Emperor Ashoka in our Backyard: Deciphering the Rock Edicts and the Law of Piety

Posted on February 3, 2008
Filed Under >Mast Qalandar, History, Travel
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Mast Qalandar

If you think it was the MMA who tried to introduce the “law of morality” in the Frontier province of Pakistan (NWFP), think again!

A “law of morality” was first introduced in the region much, much before the MMA or the Taliban appeared on the scene. Even before Pakistan, before the British and before the Moguls. And even before Islam – and before Jesus!

It was Emperor Ashoka (died 238 BC) who first introduced what he called the “Law of Piety” sometime in the third century BC. He even introduced “moral agents”, the equivalent of the MMA’s proposed “vice and virtue squads”, to enforce his Law of Piety.

There were important differences, though, between Ashoka’s Law of Piety and MMA’s Hasba Bill and their methods of enforcement. But that is not the subject of this post. The post is about the presence of Emperor Ashoka and his “Rock Edicts” in the NWFP, the geographic backyard of Pakistan where innumerable treasures from the past are dumped by history.

I guess the readers at ATP would know from their history books that Ashoka was a grandson of Chandra Gupta Mauria and the third king of the Mauria dynasty. His empire, with its capital at Patna (Pataliputra), in Eastern India, extended up to and including the present day Afghanistan.

After a particularly bloody war in Kalinga (Orissa), Ashoka renounced all kinds of violence and converted to Buddhism. He even started propagating Buddhism actively. He formulated what was called the Law of Piety, a set of rules of conduct and governance, and started enforcing it throughout his empire. In the absence of any means of mass communication, he disseminated his message by edicts inscribed in the language of the time, which has been variously named as Brahmi, Kharoshthi and Pali, upon rock surfaces and pillars of polished sandstone. These rocks and pillars stood by the major highways of Ashoka’s empire.

After Ashoka‘s death the Maurian empire fell apart and, except in Buddhist circles where he was remembered as a great patron of the faith, Ashoka was largely forgotten both by history and Indian tradition.

It was only in the mid nineteenth century when a large number of rocks and pillars bearing Ashoka’s edicts came to light. The rocks and pillars were discovered at sites spread across Northern India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A British researcher, James Princep (d 1838), painstakingly translated these inscriptions into English. It was through these translations that the world rediscovered Ashoka and came to the conclusion that he was a great king. H.G. Wells describes him in these words:

In the history of the world there have been thousands of kings and emperors who called themselves ‘their highnesses,’ ‘their majesties,’ and ‘their exalted majesties’ and so on. They shone for a brief moment, and as quickly disappeared. But Ashoka shines and shines brightly like a bright star, even unto this day.

Ashoka Rock Edict, Mansehra, PakistanOf all the rock sites discovered two are in Pakistan, both in the NWFP, one in village Shahbaz Garhi, district Mardan and the other in Mansehra along the Karakuram Highway. (One site is Kandhar, Afghanistan and the remaining in Nepal and India.)

While the world rediscovered Ashoka in the mid 19th century, I discovered him, or rather his edicts, only last year when I stopped by at the “Ashoka’s Rocks” in Mansehra while on my way to Balakot. Actually, I had seen these rocks even before but was never able to read the translation of the edicts provided at the site. It was extremely difficult to read and unintelligible. I will explain shortly why.

The Ashoka’s rocks at Mansehra lie at a hillside along the Karakoram Highway. These are huge, grey, rounded granite boulders, few among the numerous similar boulders scattered all over the hill, which must have been deposited here many thousands of years ago, the result of a volcanic eruption or some other geologic event.

Only 3 rocks have the edicts engraved upon them, two in one place and one about 100 yards away across the highway.

Until the 1970s these rocks lay there exposed to the elements and humans. Other than a neglected signboard on the roadside that said “Ashoka inscribed rocks” and showed an arrow pointing to the hill, the rocks went largely unnoticed and unprotected.

Ashoka Rock Edict, Mansehra, PakistanAshoka Rock Edict, Mansehra, Pakistan

During the 1970s the Karakoram Highway was built following the footprints of the fabled and ancient silk route that connected the East with the West. The highway brought increased tourist traffic to the Northern Areas and, suddenly, it seems, the archaeology department woke up to the presence of the “Ashoka Rocks” in the area.

Mercifully, canopies were built over the rocks to protect them from the sun and the rain. They also built a gated enclosure around the rocks and, as if an afterthought, installed a signboard at the site giving an English translation of the edicts.

However, it seems, the person in charge of the project did not have enough money in the budget to provide a large enough board to accommodate the whole text of the edicts. Consequently, M. Shabbir Rahi (that was the name of the painter. I found it signed in a corner of the board), tried to squeeze the total text into the space available to him. He did this by writing the whole text (except the headline) as one continuous sentence by doing away with spaces between words.To complicate matters further, Mr. Rahi decided to capitalize the first letter of every word. This was his way of indicating a space between words. To further economize on space he even dropped words from some sentences making them incoherent and unintelligible. Now you know, why I was unable or unwilling to read the edicts on my earlier trips.

This time I made a determined effort to decipher the message on the board. I took a picture of the text, copied it on paper and then broke it into independent sentences. (I guess, translating from the original Brahmi or Pali text into English would not have been much more difficult.) Anyway, here is the result:

  • The general theme of the edicts is moderation and gentleness. This lesson the king had learnt from the misery and destruction caused by his early conquests of Kalingas of Eastern India.
  • Now even animals should be spared. Formerly, in the royal kitchen, each day, many thousands of living creatures were slaughtered to make curries. But now only three creatures, namely two peacocks and one deer, are killed daily, and deer not always. And in time, not even these three creatures will be killed.
  • And more positive steps had also been taken. Healing herbs had been used alike for men and beasts. Trees had been planted and wells dug beside the roads.
  • Moral agents, censors of the Law of Piety, had been appointed to inculcate obedience, liberty and avoiding excess among all classes of the empire and even amongst neighboring peoples.
  • But all this goodwill must be combined with efficiency. For a long time past, business had not been disposed of, nor have reports been received promptly at all hours. The laxity would cease in future. The king would be available at all hours of the day or night. Work must be done for public benefit — for no other end than this.
  • That I may debt to animate beings, and that while I may make some happy in this world they may in the next world gain heaven.
  • For better contacts with his subjects, the king had replaced the former royal tours of pleasure by tours devoted to piety, beholding the country and the people and proclaiming the law of virtue.
  • Silly customs should be abandoned. On occasions of sickness, weddings, births, deaths and the like womankind perform many corrupt and worthless ceremonies. But the only ceremonies worthwhile are the ceremonies of piety, kind treatment of slaves and servants.
  • Honor to teachers, respect for life, liberality to ascetics and Brahmins.
  • In brief, let there be tolerance and glorification of the Law of Piety.

Ashoka Rock Edict, Mansehra, PakistanIf there were a suggestion box at the site I would have liked to make three suggestions and ask a question. While the suggestions are addressed to the Archaeology Department or whoever looks after these rock sites, the question is addressed to whoever cares to answer.

1. Please find a proper translation of the edicts and write them properly on a larger board. If necessary, use two boards. (You may use the services of M. Shabbir Rahi again, if he is still in business, but ensure that he uses conventional method of writing English.)

2. Also, show Urdu translation on a separate board for those who cannot read English.

3. And please do something (I am sure there must be a way) to protect the engraved letters from fading away. They are already weathered and barely visible.

Now the question: How come, this region, which has seen so many sires, sages, saints and soofis preach tolerance and non-violence, more than in any other part of the world, is faced with so much intolerance and violence?

Photo Credits: Map from here. Photographs of the site rock site itself by the author himself and can be seen here.

60 Comments on “Emperor Ashoka in our Backyard: Deciphering the Rock Edicts and the Law of Piety”

  1. Daktar says:
    February 3rd, 2008 2:03 am

    Another good post. Thank you. I am glad that there is some attempt at taking care of these artifacts (with the cover) but that board would be funny if it was not sad. I suggest that if we can figure out who is responsible for upkeeping the board, we can just do a collection here on this blog and offer to pay for a properly written board like the one you suggest. DO you know who one would have to talk to?

  2. February 3rd, 2008 2:36 am

    Great article about the artifacts and we all agree the government should take good care of these invaluable treasures.

    In all humility may I be improdent enought to suggest some detail on the history of the region.

    Asoka of course not the first one who gave us “The Law of piety”. Before Asoka, it was Buddha about 600BC.

    Before Buddha it was Hamu Rabbi thousands of years ago in Sumer (Iraq) before Asoka entered the realm of reality.


  3. February 3rd, 2008 3:59 am

    I have seen that place, it’ awe-inspiring, and this post has enabled me to correlate many things of what I saw there.

    Ghazala Khan
    The Pakistani Spectator

  4. Arif says:
    February 3rd, 2008 8:01 am

    Thanks for this very informative post. Many people in Pakistan pretend as if nothing happened here before the advent of Islam. The land where we live now has always been an active center of learning and culture.

    However the most puzzling part is how this “unholy” thing has so far managed to escape the attention of self-styled guardians of pure Islam.

  5. Hasan Mahmood says:
    February 3rd, 2008 8:41 am

    A nation that does not value its history and culture is bound to be confused about its identity. The information I gained from this article has made me a prouder Pakistani. What did Asoka say that was so un-islamic that we can nto honor it? This land has been there much much much before islam showed up. It makes no sense for us not to honor pre-islamic history. Peace.

  6. AHsn says:
    February 3rd, 2008 8:53 am

    Very good post. My sincere conratulations.

    For your three questions concerning the Archaeology Information, I think the the Department of Archaeology of the University of Pashawar and the Director of the Peshawar Musuem should be helpful.

    About two thousand years before Ashoka there was already a highly civilised and peaceful society that existed in the region of Indus Valley. Moenjodaro gives a glimpse of that period.

    As for the question:

    “How come, this region, which has seen so many sires, sages, saints and soofis preach tolerance and non-violence, more than in any other part of the world, is faced with so much intolerance and violence?”, I have no direct answer but another direct question.

    All these sages, saints and soofis tried their best but they failed to change a Human into an Angel. The fault and the default of a human is a natural gift which can not be changed by another human. We know that Arabs are the descendants of Peophet Abraham. After him many other prophets came in different regions of Arab peninsula. Today, are they (Arabs) any better than the people of Indus Valley who had to content themselves with sages, saints and soofis?

    Thanks for this beautiful post.

  7. ISMAIL says:
    February 3rd, 2008 10:19 am

    I like the idea of us chipping in and getting a new board painted. If we find the official track on this I am sure finding teh money will not be a problem.

  8. sacre_vache says:
    February 3rd, 2008 11:36 am

    Very enlightening post – restores my faith in the essential goodness of humanity. A minor quibble, Kharoshti and Brahmi are ancient scripts of Sanskrit and Pali; Pali being the vernacular the Buddha preached in. James Prinsep was the first to decipher the Kharoshti script – a feat no less than the deciphering of the hieroglyphs in Egypt. Unfortunately he does not get the recognition he deserves for this feat.
    As an aside, since we are on the subject of Pakistan’s pre Islamic past – how many people in Pakistan are aware of the great Sanskrit grammarian, Panini who flourished in Mardan and Taxila? Perhaps the greatest computational linguistic till the advent of Noam Chomsky. Sad to say the two greatest figures of science produced by Pakistan are held in scant respect by the powers that be- Panini for being an ‘infidel’ (Hindu) and Abdus Salam for being heterodox (Ahmadi). So sad.

  9. sok says:
    February 3rd, 2008 1:09 pm

    Good, informative article. Keep up the incidence of such posts.

  10. Rashid says:
    February 3rd, 2008 1:36 pm

    Answer to Mast Qalander question:

    Now the question: How come, this region, which has seen so many sires, sages, saints and soofis preach tolerance and non-violence, more than in any other part of the world, is faced with so much intolerance and violence?

    Answer: When the elected leaders and government of Pakistan in order to gain political capitol and to deprive politico-religious forces of the

  11. Kabir Das says:
    February 3rd, 2008 3:44 pm

    Another excellent post. Equally good are the comments on this post so far. I hope while discussing this post we do not digress and end up discussing Mush as usual.
    The scribe has asked a very pertinent and thought provoking question at the end of the post which must be addressed. I would like to give this question some more thought before suggesting an answer . Off the cuff I would say the answer lies in genetic characterstics (nature)of a person or race which get passed on to next generation without change and acquired charcterstics (nurture) which do not get passed on to next generation as such. I may elaborate on this some other time. AHsn’s counter question is also pointing in this direction.
    I agree with the comments of Rashid. They are relevent to the question which has been asked at the end of the post. However, I will slightly disagree with him and say Allah has nothing to do with it and wouldn’t call it as a collective punishment. It is just the result of chickens coming home to roost which you may call as a law of nature. That is all.

  12. anjaan says:
    February 3rd, 2008 4:45 pm

    Honouring jahiliyat is anti-Islamic. Why does this site insist on speaking positively of everything except Pakistan or Islam or Musharraf? And anyone who thinks otherwise is roundly condemned? Be proud of who you are, be proud of being Pakistani and above all, be proud of being Muslim! Stop this butparasti!

  13. February 3rd, 2008 4:47 pm

    I added another post “Why Buddhism did not survive in the Subcontinent” from my archives on my blog.

    The language of the Indus Valley (present day Pakistan) were in Harappan script not Sanskrit. See our article “Pakistan existed 5000 years ago” with maps about the IVC and the other super powers.

    Ashoka’s posts were not in Sanskrit. Of course Sanskrit came much later as listed on my blog with details.

    Kindly visit it and see:


  14. Rashid says:
    February 3rd, 2008 5:00 pm


    AHsn writes:

  15. February 3rd, 2008 5:08 pm
  16. February 3rd, 2008 6:34 pm

    excellent post by MUST CALANDER.

    thanks for sharing this at ATP

  17. Bhindigosht says:
    February 3rd, 2008 7:31 pm

    In answer to your question, one of the answers may be that our school textbooks stopped teaching Chandra Gupta Maurya and co. after that Merde-Momin, Zia -ul-Haq started making true Muslims of us.
    Anjaan’s comment above is, in itself , another answer .

  18. Arif says:
    February 3rd, 2008 8:17 pm

    @anjaan says:

    “Honouring jahiliyat is anti-Islamic. Why does this site insist on speaking positively of everything except Pakistan or Islam or Musharraf?”

    Welcome brother! I was so anxious to see that so far there had not been any comment from “saviours” of Islam. Now that you have come on board, we are assured that Pakistan’s future is in safe hands!

  19. bilal says:
    February 3rd, 2008 11:19 pm

    Anjaan I fully agree with you bro, what else do we need apart from our holy book? Truth can make no compromises, while it is ok to preserve ancient rocks for tourism etc, associating any spiritual value to them is futile as there is no scope to attaching spirituality on anything else apart from the direct edict of Allah SWT.

    May Allah SWT guide our fellow brothers in being passionate and honest in our own deen. And with all due respects, the truth is that after Islam, anything prior to it was already made obsolete and was overridden, and there is an old saying that there is no use of flogging a dead horse.

  20. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:
    February 4th, 2008 9:35 am

    Another wonderful post Qalandar Sahab. Every now and then we need to remind ourselves that before we became Muslims we were Buddhists and Islam has no monopoly on morality or piety. How is that we Pakistanis are willing to embrace three thousand years old moral code originated from Judea, Samaria and Mesopotamia but refuse to acknowledge similarly ancient moral code proclaimed by Buddha in our own backyard.

  21. February 4th, 2008 10:32 am

    Artifacts such as Ashoka’s Rocks are the heritage of the subcontinent and should be preserved. Regarding a general lack of awareness in this respect, I feel the Education (or lack of it) has a lot to do with it. For my generation, History of the Subcontinent (in school) started with Mohammed Bin Qasim. There was next to nothing taught the students about the ancient cultures in the region and their accomplishments. The acknowledgement of th latter does not mean that they are necessarily objects of spiritual reverence to the majority of Pakistanis today. But they still are our cultural heritage and responsibility to preserve for all humanity.

    As an aside, Muslim do not prostrate before the black stone in Ka’aba; they do touch/kiss it. In the words of Umar(RA),”I wouldn’t do it except I have seen Allah(SWT)’s Apostle do it”. Let us not go overboard with misconceptions please.

  22. February 4th, 2008 1:48 pm

    Mast Qalander,

    What a post and what a treasure.

    The Frontier has so many secrets I knew nothing about.

    I wish we can save such treasures and bring overseas tourists to marvel at our glorious history, it will benefit all involved.



  23. Mustafa says:
    February 4th, 2008 4:49 pm

    No point having discussion with westernized Muslims. They have become so blind in their pursuit of worldly gains that they forget that this world is only a test. They are ready to replace Islam with paganism and Prophet (SAW) with any Tom, Dick and Harry, if it can give them a liberal tag!

  24. shahran says:
    February 4th, 2008 5:16 pm

    Great post, I will make a point to visit it.

    Also BTW, Ashoka is still remembered in india as the indian rupee has its “Ashok Ki Latt” or the stick of Ashok on almost all the notes.

    Ashok was the same king who has a genius advisor called “Chankayah” who wrote the famous book “Arth Shastar” that teaches Machiavilian practises to the rulers from deception to conspiracies and what not.

  25. Sridhar says:
    February 4th, 2008 7:10 pm


    The national emblem of India, that is on all bank notes etc. is actually not “Ashoka Ki Latt”, but an image of Ashoka’s lion capital at Sarnath. More information about it is at the following site:


    The wheel on this lion capital – also known as “Ashok Chakra” – is on the national flag of India.

    Also, Chanakya, who was the author of Arthashastra (translated as “The science of economics”) was the minister of Chandragupta Maurya, not of Ashoka. He lived and taught in the University at Takshashila (current day Taxila) and was supposed to be instrumental in the formation of Chadragupta Maurya’s empire.

  26. shahran says:
    February 4th, 2008 8:04 pm


    Thank you for the correction.

    I guess Ashoka is not forgotten atleast in india.

    BTW, is it true that Nehru used to keep Chankayah’s book on his bedside ?

  27. Masood says:
    February 4th, 2008 8:23 pm

    Those who are shedding tears on poor upkeep of Buddhist relics, have they ever seen the poor condition of their mosques? I see people here ready to collect money for providing a new board at site. I wish they had same passion for their islamic heritage too. In Pakistan, you are a liberal if you keep spending money on non-islamic things. The moment you ask the same for an islamic site, you are labeled as fundamentalist.

  28. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:
    February 5th, 2008 9:36 am

    Question is raised that why the history of Pakistan starts with Mohammad bin Qasim. Why not? It is the starting point of Muslim presence in the Indian sub-continent and hence the logical point of start of Muslin period in South Asia, a precursor to Pakistan. But that is not to say that there is no pre-Islamic historic period within the boundaries of Pakistan. History books coming out of Pakistan do cover that period as well, perhaps not as much in detail as some will like to see. We in Pakistan must embrace all of our history. Ashok is as much part of Pakistan history as are Alexander the Great, Akbar the Great and Queen Victoria. Historical monuments from all periods must be preserved for our future generations. It will make us so much richer and no less Pakistani, or Muslims if you wish. We must not relinquish to others what is rightfully ours.

  29. libertarian says:
    February 5th, 2008 10:03 am

    shahran: I guess Ashoka is not forgotten atleast in india.

    Certainly not. He’s one of the 3 giants: Ashoka, Akbar and Gandhi.

  30. MQ says:
    February 5th, 2008 10:59 am

    You have really driven the point home with your earlier comment when you say: “…

  31. bongdongs says:
    February 5th, 2008 11:44 am


    I must try and correct some impressions about Chanakya I get from reading some Pakistani bulletin boards:

    1) Chanakya and his “Arthashatra” are almost unknown booksin India. There was a TV series on Chanakya sometime in the ’80′s and that probably all that most Indian’s know about him.

    2) Maybe “Arthashatra” is part of the reading for Indian diplomats or foreign service officers but thats just one among several sources they read. I’m sure people like Kisssinger, Haig, Sun-Tzu or Clauswitz must feature on that list.

    What I mean to say is “Arthashatra” is probably one of the sources of modern Indian statecraft but has no special or “elated” place or is some manual to turn to.

    4) If you read Nehru’s own writing, specially his “Discovery of India” its difficult to believe in his being a big believer in Machiavellian statecraft.

  32. Sridhar says:
    February 5th, 2008 1:46 pm

    Also, I see that in Pakistan, Nehru is seen as a Michiavellian strategist. In India, on the other hand, he is remembered as more of an idealist than a realist. A popular leader whose 17 years at the helm gave stability during the initial difficult period. Somebody who gave a great foundation for democracy and for a modernized society. An institution builder, who was instrumental in the formation of the Parliamentary tradition in India, and also built world-class higher educational institutions like the IITs, ISI (Indian Statistical Institute) and the IIMs. But also somebody who messed up foreign policy and economic policy in a big way. He is thought to have allowed idealism to dictate policy, with detrimental consequences for decades to come. His politics, while inclusive, was often informed by the same idealism rather than realism. Certainly not the characteristics of somebody who slept with the Arthashastra under his head.

    Ashoka, Akbar and Gandhi are indeed considered the three giants of Indian history (even though you will find quite a few Indians who disagree with the inclusion of Gandhi in that group). Both Ashoka and Akbar usually have the suffix “the Great” attached to their names. Gandhi has the prefix Mahatma (Great Soul) attached to his name. But what binds them together is that all three are remembered for their advocacy of tolerance and compassion. Ashoka was perhaps the first monarch in history to make compassion towards not just all human beings, irrespective of their beliefs, but also towards all living beings the centerpiece of state policy.

  33. Asif Beg says:
    February 5th, 2008 4:32 pm

    Now that we have shed enough tears on Ashoka’s edicts, can we start looking at the real issues again? I mean, deterioration of Ashoka’s edicts is not the greatest problem facing Pakistan today. And as some Indian commentators have pointed out India is already taking good care of other edicts of Ashoka’s time. So, there is no danger of them going into oblivion any time soon.

    May be you could also find some time to highlight the sad plight of mosques in Pakistan. No one else is going to take care of them. But then raising issue of our islamic heritage is being fundamentalist. Isn’t it?

  34. February 6th, 2008 7:21 am

    I think MMA ia not spreading Islam but they are doing their own poilitics

  35. libertarian says:
    February 6th, 2008 2:24 pm

    Asif Beg: But then raising issue of our islamic heritage is being fundamentalist. Isn

  36. GreenSufi says:
    February 7th, 2008 4:36 am

    To those who have written about it being unIslamic to show an interest in the past etc., i would like to reply that it is hardly so.

    The Lord has declared in the Qur’an that in the ruins of past civilizations are many signs for those who reflect and take heed. AND exhorted us to travel in the land and see these for ourselves…

    The lessons that may be inferred from these are not necessarily black and white, but may be nuanced.

    God bless. jazak Allah.

  37. April 7th, 2008 2:55 pm

    This is a very good article and has exellent original research, for which Pakistaniat should be congratualated.

    The visionary authors of Pakistaniat.com have defined Pakistaniat as Harappan (no religion),Moenjaodaroan (no beliefs), Melhulan, Mekan, Dilmin, Buddhist, and Muslim. This is an expansion of the Two Nation Theory….what we call “The Geographic Two Nation Theory”..in other words our Pakitan (Indus valley Civilization) has existed as a sperate entity from “India” (Ganges Valley Cilization) for more than 5000 years.

    This is the beauty of this article.

    One of the comments talks about destruction and “jahaliya”. Not sure if Buddhists would come under the “jahaliya” category. Some Muslim emperors had actually granted the title of “people of the book” to Buddhists also (See Karen Armstorng..in History of God). As a commentator pointed out, Buddha may have been a prophet. One of 124,000 not listed in the Quran.

    However the brief history should also refer Pakistanis to the obvious excesses of Chandragupta Muyra, Vikramadatya and Samdrigupta (see Nehru-Glimpses of World History etc.)

    The comments seem to go all over the place. This is a historical document and should be treated as such. The original article was on Asoka. Asoka should be eulogized for keeping the excesses of Brhamanism at bay, Asoka should not be eulogized to project the unity of the Subcontinent which was brief and fractured.(As the Hinduvata does).

    There are a few discrepancies in the article which need to be corrected.

    Asoka of course was a Buddhist having rejected the notions of paganism.

    1) “It was Emperor Ashoka (died 238 BC) who first introduced what he called the

  38. shipra says:
    May 8th, 2008 6:16 am

    the information u gave is precise n its just ur view that u have presented here…..but i did nt get what i wanted,i.e in which script or language r Shahbazgarhi n Manshehra Inscriptions r inscribed?
    i will be thankful if u provide that information here.

  39. ImagesandSeasons says:
    June 15th, 2008 12:00 pm

    I was so glad to read this article. I just completed a course in ancient studies – Indology, and thought Ashoka’s thoughts are so relevant even today.
    I am glad our pakistani friends think the same and feel like preserving the heritage.
    We have a common history of subcontinent and that should be treated factually. There is no need to get away from words like hindu or budha or islam. Whatever the heritage, we are all part of it.
    Has anybody visited Shahbazgarhi as well?

  40. ImagesandSeasons says:
    June 15th, 2008 12:02 pm

    The script is Kharoshti and language is Prakrit.

    Also Ashok did not have Chanakya as his teacher but his grandfather Chandragupta, first emperor of Indian subcontinent had that privilage.

  41. July 13th, 2008 6:29 pm

    Ashoka. A wonderful aspect of the history of the area to the south of what is now Afghanistan, what is now Pakistan, what was once India, what is yet part of South East Asia, what is part of the history of our world. I stood in the Lahore Fort and a lad tried to sell me a ‘Pakistani’ picture of Ashoka rock rubbings. I mentioned to him that he had lived 238 B.C. He asked, “BC ka mutlab kyah heh?” what BC meant, and I told him. He was amazed, and shook his head from side to side thinking, mumbling about how how Pakistan had looked back then. I smiled and told him that Pakistan did not exist before 1947. How grand it would be if the curriculum of the schools in Lahore and Quetta and the NWFP included world history, south east asian history, even, imagine, Indian history, of course along with Pakistani and Islamic history. salaam, shukria and dhuniabhat.

  42. Vir Gupta says:
    August 12th, 2008 2:24 pm

    I was fascinated by the fact that there are some Pakistani who have shown great admiration for Ashoka, Buddha, and Sanskrit Grammarian Panini. I will add Chankya’s name to the list who was also born in Pakistan whose meticulous planning and strategies lead to the defeat of Selucid (Selucas).

    {Very few people know that Alexander had destroyed Persepolis palace in Persia completely. It took 20,000 mules and 5,000 camels to carry all the king’s treasury to Ecbatana in 330 B.C. Total weight of jewelry was 7,290 tons. The columns of Persepolis palace were 59 feet tall and the hall could accomodate more than 10,000 people}

    Ashoka did send medicinal plants to several foreign lands which tells all of us that medicine was well developed in India and Taxila was great center of learning medicine and surgery. Buddha’s physician Jivika got his medical degree from Taxila and he is well known to all Buddhists for writing book on Ayurveda.

    I can not help mentioning the name of emperor Kanishaka whose royal poet and adviser Aswaghosa had written the book “Buddhacharita” which is extremely valued by all Buddhists for its poetic beauty. Kanishaka also ruled from Pakistan area and send several missionaries to Tarim basin, China, Mongolia etc.

    Last but not the least, I like to mention the name of Sushruta whose book on plastic surgery is excellent. Nowhere in the world, surgery was so advanced as in Taxila at that time. Some 126 surgical tools have been described by Sushruta.

    Thank you for let me share my words with you.

    Vir Gupta

  43. VSeek says:
    November 4th, 2008 4:17 am

    Thank you for the excellent post on Emperor Ashoka. We used it for my son’s 6th grade project here in India.

    Good luck to you all.

  44. Joyoti Sen says:
    November 26th, 2008 2:21 am

    Lovely post. As an Indian and a Hindu lady I am happy to note that Ashoka’s greatness has been acknowledged by your country. India has existed for thousands of years and on her soil ha dblossomed some of the loftiest philosophicla thougts in thw world.

  45. Umar Shah says:
    December 17th, 2008 11:29 am

    Harold Bergsma: You assume that world history, South East Asian history and even history of the India has never been taught in Pakistani schools.

    Great post!

  46. Ali Dada says:
    April 3rd, 2009 10:12 pm

    wow, Pakistan has some good and interesting history. This can bring in some serious tourist revenue and vastly increase the depth of Pakistan’s historical societies.

  47. Dhawal says:
    August 20th, 2009 2:13 pm

    IVC is a part of Indian history, this is one of the link in ancient Indian history development. Culture don’t develop all of the sudden it take thousands of years and Discovery project of DNA shows how developement of men goes on from Africa to various part of the world. Talk about Sumerian lost culture, Vedic Culture, Judaism, Buddism, Christianity, Islam ect. all part of the evolution of human being. No men is different from other, we all are humans, Indian Subcontinent is highly mixed with different genes and cultures, whether talk about vedic culture.. Buddism.. Sikhism.. Islam.. Christianity.. and on, which is ultimate truth is depend on us what we wanted to belive, for me vedas are and for some others quran is, its all good. Indian peoples were linked with each other from thousands of years living together, although their are lot of regional languages, Sanskrit is just a part in the language tree which is linked with some languages in Europe, before Sanskrit their was Prankrit.. many things are yet to be researched. Lot of historical sites are recently discovered whether its IVC or City of Dwarka, many evidences turned some myth to reality its all with reachers its just a matter of truth, but we are free to belive what we want to, still nothing is ultimate truth in this world.

    Peace ;)

  48. Home Loans says:
    January 27th, 2010 4:05 am

    Fascinated by archaeology so this was a good read for me. Thanks.

  49. April 22nd, 2010 3:49 am

    You are really kind to share with us on Emperor Ashoka. We used this program for one project at here in America. The info you posted helped us a lots.

  50. April 22nd, 2010 3:55 am

    It is enjoyable to know something about Pakistaniat. It seems to be great to know more in it, “The general theme of the edicts is moderation and gentleness. This lesson the king had learnt from the misery and destruction caused by his early conquests of Kalingas of Eastern India”, for instance.

  51. Nighat Majid says:
    April 30th, 2010 4:19 am

    Dear Mast Qalandar
    I absolutely loved the delightful story you have shared. And am so grateful to you for trying to present the translation of the orginal text. However, I wish you had translated the text exactly as it appeared in Mr Rahi’s (Allah bless his soul for the invaluable work he did) signboard.
    I recently visited the lovely little park, Asoka Park, in Mansehra–to see the edicts. And I didn’t find the blue and white sign you mention, painted by Mr Rahi.
    It was such a peaceful place. And like you, I question why this breathtakingly beautiful region has descended into such mindless violence? My heart weeps. But I’m hopeful. The Asokan edicts give me hope. Keep up the good work.

  52. May 5th, 2010 4:07 am

    After Ashoka’s death the Maurian empire fell apart and, except in Buddhist circles where he was remembered as a great patron of the faith, Ashoka was largely forgotten both by history and Indian tradition.

  53. Los Angeles Search Engine Optimization says:
    May 26th, 2010 11:14 pm

    I question why this breathtakingly beautiful region has descended into such mindless violence? My heart weeps. But I’m hopeful.

  54. injury lawyer says:
    June 30th, 2010 4:30 am

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  55. July 17th, 2010 1:42 pm

    That frontier was impressively long! Before the days of trains and cars it must have been quite a game to keep such a large empire united.

  56. September 9th, 2010 9:33 pm

    This is a very good post providng a lot of informative stuff on the topic. I always like to leave comments whenever I see something unusual or impressive. I think we must appreciate those who do something especial. Keep it up, thanks

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  58. jai hind says:
    August 22nd, 2011 6:27 am

    ASHOKA the great was one of the greatest rulers of the world, ruling from Persi to Burma in the East.

    All Pakistanis must learn about this history of thier country of Buddhism and theier past.

  59. Dr. Raj Ratna Goswami says:
    December 21st, 2011 9:01 am

    Ashoka belongs to the rare humans of our glorious past who makes us pride to be his successor. He belongs to the period when there were neither communication nor conventioneer of high speed but just ruled because their subjects loved them. It is really interesting to learn that Fganistan and the West of Pakistan were part of Great Maurayan Empire as Chandragupta, the founder of Mauryan Empire married daughter of Seleucus Nectar the General of Alexander,s empire in Eastern World and he gifted four of his provinces to Chandragupta in dower. So it was totally peaceful transaction of South Asia,s big four regions into Mauryan kingdom. Ashoka’s son Kunal was governor of this region who letter became successor, but his stepmother queen injured his eyes and made blind. Later his son Samprati ruled here.
    Pakistan and Afghanistan are greatest region of human kinds civilization. The Indus valley Culture, beginning first village and agriculture in through out world, the great lads of composition of world’s first book the Rigveda, great rulers of Bharatas and Gandharas, First gramarian Panini, First official university of ancient world Taxila, Great politician Chanakya, Great warriors of Kanishka who won the Tibbet and Pamir, and who issued the gold coins, great matter of pride.
    Then how we can forget the introduction of idol worshiping of the Indo-Greeks who gave forms to all gods and goddesses of Hindu or Buddhists pantheon and gave shape to imaginative forces their due shape.
    People of these regions must recognise these great episode of their ancestors and make effort to preserve and teach about them to their generation to come.

  60. shweta says:
    November 8th, 2014 5:40 pm

    the sculpture of the bearded man looks Persian to me, not Indian. you know the ruins at Persepolis and the sculpture of King Cyrus the Great of Persia? it looks like that and has those features. please check.

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