Asoka the Great of Mauryan Empire
The Magnificent Ruler from the Mauryan Empire, Ashoka, has a number of achievements during his reign. He was certainly the greatest missionary ruler in the history of the ancient world. He worked with great zeal and devotion to his mission, and achieved a lot, both at home and abroad.
Ashoka brought about the political unification of the India. He bound it further by one dharma, one language and practically one script called Brahmi which was used in most of his inscriptions. In unifying the country he respected such scripts as Brahmi, Kharosthi, Aramaic and Greek. Evidently he also accommodated such languages as Greek, Prakrit and Sanskrit and various religious sects. Ashoka followed a tolerant religious policy. He did not try to foist his Buddhist faith on his subjects. On the other hand he made gifts to non-Buddhist and even anti-Buddhist sects.
Ashoka was fired with zeal for missionary activities. He deputed officials in the far-flung parts of the empire. This helped the cause of administration and also promoted cultural contacts between the developed Gangetic basin and the backward distant provinces. The material culture, typical of the heart of the empire, spread to Kalinga and the lower Deccan and northern Bengal.
Above all Ashoka is important in history for his policy of peace, non-aggression and cultural conquest. He had no model in early Indian history for pursuing such a policy; nor did such an example exist in any country except Egypt where Akhnaton had pursued a pacific policy in the fourteenth century B.C. But it is obvious that Asoka was not aware of his Egyptian predecessor. Although Kautilya advised the king to be always intent on physical conquest Ashoka followed just the reverse policy. He asked his successors to give up the policy of conquest and aggression, which had been followed by the Magadhan princes till the Kalinga war. He counselled them to adopt a policy of peace, which was badly needed after a period of aggressive wars lasting for two centuries. Ashoka consistently stuck to his policy. Although he possessed sufficient resources and certainly maintained, a huge army, he did not wage any war after the conquest of Kalinga. In this sense Ashoka was certainly far ahead of his day and generation.
However, Ashoka's policy did not make any lasting impression on his viceroys and vassals, who declared themselves independent in their respective areas after the retirement of the king in 232 B.C. Similarly the policy could not convert his neighbours, who swooped on the north-western frontier of his empire within 25 years of Ashoka's exit from power in 232 B.C.
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