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Rock Edicts and Pillars of Ashoka

 Rock Edicts of Ashoka: Major and Minors

Rock Edicts and Pillar Edictsof Ashoka
Rock Edicts of Ashok
» Ashoka was the third monarch of the Mauryan dynasty in India, reigning from around 269 BCE.
» Originally a Hindu Monarch, he famously converted to Buddhism and renounced violence soon after being victorious in a gruesome Kalinga War, yet filled with deep remorse for the bloodshed of the war.
» Although he was a major historical figure, little definitive information was known as there were few records of his reign until the 19th century when a large number of his edicts, inscribed on rocks and pillars, were found in IndiaNepalPakistan and Afghanistan.
» The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars of Ashoka as well as boulders and cave walls made by Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan Empire during his reign from 269 BCE to 232 BCE. 
» The Rock Edicts was the first substantial evidence of, how Buddhism spread under the patronage of the most powerful monarchs of Indian history.
» The edicts describe in detail the Ashoka's view about Dhamma, an earnest attempt to solve some of the problems that a complex society faced.
» According to the edicts, the extent of Buddhist proselytism during this period reached as far as the Mediterranean, and many Buddhist monuments were created.
» These edicts were deciphered or decoded by the British archaeologist and historian James Prinsep.
» Edicts were basically decoding of practical instructions in running kingdom such as the irrigation systems design and descriptions of Monarchs beliefs in peaceful moral behaviour.
» In India, Places, where rock edicts were found, are – Kalsi, UttarakhandSoparaMaharashtra; Mount GirnarGujarat; Yerragudi, Andhra PradeshDhauliOrissaJaugadaOrissa
» The inscriptions found in the eastern parts of Mauryan empire are written using the Brahmi script in  Magadhi language.
» While in the western parts of the empire, the script used is Kharoshti, written in Prakrit.
» One extract in the Edict 13 is written in Greek and Aramaic.
» The Edicts are divided into three categories:
1.   Pillar Edicts
2.  Major Rock Edicts: 14 Edicts (termed 1st to 14th) and 2 separate ones found in Odisha
3.  Minor Rock Edicts also called Major Rock Inscriptions: the Queen's Edict, Barabar Caves inscriptions and the Kandahar bilingual inscription.

Pillar Edicts of Ashok

» Asoka’s 7 pillar edicts have been found at Topra (Delhi), Meerut, Kausambhi, rampurva, Champaran, Mehrauli.
» Minor pillar edicts have been found at Sanchi, Sarnath, Rummindei, Nigalisagar.

Pillar Edict I
Asoka’s principle of protection to people

Pillar Edict II
Defines Dhamma as minimum of sins, many virtues, compassion, liberality, truthfulness and purity

Pillar Edict III
Abolishes signs of harshness, cruelty, anger, pride etc

Pillar Edict IV
Deals with duties of Rajukas

Pillar Edict V
List of animals and birds which should not be killed on some days and another list of animals which have not to be killed at all occasions. Describes release of 25 prisoners by Asoka.

Pillar Edict VI
Dhamma Policy

Pillar Edict VII
Works did by Asoka for Dhamma Policy. He says that all sects desire both self-control and purity of mind.

Other Pillars
Rummindei Pillar Inscription
Asoka's visit to Lumbini & exemption of Lumbini from tax.

Nigalisagar Pillar Inscription
It was originally located at Kapilvastu. It mentions that Asoka increased the height of stupa of Buddha Konakamana to its double size.

Major Rock Edicts of Ashoka

» Ashoka's Major Rock Edicts were the first and most impressive, were concerned with practical instructions in running a kingdom such as the design of irrigation systems and descriptions of Ashoka's beliefs in peaceful moral behaviour.
» They contain little personal detail about his life.

The list of Major Rock edicts


Rock Edict I
Prohibits animal slaughter. Bans festive gatherings and killings of animals. Only two peacocks and one deer were killed in Asoka’s kitchen. He wished to discontinue this practice of killing two peacocks and one deer as well.

Major Rock Edict II
Provides for care for man and animals, describes Chola, Pandya, Satyapura and Keralputra Kingdoms of South India

Major Rock Edict III
Generosity to Brahmans. Issued after 12 years of Asoka’s coronation. It says that the Yuktas (subordinate officers and Pradesikas (District Heads) along with Rajukas (Rural officers ) shall go to all areas of kingdom every five years and spread the Dhamma Policy of Asoka.

Major Rock Edict IV
Dhammaghosa is ideal to the mankind and not the Bherighosa. The impact of Dhamma on society.

Major Rock Edict V
Concerns about the policy towards slaves. He mentions in this rock edict ”Every Human is my child”. Appointment of Dhammamahamatras is mentioned in this edict.

Major Rock Edict VI
Describes King’s desire to get informed about the conditions of the people constantly. Talks about welfare measures.

Major Rock Edict VII
Requests tolerance for all religions - “To foster one’s own sect, depreciating the others out of affection for one’s own, to exalt its merit, is to do the worst harm to one’s own sect.”
The Kandahar Greek Inscription is a portion of a Major Rock Edict in Greek, recovered in KandaharAfghanistan, in 1963.

Major Rock Edict VIII
Describes Asoka’s first Dhamma Yatra to Bodhgaya & Bodhi Tree.

Major Rock Edict IX
Condemns popular ceremonies. Stress in ceremonies of Dhamma.

Major Rock Edict X
Condemns the desire for fame and glory. Stresses on the popularity of Dhamma.

Major Rock Edict XI
Elaborates Dhamma Major

Rock Edict XII
Directed and determined request for tolerance among different religious sects. Also written in Greek in the Kandahar Greek Edict of Ashoka (last portion)

Major Rock Edict XIII
It is the largest inscription from the edict.
King considered the victory by "Dhamma" to be the foremost victory; mention the Dhamma victory on the Greek being named Antiochus; it also mentions the Dhamma victory over the following foreign brings- Ptolemy II Philadelphus- King of Egypt ( 285-247 BC) Alexander – King of Epirus (273-255 BC) Antigonus Gonatus- King of Macedonia ( 276-239 BC) Magas - King of Cyrene It also mentions the Dhamma victory in south over the Cholas and Pandyas as far as Ceylon Also written in Greek in the Kandahar Greek Edict of Ashoka (first portion)

Major Rock Edict XIV
Describes engraving of inscriptions in different parts of the country.

Minor Rock Edicts of Ashoka

» These are inscribed on 15 rocks found across India. Minor Rock Edicts have been found at various locations.
» It is interesting to note here that, Ashoka has used his name only at these four places. the Queen's Edict, Maski in Karnataka; at Brahmagiri in Karnataka; at Gujarra in Madhya Pradesh; at Nettur in Andhra Pradesh.
» Queen Edict mentions about the second queen of Asoka
» The Barabar Caves are the oldest surviving rock-cut caves in India, mostly dating from the Maurya Empire (322–185 BCE), some with Ashokan inscriptions, located in the Makhdumpur region of Jehanabad districtBiharIndia, 24 km (15 mi) north of Gaya.
» Barbara Cave Inscription discusses giving away the Barbara cave to Ajivika sect Kandhar
» Maski was studied initially by Robert Bruce Foote in 1870 and 1888. In 1915 C Beadon a mining engineer discovered Ashoka's rock edict here.
» Maski inscription is an Important Inscription in three ways:
1.   It was the first inscription to give both Priyadarshan and Ashoka, thus identifying Ashoka with Priyadarshin found in other edicts.
2.  Before this inscription was discovered various places were identified as Suvarnabhoomi and there was a wide speculation about its location. With this inscription, it was confirmed Suvarnagiri is in Karnataka.
3.  The earliest specimen of glass was found here.

Questions & Answers Asked on Rock Edicts and Pillars of Ashoka

1. Which of the following Ashokan edicts are in Kharosthi script?
     A.  Mansehra and Sahdazgarhi
     B.  Sanchi
     C.  Saranath
     D.  Bhahbru
Answer: A

2. Which of the following Ashokan pillar edict is longest among all the edicts?
     A.  7th Pillar Edict
     B.  6th Pillar Edict
     C.  7th Pillar Edict
     D.  8th Pillar Edict
Answer: A

3. The edict which mentions the Ashoka's faith in buddhism
     A.  Dhauli Edict
     B.  Jaugada Edict
     C.  Bhabru Edict
     D.  Maski Edict
Answer: C

4. Which is the longest among the Major Rock Edicts?
     A.  1st Roct Edict
     B.  13th Rock Edict
     C.  12th Rock Edict
     D.  5th Rock Edict
Answer: B

5. Which of the following are Bilingual-Greek and Aramic-inscription?
     A.  Sanchi Inscription
     B.  Saranath Inscription
     C.  Dhauli Inscription
     D.  Kandhar Inscription
Answer: D

6. The Major Rock Edict which prohibits animal sacrifice
     A.  Fifth Major Rock Edict
     B.  First Major Rock Edict
     C.  Sixth Major Rock Edict
     D.  Seventh Major Rock Edict
Answer: B

7. Dhauli and Jaugada Major Rock Edicts are located in
     A.  Karnataka
     B.  Tamil Nadu
     C.  Kerala
     D.  Orissa
Answer: D

8. Girnar Major Rock Edict located in
     A.  Gujarat
     B.  Karnataka
     C.  Kerala
     D.  Madhya Pradesh
Answer: A

9. Shahbazgarhi and Mansehra inscriptions are located in
     A.  Lahore
     B.  Bhopal
     C.  Peshawar
     D.  Saranath
Answer: C

10. Yerragudi, Rajula Mandagiri and Maski inscriptions are located in
     A.  Karnataka
     B.  Andhra Pradesh
     C.  Tamil Nadu
     D.  Orissa
Answer: A

11. The totel number of pillar Edicts are
     A.  23
     B.  13
     C.  16
     D.  19
Answer: B

12. The total number of Major Rock Edicts
     A.  19
     B.  21
     C.  14
     D.  22
Answer: C

13. Allahabad pillar contains
     A.  Queen`s (Karuvaki) edict
     B.  Prasasti of Samudra Gupta
     C.  Inscription of Jahangir
     D.  All the above
Answer: D

14. Rumindai Pillar Edict is located in
     A.  Nepal
     B.  Burma
     C.  Bihar
     D.  Madhya Pradesh
Answer: A

15. Gujjara Rock Edict was located in
     A.  Kerala
     B.  Bihar
     C.  Madhya Pradesh
     D.  Andhra Pradesh
Answer: C

16. Which Rock Edict of Ashoka provides a description of the horrors of Kalinga War? 
A.     13th Rock Edict
B.     Kalinga Edict at Dhauli
C.     The Edict at Jaugada
D.    l0th Rock Edict
Answer: A

17. Which Minor Rock Edict of Ashoka describes the conquest of Kalinga by Ashoka 
A.     No. X 
B.     No. XI 
C.     No. XII 
D.    No. XIII
Answer: D 

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