In Asoka's Footsteps

By Nina Van Gorkom

  Some three hundred years after the Buddha’s passing away, Asoka, the great king of the Mauryan Empire, in the twentyfirst year of his reign, in 249 B.C. , undertook a pilgrimage to all the holy places. Asoka was the third ruler of the first truly Indian Empire of the Mauryan dinasty which, at the end of Asoka’s reign, stretched all the way from the Hindu Kush, in today’s Afghanistan, in the West, to the Bay of Bengal in the East and from the Himalayans in the North to somewhere North of Madras in the South. The first years of his reign were reputedly harsh but after the conquest of the Kingdom of Kalinga, Asoka was filled with remorse and he proclaimed the  Law of Piety. It was at that time that he converted to a devoted Buddhist. From that time on he did not cease to inspire and exhort his subjects to apply the Dhamma. He governed his vast empire in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings, as can still be witnessed by the numerous “rock edicts” which are preserved. A copy of one of them is placed at the entrance of the National Museum in New Delhi.

Topic  26
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Update  18 Oct 2016