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Related to Ashoka the Great: Alexander the Great, Chandragupta Maurya


(əsō`kə), d. c.232 B.C., Indian emperor (c.273–c.232 B.C.) of the MauryaMaurya
, ancient Indian dynasty, c.325–c.183 B.C., founded by Chandragupta (Chandragupta Maurya). He conquered the Magadha kingdom and established his capital at Pataliputra (now Patna). His son, Bindusara (d. c.
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 dynasty; grandson of ChandraguptaChandragupta
(Chandragupta Maurya) , fl. c.321 B.C.–c.298 B.C., Indian emperor, founder of the Maurya dynasty and grandfather of Asoka. He conquered the Magadha kingdom (in modern Bihar and Jharkhand) and eventually controlled all India N of the Vindhya Hills. In c.
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. One of the greatest rulers of ancient India, he brought nearly all India, together with Baluchistan and Afghanistan, under one sway for the first time in history. According to legends, after his bloody conquest (c.261 B.C.) of the state of Kalinga, Asoka was remorseful for the suffering he had inflicted; accepted BuddhismBuddhism
, religion and philosophy founded in India c.525 B.C. by Siddhartha Gautama, called the Buddha. There are over 300 million Buddhists worldwide. One of the great world religions, it is divided into two main schools: the Theravada or Hinayana in Sri Lanka and SE Asia, and
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 and abandoned wars of conquest. Knowledge of Asoka's rule is obtained chiefly from the many boulders and pillars inscribed with his pious exhortations; a notable example is at SarnathSarnath
, archaeological site, SE Uttar Pradesh, India, 4 mi (6.4 km) N of Varanasi (Benares). It is the site of the deer park (mrigadawa) where, according to tradition, Buddha first preached. Buddhist monuments include an inscribed pillar (3d cent. B.C.
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. In these inscriptions, he proclaimed his belief in ahimsa, or nonviolence and advocated tolerance of all faiths. He erected numerous Buddhist monasteries and stupas, regulated the slaughter of animals, and softened the harsh laws of his predecessors. He sent Buddhist missionaries throughout India and its adjacent lands and as far as Syria, Egypt, and Greece. His own son or brother headed the mission to Ceylon (Sri Lanka). It is said that under his auspices a great Buddhist convocation was held at his capital, Pataliputra; its purpose was probably to suppress heresy and to confirm the Buddhist canon. India prospered and art flourished under the reign of Asoka, who, beyond his many imperial accomplishments, is most celebrated for his elevation of Buddhism from a simple Indian sect to a world religion. After his death the Mauryan empire swiftly declined.


See studies by V. A. Smith (1909, repr. 1964), R. Thapar (1961), R. D. Mookerji (3d ed. 1962), B. G. Gokhale (1966), and J. Strong (1989).

References in periodicals archive ?
Just as Ashoka the Great was not driven by any religious zeal when he painted Kalinga red with the blood of its people, Muslim conquerors were not on a proselytizing mission.
Motihari/ Rampurva (Bihar), Dec 24 (ANI): Ashoka Pillars erected at several locations by the Mauryan ruler Ashoka the Great are regarded with historical reverence in India.
The festival which spins around the theme of "War to Peace," has an apt venue as it was at the Dhauli hills that the legendary Indian Emperor Ashoka the Great fought his last and most gruesome war before forsaking the battleground forever, converting to Buddhism and turning into an apostle of peace.