Sunday, August 16, 2009

Spread of Buddhism by messages on ROCK,


Spread of Buddhism by messages on ROCK,

The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars of Ashoka, as well as boulders and cave

walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty during his reign from 272 to 231 BC. These

inscriptions are dispersed throughout the areas of modern-day Pakistan, Nepal and India, and represent the

first tangible evidence of Buddhism. The edicts describe in detail the first wide expansion of Buddhism through

the sponsorship of one of the most powerful kings of Indian history. According to the edicts, the extent of

Buddhist proselytism during this period reached as far as the Mediterranean, and many Buddhist monuments were


These inscriptions proclaim Ashoka’s beliefs in the Buddhist concept of dharma and his efforts to develop the

dharma throughout his kingdom. Although Buddhism and the Buddha are mentioned, the edicts focus on social and

moral precepts rather than religious practices or the philosophical dimension of Buddhism.

In these inscriptions, Ashoka refers to himself as “Beloved of the Gods” and “King Priya-darshi.” The

identification of King Priya-darshi with Ashoka was confirmed by an inscription discovered in 1915. The

inscriptions found in the eastern part of India were written in the Magadhi language, using the Brahmi script.

In the western part of India, the language used is closer to Sanskrit, using the Kharoshthi script, one extract

of Edict 13 in the Greek language, and one bilingual edict written in Greek and Aramaic.These edicts were

decodified by British archeologist and historian James Prinsep.

The inscriptions revolve around a few repetitive themes: Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism, the description of

his efforts to spread Buddhism, his moral and religious precepts, and his social and animal welfare program.
In order to propagate the Buddhist faith, Ashoka explains he sent emissaries to the Hellenistic kings as far as

the Mediterranean, and to the peoples throughout India, claiming they were all converted to the Dharma as a

result. He names the Greek rulers of the time, inheritors of the conquest of Alexander the Great, from Bactria

to as far as Greece and North Africa, displaying an amazingly clear grasp of the political situation at the


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