Asoka - the Buddhist Emperor of India
THE BUDDHIST EMPEROR OF INDIA
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
LONDON EDINBURGH GLASGOW NEW YORK
TORONTO MELBOURNE CAPE TOWN BOMBAY
PUBLISHER TO THE UNIVERSITY
THE BUDDHIST EMPEROR OF INDIA
VINCENT A. SMITH, C.I.E.
M A. (Dubl. Et Oxon), Hon. Litt D. (Dublin)
Indian Civil Service Retired, M.R.A.S.
Author of The Early History of India, &c.
THIRD EDITION, REVISED AND ENLARGED
AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
PREFACE TO THIRD EDITION
During the ten years elapsed since the publication of the second edition of this book knowledge of the subject has made material advances. I have read everything printed that could be of use and am in a position to offer considerable improvements in the versions of the inscriptions, which are now fully understood, with small exceptions. Chapters IV and V have been rewritten, continuous comments on each document or group of documents being substituted for footnotes. The Maski Minor Rock Edict, the latest addition to the collection of edicts, which alone gives Asoka’s name, is duly noticed, and the Gorathagiri labels on the Barabâr rocks have not been overlooked.
The corrections in Chapters I to III are mostly consequential on the revised interpretation of the inscriptions, but some are required by archaeological discoveries, while others merely set right sundry minor slips or errors, or effect necessary changes in references. I do not see any reason to change my scheme of chronology, although it may be open to slight revision at some future time. The Bibliographical Note has been enlarged. The alterations in Chapters VI and VII are few and unimportant.
The war has delayed the completion and publication of the long expected critical edition of the inscriptions by Professor E. Hultzsch. The loss arising from the delay has been neutralized to a large extent because the learned professor published his principal emendations in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society from time to time.
V. A. S.
EXTRACT FROM PREFACE TO FIRST EDITION
A volume on Asoka Maurya by Professor Rhys Davids was intended to be the first of the 'Rulers of India' series, but unfortunately circumstances prevented the fulfilment of that intention, and the series was closed leaving vacant the niche destined for the great Buddhist emperor. With the approval of Professor Rhys Davids I have undertaken the preparation of a supplementary volume giving in a popular form the substance of what is known concerning the Maurya empire. . . .
The chapter entitled 'The History of Asoka' will be found to differ widely from all other publications, such as Cunningham's Bhilsa Topes, which treat of that topic. I have tried to follow the example of the best modern historians, and to keep the legends separate from what seems to me to be authentic history. Among the legends I have placed the stories of the conversion of Ceylon and of the deliberations of the so-called Third Council. All the forms of those stories which have reached us are crowded with absurdities and contradictions from which legitimate criticism cannot extract trustworthy history.
In dealing with the vexed question of transliteration I have shunned the pedantic atrocities of international systems, which do not shrink from presenting Krishna in the guise of Kṛṣṇa, Champâ. as Kampâ, and so on. The consonants in the Indian words and names in this book are to be pronounced as in English, and the vowels usually as in Italian. The short unaccented a has an indistinct sound as in the word 'woman.' Long vowels are marked when necessary; other diacritical marks have not been used in the text.
Chronology of the Maurya Period
Inscribed Pillars of Asoka
The Pillar at Lauriyâ-Nandangarh
Inscription on the Rummindêî Pillar
The Empire of Asoka, 250 B. C.
If it be true, as seems probable, that the Parkham statue is a. contemporary portrait of King Ajâtasatru, the patron of Buddha in the sixth century B. C., and that the Patna statues are similar portraits of his successors, Kings of Magadha. in the fifth century B. C., our ideas concerning the evolution of Indian sculpture require reconstruction. See Jayaswal, Green, Arim Sen, M. M. Haraparshad Sastri, and others in J. B. O. Res. Soc., vol. v., part iv, December, 1919.
V. A. S.
Feb. 1, 1920.