaGreece, and Persia. Nalanda was sacked by TurkicMuslim invaders under Bakhtiyar Khalji in 1193, a milestone in the decline of Buddhism in India.
The great library of Nalanda University was so vast that it is reported
to have burned for three months after the invaders set fire to it,
sacked and destroyed the monasteries, and drove the monks from the site.
In 2006, Singapore,ChinaIndiaJapan, and other nations, announced a proposed plan to restore and revive the ancient site as Nalanda International University.

Western sources

Ashoka was almost forgotten by the historians of the early British India, but James Prinsep contributed in the revelation of historical sources. Another important historian was British archaeologist John Hubert Marshall who was director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India. His main interests were Sanchi and Sarnath besides Harappa and Mohenjodaro. Sir Alexander Cunningham, a British archaeologist and army engineer and often known as the father of the Archaeological Survey of India, unveiled heritage sites like theBharhut Stupa,
Sarnath, Sanchi, and the Mahabodhi Temple; thus, his contribution is
recognizable in realms of historical sources. [[Mortimer Wheeler], a British archaeologist, also exposed Ashokan historical sources, especially the Taxila.

File:Nalanda seal.jpg

The seal of Nalanda University set in terracottaon display in the ASI Museum in Nalanda

Nalanda layout 1b.JPG

Eastern sources

Main articles: Edicts of AshokaAshokavadanaMahavamsa, and Dipavamsa

Information about the life and reign of Ashoka primarily comes from a
relatively small number of Buddhist sources. In particular, the Sanskrit Ashokavadana (‘Story of Ashoka’), written in the 2nd century, and the two Pāli chronicles of Sri Lanka (the Dipavamsa andMahavamsa) provide most of the currently known information about Ashoka. Additional information is contributed by the Edicts of Asoka,
whose authorship was finally attributed to the Ashoka of Buddhist
legend after the discovery of dynastic lists that gave the name used in
the edicts (Priyadarsi – ‘favored by the Gods’) as a title or
additional name of Ashoka Mauriya. Architectural remains of his period
have been found at KumhrarPatna, which include an 80-pillar hypostyle hall.

File:Nalanda brfore.jpg

As they stood, before the Nālandā University was excavated.

Edicts of Ashoka -The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars of Ashoka,
as well as boulders and cave walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka of the
Mauryan dynasty during his reign from 272 to 231 BC. These inscriptions
are dispersed throughout the areas of modern-day Pakistan and India, and
represent the first tangible evidence of Buddhism. The edicts describe
in detail the first wide expansion of Buddhism through the sponsorship
of one of the most powerful kings of Indian history.It give more
information about Ashoka’s proselytism, Moral precepts, Religious
precepts, Social and animal welfare .


The Sariputta Stupa

Ashokavadana –
The Ashokavadana is a 2nd century CE text related to the legend of the
Maurya Emperor Ashoka. The legend was translated into Chinese by Fa Hien in 300 CE.

Mahavamsa -The Mahavamsa (“Great Chronicle”) is a historical poem written in the Pali language, of the kings of Sri Lanka. It covers the period from the coming of King Vijaya of Kalinga (ancient
Orissa) in 543 BC to the reign of King Mahasena (334–361).As it often
refers to the royal dynasties of India, the Mahavamsa is also valuable
for historians who wish to date and relate contemporary royal dynasties
in the Indian subcontinent. It is very important in dating the consecration of the Maurya emperor Ashoka.


Bilingual inscription in (Greek andAramaic) by king Ashoka, from Kandahar(Shar-i-kuna). Kabul Museum.

Dipavamsa -The
Dipavamsa, or “Deepavamsa”, (i.e., Chronicle of the Island, in Pali) is
the oldest historical record of Sri Lanka. The chronicle is believe to
be compiled from Atthakatha and other sources around the 3–4th century, King Dhatusena (4th century CE) had ordered that the Dipavamsa be recited at the Mahinda (son to Ashoka) festival held annually in Anuradhapura.


Back side view of Sariputta Stupa

The use of Buddhist sources in reconstructing the life of Ashoka has
had a strong influence on perceptions of Ashoka, as well as the
interpretations of his edicts. Building on traditional accounts, early
scholars regarded Ashoka as a primarily Buddhist monarch who underwent a
conversion to Buddhism and was actively engaged in sponsoring and
supporting the Buddhist monastic institution. Some scholars have tended
to question this assessment. The only source of information not
attributable to Buddhist sources are the Ashokan edicts, and these do
not explicitly state that Ashoka was a Buddhist. In his edicts, Ashoka
expresses support for all the major religions of his time: BuddhismBrahmanismJainism, and Ajivikaism,
and his edicts addressed to the population at large (there are some
addressed specifically to Buddhists; this is not the case for the other
religions) generally focus on moral themes members of all the religions
would accept.


Front view of SariputtaStupa

However, there is strong evidence in the edicts alone that he was a
Buddhist. In one edict he belittles rituals, and he banned Vedic animal
sacrifices; these strongly suggest that he at least did not look to the
Vedic tradition for guidance. Furthermore, there are many edicts
expressed to Buddhists alone; in one, Ashoka declares himself to be an “upasaka“,
and in another he demonstrates a close familiarity with Buddhist texts.
He erected rock pillars at Buddhist holy sites, but did not do so for
the sites of other religions. He also used the word “dhamma” to
refer to qualities of the heart that underlie moral action; this was an
exclusively Buddhist use of the word. Finally, the ideals he promotes
correspond to the first three steps of the Buddha’s graduated discourse.

File:Temple and Votive Stupas, Nalanda.jpg

Temple and votive stūpas.


Global spread of Buddhism

Ashoka, now a Buddhist emperor, believed that Buddhism is beneficial for all human beings as well as animals and plants, so he built 84,000 stupasSangharamaviharasChaitya, and residences for Buddhist monks all over South Asia and Central Asia. He gave donations to viharas and mathas. He sent his only daughter Sanghamitta and son Mahindra to spread Buddhism in Sri Lanka (ancient name Tamraparni).

File:Nalanda Buddhist University Ruins.jpg

Interior of the Nālandā ruins.

Ashoka also sent many prominent Buddhist monks (bhikshus) Sthaviras like Madhyamik Sthavira to modernKashmir and Afghanistan; Maharaskshit Sthavira to SyriaPersia / IranEgyptGreeceItaly and Turkey; Massim Sthavira to Nepal,BhutanChina and Mongolia; Sohn Uttar Sthavira to modern CambodiaLaosMyanmar (old name Suvarnabhumi for Burma and Thailand), Thailand and Vietnam; Mahadhhamarakhhita stahvira to Maharashtra (old name Maharatthha); Maharakhhit Sthavira and Yavandhammarakhhita Sthavira to South India.

File:Khasarpana Lokesvara.jpg

Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva statue from Nālandā, 9th century CE.

Ashoka also invited Buddhists and non-Buddhists for religious
conferences. Ashoka inspired the Buddhist monks to compose the sacred
religious texts, and also gave all types of help to that end. Ashoka
also helped to develop viharas (intellectual hubs) such as Nalanda and Taxila. Ashoka helped to construct Sanchi and Mahabodhi Temple.

File:Stone sculpt NMND -7.JPG

Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva statue. Nālandā, 11th century CE.

Ashoka never tried to harm or to destroy non-Buddhist religions, and
indeed gave donations to non-Buddhists. As his reign continued his
even-handedness was replaced with special inclination towards
Buddhism. Ashoka helped and respected both Sramans (Buddhists monks) and
Brahmins (Vedic monks). Ashoka also helped to organize the Third Buddhist council (c. 250 BC) at Pataliputra (today’s Patna). It was conducted by the monk Moggaliputta-Tissa who was the spiritual teacher of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka.


Mauryan ringstone, with standing goddess. Northwest Pakistan. third century BC. British Museum.

As administrator

Ashoka’s military power was so strong that he was able to crush those
empires that went to war against him. Still, he was on friendly terms
with kingdoms in the South like CholasPandya, Keralputra, the post Alexandrian empire, Tamraparni, andSuvarnabhumi who were strong enough to remain outside his empire and continued to profess Hinduism.

File:Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Dharmacakra Discourse.jpeg

The Buddha teaching atDeer ParkVārāṇasī. Nālandā.

According to his edicts we know that he provided humanitarian help including doctorshospitalsinnswells, medical herbs and engineers to
his neighboring countries. In neighboring countries, Ashoka helped
humans as well as animals. Ashoka also planted trees in his empire and
his neighboring countries. Ashoka was perhaps the first emperor in human
history to ban slaveryhunting,fishing and deforestation. Ashoka also banned the death sentence and asked the same for the neighboring countries.

File:Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Descending Trayastrimsa Heaven.jpg

Buddha descending fromTrāyastriṃśa Heaven. Nālandā.

Ashoka commanded his people to serve the orders of their elders parents and religious monks (shramana and Brahmin).
Ashoka also recommended his people study and respect all religions.
According to Ashoka, to harm another’s religion is a harm to one’s own
religion. Ashoka asserted his people to live with Dharmmacharana. Ashoka
asked people to live with harmony, peace, love and tolerance. Ashoka
called his people as his children, and they could call him when they
need him.

File:Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Manjusri Bodhisattva.jpeg

Mañjuśrī Bodhisattva on his lion. Nālandā.

He also asked people to save money and not to spend for immoral
causes. Ashoka also believed in dharmacharana (dhammacharana) and
dharmavijaya (dhammavijaya). According to many European and Asian
historians the age of Ashoka was the age of light and delightment. He
was the first emperor in human history who has taught the lesson of
unity, peace, equality and love. Ashoka’s aim was not to expand the
territories but the welfare of all of his subjects (sarvajansukhay). In
his vast empire there was no evidence of recognizable mutiny or civil
war. Ashoka was the true devotee of nonviolence, peace and love. This
made him different from other emperors. Ashoka also helped Buddhism as well as religions like JainismHinduismHellenic polytheism and Ajivikas. Ashoka was against any discrimination among humans.

File:Astasahasrika Prajnaparamita Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva Nalanda.jpeg

Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva. Nālandā.

He helped students, the poor, orphans and the elderly with social,
political and economic help. According to Ashoka, hatred gives birth to
hatred and a feeling of love gives birth to love and mercy. According to
him the happiness of people is the happiness of the ruler. His opinion
was that the sword is not as powerful as love.

File:Panorama at Jaulian - Ancient Buddhist Monastery - Taxila, Pakistan - 566-31.JPG

Ancient Buddhist Monastery at Jaulian, Taxila.

File:Couple from Taxila IV.jpg

Hellenistic couple excavated in Taxila 

Ashoka was also kind to prisoners, and respected animal life and tree
life. Ashoka allowed females to be educated. He also permitted females
to enter religious institutions. He allowed female Buddhist monastics
such as Bhikkhuni.
He combined in himself the complexity of a king and a simplicity of a
buddhist monk. Because of these reasons he is known as the emperor of
all ages and thus became a milestone in the History of the world.


A coin from 2nd century BCE Taxila.


The Indo-Greek kingAntialcidas ruled in Taxila around 100 BCE, according to theHeliodorus pillarinscription.

File:Taxila Pakistan juillet 2004.jpg

Jaulian, a World Heritage Site at Taxila.


The Dharmarajika stupa, Taxila.

Statuette excavated at the Dharmarajika stupa.

Ashoka Chakra

Main article: Ashoka Chakra

File:Ashoka Chakra.svg

The Ashoka Chakra“the wheel of Righteousness” (Dharma in Sanskrit or Dhamma in Pali)”

The Ashoka Chakra (the wheel of Ashoka) is a depiction of the Dharmachakra or Dhammachakka in Pali, the Wheel of Dharma (Sanskrit: Chakra means wheel). The wheel has 24 spokes. The Ashoka Chakra has been widely inscribed on many relics of theMauryan Emperor, most prominent among which is the Lion Capital of Sarnath and TheAshoka Pillar.
The most visible use of the Ashoka Chakra today is at the centre of the
National flag of the Republic of India (adopted on 22 July 1947), where
it is rendered in a Navy-blue color on a White background, by replacing
the symbol of Charkha (Spinning wheel) of the pre-independence versions
of the flag. Ashoka Chakra can also been seen on the base of Lion
Capital of Ashoka which has been adopted as the National Emblem of


A relief from Barhut.: Bharhut or Barhut (hindi: भरहुत Bharhut), is a location in Satna district in Madhya Pradesh, Central India, known for its famous Buddhist stupa. The Bharhut stupa may have been established by the Maurya king Asoka in the 3rd century BCE, but many works of art were apparently added during the Sunga period, with many friezes from
the 2nd century BCE. An epigraph on the gateway mention its erection
“during the supremacy of the Sungas” by Vatsiputra Dhanabhuti


Yakshi reliefs. Bharhut, 2nd century BCE.


Vedika pillar with Greek warrior. Bharhut, Madhya Pradesh, Sunga Period, c.100-80BC. Reddish brown sandstone.[3]Indian MuseumCalcutta(drawing).

The Ashoka chakra was built by Ashoka during his reign. Chakra is a Sanskrit word
which also means cycle or self repeating process. The process it
signifies is the cycle of time as how the world changes with time.

A few days before India became independent on August 1947, the specially constitutedConstituent Assembly decided that the flag of India must
be acceptable to all parties and communities.A flag with three colours,
Saffron, White and Green with the Ashoka Chakra was selected.

Pillars of Ashoka (Ashokstambha)

The pillars of Ashoka are a series of columns dispersed throughout
the northern Indian subcontinent, and erected by Ashoka during his reign
in the 3rd century BC. Originally, there must have been many pillars of
Ashoka although only ten with inscriptions still survive. Averaging
between forty and fifty feet in height, and weighing up to fifty tons
each, all the pillars were quarried at Chunar, just south of Varanasi
and dragged, sometimes hundreds of miles, to where they were erected.
The first Pillar of Ashoka was found in the 16th century by Thomas
Coryat in the ruins of ancient Delhi. The wheel represents the sun time
and Buddhist law, while the swastika stands
for the cosmic dance around a fixed center and guards against evil.
There is no evidence of a swastika, or manji, on the pillars.

The Asokan pillar at Lumbini,Nepal

Lion Capital of Asoka (Ashokmudra)

Main article: Lion Capital of Asoka

The Lion capital of Ashoka is a sculpture of four “Indian lions” standing back to back. It was originally placed atop the Aśoka pillar at Sarnath, now in the state of Uttar PradeshIndia. The pillar, sometimes called the Aśoka Column is still in its original location, but the Lion Capital is now in the Sarnath Museum. This Lion Capital of Ashoka from Sarnath has been adopted as the National Emblem of India and the wheel “Ashoka Chakra” from its base was placed onto the center of the National Flag of India.

The capital contains four lions (Indian / Asiatic Lions), standing
back to back, mounted on an abacus, with a frieze carrying sculptures in
high relief of an elephant, a galloping horse, a bull, and a lion,
separated by intervening spoked chariot-wheels over a bell-shaped lotus.
Carved out of a single block of polished sandstone, the capital was
believed to be crowned by a ‘Wheel of Dharma’ (Dharmachakra popularly
known in India as the “Ashoka Chakra”).

The Ashoka Lion capital or the Sarnath lion capital is also known as
the national symbol of India. The Sarnath pillar bears one of the Edicts
of Ashoka, an inscription against division within the Buddhist
community, which reads, “No one shall cause division in the order of
monks”. The Sarnath pillar is a column surmounted by a capital, which
consists of a canopy representing an inverted bell-shaped lotus flower, a
short cylindrical abacus with four 24-spoked Dharma wheels with four
animals (anelephant, a bull, a horse, a lion).

The four animals in the Sarnath capital are believed to symbolize different steps of Lord Buddha‘s life.

  • The Elephant represents the Buddha’s idea in reference to the dream of Queen Maya of a white elephant entering her womb.
  • The Bull represents desire during the life of the Buddha as a prince.
  • The Horse represents Buddha’s departure from palatial life.
  • The Lion represents the accomplishment of Buddha.

Besides the religious interpretations, there are some non-religious
interpretations also about the symbolism of the Ashoka capital pillar at
Sarnath. According to them, the four lions symbolize Ashoka’s rule over
the four directions, the wheels as symbols of his enlightened rule
(Chakravartin) and the four animals as symbols of four adjoining
territories of India.

Constructions credited to Ashoka

File:Scythian devotee Butkara I.jpg

Indo-Scythian devotee, Butkara I.


Head of the Buddha. Butkara I, 2nd century CE


Buddhist relief with warrior. Butkara I, 1st century CE.

Ashoka today

In art, film and literature

  • Asoka is a 2001 epic Bollywood historical drama. It is a largely fictional version of the life of the Indian emperor Ashoka. The film was directed by Santosh Sivan and stars Shahrukh Khan as Ashoka and Kareena Kapoor as
    Kaurwaki, a princess of Kalinga.The film ends with Asoka renouncing the
    sword and embracing Buddhism. The final narrative describes how Asoka
    not only built a large empire, but spread Buddhism and the winds of
    peace through it.
  • One of the most famous figures in modern Hindi literatureJaishankar Prasad, composed Ashoka ki chinta (in English: Anxiety of Ashoka), a famous Hindi verse. The poem portrays Ashoka’s heart during the war of Kalinga.
  • Uttar-Priyadarshi (The Final Beatitude) a verse-play written by poet Agyeya, depicting his redemption, was adapted to stage in 1996 by theatre director, Ratan Thiyam and has since been performed in many parts of the world.
  • In Piers Anthony’s series of space opera novels, the main character mentions Asoka as a model for administrators to strive for.

Kalinga War

The Kalinga War
Date 265264 BC
Location KalingaIndia
Result Maurya victory
Kalinga annexed by Maurya Empire
Maurya Empire Kalinga
Commanders and leaders
Ashoka the Great Raja Anantha padmanabhan
Total 400,000 60,000 infantry,
1,000 cavalry,
700 war elephants
Casualties and losses
100,000 100,000+
(including civilians)

The Kalinga War (Sanskrit: कलिन्ग युध्धम्) was a war fought between theMauryan Empire under Ashoka the Great and the state of Kalinga, a feudalrepublic located on the coast of the present-day Indian state of Odisha. The Kalinga war is one of the major battles in the History of India.
Kalinga put up a stiff resistance, but they were no match for Ashoka’s
brutal strength. The bloodshed of this war is said to have prompted
Ashoka to adopt Buddhism.


File:Chandragupta Maurya Empire.gif

Kalinga and Maurya Empire before invasion of Ashoka

The main reasons for invading Kalinga were both political and economic.Since the time of Ashoka’s father, King Bindusara, the Mauryan Empire based in Magadha was following a policy of territorial expansion. Kalinga was under Magadha control during the Nanda rule, but
regained independence with the beginning of the rule of the Mauryas.
That was considered a great setback for the traditional policy of
territorial expansion of the Magadhan emperors and was considered to be a
loss of political prestige for the Mauryas.

Battle for Kalinga


Possibly Kalinga was a thorn in the body-politic of his dominions. Andhra, which lay to the south of Kalinga and comprised inter alia the
modern Krishna and Godavari districts, was conquered by Bindusara. Thus
on one side of the Maurya kingdom was Chola and on the other Kalinga.
It is not unreasonable to suppose that in Bindusara’s war on Chola and
Pandya, Kalinga was an ally of the latter, attacked the Maurya forces
from the rear and was thus chiefly instrumental in its ending in
failure. It was therefore perhaps supremely imperative to reduce Kalinga
to complete subjection. To this task Ashoka must have set himself as
soon as he felt he was securely established on the throne.

The overseas activities of Kalinga threatened the economic and
commercial interest of Magadha. As Magadha was not an important sea
power she had to depend on other friendly states having overseas
commerce to sustain her own economic interest. She would face economic
collapse if the coasts would be blockaded against her. The hostile
attitude of the traders of Kalinga inflicted a serious damage on her
which is alluded to by Lama Taranatha. According to Taranatha, the
serpents of the eastern seas stole away the jewels of Ashoka at which
the emperor became angry and invaded their territory. Thus a war with
Kalinga was not only political but also of economic necessity.Observes,
Dr. R. P. Mohapatra.

Depicting the Kalinga war (at Shanti Stupa)

The pretext for the start of the war is uncertain. One of Susima‘s
brothers might have fled to Kalinga and found official refuge there.
This enraged Ashoka immensely. He was advised by his ministers to attack
Kalinga for this act of treachery. Ashoka then asked Kalinga’s royalty
to submit before his supremacy. When they defied this diktat, Ashoka
sent one of his generals to Kalinga to make them submit.The general and
his forces were, however, completely routed through the skilled tact of
Kalinga’s commander-in-chief. Ashoka, baffled at this defeat, attacked
with the greatest invasion ever recorded in Indian history until then.

Course of the war

File:Kalinga battlefield daya river dhauli hills.jpg

A view of the banks of the River Daya, also the supposed battlefield of Kalinga from atop Dhauli hills.

As Ramesh Prasad Mohapatra remarks,
“No war in the history of India as important either for its intensity
or for its results as the Kalinga war of Ashoka. No wars in the annals
of the human history has changed the heart of the victor from one of
wanton cruelty to that of an exemplary piety as this one. From its
fathomless womb the history of the world may find out only a few wars to
its credit which may be equal to this war and not a single one that
would be greater than this. The political history of mankind is really a
history of wars and no war has ended with so successful a mission of
the peace for the entire war-torn humanity as the war of Kalinga. The
war began in the 8th year of Ashoka‘s
reign, probably in 261 BC. Ashoka’s grandfather Chandragupta had
previously attempted to conquer Kalinga, but had been repulsed. After a
bloody battle for the throne after Bindusara’s death, Ashoka tried to
annex Kalinga. Ashoka was successful only after a savage war, whose
consequences changed Ashoka’s views on war and led him to pledge never
to wage a war. It is said that in the aftermath of the Battle of Kalinga the Daya River running
next to the battle field turned red with the blood of the slain; about
100,000 Kalinga civilians and more than 100,000 of Ashoka’s own warriors
were among those slain.

Dhauli hill
is presumed to be the area where the Kalinga War was fought. The
historically important Dhauli hills are located on the banks of the Daya River of Bhubaneswar in
Odisha (India). Dhauli hill, with a vast open space adjoining it, has
major Edicts of Ashoka engraved on a mass of rock by the side of the
road leading to the summit of the hill.


Ashoka had seen the bloodshed with his own eyes and felt that he was
the cause of the destruction. The whole of Kalinga was plundered and
destroyed. Ashoka’s later edicts state that about 100,000 people were
killed on the Kalinga side and 100,000 from Ashoka’s army. Thousands of
men and women were deported.

Ashoka’s response to the Kalinga War is recorded in the Edicts of Ashoka.
According to some of these (Rock Edict XIII and Minor Rock Edict I),
the Kalinga War prompted Ashoka, already a non-engaged Buddhist, to
devote the rest of his life to Ahimsa (non-violence) and to Dhamma-Vijaya (victory through Dhamma).
Following the conquest of Kalinga, Ashoka ended the military expansion
of the empire, and led the empire through more than 40 years of relative
peace, harmony and prosperity.

“Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Priyadarsi, conquered the Kalingas eight
years after his coronation. One hundred and fifty thousand were
deported, one hundred thousand were killed and many more died (from
other causes). After the Kalingas had been conquered,
Beloved-of-the-Gods came to feel a strong inclination towards the
Dhamma, a love for the Dhamma and for instruction in Dhamma. Now
Beloved-of-the-Gods feels deep remorse for having conquered the
Kalingas.” Rock Edict No.13

Word-of-mouth stories passed down to us from our fore-fathers tells
us that after the war was over and Ashoka the Great saw the destruction
he had caused, a woman approached him and said, “Your actions have taken
from me my father, husband, and son. Now what will I have left to live
for?”. Moved by these words, it is said, that he accepted/adopted
Buddhism. He vowed to never take life again and became one of the most
just ruler India has ever seen.

In popular culture

The Kalinga War is depicted in Santosh Sivan‘s 2001 Bollywood epic Asoka, starring Shahrukh KhanAjith Kumar and Kareena Kapoor.
While the film was found to be lacking in authenticity, it did,
nevertheless, correctly incorporate many of the key historical elements
of the Kalinga War.

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