Ashoka the Great

Topics: Maurya Empire, Gautama Buddha, Ashoka the Great Pages: 2 (1098 words) Published: May 9, 2015
Describe how Ashoka the Great developed as a leader, and the way in which he influenced society. Emperor Ashoka (304 – 232BC) was the third king of the Indian Mauryan dynasty, and is regarded as one of the most exemplary rulers in history. Also known as Ashoka Maurya and Priyadasi, he ruled his kingdom for 38 years, and his empire stretched from the Hindu Kush to the Bay of Bengal. His approach to governance changed direction during the course of his reign and he transformed from the infamous Ashoka the Terrible to being known as the kind and accepting Ashoka the Great. In the first years of his reign, he was known only for his cruelty. Sources mention that Ashoka was of a wicked nature and harsh temper. He was especially known for his enforcement of capital punishment, and his creation of sadistic rules against criminals. One of his most well-known reforms against criminals was the establishment of the prison known as “Ashoka’s Hell”. Ashoka ordered that prisoners should experience the most unimaginable tortures, and none should leave the prison alive. Approximately eight years after his coronation, Ashoka’s armies attacked and conquered Kalinga, a country that loosely corresponds to the modern state of Odisha. The witnessing of violent and vulgar battle, and torturous bloodshed of war and its ramifications horrified Ashoka so much that it brought about a complete change in his personality and approach to the throne, and converted him into an avid Buddhist. Ashoka’s reign would not have felt so significant had he not published his intentions, policies and aspirations through a series of edicts across his empire. These Sanskrit edicts are the strongest primary sources used by historians to learn more about Ashoka the Great and his ruling. Ashoka spent the rest of his years as ruler applying Buddhist principles to the government of his empire. An edict issued by Ashoka soon after the conquest of Kalinga provides evidence of his guilt for the suffering he caused...
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