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Ashoka occupies a unique place in the history of world civilization
King Ashoka map
Great King Ashoka's place in History
King Ashoka occupies a unique place in the history of world civilization. He was an apostle of peace and non- violence. The horrors of the Kalinga war convinced him that it was an absolute wrong and thenceforth he turned to other fields of conquest – the conquest of Right and not of Might. His foreign missions were in the nature of welfare work among the people of other countries.
Ashoka states in one of his inscription that as a king he considers it his duty or Dharma to look after the material as well as the moral welfare of his subjects. As one part of his own dharma as a king, he launched various public welfare activities. As another part, he adopted measures to promote virtue and morality among his subjects.
He banned animal sacrifice and also prohibited the killing of many kinds of birds and animals. He also banned certain festivals known as `Samajas' in which people used to indulge in drinking, gambling and other undesirable activities. But, most important of all, he widely propagated his own view of dharma among his subjects by getting it engraved on rocks and pillars all over his kingdom.
Ashoka wanted that due respect should be shown to parents, elders, teachers and men of religion. His Minor Rock Edict II carries the inscription, `Father and mother must be given respectful attention .... Guru (teachers) must be respected'.
Ashoka condemned useless ceremonies relating to birth, marriage or death.true ceremonies, in his opinion, comprised, `humane treatment of slaves and servants; listening to parents and teachers; cordiality towards friends and relatives; respect for ascetics and abstinence from killing of living creatures'. In a nutshell, Ashoka's dharma laid emphasis on simple living, high thinking and a good moral life.
Emperor Ashoka in Sannathi
The Mauryan Emperor
The empire of the Mauryas has declined rapidly after Ashoka
By the fourth century BC., rulers of Magadha had succeeded in defeating all their principal rivals and had established an empire extending from Gujarat to the Bay of Bengal and from the foothills of the Himalayas in the North to at least as far as the river Godavari in the south. Bimbisara (sixth century BC) his son Ajatshatru (fifth century BC) and Mahapadma Nanda (fourth century BC) were the three among the rulers of Magadha who made major contributions to the extension of the Magadha empire.
Post – Mauryan India
The empire of the Mauryas has declined rapidly after Ashoka. His successors were unable to stop it from break up. Conspiracies and factions have almost always been a part of the history of dynastic rule. In about 184 BC., one Pushyamitra Shunga, the Commander – in – Chief of the Mauryan army and leader of one of the factions murdered Brihadratha, the last Mauryan king, captured the throne and founded the Shang dynasty.
Pushyamitra abandoned the facifist policy of the Mauryas and recaptured some of the lost provinces of the Magadhan empire. However, the gains made by the Shugnas did not last long. The last Shunga king too was murdered by one of his officials. By the end of the first century BC., the Magadhan empire had ceased to exist. A new and powerful dynasty known as the Satavahana was founded in the Deccan (Maharashtra and Andhra) by one Simuka during the closing years of first century BC. Deccan proposed under the reign of famous rulers of that dynasty like Gautamiputra Satakarni, Vasishtiputra Pulumavi and Shri Yahna Satakarni. However, the Satavahana territory was repeatedly invaded by the Shakas during their reign of about more than two conutries. In about 250 AD western Deccan saw the rise of another powerful dynasty known as the Vakatakas.
Beginning with the second century BC., northern India was invaded by a number of people and tribes from the Central Asian region. The first of these was Demetrius, the Greek rulers of Bacteria who invaded India in about 175 BC. Demetrius and his successors conquered and ruled over NWFP, Punjab, Multan, Sindh and Balochistan during the second and first centuries BC.