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Ashoka (273- 232 BC)


After the death of Bindusara in 273 BC Ashoka succeeded to the throne. According to the Buddhist sources his mother was Janapada Kalyani or Subhadrangi. As a prince he served as a victory first at Ujjain and then at Taxila. According to the Buddhist tradition Ashoka was very cruel in his early life and captured the throne after killing his 99 brothers. Ashoka is the first king in the Indian history who has left his records engraved on stones. The history of Ashoka and his reign can be reconstructed with the help of these inscriptions and some other literary sources. The inscriptions on rocks are called Rock edicts and those on pillars, Pillar edicts.


The Ashokan inscriptions are found in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afganistan. Altogether they appear at 47 places. However the name of Ashoka occurs only in copies of Minor Rock Edict I found at three places in Karnataka and one in MP. All other inscriptions refer to him as devanampiya (beloved of the gods) and piyadasi. The inscriptions of Ashoka were written in different scripts. In Afghanistan they were written in Greek and Aramaic languages and script and in Pakistan area in Prakrit language and Kharosthi script. Inscriptions from all other places are in Prakrit language written in Brahmi script.