Asoka, 3 Definition(s)
Ashoka was an Indian emperor, of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from 273 BCE to 232 BCE. Often cited as one of Indias as well as worlds greatest emperors. Ashoka reigned over most of present day India after a number of military conquests.
His empire stretched from present day Pakistan, Afghanistan in the west, to the present day Bangladesh and the Indian state of Assam in the east, and as far south as the brahmagiri in Karnataka. He could conquer the kingdom named Kalinga,which no one in his dynasty could conquer starting from Chandragupt Maurya.
His reign was headquartered in Magadha (present day Bihar, India). He embraced Buddhism from the prevalent Vedic tradition after witnessing the mass deaths of the war of Kalinga, which he himself had waged out of a desire for conquest. He was later dedicated in the propagation of Buddhism across Asia and established monuments marking several significant sites in the life of Gautama Buddha. Ashoka in human history is often referred as the emperor of all ages.
Ashoka was a devotee of ahimsa (nonviolence), love, truth, tolerance and vegetarianism. Ashoka is remembered in history as a philanthropic administrator.In the history of India Ashoka is referred to as Samrath Chakravartin Ashoka- the Emperor of Emperors Ashoka.
1. Asoka - King of Magadha. He was the son of Bindusara. Bindusara had sixteen wives who bore him 101 sons.
The chief Pali sources of information regarding Asoka are Dipavamsa (chaps. i., v., vi., vii., xi., etc.), Mahavamsa (v., xi., xx., etc.), Samantapasadika (pp. 35 ff. ). Other sources are the Divyavadana passim, and the Avadanasataka ii.200ff. For an exhaustive discussion of the sources and their contents see Prszlyski, La Legende de lEmpereur Asoka.
The Pali Chronicles (Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa) mention only three of the sons, viz. Sumana (Susima according to the northern legends) the eldest, Asoka, and Tissa (uterine brother of Asoka) the youngest. The Mahavamsa Tika (p.125; Mbv.98. In the northern tradition, e.g., Asokavadanamala, she is called Subhadrangi, daughter of a brahmin of Campa) gives the name of his mother as Dhamma and calls her Aggamahesi (Bindusaras chief queen); she belonged to the Moriyavamsa. The preceptor of Dhammas family was an Ajivaka called Janasana (which probably explains Asokas earlier patronage of the Ajivakas).
In his youth Asoka was appointed Governor of Avanti with his capital at Ujjeni. The Divy. says he was in Takkasila with headquarters in Uttarapatha, where he superseded Susima and quelled a rebellion. When Bindusara lay on his death bed, Asoka left Ujjeni and came to Pataliputta where he made himself master of the city and possessor of the throne. He is stated in the Mahavamsa (v.20; Mbv.98) to have killed all his brothers except Tissa that he might accomplish his purpose, and to have been called Candasoka on account of this outrage (Mhv.v.189). It is impossible to say how much truth there is in this account of the accession. Asokas Rock Edicts seem to indicate that he had numerous brothers, sisters and relations alive at the time they were written in Pataliputta and other towns (see Mookherji, Asoka, pp. 3-6). His brother Tissa he appointed as his uparaja (Mhv.v.33), but Tissa (q.v.) became a religious devotee attaining arahantship. The Theragatha Commentary refers to another younger brother of Asoka, Vitasoka, who also became an arahant (i.295f. The northern works give quite a different account of his brothers. See Mookherji, p.6).
Asoka had several wives. His first wife was the daughter of a merchant of Vedisagiri, whom he met when stopping at the merchants house on his way to Ujjeni (Mhv.xiii.8ff). Her name was Devi, also called Vedisa Mahadevi, and she was a Sakyan, descended from a Sakyan family who migrated to Vedisa to escape from Vidudabha (Mbv., pp.98, 116). Of Devi were born a son Mahinda, and a daughter Sanghamitta, who became the wife of Aggibrahma and mother of Sumana. Devi evidently did not follow Asoka to Pataliputta, for his aggamahesi there was Asandhamitta (Mhv.v.85).
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1. Asoka - A nun of Natika.
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