emperor ashoka

Emperor Ashoka

Emperor Ashoka to a stable and peaceful emperor and he started patronising Buddhism.
21. Rise to Power
The Buddhist text Divyavadana describes Ashoka putting down a revolt due to activities of wicked ministers. This may have been an incident in Bindusaras times. Taranathas account states that Chanakya, one of Bindusaras 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 Bindusaras conquest of the Deccan while others consider it as suppression of a revolt. Following this, Ashoka was stationed at Ujjayini as governor.Bindusaras death in 273 BCE led to a war over succession. According to Divyavandana, Bindusara wanted his son Sushim to succeed him but Ashoka was supported by his fathers ministers, who found Sushim to be arrogant and disrespectful towards them. A minister named Radhagupta seems to have played an important role in Ashokas rise to the throne. The Ashokavadana recounts Radhaguptas offering of an old royal elephant to Ashoka for him to ride to the Garden of the Gold Pavilion where King Bindusara would determine his successor. Ashoka later got rid of the legitimate heir to the throne by tricking him into entering a pit filled with live coals. Radhagupta, according to the Ashokavadana, would later be appointed prime minister by Ashoka once he had gained the throne. The Dipavansa and Mahavansa refer to Ashokas killing 99 of his brothers, sparing only one, named Vitashoka or Tissa although there is no clear proof about this incident (many such accounts are saturated with mythological elements). The coronation happened in 269 BCE, four years after his succession to the throne.
22. Perceptions
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: Buddhism, Brahmanism, Jainism, 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.

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 Buddhas graduated discourse.

23. Foci of debate
Recently scholarly analysis determined that the three major foci of debate regarding Ashoka involve the nature of the Maurya empire; the extent and impact of Ashokas pacifism, and what is referred to in the Inscriptions as dhamma or dharma, which connotes goodness, virtue, and charity. Some historians have argued that Ashokas pacifism undermined the military backbone of the Maurya empire, while others have suggested that the extent and impact of his pacifism have been grossly exaggerated. The dhamma of the Edicts has been understood as concurrently a Buddhist lay ethic, a set of politico-moral ideas, a sort of universal religion, or as an Ashokan innovation. On the other hand, it has also been interpreted as an essentially political ideology that sought to knit together a vast and diverse empire. Scholars are still attempting to analyse both the expressed and implied political ideas of the Edicts (particularly in regard to imperial vision), and make inferences pertaining to how that vision was grappling with problems and political realities of a virtually subcontinental, and culturally and economically highly variegated, 3rd century BCE Indian empire. Nonetheless, it remains clear that Ashokas Inscriptions represent the earliest corpus of royal inscriptions in the Indian subcontinent, and therefore prove to be a very important innovation in royal practices.
24. Death of Ashoka
Ashoka ruled for over 40 years. 50 years after his death, the Mauryan Empire came to an end. He had numerous wives and many heirs but most of their names are lost. Buddhism did not, of course, stay the state religion of India. Still, empowered by Ashoka, Buddhism quickly spread outside of Indias borders into Southeast Asia.Today, the Ashokra Chakra, the Wheel of Dharma, is featured on the national flag of India. Ashoka used this image on many of his constructions. The wheel has 24 spokes which represent: