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Ashoka, the great Mauryan Emperor of India use the concept of dhamma to avoid resorting to violence? How?

According to the stories which surround Ashoka, he began his rule in fratricidal bloodshed and violence towards conquered people. Yet within a short period of time, Ashoka changed his policies completely to become a model ruler. By modifying a concept that was well known amongst Hindus, Buddhists and Jains of his time (the concept of dharma, or dhamma), he developed a unique system for governing the largest Indian empire of ancient times. While Ashoka's dhamma policy was avowedly peaceful and paternalistic, it gave India decades of peace in which the country prospered. It was not a vaguely idealistic policy but one which was backed by brilliantly pragmatic statesmanship and public relations.

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According to the stories which surround Ashoka, he began his rule in fratricidal bloodshed and violence towards conquered people. Yet within a short period of time, Ashoka changed his policies completely to become a model ruler. By modifying a concept that was well known amongst Hindus, Buddhists and Jains of his time (the concept of dharma, or dhamma), he developed a unique system for governing the largest Indian empire of ancient times. While Ashoka's dhamma policy was avowedly peaceful and paternalistic, it gave India decades of peace in which the country prospered. It was not a vaguely idealistic policy but one which was backed by brilliantly pragmatic statesmanship and public relations.

Ashoka's predecessors

India has never been isolated from the rest of the world, and this period was no exception. Alexander of Macedon, or Alexander the Great as he is often known, had by 330 B.C. brought the Persian Empire under his effective control. Following victory in Persia, he advanced to India, entering through the Himalayan passes in the north-west. This area of India was very divided, and Alexander found it a fairly simple task to play one state off against another, and bring it under his rule. For the first time in history Indians and Greeks were neighbours. Alexander's troops had been away from home for many years, and were afraid to venture father into India, a land largely unknown to them. Alexander was faced with the possibility of a mutiny by the troops. Having advanced this far, he was forced to turn home toward Greece.

Out of the warfare among the Indian states, the state ruled by Chandragupta Maurya was emerging supreme. Chandragupta was indirectly aided in his expansion in the north-west by Alexander's conquest of a number of states, which were then brought under one leader. When Alexander was forced to leave, Chandragupta moved in. There is some doubt as to the date when Chandragupta first came to the throne, but it seems that he ruled from abut 322-298 B.C. He was succeeded by his son Bindusara, who reigned until 273 B.C. Following Bindusara's death, there is a gap of four years before Emperor Ashoka Maurya, Bindusara's son, was crowned in 269 B.C. From his grandfather and father, Ashoka inherited a very extensive empire.

Ashoka and the Mauryan Empire

In one English writer's list of the six greatest men in history there are two Indians. One is the Buddha. The other is Emperor Ashoka Maurya. Not all historians share this view, but there is no doubt that in many respects Ashoka was a remarkable person.

Buddhist sources consider that Ashoka began his reign as a tyrant and a murderer. They account for the four year period between Bindusara's death and Ashoka's being crowned by ...

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