Edicts of Ashoka

These inscriptions proclaim Ashoka's adherence to the Buddhist philosophy. The inscriptions show his efforts to develop the Buddhist dhamma throughout his kingdom. Although Buddhism as well as Gautama Buddha are mentioned, the edicts focus on social and moral precepts rather than specific religious practices or the philosophical dimension of Buddhism. These were located in public places and were meant for people to read.

The inscriptions revolve around a few recurring themes: Ashoka's conversion to Buddhism, the description of his efforts to spread Buddhism, his moral and religious precepts, and his social and animal welfare program. The edicts were based on Ashoka's ideas on administration and behaviour of people towards one another and religion.

The Edicts are divided into four categories, according to their size (Minor or Major) and according to their medium (Rock or Pillar). Chronologically, the minor inscriptions tend to precede the larger ones, while rock inscriptions generally seem to have been started earlier than the pillar inscriptions:

Ashoka's Dharma meant that he used his power to try to make life better for his people and he also tried to change the way people thought and lived. He also thought that dharma meant doing the right thing.

Ashoka showed great concern for fairness in the exercise of justice, caution and tolerance in the application of sentences, and regularly pardoned prisoners.

Ashoka advocated restraint in the number that had to be killed for consumption, protected some of them, and in general condemned violent acts against animals, such as castration.

Far from being sectarian, Ashoka, based on a belief that all religions shared a common, positive essence, encouraged tolerance and understanding of other religions.

"param ca tena Atiyogena cature 4 rajani Tulamaye nama Amtekine nama Makā nama Alikasudaro nama"