ASHOKA or better known as the Emperor Ashoka The Great was a Mauryan King. He was the son of the Emperor Bindusara and one of his queens named Dharma. It is believed that Buddha prophesized about the birth of Ashoka, in the story of the 'Gift of Dust'. He said that a king would be born in Pataliputra who will reign one of the four continents and adorn Jambudweep with my relics and spread Buddhism in the whole world. And Ashoka did exactly same as prophesized by the Buddha.
The name Ashoka means 'without sorrow', he has been referred with many other names such as 'Devanampriya' meaning 'the beloved of the Gods' ,and 'Priyadarshi', one who regards everyone amiably.
Ashoka is known in the history of the India as well as world mainly for two things, first one for the battle of Kalinga and the second one for the spread of Buddhism in India and across the world. He ruled India from 273 BC to 232 BC. He made many conquests during his rule and reigned over most parts of India, parts of South Asia and Persia.
During his initial days Ashoka was very cruel, and is believed to have killed his half brothers in order to get the throne. As a result he began to be called as a Chand Ashoka, meaning brutal Ashoka. He did not miss any opportunity to invade the neighboring kingdoms, but the war of kalinga and its subsequent conquest is believed to be the last conquest of King Ashoka. It is believed that in this war around 100,000 people from each side were killed and many more became homeless. After watching such a scene of devastation Ashoka screamed 'What have I done?' and he changed his policy. From then onwards he laid more emphasis on the welfare of his state and adopted Buddhism.
He preached Buddhism all over India and abroad. For this he made many Stupas at the places associated with the life of Buddha. Due to all this he earned the epitaph of Dharmaashoka, meaning the Pious Ashoka. He sent his son Mahendra and daughter Sanghmitra to Ceylon to spread Buddhism there.
Ashoka built thousands of Stupas and Viharas for the followers of Buddhism. The pillar of Ashoka at Sarnath is the most famous of all the Stupas, and is the national emblem of India. He ruled for almost thirty-eight years and died in 232 BC. He is remembered in India even today for the service he did to the Buddhism.
Science fiction novelist H.G. Wells was very right when he wrote of Ashoka, "in the history of the world there have been thousands of kings and emperors who called themselves 'their highness', 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."
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