6.4.7 Aśoka, The Kalinga Edict (261 BCE)


This excerpt comes from an edict (a new law) of King Aśoka of the Maurya Empire in 261 BCE. Shortly after Alexander died, an Indian dynasty founded the Maurya Empire, South Asia’s first big empire. The Mauryas had a policy of cultural exchange and trade with Seleucid Persia. The third Maurya king, Aśoka, conquered almost all of South Asia. He was a faithful Buddhist and wanted to spread the ideas of dhamma, correct behavior to both Hindus and Buddhists, all over his empire. He did this by building many Buddhist stupas, or shrines, and by inscribing his ideas, like this excerpt, on stone pillars. Under the Mauryas, the religion of Buddhism traveled into Persia and Central Asia.

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