• Suraj Kadam

Ashoka and his Influence over World and Modern Indian Administration

Source - Photo taken from the book Ashoka: The search of India's Lost Emperor.

India has been land of the great People; warriors, poets, philosophers, academic scholars, emperors etc, who left their mark and have contributed to the development of not only this land but the whole world. But unfortunately, some of them could not get place in the hearts of the people of their home land. One of them is Ashoka the Great, only few of the people alongside Alexander being recognised as the Great. Whereas in India he is recognised as the lost emperor having a little mention in the education and being subject of discussion only for the scholars. But, the great people dont need recognition as their greatness reflects with the work they have done for the society. Ashoka to this date remains a role model not only for India but for the whole world. The very idea of India as a single state nation was the outcome of Ashoka's as he was the first ruler to forge it into one Empire. His was not the conquest by Violence but the conquest by the Dharma (The moral Law). Although, he was not the same if we look at his pre Kalinga period. The Rightful heir to the Magadhan Kingdom after 'Bindusara' was 'Sumana', half brother of him. Ashoka had to get rid of him and other 99 half brothers to declare himself as the ruler. He was so cruel that he was known as 'Chandashoka' (the angry one) and had a his own hell built for torturing the people. After rising to the power he went on to conquer all the neighbouring states by means of violence. His last conquest of Kalinga killed thousands of people. But, after Kalinga war he felt so remorse that he decided from then on he will only carry the conquest by the Dharma. Thereupon he was known as Dhammaashoka' (One who follows Moral Law). What changed his mind is question of debate as many argue over the influence Buddhism had over the Emperor.

Ashoka, after Kalinga war took in hand the work of spreading the message of Dharma by building over 84000 different types of monuments spread all over the sub continent which include Pillar Edicts (PEs), Minor Rock Edicts (MREs), Major Rock Edicts (RE 1-14), Separate Rock Edicts (Kalinga Rock Edicts) and Stupas at sanchi, Sarnath and others. He sent his children Son Mahindra and Daughter Sanghamitra (Being the part of Buddhist Sangha) and other messangers to neighbouring countries so as to convey his message and to spread Buddhism to all over the world. The world today knows India as a Land of Buddha and that credit goes to Ashoka. Keeping in mind almost Annihilation of Buddhism from India, it couldn't have been spread all over the world without the efforts of Ashoka and the world would have had to wait untill few more years to learn the meaning of peace as taught by the Buddha. Now, how does Ashoka Influence Indian Administration? We have been taught the meaning of our tricolor. Saffron is for sacrifice, White for Peace and Green for Prosperity. But, What does the wheel mean? It is called the 'Ashok Chakra' the symbol of the wheel of Moral Law which you can see on the Lion Capital on Pillars built by the orders of Ashoka. Another example is our National Emblem the one with four lions on top and again Ashok Chakra at the bottom with other animal figure as you can see on Lion Capital. Also, Ashok Chakra is an highest honor given in Military for act of bravery to the Soldiers. What is the reason that these Ashokan symbols are adopted by our country?

Source - Photo taken from the book Ashoka: The search of India's Lost Emperor. Indian National emblem and Ashok chakra as on The lion Capital.

Ashoka not only devoted his life for the Religion but also for the welfare of the people. He built trade routes, better facilities for healthcare and Education. Not only he cared about his countrymen but also people of neighbouring countries by providing them the medicines not found in their country. He has all these messages inscribed on the rocks, pillars and other monuments so the monuments he built were not only the places of worship but carried important messages. He told his officers to take care of the people and that he considers the people of his country as his own Children. He also told people to respect each other, parents, elders, priests and do good deeds. Though he promoted Buddhism, he also took care to respect every other religion. Charles Allen in his Book Ashoka: The search for India's Lost Emperor, points out that the the officers that we see in today's Indian Civil Services resemble to the officers of Ashokan Kingdom. And if you compare this with the Constitution of India you will know the impact Ashoka had on the makers of Modern India. They obviously had the picture of Ashokan India as an Ideal Country. The idea of Secular country much in terms resembles with the Ashokan empire of co-existence of all religion with an objective of welfare of the people. When I asked myself questions as to why we have Ashokan symbol on our Tricolor or as the national emblem these are the answers I got.

So yes, people might have forgotten who was this King Ashoka the Great who called himself Devanampiya Piyadasi (Beloved of the Gods and admired by the people) and what he did? Ashoka has left his mark on the World and our country India and we shall at least try to know about him more. He will remain forever if not in the hearts of the people but as a guide to make India the country that we desire.

Thanks for reading!!!

Also Read- Ashoka: The search of India's lost Emperor by Charles Allen

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