Rulers of Mauryan Empire and Their Major War
Bindusara (298-273 BC)
He was the son of Chandragupta and was known as Amitraghata (meaning slayer of the foes) by Greek writers. He continued his friendly relations with the Syrian King Antiochus I and is stated to have requested him for some dried figs, sweet wine and a sophist.
Antiochus sent all expect the sophist, explaining that the Greek law forbids a sophist to be sold. Deimachus, the ambassador of Antiochus I was said to have been residing in his court. Bindusara’s religious leaning are said to be more towards the Ajiviak sect which was founded by Makkhali Gossala.
The Ashokavadana in form us that a revolt took place in Taxila during the reign of Bindusara, when the citizens objected to the oppression of the higher officials. Bindusara sent Ashoka to put an end to the revolt, which he did successfully. Since most Buddhist accounts speak of Ashoka going directly from Ujjain to Pataliputra to capture the throne after his father’s death it would appear that his stay at Taxila was prior to his appointment as viceroy at Ujjain and that his appointment to the post of Viceroy at Ujjain was in recognition of his good work at Taxila.
Ashoka (273-232 BC)
Bindusara appointed his eldest son Susima or Sumana as the Viceroy of Taxila and Ashoka at Ujjain. There was a revolt in Taxila during the time of Susima. Bindusara deputed Ashoka to restore order, who successfully completed the mission. He was coronated 4 years after the death of his father Bindusara. According to the Buddhist traditions, he was so cruel in his early life that he killed his 99 brothers to get the throne. But since this statement is based on legend, it may well be wrong.
Ascending the Throne
Although Ashoka came into power in 273 BC, but his coronation took place 4 years later i.e. in 269 BC. After ascending the throne, Ashoka spent several years in extreme pleasure and came to be called as Kamashoka. This was followed by a period of extreme wickedness, which earned the name of Chandasoka. Finally, his conversion to Buddhism earned him the name Dhammasoka.
After his accession to the throne, Ashoka fought only major war, the Kalinga war in the 9 years of his reign. According to Buddhist tradition, 100000 people were killed in this war, several lakhs perished and 150000 were taken prisoners. These numbers are exaggerated since the number a hundred thousand is used as cliché in the Ashokan inscription. The XIIIth Rock Edict describes the horrors and miseries of this war and the deep remorse it caused to Ashoka.
Ashoka was moved by the massacre so much that he abandoned the policy of physical occupation in favour of cultural conquest. The Bhabru inscription states that 2 years after the war, Asoka became an ardent supporter of Buddhism, under the influence of the Buddhist monk Upagupta.
The Dhamma, according to the Ashoka’s edict, is not a religion or religious system, but a moral law (a common code of conduct). In Pillar Edict II, Ashoka himself puts the question ‘what is Dhamma?’ and then enumerates the basic attributes of the Dhamma. Ashoka asked people to show respect towards elders. He further instructed to abstain from the killing of living beings, to maintain the purity of heart and truthfulness.
Ashoka’s Dhamma was completely cosmopolitan, capable of universal application and acceptance as essence of all religions. It was to promote religious tolerance. Ashoka took some measures for the propagation of Dhamma in his empire though his dhamma Mahamattas, undertaking Dhamma by regulation. The Rock Edict XIII and many other edicts describe the code of duties or the practical Dhamma. The main features of Dhamma were
• Susrusa meaning obedience to mother and father, elders, teachers and other respectable persons.
• Apichiti which is respect towars teachers.
• Samratipatti meaning proper conduct towards ascetics, both Brahmanas and Sramanas and towards slaves, servants and dependents.
• Danam liberality towards ascetics, friends, comrades, relatives and the aged.
• Anarambho prananam abstention from killing of living beings.
• Avihimsa Bhutanam non-injury to all living creatures.
• Apa vyayata apa bhandata cha to spend little and to accumulate little.
• Mardavam mildness.
• Satyam truthfulness
• Dhamma-rati attachments to morality
• Bhava-Suddhi purity of heart.
Measures for the Propagation of Dhamma
• Issue of Dhamma lipis and Dhamma stambles.
• Appointment of Dhamma-Mahamatras.
• Preaching of Dhamma.
• Dhamma yatras, Royal tours for the propagation of Dhamma.
• Dhamma mangala Public welfare activities in accordance with the spirit of Dhamma.
• Administrative measures.
Missionaries Sent by Ashoka
|Missionary Name||Country Names|
|Majjhantika||Kashmir and Gandhara|
|Yona Dhammarakkhita||Aparantaka (Northern Gujarat Kathiwar, Kachchh and Sindh|
|Majjhima||Himavanta (Himalayan Region)|
|Sona and Uttara||Suvarnabhumi (Myanmar/Thailand)|
|Mahindra and Sanghamitra||Shri-Lanka|