Samrat Ashoka: The Greatest King of Maurya Dynasty.
Ashoka was the third emperor of the Maury Dynasty.
“Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history, their majesties and graciousnesses and serenities and royal highnesses and the like, the name of Ashoka shines, and shines, almost alone, a star.” – H.G. Wells.
Ashoka the Great, the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya, was one of the greatest rulers ever in the Indian subcontinent. The king, during his reign from 268 to 232 BCE, built a strong military army and expanded the MauryaEmpire from Bangladesh and Assam in the east to Afghanistan in the west, and Mysore in the south. To be very precise, he conquered the entire subcontinent except the regions of modern-day Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerala. Also, he developed diplomatic relationship with a lot of outside powers across Asia and Europe. The king, after conquering Kalinga, converted to Buddhism witnessing the destructions on the battlefield.
Here are some interesting yet lesser-known facts about Samrat Ashoka:
The name Ashoka (A-Shoka) means “without sorrow” in the Sanskrit language.
As par some historians, Ashoka killed all his brothers to ascend the throne.
He was very much short-tempered and ruthless since childhood. This got him the name ‘Chand Ashoka’.
Ashoka got extensive training in weaponry at a very young age. Thus, he became the Viceroy of Avanti (a region in Ujjaini) at the age of 18. There, he fell in love with a woman named Devi. The two got married and gave birth to two children Mahinda and Sanghamitra.
During Ashoka’s reign, the Maurya Empire became the largest empire in the Indian subcontinent.
The king had 14 edicts in stone pillars placed at some strategic locations across the state.
Samrat Ashoka was also known as Samrat Chakravartin (means “the emperor of emperors”), Priyadarśin (means “he who regards everyone with affection”), Devānāmpriya (means “the beloved of God”) etc.
Ashoka conquered the state of Kalinga (present-day Odisha) in 260 BCE. More than 1,00,000 people lost their lives in the Kalinga war. Seeing the massive deaths, the king got extremely saddened and converted to Buddhism. Then, he devoted his life in spreading the messages of tolerance and non-violence across the world.
To promote the teachings of Buddhism, he sent a number of Buddhist monks to Sri Lanka and several countries in Central Asia. Also, he sent his son Mahinda and daughter Sanghamitra to Ceylon for the same purpose.
Ashoka constructed 84,000 stupas or viharas to spread Buddhism. All these stupas were completed on the same day.
He built several Pillars, known as the ‘Dharma Stambhas’, at various parts of the kingdom.
After Ashoka’s death, the Maurya Empire started declining due to the succession of some unworthy emperors.