Emperor Ashoka in our Backyard – Part II

Posted on February 29, 2008
Filed Under >Mast Qalandar, History
20 Comments
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Mast Qalandar

When I wrote the post on Ashoka’s Rock Edicts I had made a suggestion at the end of the post to the department concerned, which was to put up a proper and readable translation of the edicts at the site — both in English and Urdu.

Ashoka Edicts PakistanTo my pleasant surprise, I discovered the other day, when I stopped by at the site while traveling on the Karakoram Highway, that a new signboard had been installed alongside the old signboard displaying a gist of the edicts both in English and Urdu. (See pictures.) One would like to think that the new signboard was the result of suggestions and comments made on the ATP post, but the fact is that the Archaeology Department had done it on their own much before the ATP post appeared. (And I doubt if anyone in the Archaeology Department reads ATP.)

Ashoka rock edicts PakistanEven though one would have preferred to see the whole translation of the edicts, rather than just a summary, the new attempt is definitely an improvement over the old and unreadable signboard. The new board is neat and written clearly in English and Urdu. Otherwise, too, the place looked reasonably clean and well kept. They also have a caretaker (chowkidar) now who looks after the place from 8 to 5 at daytime.

Ashoka Rock Edicts PakistanTalking to the caretaker I found that back in 2002 (when the era of “Enlightened Moderation” was just beginning to dawn in Pakistan) a hand grenade was tossed by someone at a group of foreign tourists visiting the rocks. Luckily, other than minor injuries to some of the visitors, no significant injury or damage was caused either to the visitors or to the rocks. The attack did, however, scare away any potential tourists.

Ashoka Rock Edicts PakistanThe rocks, with their benign message, have been sitting here quietly for over two thousand and two hundred years. One hopes that they would remain there, undisturbed, in the future as well.

20 responses to “Emperor Ashoka in our Backyard – Part II”

  1. Debu Bhatnagar says:

    The Ancient History of South Asia makes fascinating reading. I don’t think anyone can doubt that Ashoka was a great emperor as indeed was Akbar. He was Hindu to start with (as indeed everyone was as that time) but converted to Buddhism due to the revulsion he felt at the mass slaughter of the Kalinga war. His edicts were deciphered by British historians (read ‘A Discovery of India’ – by John Keay on how painstakingly this was accomplished)

    Many of us, Indians and Hindus, are equally uncomfortable with certain aspects of our ‘culture’ as it is depicted in Bollywood films and TV serials. I suppose modern and progressive societies will always comprise of different kinds of people and the ability to assimilate and live with diversity is a sign of a mature society.

  2. Abhilash Shastry says:

    Junaid, you don’t have to feel apologetic. We do not have any dearth of hawks on this side of the border either. So I am not surprised by some hawkish comments here. But by and large, I have found comments and articles on this forum very civil and polite.

  3. Ismail says:

    I am also happy that they made the change.

    I wish there was better information and planning at all the historical monuments. Even in teh Lahore Museum the quality of information displayed is quite bad. went to Taxila Museum recently and think things were slightly better there. Just a little.

    I have never been to Moenjodaro but will like to see information on that here.

  4. Thanks, MQ, for the pointer to the 14 edicts.

  5. AAA says:

    Good news that the billboard has been replaced by one that can be read properly. Thanks for highlighting the positive change.

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