Monday, July 30, 2007

Ashoka The Great

Ashoka is one of the greatest emperors that are known to Indian History. The great Ashoka was the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya and son of King Bindusar. The land that this Dynasty ruled stretched far and wide. From Himalayas in the north to Mysore in the south, From Afghanistan in the North West to the the Mighty Banks of Brahmaputra in the east, and in the west the territories of Junagarh and Saurhastra.

Ashoka was born in 294 BC and was the second son to Bindusara. But because of his efficiency the ministers of his kingdom preferred him as a heir to his fathers throne. Ashoka was a very good king and had all the qualities of a good administrator. It first took around 3 years for him to bring peace to his kingdom and formally accept the throne. After this he did a number of things to make his country prosperous. He made a lot of advancements in science and technology, surgery, medicine and also a lot of work for advancement of religion in his kingdom.

Ashoka was very assiduous in his noble work and the testimony to this fact is that he never took his meal unless and until he had fed a thousand pilgrims. A great Philanthropist, Ashoka wanted that his people always remain truthful and honest. Stealing and other forms of crime were rarely heard of during his rule.

The war of Kalinga was a watershed event in the life of Ashoka. Kalinga was a small and prosperous kingdom situated between the river Mahanadi and Godavari. Kalinga had a very strong army with 600 elephants, 10,000 horsemen, and 60,000 men. The people of Kalinga never wanted to give up without war. So Ashoka first encircled the whole kingdom and the battle ensued. Kalinga was the first as well as the last battle for Ashoka. It is because of this battle he received the name of Ashoka the Great.

In the battle many people were killed and numerous injured. The scale of violence was very massive in this battle. When Ashoka visited the site of battlefield amidst the corpses and the injured his heart and mind got completely broken, crippled. He realized that the condition in the battlefield was only because of his greed. After this, what the Ashoka that came out was a different one. He vowed never to wage a war again.

Ashoka embraced Buddhism after this and his philanthropic works grew at a large scale. He did everything that he could to serve human kind from constructing shade houses for travelers to even clinics for animals and birds. So great was his work thereafter that he earned the pseudonym of Devanamapriya Priyadarshi. Ashoka died in the year 232 BC leaving a definite mark of his in Indian History.