Asoka - the Buddhist Emperor of India/Chapter 4

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The Rock Edicts

The Minor Rock Edicts


(Brahniagiri text. The best facsimile is in Rice, Ep. Carn., vol. xi, plate facing No. 21, p. 164; reproduced on a smaller scale in Mysore and Coorg from the Inscriptions, Constable, 1909.)

According to the words of the Prince and High officers of Suvarnagiri the High officers in Isila are to be addressed with salutations and addressed in the manner following:—

'His Sacred Majesty (Devânaṁpiya) gives these instructions:

"For more than two-and-a-half years I was a lay disciple, without, however, exerting myself strenuously. But a year—in fact, more than a year ago—I entered the Order, and since then have exerted myself strenuously.

During that time the men in India who had been unassociated with the gods became associated with them. For this is the fruit of exertion. Nor is this to be attained by greatness only, because even by the small man who chooses to exert himself, immense heavenly bliss may be won.

For that purpose has this proclamation been proclaimed:

'Let [small] and great exert themselves to this end.'

My neighbours, too, should learn this lesson, and may this lesson long endure!

And this purpose will increase—yea, it will increase vastly, at least half as much again will it increase."

And this proclamation was proclaimed by the body of missioners (vyûthenaa), [to wit], 256 [persons].'


(Bhahmagiri text; incised continuously with Edict I, as a supplement to it, in the original, beginning in the middle of line 8.)

Thus saith His Sacred Majesty (Devânaṁpiya):—

'Father and mother must he hearkened to; similarly, respect for living creatures must be firmly established; truth must be spoken.

These are the virtues of the Law which must be practised. Similarly, the teacher must he reverenced by the pupil, and fitting courtesy must be shown to relations.'

This is the ancient nature of things—this leads to length of days, and according to this men must act.

Written by Paḍa the scribe.


(Rûpnâth text. The best facsimile is in Ind. Ant., vol. xxii (1892), facing p. 298.)

Thus saith His Sacred Majesty:—

'For more than two-and-a-half years I was a lay disciple, without, however, exerting myself strenuously. But it is more than a year since I joined the Order, and have exerted myself strenuously.

The gods who up to this time had been unassociated [with men] in India (Jambudvîpa) have now become associated.

For this is the fruit of exertion. Nor is this to be obtained by greatness only; because even by the small man who exerts-himself immense heavenly bliss may be won.

For this purpose has the proclamation been made:—

"Let small and great exert themselves."

My neighbours, too, should learn this lesson, and may such exertion long endure!

And this purpose will increase—yea, it will increase immensely—at least half as much again will it increase.

And this purpose must be written on the rocks as opportunity offers (vâlata). And measures must be taken to have it engraved upon stone pillars, whereever there are stone pillars in my dominions [lit. "here"].

And according to this text, so far as your jurisdiction extends, you must send it out everywhere.'

By the body of missioners (vyûthena) was the proclamation made—to wit, 256 persons [were] missioners.


The first Minor Rock Edict is perhaps the most difficult of the Asoka inscriptions. Discussion has gone on for many years. Even if perfect unanimity among scholars has not been attained, most of the puzzles may now be regarded as solved. The readings translated as 'more than two-and-a-half years' and 'more than a year since' may be accepted as established. The phrase smhghe upayîte (with slight variants) interpreted by me as 'joined the Order,' in the sense that Asoka became a monk for a time, is understood by some scholars in a less definite manner. The passage about the gods and men was formerly rendered wrongly owing to an erroneous etymology of the words amisâ and misâ. I think that everybody now accepts M. Sylvain Lévi's opinion that those words mean 'unmixed' or 'unassociated' and 'mixed' or 'associated' respectively. The meaning seems to be that true teaching raises men to the level of the gods. 'Ye shall be as gods.' The word data in the passage certainly means 'gods,' and not either 'kings' or 'Brahmans.' The words iyiṁ sâvaṇe, 'this proclamation' or 'precept,' refer, I believe, only to the phrase 'Let small and great exert themselves' and not to the whole document. The words 'half as much again' represent the literal version 'one-and-a-half fold.'

Controversy has raged for years around the concluding sentence, which is found more or less complete with considerable variation in the Rûpnâth, Sahasrâm, Brahmagiri, and Jaṭṭinga-Râmeśvara texts. The words and numerals are wanting in the Baâat, Siddâpura, and Maslri texts.

In the second edition of this work I followed Dr. Thomas, but now I recognize the force of the criticisms by Mr. D. R. Bhandarkar (Ind. Ant., vol. xli (1912), p. 171), and my translation substantially agrees with his and Senart's explanation.

It seems desirable to exhibit the three legible texts in a form which brings out the necessity of applying one interpretation to all:—

Sahasrâm (Ind. Ant., xxii, 298)—
Iyaṁ cha sdvane vivuṭhena lute Sapṁnâ lâti [? to be read as s-âti, another satâ being accidentally omitted] vivuthâ ti 256.
Vyûṭhenâ sâvaṇe kaṭe 256 satavwasâ 't[i].
Iyaṁ cha sâvaṇe sâv[â]p[i]te vyûthena 256.

The first clause clearly means that the 'proclamation' or 'precept' was 'proclaimed' or 'made' by the vuûtha or vivutha. In the second clause the bare figures 256 of Brahmagiri must be interpreted to mean the same as both the full wording of Sahasrâm and the intermediate phraseology of Rûpnâth. The numeral 256 is expressed also in words at Sahasrâm. I agree with Bhandarkar in holding that lâti is a clerical error'and that one word satâ meaning 'hundreds' has been accidentally omitted. The second satâ connected with vivâsâ must be the Sanskrit sattva, meaning 'person.' Thus we get the renderings:—

Sahsrâm—'And this proclamation [was made] by the body of missioners; to wit, two hundred and fifty-six, 256 missioners.'

Rûpnâth—'By the body of missioners the proclamation was made; to wit, 256 persons [were] missioners.'

Brahmagiri—'And this proclamation was proclaimed by the body of missioners; [to wit], 256 [persons].'

Vyûtha (vivutha) in the first clause is a collective noun. The meaning of the second clause at Rûpnâth is clear and determines the interpretation of the other texts. It is impossible to discuss the problem further in this place. The interpretation now offered recurs to that of Senart, who long ago translated vyâtha by 'missionaries' (i. 188).

The interpretation of Edict II is easy, and my earlier version stands. The style differs from that of all the other inscriptions, and it seems plain that the document was composed in the secretariat of the Viceroy of the South at Suvarṇagiri. Probably that town ('Golden Hill') was somewhere near the gold mines in the Nizam's territory.

The new version of Edict I discovered in 1915 at Maski in the Râiehûr District of the Nizam's Dominion is close to ancient gold workings. The much mutilated text of that document is interesting chiefly because it begins with the words,

Devanaṁpizpiyasa Asokasa.

No other inscription gives the emperor's personal name Asoka. The text nearly agrees with Rûpnâth and Sahasrâm, but is too much damaged to admit of continuous translation. Edited with plates in Hyderabad Archaeological Series, No. 1, Calcutta, 1915.

The addition of the scribe's signature at the end of the Mysore texts is curious, and it is specially remarkable that he wrote the last word 'scribe' (lipikarena) in the Kharoshṭhî character of the North-Western frontier. IIc seems to have been a northerner. The town of Isila must have been at or near Siddâpura. The Prince, no doubt, was a son of Asoka, and Viceroy of the Deccan.

The number 256 is significant as being the square of 16, a number much favoured by Hindu usage. It may also be analysed as 64 x 4 or as 32 x 8, all favourite numbers. The notion that the numerals should be interpreted as a date is certainly erroneous. The scholars who believed in the date theory were led into many baseless speculations, now wholly obsolete, which need no further notice.

The Bhâbrû or Second Bairât Rock Edict

(Facs. in J. As., 1887; text (requiring some amendment) by Senart in Ind. Ant., vol. xx (1891), p. 165.)

His Grace the King of Magadha addresses the Church with greetings and bids its members prosperity and good health.

You know, Reverend Sirs, how far extend my respect for and faith in the Buddha, the Sacred Law, and the Church.

Whatsoever, Reverend Sirs, has been said by the Venerable Buddha, all of that has been well said.

However, Reverend Sirs, if on my own account I may point out (a particular text), I venture to adduce this one:—

"Thus the Good Law will long endure."

Reverend Sirs, these passages of the Law, to wit:—

[1] The Exaltation of Discipline (Vinaya-saomukkase);
[2] The Course of Conduct of the Great Saints (Aliya-vasâṁi);
[3] Fears of what may happen (Anâigata—bhayâni);
[4] The Song of the Hermit (Muni-gâthâ);
[5] The Dialogue on the Hermit's Life (Moneya-sûte);
[6] The Questioning of Upatishya (Upatisa-pasine);
[7] The Address to Râhula, beginning with the Subject

of Falsehood (Lâghulouâde musâvâdaṁ adhegiḍhya)-

spoken by the Venerable Buddha—these, Reverend Sirs, I desire that many monks and nuns should frequently hear and meditate; and that likewise the laity, male and female, should do the same.

For this reason, Reverend Sirs, I cause this to be written, so that people may know my intentions (abhipretaṁ).


The Bhâbrû Edict, or Second Bairât Rock Edict, as Cunningham called it, is incised on a small boulder now preserved in the Indian Museum, Calcutta, which had lain on the lower platform of the 'Inscription Hill' at Bairât, twelve miles from Bhâbrû, the nearest camping ground. Major Burt, the discoverer, seems to have encamped at Bhâbrû, to which place the boulder was brought. Thus it became known by the name of his camp. The correct spelling is Bhâbrû, not Bhâbrâ. (Pros. Rep. A. S. W. Circle for 1909-10, p. 45). The Bairât copy of Minor Rock Edict I seems to have been made Within the precincts of the monastery where the so-called Bhâbrû Edict also was incised. Probably Asoka was resident during a rainy season early in his reign at that monastery. I think that the two Bairât inscriptions must both date from the one year, most likely the 13th regnal year, when Asoka began the publication of inscriptions.

The Bhâbrû Edict is unique. It differs in both phraseology and subject-matter from all the other inscriptions, and is avowedly Buddhist. The text is well preserved, so that the controversies which long raged concerning its interpretation were not due in any serious degree to textual defects. Most of the difficulties formerly discussed may now be regarded as settled. The translation of the body of the inscription given in the second edition of this work consequently holds good, although differences of opinion may still exist concerning the identification of some of the seven canonical passages recommended for special study.

Asoka calls himself Priyadasi lâjâ Mâgadhe, 'Priyadasi, Râjâ of Magadha.' The form is Mâgadhe, not Mâqadhaṁ (Bloch), and the r is preserved in Priyadasi as well as three other words, (Hultzsch, J. R. A. S., 1911, p. 1113). I translate the royal style or protocole as 'His Grace the King of Magadha.'

The declaration of faith in Buddha, the Sacred Law (dhmṁma),and the Church (sahṁgha) may be illustrated by the formula of the Three Refuges or the Three Jewels as still used in Ceylon at the ordination of a monk, which is:—

'I put my trust in Buddha;
I put my trust in the Law;
I put my trust in the Priesthood;
Again I put my trust in Buddha;
Again I put my trust in the Law;
Again I put my trust in the Priesthood ;
Once more I put my trust in Buddha;
Once more I put my trust in the Law;
Once more I put my trust in the Priesthood.'
(Warren, Buddhism in Translations, 1900, p. 396.

The remark that 'whatsoever has been said by the Venerable Buddha has been well‘said’ is in substance a quotation from Aṅguttara, iv, p. 163, as cited by Poussin in The Way to Nirvâṇa, Cambridge, 1917, p. 106.

The text 'Thus the Good Law will long endure' occurs in both the Mahâvyutpatti and the Aǹguttara Nikáya of the Pâli Canon.

The main purpose of the document is to enumerate the seven passages in the Canon which Asoka considered to be the most important as guides of conduct, and to recommend those passages to the earnest study of all classes in the church, monastic or lay, male or female. Some difficulty has been experienced in identifying the passages referred to. I think that Mr. A. J. Edmunds rightly identifies the first passage with the famous First Sermon at Benares, on the grounds that that discourse is one of the most ancient Buddhist documents, that it could not well be ignored by Asoka, and that the Four Truths expounded in it are described in Udâna, v, 3, as Sâmukaṁsikâ dhaṁmadesanâ, a phrase which recalls the title given to the text No. 1 by Asoka (J. R. A. S., 1913, p. 387).

The list of passages 2-7, originally drafted by Rhys Davids, J. R. A. S., 1898, p. 639, and amended by Professors Dharnnananda Kosambi and Lanman, Ind. Ant., vol. xli (1912), pp. 37-40, now stands thus:—

(2) Aliya-rasâni = Ariya-vaṁsâ ( Aṅguttara, vol. ii, p. 27);

(3) Andâata-bhayâni = Anâata-bhayâni (Aṅguttara, vol. iii, p. 103, Sutta 78);

(4) Muni-gâthâ = Muni-sutta (Sutta-nipâta, i, 12, p. 36);

(5) Moneya-sûte = Nâlaka-sutta (ibid.. iii, 1 1, pp. 131-4);

(6) Upatisa-pasine = Sâriputta-sutta (ibid., iv, 16, pp. 176-9);

(7) Lâghvalovâde, &c. = Râhulo-vâda-sutta (Majjhima-nikâya, ii, 2. 1, vol. i, p. 414). The word translated 'beginning' is adhigiḍhya, not adhigichya (Michelson, Indo-germ. Forsch , Strassburg, 1910, p. 194).

The references are to the Pâli Text Soeiety's editions.

It is needless to explain the importance of such a list, approximately dated, for the history of the Buddhist Canon.

The reader will not fail to note Asoka's anxiety that the moral law as expounded in the Buddhist scriptures should obtain the utmost possible publicity. Women as well as men concerned him.

A collection of the seven passages cited, including both text and translation, would be of much interest as constituting an authoritative compendium of the Law of Duty or Piety as conceived by Asoka. The inscriptions are all devoted to the exposition, exaltation, and dissemination of that Law. Such a collection would serve as a commentary on the whole series. One form of No. 3 has been rendered into English in 'J. Pâli Text Soc., 1896. M. Senart has printed the text of No. 7. A Chinese version of the same has been translated by M. Sylvain Lévi (J. As., 1896, mai—juin) and an English rendering by Beal will be found in Sec. xxxi of Texts from the Buddhist Canon, commonly known as Dhammapada (London, 1902). The substance of the First Sermon is given in Buddhism (American Lectures, first series, 1896), pp. 135-9, by Rhys Davids, who believes that the very words of the preacher have been transmitted.


The Fourteen Rock Edicts

(Abbreviations—D., Dhauli ; G., Girnâr; J ., Jaugada ; K., Kâlsî ; M., Mânsahra; Sh., Shâhbâzgarhi.)



(Sh. text, as in Büh1er'a transcript in Ep. Ind. ii. 448, slightly amended.)

This scripture of the Law of Duty has been Written by command of His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King:

'Here no animal may be slaughtered for sacrifice, nor shall any merry-making he held. Because in merry-makings His Sacred and Gracious Majesty sees much offence, although certain merry-makings are excellent in the sight of His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King. Formerly, in the kitchen of His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King each day many hundred thousands of living creatures were slaughtered to make curries. But now, when this scripture of the Law is being written, only three living creatures are slaughtered for curry [daily], to wit, two peacocks and one antelope—the antelope, however, not invariably. Even those three living creatures shall not be slaughtered in future.'


Mr. Harit Krishna Deb is, I think, right in regarding the term 'scripture of the Law of Duty' 'or Piety' (dhaṁmalpi or -nipi) as applying to the whole series of the Fourteen Rock Edicts, which must be read together as a single document. The term, which recurs in R. E. VI, and in the Epilogue, is also applied to the Six Pillar Edicts collectively, as well as to the distinct Seventh Pillar Edict. Those are the only documents so designated (Asoka's Dhaṁmalipis, Calcutta, Temple Press, 1919). The word -nipi in the M. and Sh. texts was formerly read erroneously as -dipi. Similarly in R. E. IV, nipista is to be read, not dipista (Hultzsch in J. R. A. S., 1913, p. 653). The words are Iranian; cf. modern Persian, narishta, 'written'. 'Scripture' seems to be the best rendering. 'Rescript,' which has been suggested, is incorrect. Asoka's instructions are not 'rescripts' or imperial decisions on points referred for orders. The royal protocole (Devânaṁ priyo Priyadasi), with slight variations in different texts, is rendered by the formula which I have adopted.

The word 'here' (hida, or idha, G.) is ambiguous. It may be understood as meaning 'in my dominions,' as in R. E. XIII, or 'ici-bas,' 'here below’ (Senart), or possibly, 'at the capital,' as in R. E. V.

‘Merry-making' seems to he the best rendering of samâja in its various spellings. The meaning of the term has been thoroughly elucidated by D. R. Bhandarkar in Ind. Ant., vol. xlii (1913), pp. 253-8, and N. G. Majumdar (ibid., vol. xlvii (1918), pp. 221-3). The word was used in both Brahmanical and Buddhist literature to mean 'merry-making' or 'festival' generally, and in certain cases to mean a 'semi-religious theatrical performance.' It was also applied to the place, building, or stage where the performance was given. The use of the English word 'theatre' may be compared. The samâjawas of two kinds. The popular festival kind, accompanied by animal fights, heavy drinking and feasting, including much consumption of meat, was necessarily condemned by Asoka, as being inconsistent with his principles. The other kind, the semi-religious theatrical performance, sometimes given in the temples of Sarasvatî, the goddess of learning, was commended. Full details will be found in the convincing articles cited. See also F. W. Thomas in J. R. A. S., 1914, p. 393.

'Offence,' doshaṁ or dosaṁ, Bühler translates by 'evil.'

'Hundreds of thousands' (śatasahasrani). K. has simply 'thousands' (sahasâni). The meaning is satisfactorily explained by Bhandarkar (loc. cit.), who cites chap. 208, Vanaparwan of Mbh. to show that King Rantideva used to have 2,000 cattle and 2,000 kine slain daily in his kitchen (mahânasa, the word used by Asoka) in order to provide doles of meat for his people. by which liberality he gained incomparable fame. Asoka evidently had done the same in his unregenerate days. Asoka at first restricted the killing to the small quantity required for the royal table, and then abolished it altogether.

The precise dates of his action cannot be fixed, as this ‘parti- cular edict is not expressly dated.

Antelope (mrmgo or murgo, Sh.; mrige, M.; mago, G.; and mige, K.) is the Sanskrit mṛiga, which may be rendered either 'deer' or 'antelope.' If the 'black buck' (Antilope bezoartica or cervicapra) is meant, as seems probable, 'antelope' is the more accurate. The popular term ‘deer’ includes many animals, none of which is so widely diifused and commonly eaten as the 'black buck.'

The meaning of this edict has now been satisfactorily cleared up in all its expressions.



(G. Text.)

'Everywhere in the dominions of His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King, as well as among his frontagers, the Choḷas, Pâṇdyas, the Satiyaputra, the Ketalaputra [KeraḶa-, Sh.], as far as the Tâmbaparṇi, Antiochos the Greek king, or even the kings the neighbours of that Antiochos—everywhere have been made the healing arrangements of His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King in two kinds, [namely], healin arrangements for men and healing arrangements or beasts. Medicinal herbs also, both medicinal herbs for men and medicinal herbs for beasts, wheresoever lacking, have been everywhere both imported and planted. Roots also and fruits, wheresoever lacking, have been everywhere imported and planted. On the roads, too, wells have been dug and trees planted for the enjoyment of man and beast.'


The fullest form of the text (G), which is well preserved, has been translated. The edict, like No. XIII, is of special interest for its bearing upon political history. 'Frontagers,' prachaṁteshu of G.=Sanskrit prâty-anteshu. Choļa. is written Choḍâ in text, the being certain. The letters and are interchangeable, and in many cases has been misread as (Lüders, J. R. A. S., 1911, p. 1037). Pâṇḍya is written Pâḍâ, and in Sh. Paṁdiya. The kingdom of the Choḷas was on the SE. or Madras side of the peninsula, the Coromandel (Choḷamaṇḍala) coast. The ancient capital was at Uṛaiyûr (variously spelt), near Trichinopoly. The kingdom of the Pâṇḍyas corresponded roughly with the modern Madura and Tinnevelly Districts, but sometimes extended further to the west. The early capital, Korkai, at the mouth of the Tâmraparṇi river, was replaced by Madura. It is not certain which place was the capital in Asoka's time. The Satiyaputra people, kingdom, or country is not mentioned elsewhere. In all probability it is represented by the Satyamangalam Tâlûk or sub-division of the Coimbatore District, lying along the Western Ghâts, and bordering on Mysore, Malabar, Coimbatore, and Coorg. The town of the same name commands the Gazalhatti Pass from Mysore, which used to be of strategical importance. Beryls and gold formerly were mined in the region, which still yields some corundum. The Coimbatore District. is full of megalithic structures and prehistoric remains The ancient kingdom may have extended beyond the limits of the present Tâlûk, which has an area of 1,177 square miles. The Satyamangalam country was included in the territory colonized by the Great Migration (Bṛihadcharaṇain), possibly that led by Bhadrabâhu in the days of Chandragupta Maurya. See I. G. (1908) s.v.; Ind. Ant., vol. xli (1912), p. 231; ibid., vol. xlv (1916), p. 200; ibid., vol. xlvi, I917, pp. 22-67. The Keralaputra kingdom, country, or people, equivalent to Chera, is Malabar, now partly in the Bombay, and partly in the Madras, Presidency. The G. reading Ketala- is quite clear and certain. The phonetic change is curious. The most ancient capital was Vanji, Vanehi, or Tiru-Karûr, about 28 miles ENE. of Cochin. See The Tamils Eighteen Hundred Years Ago, Madras, 1904, p. 15. The list of 'frontagers' indicates the extent of Asoka's empire. Tâmraparṇi (Tambapaṁni) here seems to mean the river in Tinnevelly. The ports (Korkai, and later Kâyal) at its mouth had an ancient and lucrative trade in pearls, gems, and conch shells. G. alone reads â Tambapaṁni 'as far as [the] Tâmbaparṇi,' a phrase which indicates that the river is meant, not Ceylon. I now apply the same interpretation to Edict XIII. The reference in the Arthaśâstra to pearls from Tâmraparṇi certainly is to the river. The pearls from it are distinguished from the Kanleya pearls of Ceylon. See my article in Ind. Ant, vol. xlvii (1918), p. 48, and I. G. (1908), s. v. Tâmbraparni. Yona in Yonanrâja (Yavana) is to be interpreted here as 'Greek'. Antiochos is A. Theos, king of Syria or Western Asia (261-246 b. c.), grandson of Seleulms Nikator, the contemporary of Asoka's grandfather, Chandragupta Maurya. The identity of the 'neighbours' is uncertain. They are not necessarily the same as the foreign kings named in R. E. XIII. Samîpaṁ, 'neighbourhood,' of G. is a collective neuter noun (Michelson), equivalent to sûmaṁtâ of K.

Chikîchka is a general term, not meaning in itself 'hospitals,'as Bühler renders, but inclusive of them. The wording of the passage about healing arrangements, medicinal herbs, roots, fruits, trees, and wells varies in the different texts. It is most detailed in G. and K. See P. E. VIII, sec. 5. Asoka's system of state medicine was based on the institutions of his predecessors. Hospitals are mentioned in the Arthaśâtra', Bk. ii, chap. 4, as part of the equipment of a fortified town. A physician was called chikitsika. The interpretation of the edict as a whole may be regarded as finally settled.



(G. text; the variations in other texts are unimportant.)

Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King:—

'When I had been consecrated twelve years this command was issued by me:—

"Everywhere in my dominions the subordinate officials, the Governor, and the District Officer must every five years proceed in succession (anu) on transfer, as well for their other business, as for this special purpose, the inculcation of the Law of Duty (or Piety)," to wit:—

"An excellent thing is the hearkening to father and mother; an excellent thing is liberality to friends, acquaintances, relatives, Brahmans, and ascetics; excellent is abstention from the slaughter of living creatures; excellent is small expense with small accumulation."

The Council also will inculcate [the same] on the offcials in the Accounts Department, with regard both to the principle and the text [of the order].'


'Thus saith.' The formula may have been suggested by the inscriptions of Darius. For the various forms of royal correspondence and orders see Arthśâstra, Bk. ii, chap. 9.

'Twelve years.' The date of the original order here quoted may be earlier than that of the publication of the Fourteen R. E. as a collection.

The meaning of yukta (yuto), first recognized by F. W. Thomas, is now admitted as certain. It is the most general term for officials of minor or intermediate rank. The Râjûka had extensive powers over hundreds of thousands of persons (P. E. IV), and so may be translated by ‘Governor.’ The Prâdesika, an officer charged with executive duties of revenue collection and police ' (Thomas, J. R. A. S., 1914, p. 385), must have been more or less equivalent to the District officer or magistrate and collector of modern India, the Âmil of Mogul times.

The chief difliculty in the document is the interpretation of the technical term anusaṁyâna, which has not been met with elsewhere than in the edicts. It cannot possibly mean 'assembly,' as supposed at one time, nor does the rendering 'circuit' seem to be tenable. Jayaswal rightly points out that the whole administrative staff from the Governor down to the clerks could not possibly all go on circuit at once every five years. He is probably correct in referring to the Sukranîti and interpreting the term as signifying a regular system of transfer from one station or district to another, designed to prevent the abuses apt to arise when officials remain too long in a particular locality (J. B. 0. Res. Soc., iv. 37). That interpretation fits in with the etymology of the term and with the language of the concluding paragraphs of the Provincials' Edict. The summary of the Law is repeated elsewhere, more than once. in slightly variant language, as in R. E. IV. The other difficulty concerns the Word parishad (palisâ), of which the general meaning is 'session' or 'assembly.' In the law books it is usually applied to an advisory council composed of from three to ten Brahmans learned in the sacred law. Here again I agree with Jayaswal in believing that the reference must be to the Mantri—parishad, or Council of. Ministers mentioned in the Arthaśtâstra (Bk. i, ch. 15).

Gaṇanâ certainly is the Accounts Department, as interpreted by D. R. Bhandarkar. The intention may be that the Accountant-General or Controller should see that the transfers were carried out, and salaries only paid in case of obedience. But it must be confessed that the connexion of the final sentence with the rest of the document remains obscure, and some the rendering may be hoped for. The old interpretations were clearly Wrong, and need not be discussed. The phrase hetuto cha vyamjanato cha nndoubtedly refers to the principle and the wording of the imperial commands. A suggested, nearly equivalent, rendering is ‘the spirit and the letter.' Another is 'idée par idée et mot par mot.' Vyanjana in the sense of 'text' has been already met with in the Rûpnâth Minor R. E.

I am not yet satisfied that the exact meaning of this Edict has been thoroughly ascertained.


(G. text; the variations in the other versions are not important.)

'For a long period past, even for many hundred years, have increased the sacrificial slaughter of living creatures, the killing of animate beings, unseemly behaviour (or "discourtesy") to relatives, unseemly behaviour to Brahmans and ascetics.

But now, by reason of the practice of piety by His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King, the reverberation of the war-drums has become the reverberation of thelaw, while he exhibits spectacles of the dwellings of the gods, spectacles of elephants (or "the elephant"), bonfires ("illuminations," Sh.), and other representations of a divine nature.

As for many hundred years before has not happened, now at this present, by reason of the inculcation of the Law of Piety by His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King, have increased abstention from the sacrificial slaughter of living creatures, abstention from the killing of animate beings, secml y behaviour (or "courtesy") to relatives,seemly behaviour to Brahmans and ascetics, hearkening to father and mother, hearkening to elders.

Thus, and in many other ways the practice of the Law has increased, and His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King will make such practice of the Law increase further.

The sons, grandsons, and great—grandsons of his Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King will cause this practice of the Law to increase until the aeon of universal destruction (other texts omit "of universal destruction"). Standing firm in the Law of Piety and in morality they will inculcate the Law. For this is the best of deeds—even the inculcation of the Law. Practice of the Law is not for the immoral man. Both increase and non-diminution in this matter are excellent.

For this purpose has this [document] been caused to be written that they may strive for increase and not give countenance to diminution.

'When he had been consecrated twelve years His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King had this written.'


Ârambho means specially sacrificial slaughter (Thomas) Dhaṁmzacharaṇa is 'practice' of the Law. The phrase 'drum of the Law' is familiar in Buddhist literature. Buddha said: 'I am going to Varâṇasî to sonnd the drum of the Law . . . to turn the wheel of the Law ’ (Rockhill, Udânvarga, xxi, 6, p. 91 ; Trübner, 1892). 'Has become', as the rendering of aho (=abhavat), is preferable to taking that word either as an interjection, 'oh'. or 'lo', or as a conjunction, 'or'. Vimâna, a representation by a processional car or otherwise of the gods' abodes. 'Elephant' may refer either to the representation of Buddha as the white elephant, or to images of the four celestial elephants, the vehicles of the Lokapâlas. Dh. has the plural form hathîni. Agikhandâini (G.) apparently means 'bonfires' or 'fireworks', and possibly a special kind of bonfire, such as the burning palmyra trunk set up at a popular festival to Indra in S. lndia (Ind. Ant., 1915, p. 203). Burnouf rendered 'feux de joie' (Introd., 2nd ed., 1876, p. 568). The corresponding word jotikaṁdhana in Sh. means 'illuminations'. Asoka sought to engage the interest of his people in edifying spectacles concerning things divine rather than in martial display. The spectacles referred to should be, regarded as terrestrial exhibitions, not as celestial phenomena. The general meaning is plain. Fa-hien's description of a grand Buddhist procession at Pâṭaliputra, although centuries later in date, servcs as a commentary.

'Every year,' he says, 'on the eighth day of the second month they celebrate a procession of images. They make a four-wheeled car, and on it erect a structure of live storeys by means of bamboos tied together. . . . They make figures of (dêras, with gold, silver, and lapis lazuli grandly blended, and having silken streamers and canopies bung out over them. On the four sides are niches, with a Buddha seated in each, and a Bodhisattva standing in attendance on him. There may be twenty cars, all grand and imposing, but each one different from the others. On the day mentioned, the monks and laity within the borders all come together; they have singe1's and skilful musicians; they pay their devotions with flowers and incense. The Brahmans come and invite the Buddhas to enter the city. These do so in order and remain two nights in it. All thro h the night they keep lamps burning, have skilful music, an present offerings. This is the practice in all the other kingdoms as Well' (Travels, ch. xxvii, tr. Legge).

Other descriptions of Buddhist edifying spectacles might be quoted. The details, of course, varied from time to time and from place to place.

'The aeon of universal destruction,' saṁvarta—kalpa in Sanskrit, as described in Mbh. 3, Yanap., sec. 188, 12869-90, quoted by Fleet in J.R.A.S., 1911, p. 485 note. 'At the end of the 1,000 Yugas (which make the daytime of a day of the Creator) there will appear seven blazing suns. which will dry up all the waters in the rivers and the oceans. They will be followed by the saṁvartaka fire, the "fire of destruction," accompanied by a great wind,' &c. Sec R. E. V, where the term recurs. Ordinary morality (sila) is distinguished from Asoka's Buddhist form of the Law of Piety or Duty (dhaṁma). 'Give countenance to,' or more literally 'behold.' Bühler renders 'permit,' and Senart 'qu'ils n'en voient (or 'qu'on n'en voie') point.'

Little doubt now remains concerning the interpretation of the whole edict.



(M. text, which is the most complete; material variations exist in other texts.)

Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King:—

'A good deed is a difficult thing. He who is the author of a good deed does a difficult thing. Now by me many good deeds have been done.

Should my sons, grandsons, and my descendants after them until the end of the aeon ["of universal destruction," follow in this path, they will do well; but in this matter he who shall neglect a part of his duty [or "the commandment"] will do ill, because sin easily develops ["is an easy thing," G.].

Now in all the long time past, officers known as Censors [or "High Officers"| of the Law of Piety never had existed, whereas such Censors were created by me when I had been consecrated thirteen years.

Among people of all [non-Buddhist] sects they are employed for the establishment of the Law of Piety, for the increase of that Law, and for the Welfare and happiness of the subordinates of the Law of Piety Department [or? "the faithful of the true religion," Senart], as well as of the Yavanas, Kambojas, Gândhâras, Râsṭrikas, Pitinikas, with other nations on my western frontier.

Among servants and masters, Brahmans and the wealthy, among the helpless and the aged, they are employed in freeing from worldly cares ["greed," G.] their subordinates [in the department] of the Law of Piety.

They are also employed on the revision of [sentences of] imprisonment or execution, in the reduction of penalties, or [the grant of] release, on the grounds of motive, having children, instigation or advanced years.

Here [in the capital; "at Pāṭaliputra," G.], and in all provincial towns, in the female establishments of my brothers and sisters, as well as of other relatives, they are everywhere employed. These Censors of the Law of Piety are engaged everywhere in my dominions, among the subordinate officials of that Law. with regard to the concerns of the Law, the establishment of the Law, and the business of almsgiving.

For that purpose has this scripture of the Law been written, that it may long endure, and that my subjects may act accordingly.'


The subject of the Censors is further treated in XII and P. E. VII. They are styled the High Officers or Ministers of the Law of Piety to distinguish them from their colleagues of equal rank who were the High Officers (mahâ-mâtrâḥ) for the ordinary business of administration. Probably they had the power of life and death, so that a strict administration of their office might easily result in intolerable tyranny, and it is likely that in practice it did so result. Asoka dwells only upon the humane, merciful side of their jurisdiction, which extended even to the ladies of his own family. The appointment of more or less similar oflicials by various Hindu governments in times and localities widely apart is recorded, and it is known that in such cases the prescribed rules of conduct were enforced by tremendous penalties, including death.

Professor D. R. Bhandarkar points out that in the Deccan of the Ândhra. or Sâtavâhana period, before and after the Christian era, persons of the highest social rank are distinguished in suudry inscriptions as Mahâ-raṭhis, Mahâ-bhojas, and Mahâ-senapatis. All the three terms seem to be applied to 'feudatory chieftains.' The Mahâ-bhojas appear to have held the present Ṭhâṇâ and Kolâbâ Districts of the Bombay Presidency, while the Mahâ-raṭhis controlled Poona and the neighbouring Districts.

By detaching the honorific prefix mahâ- or 'great', Raṭhi and Bhoja can be easily recognized as the Râstika and Bhoja of Asoka's R. E. V and R. E. XII respectively. The professor suggests that, in accordance with a passage in the Amguttara-Nikâya as interpreted by the commentator (iii, 70 and 300), the word pitenika (variously spelt) should not be read as a separate name, but as an adjective meaning 'hereditary,' qualifying Râstika in R. E. V and Bhoja in R.E. XIII. The respective renderings, therefore, would be 'hereditary Râstikas' and 'hereditary Bhojas' (Ind. Ant., vol. xlviii (1919), p. 80). The suggestion deserves consideration, although it may not be absolutely convincing.

'Sect' or 'denomination' (pâshmaṇḍa) connotes especially a non-Buddhist, heretical sect. See P. E. V11, where Brahmans, Jains, and Âjîvikas are specified, and also the Toleration Edict, R. E. XII.

'Subordinates of the Law of Piety' (dhaṁmayuta) seems to be the right rendering, not ‘the faithful of the true religion,' as translated by Senart, before the meaning of yukta as 'subordinate official' had become known and accepted. The High Officers or Censors were charged with the duty of keeping their subordinates in order. The five tribes or nations named as requiring the services of the Censors probably were not either generally Buddhists or much inclined to observe the rules of conduct laid down by the imperial moralist. Yavana (Yona) must mean the Greek or Hellenized people on the north-western frontier. The Kambojas are supposed to have occupied the western Himalayas and to have spoken an Iranian tongue. The Grândhâras certainly were the inhabitants of Gandhâra, equivalent to the N.W. Panjâb and adjoining regions. Râshtrikas probably mean the people of Mahâ-râshtra. The position of the Pitinikas (variously spelt) is uncertain. The supposed connexion with Paithan on the Godâvarî is not proved. These last two names are omitted by K.

'On my western frontier,' aparânta.

'Servants and masters,' bhaṭamayeshu. Bhaṭa, Sanskrit bhṛita, should be taken here to mean 'hired servant,' as in the Arthaśâtra. Ayeshu=âryeshu, 'masters,' the inserted m being euphonic (Franke). Other less convincing interpretations have been offered. Bhaya (bhg-ita) sometimes means ‘soldier.’

'Rich,' ibhyeshu. Anatheshu = anâthesu, 'helpless' (Michelson). Cf. the name Anâthapiṇḍka, 'feeder of the poor,' nearly equivalent to the Hindostâinî gharîb-parwar.

The next clause is the most difficult in the edict. Jayaswāl (J. B. 0. Res. Soc., iv. 144-6) rightly explains the technical terms as referring to the Censors’ power of modifying the sentences of convicts on the specific grounds authorized by the law-books. Badha (vadha) seems to mean 'execution with torture'. The Arthaśâstra distinguishes instantaneous death as suddha vudhah. Ambandha certainly means the crimiual's 'motive' or 'intention,' as in Manu, viii. 126, compared with ibid., vii. 16, and other legal texts. Paja (and variants) apparently means 'having children.' Apalibodhaye here may be interpreted as 'reduction of penalty.' The word occurs above in the sense of 'freeing from worldly cares.' but in that case the G. text has the preferable reading aparigodhâya, 'freeing from greed,' which probably represents the original draft. The two forms are fully discussed by F. W. Thomas in J.R.A.S., 1915, pp. 99-106. Karṭabhikara is, I think, correctly interpreted by Jayaswal (loc. cit.) as meaning 'acting under instigation.' The word abhikâra occurs early in this edict in the sense of 'anthor.' 'Female establishments,' orodhaneshu, is better than Bühler's 'harem.' Although the seclusion of females was not unknown in ancient India (Arthaśâstra, Bk. ii, chap. 23), it was not the rule apparently. See R. E. XII for the special mahâmâtras or Censors of Women, whose exact functions are not known. The word 'Here' in this passage evidently means 'the capital,' as the G. reading shows. In other edicts it has to be interpreted differently. The mention of Asoka's 'brothers and sisters' proves the baselessness of the legends accusing him of the slaughter of his brothers. 'In my dominions.' Dh. has the variant 'in the whole earth.'

Although this difficult document is now fairly intelligible as a whole, some details of the interpretation may be regarded as still doubtful.


(G. text; Sh. repeats one clause by mistake.)

Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King:—

'A long period has elapsed during which in the past business was not carried on or information brought in at all times. So by 1ne the arrangement has been made that at all times, when I am eating, or in the ladies' apartments, or in my private room, or in the mews, or in my [?] conveyance, or in the pleasure-grounds, everywhere the persons appointed to give information should keep me informed about the affairs of the people.

And in all places I attend to the affairs of the people. And, if, perchance, by word of mouth I personally command a donation or injunction; or, again, when a matter of urgency has been committed to the High Oflicers, and in that matter a division or adjournment takes place in the Council, then without delay information must be given to me in all places, at all times. Such is my command.

Because I never feel satisfaction in my exertions and dispatch of business. For work I must for the welfare of all the folk ; and of that, again, the root is energy and the dispatch of business; for nothing is more essential than the welfare of all the folk. And whatsoever efforts I make they are made that I may attain release from my debt to animate beings, so that while in this world I make some persons happy, they may win heaven in the world beyond. For that purpose have I caused this scripture of the Law to be written in order that it may endure, while my sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons may take action for the welfare of all folk. That, however, is difficult save by the utmost exertion.'


The older interpretations of this edict, as in my previous editions, we1'e largely erroneous. The true purport of it has been made clear by the Arthaśâstra, which Mr. Jayaswal has applied with satisfactory results. Asoka, in accordance with the precepts of the text-books on state-craft, declares his readiness to attend to business concerned with the public welfare, at all tin1es and in all places, even at the cost of much personal inconvenience. He requires the proper officers (paṭiredakâ) to keep him fully informed without delay on all public affairs, and gives special directions that when a matter of urgency discussed in the Council of Ministers (parisâyain) occasions a division of opinion or adjournment, he must be informed without delay. He then explains the principles on which his action is based.

The best commentary is presented by Arthaśâstra, Bk. i. chap. 19, entitled 'The Duties of a King.' The following passages are specially relevant:

'When in court he shall never cause his petitioners to wait at the door, for when a king makes himself inaccessible to his people and entrusts his work to his immediate officers, he is sure to engender confusion in business, and to cause thereby public disaffection, and make himself a prey to his enemies.

He shall, therefore, personally attend to the business of gods, of heretics, of Brahmans learned in the Vedas, of cattle, of sacred places, of minors, the aged, the afflicted, and the helpless, and of women . . .

All urgent calls he shall hear at once, but never put off; for when postponed, they will prove too hard or impossible to accomplish. . . . Of a king the religious vow is his readiness for action; satisfactory discharge of his duties is his performance of sacrifice; equal attention to all is the presentation of fees and the ablution of consecration.

In the happiness of his subjects lies his happiness; in their welfare his welfare; whatever pleases himself he shall not consider as good, but whatever pleases his subjects he shall consider as good.

Hence the king shall ever be active and discharge his duties; the root of wealth is activity, and of evil its reverse.

In the absence of activity acquisitions present and to come will perish; by activity he can achieve both his desired ends and abundance of wealth.'

Thus it is apparent that Asoka's sententions maxims were not original, but were copied from the approved text-books on state—craft. The Arthaśâstra had had many predecessors. Some special points require brief exposition. Jayaswal translates paṭivedakâ by 'ushers,' such as the Gentlemen Ushers of the English court, but the rendering is not quite satisfactory.

The different texts express 'eating' by three distinct verbs. 'Private room' accurately represents garbhâgâra, a term sometimes applied to the sanctuary of a temple. We learn from Arthaśâsta, Bk. i, chap. 6, that such a room might be underground, and might be made secure by secret stairs and passages.

The word 'mews' is the best representation I can find for vachamhi (vrachaspi, Sh.). Jayaswal certainly is right in taking vṙacha as dialectic for Sanskrit vraja. The same phonetic change occurs again in this edict in vrachaṁ, Sh. (vrajeyaṁ), equivalent to gacheyaṁ, G. Vraja (Arth., Bk. ii, chap. 6) means 'a herd of cattle,' including 'cows, buffaloes, goats, sheep, asses, camels, horses, and mules.' The king was bound to inspect his live-stock, and I use the word 'mews' to include stables, cowsheds, and the like.

The meaning of vinîta is uncertain. The rendering 'conveyance,' signifying especially 'litter' or 'palanquin,' is highly probable (Senart, ii. 280 note). Jayaswal's 'drill' is not tenable.

'Some persons happy.' The word 'some' (nâni) is clear in G. only.

'Scripture of the Law.' Sh. omits 'scripture of.'

'Sons,' &c. Sh. and M. omit 'great—grandsons.' K. has 'sons and wives.'

Except for the one doubtful word vinîta the whole edict is now clearly intelligible, and the new version may be accepted as correct.


(Sh. text ; no important variations.)

'His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King desires that in all places men of every denomination (or "sect") may abide, for they all desire mastery over their senses and purity of mind. Man, however, is various in his wishes and various in his passions. They (soil. the denominations) will perform either the whole or only a part of the commandments. Even for a person to whom lavish liberality is impossible, mastery over the senses, purity of mind, gratitude, and steady devotion are altogether indispensable.'


'The first clause apparently means that no restriction should be placed upon the residence of the adherents of any particular sect or denomination, Asoka's reason being that all the sects alike mean well. Restrictions of the kind hinted at are indicated in Arthaśâstra, Bk. i, chap. 36, by the rule that

'Managers of charitable institutions shall send information (to Gopa or Sthânika) as to any heretics (pâshaṇḍa) and travellers arriving to reside therein. They shall allow ascetics and men learned in the Vedas to reside in such places only when those persons are known to be of reliable character.'

'Passions' is a better rendering of râiga than 'likings,' as in my last edition, or 'attachements,' as Senart.

'l‘he chief difficulty lies in the words niche (ichâ, G.) bâḍhaṁ, rendered by Burnouf as 'toujours bien,' by Senart as 'toujours excellent,' and by Jayaswal as 'always desirable.' Those renderings rest on the hypothesis that niche (nichâ) represents the Sanskrit adverb nityam, 'always.' Thomas agrees that the word meant is nityam, but takes it to be an adjective with the sense of 'permanent' or 'indispensable.' He translates therefore 'altogether indispensable.' Michelson raises phonetic difficulties, but fails to suggest an alternative. Other suggestions have been made. which are not convincing. On the whole, the rendering by Mr. Thomas still seems to me to be the best.

Part of the 'commandment' is the duty of liberality, but obedience to that part may be dispensed with.


(Sh. text.)

In times past Their Sacred Majesties used to go out on so-called "tours of pleasure." In those tours hunting and other similar amusements used to be practised.

His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the present King, after he had been consecrated ten years went out to Bôdh Gaya or "towards supreme knowledge"). Thence arose "tours of piety." In them this is the praetice—visiting ascetics and Brahmaus, with liberality to them; visiting elders, with largess of gold; visiting the people of the country, with instruction in the Law of Piety, and discussion of that Law.

Consequently, since that time a different portion constitutes the pleasuring of His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King.'


'Their Sacred Majesties' (deranmin priya), replaced by 'Kings' (râjâns) in G. and Dh. The passage is interesting as proving conclusively that the style derânâm priya was an established royal title borne by several of Asoka's predecessors. Gr. omits 'so-called' ('nama'). 'In those tours' seems to me to be the meaning of 'here' (atra; eta, G.; iha, M.; hidâ, K.) In the later sentence beginning 'In them' the word is atra, Sh. and M.; etayaṁ, G.; and hetâ, K. 'The present King,' so, Sh. and M.; se, G.; omitted in G. Fleet rendered 'this same king.'

The puzzle lies in the words nikrmi' (ayâya, G.) sambodhiṁ. Most scholars take them to mean that Asoka entered on the 'eight-fold path' of 'right views, right feelings,' &c., which leads to saṁbodhi, or supreme knowledge in the Buddhist sense. The person starting on that path is described as saṁbodhi-parâyaṃo, 'intent on smhbodhi ' (Rhys Davids, Dialogues, 1st ser., p. 190; Buddhism (1899), p. 108). That interpretation may be correct. But D. R. Bhandarkar contends that the verbs must be interpreted in a physical sense, so that saṁbodhi should be taken as equivalent either to bodhi, meaning the bodhi tree, or to Mahâbodhi, meaning the temple at Bōdh Gayā (Ind. Ant., vol. xlii (1913), p. 159). That interpretation seems to be possible, but I am inclined to accept the general opinion.

Asoka in his programme for 'pious tours,' as usual, followed prescribed rules. The Arthaśâstra (Bk. i, chap. 21) directs that the king attended by trusty bodyguards armed with weapons shall give interviews to saints and ascetics.' Compare also the passage from ibid., chap. I9, quoted in the comment on R. E. VI. The moralists treated hunting as one of the four heinous vices due to desire, namely, hunting, gambling, women, and drinking, some writers considering hunting to be worse than gambling, but the author of the Arthaśâstra (Bk. viii. chap. 3) points out that the practice of the chase has its good side. 'Elders' presumably mean the honoured senior members of the Buddhist saṁgha. The concluding words bhâge (bhagi) aṁñe (aṁñi) are nominatives in apposition to rati, 'pleasuring.' Senart and Büler's rendering 'in exchange' is not strictly accurate, although it gives the general sense. Asoka seems to mean that his virtuous conduct has given him a different and better share of what is really worth having than that enjoyed by his frivolous predecessors.

Except for the doubt about saṁbodhi the translation of this edict may be accepted as settled.


(K. text, which is practically perfect, and in substantial agreement with Sh. and M. The G., Dh., and J. texts form a distinct group.)

Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King:—

‘People perform various ceremonies. In sickness, at the weddings of sons, the weddings of daughters, the birth of children, departure on journeys—on those and other similar occasions people perform many ceremonies. Nay, the womankind perform many, manifold, trivial, and worthless ceremonies.

Ceremonies, however, have to be performed, although that kind bears little fruit. This sort, on the other hand, to wit, the ceremonial of piety, bears great fruit. In it are included proper treatment of slaves and servants, honour to teachers, gentleness towards living creatures, and liberality towards ascetics and Brahmans. These things and others of the same kind are called the Ceremonial of Piety.

Therefore ought a father, son, brother, master, friend, or comrade, or even a neighbour to say: "This is excellent, this is the ceremonial to be performed until the attainment of the desired end."

This I will perform, for the ceremonial of this world is of doubtful eflicacyj perehance it may accomplish the desired end, perchance it may not, and it remains a thing of this world. This Ceremonial of Piety, on the contrary, is not temporal; because, even if it fails to attain the desired end in this world, it certainly produces endless merit in the world beyond. If it happens to attain the desired end here, then both gains are assured, namely, in this world the desired end, and in the world beyond endless merit is produced by that Ceremonial of Piety.'

Instead of the passage from 'This I will perform' to the end, G., Dh., and J. have:—

'And it has been said—"Excellent is liberality." But there is no such liberality or favour as the liberality of piety, the favour of piety. Therefore should a friend, lover, relative, or comrade exhort, saying, "This is to be done, this is excellent, by this it is possible for you to win heaven." And what is better worth doing than the winning of heaven?'


The variations between the texts in both substance and language are larger than usual. Bühler translated the Sh. text, but his readings and version require some correction.

Maṁgalgaṁ includes all rites and ceremonies performed for lnck or to avert possible calamity. Sometimes such rites include animal sacrifices, which Asoka abhorred. Buddha's condemnation of all omen—taking or other superstitious practices is expressed in the Maṅgala-Jâtaka (No. 87, Cambridge transl., vol. i, p. 215). Abakajani, which I have rendered 'womankind,' is expressed by the more or less equivalcut terms, balika jmzika in M., mahiḍâya in G., and by striyaka in Sh. The last two terms certainly mean 'womankind.' The phrase in K. might be rendered 'mothers and wives.' 'Nurses,' too, has been suggested for the first element. Âbâdha, which I have translated 'sickness,' following Senart, is rendered 'misfortunes' by Bühler, and 'troubles' by Thomas, perhaps more accurately. For the Maurya law concerning slaves and hired servants see Arthaśâstra, Bk. iii, chap. 13. 'Teachers' (guru); but the word may be rendered 'elders,' so as to agree with other similar passages. Either translation is verbally correct. The correct reading of the passage 'This I will do' is due to Hultzsch (J. R. A. S., 1913, p. 654). Sh. inserts the words 'even after it is actually attained' (nirutaspi va puna); M. has the like. Bühler's and other early readings and renderings are wrong. 'The desired end' (taṁ athaṁ); the idiom occurs in the Arthaśâstra and elsewhere.

The text and translation may now he accepted as settled, subject to doubts as to the exact meaning of abkajaṁyo. The purport of the document is sufficiently plain.


(G. text; the other texts do not vary materially.)

'His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King does not believe that glory or renown brings much profit unless in both the present and the future my people ohediently hearken to the Law of Piety and conform to its precepts. For that purpose only does His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King desire glory or renown.

Whatsoever exertions His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King makes, all are for the sake of the life hereafter, so that every one may be freed from peril, and that peril is vice.

Difficult, verily, it is to attain such freedom, whether by people of low or of high degree, save by the utmost exertion, giving up all other aims. That, however, for him of high degree is difficult.'


This and the next document are the easiest of the R. E. The translation of Edict X in the second edition stands unaltered.

'My people,' me jans. In the other texts me refers to the royal teaching. 'Freed from peril,' apa—parisrare, more literally 'with as little (alpa) peril as possible.' Some of the ideas are repeated in R. E. XIII.

Milton offers a strikingly close parallel:—

'They err who count it glorious to subdue
By conquest far and wide, to overrun
Large countries, and in field great battles win,
Great cities by assault. . . .
But, if there be in glory aught of good,
It may by means far different be attained,
Without ambition, war, or violence-
By deeds of peace, by wisdom eminent,
By patience, temperance.' . . .

(Paradise Regained, III, 71-92).


(Sh. text; there are no material variations in the other texts.)

Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King:—

'There is no such almsgiving as is the almsgiving of the Law of Piety, friendship in piety, liberality in piety, kinship in piety.

Herein does it consist—in proper treatment of slaves and servants, in hearkening to father and mother, in giving to friends, comrades, relations, ascetics, and Brahmans, in abstaining from the sacrificial slaughter of living creatures.

This ought to be said by father, son, brother, master (omitted by G.), friend, or comrade, nay, even by a neighhour—"This is excellent, this ought to be done."

Acting thus a man both gains this world and in the other world produces endless merit, by means of this almsgiving of piety.'


This edict also is easy to understand, and my former version holds good without substantial change. The matter is almost a verbal repetition of the conclusion of Edict IX as given in G.

'Almsgiving of the Law of Piety' means the free communication of good advice and teaching in the spirit of that Law. I think sambandho is better rendered by 'kinship' than by 'association,' which Mr. Thomas prefers. The concluding clause is phrased differently in G. without change of meaning.

The document is aptly illustrated by an inscription of Niśśanka Malla, King of Ceylon (a.d. 1187–96), which records that 'this pious monarch enjoyed the bliss of almsgiving, as he sat granting largess with great happiness, hearing many joyous shouts of "sâdhu" and the like, and imparting the gift of piety (dâna-dharmma), which is the noblest of all gifts' (Arch. S. Rep. Ceylon, for 1902 (lxvii of 1907), p. 11). Niśśanka Malla, like Asoka, bestowed his bounty alike on all sects and classes, on Brahmans and Buddhists, on natives and foreigners.

Another illustration comes from an unexpected place, the first extant letter of Cromwell, dated at St. Ives, Jan. 11, 1635 (Carlyle), which lays down the propositions that 'building of hospitals provides for men’s bodies; to build material temples is judged a work of piety; but they that procure spiritual food, they that build up spiritual temples, they are the men truly charitable, truly pious.'

(G. text; no material variations in other texts.)

'His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King does reverence to men of all sects, whether ascetics or householders, by gifts and various forms of reverence.

His Sacred Majesty, however, cares not so much for gifts or external reverence as that there should be a growth of the essence of the matter in all sects. The growth of the essence of the matter assumes various forms, but the root of it is restraint of speech, to wit, a man must not do reverence to his own sect or disparage that of another without reason. Depreciation should be for specific reasons only, because the sects of other people all deserve reverence for one reason or another.

By thus acting a man exalts his own sect, and at the same time does service to the sects of other people. By acting contrariwise a man hurts his own sect, and does disservice to the sects of other people. For he who does reverence to his own sect while disparaging the sects of others wholly from attachment to his own, with intent to enhance the splendour of his own sect, in reality by such conduct inflicts the severest injury on his own sect.

Concord, therefore, is meritorious, to wit, hearkening and hearkening willingly to the Law of Piety as accepted by other people. For this is the desire of His Sacred Majesty that all sects should hear much teaching and hold sound doctrine.

Wherefore the adherents of all sects, whatever they may he, must be informed that His Sacred Majesty does not care so much for gifts or external reverence as that there should be growth in the essence of the matter and respect for all sects.

For this very purpose are employed the Censors of the Law of Piety, the Censors of the Women, the (Z) Superintendents of pastures, and other [official] bodies. And this is the fruit thereof—the growth of one’s own sect and the enhancement of the splendour of the Law of Piety.'


'Sects' (pâsaṁhda) is a more convenient word when often repeated than the longer term 'denomination,' which is preferred in R. E. VII and XIII. 'Revernce,' pûjâ. Compare R. E. IX and P. E. VI, VII, sec. 7. 'Reason' is used in the sense of 'particular occasion' or 'justification,' the 'légitime occasion' of Senart.

'Concord' (samavâyo) suits the context better than the samayo, 'self-restraint,' of Sh.

'Growth in the essence of the matter and respect for all sects.' I follow Senart in taking bahukâ as a substantive, meaning 'respect,' contrasted with lahukâ, 'depreciation,' in an earlier passage. Bahukâ was treated as an adjective meaning 'large' by Bühler.

The Censors or High Officers of the Law of Piety have been fully discussed in the comment on R. E. V. The similar officers appointed specially to look after the morals of the women evidently were a later institution, because when R. E. V was issued the duty of superintending the female establishments of the royal family was left in the hands of the officials responsible for the general enforcement of the Dhaṁma.

Nobody knows the exact meaning of vachabhûmikû, equivalent to vraja-°, as in R. E. VI. The officials alluded to may be the Superintendents of Pastures, whose duties are defined in Arthaśâstra Bk. ii, chap. 34. That work contains many provisions about the regulation of pasture lands. Vraja, as we have seen, means a herd of domestic animals. It would be possible to treat Vraja-bhûmi as a proper name, the land of Braj near Mathurâ. (Muttra). But it is not apparent why the vajrabhûmikas should be selected for mention here. Nikâya is a general term for a class, body, or community. Here it evidently refers to official bodies or hoards. With the exception of the one obscure term above noticed, this edict, although expressed in unusually abstract language, is fully intelligible.

All the Indian sects, creeds, or forms of religion had much in common; and most of the ancient Indian kings were tolerant of religious or sectarian differences. The persecutions which occurred occasionally were exceptional, as observed ante, pp. 62, 63.

The subject of the edict is illustrated by one of the 'Happy Sayings of Akbar, that 'every sect favourably regards him who is faithful to its precepts, and in truth he is to be commended' (Âîn, transl. Jarrett, vol. iii, p. 391). The Arthaśâstra (Bk. xiii, chap. 5) goes so far as to advise that the king who annexes foreign territory should follow his new subjects 'in their faith with which they celebrate their national, religious, and congregational festivals or amusements. . . . He should always hold religious life in high esteem.' Readers of Machiavelli will remember the similar counsels in The Prince.

The edict was engraved on a separate boulder at Shâhbâzgarhi, a peculiarity which suggests that its principles must have been regarded as being of exceptional importance for the people in that region.


(Sh. text, which is almost perfect; some variation in K.; the other texts very imperfect.)

'Kalinga was (or "the Kalingas were") conquered by His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King when he had been consecrated eight years. One hundred and fifty thousand persons were thence carried away captive, one hundred thousand were there slain, and many times that number died.

Directly after the Kalingas had been annexed began His Sacred Majesty’s zealous protection of the Law of Piety, his love of that Law, and his inculcation of that Law. Thence arises the remorse of His Sacred Majesty for having conquered the Kalingas, because the conquest of a country previously unconquered involves the slaughter, death, and carrying away captive of the people. That is a matter of profound sorrow and regret to His Sacred Majesty.

There is, however, another reason for His Sacred Majesty feeling still more regret, inasmuch as the Brahmans and ascetics, or men of other denominations, or householders who dwell there, and among whom these duties are practised, [to wit], hearkening to superiors, hearkening to father and mother, hearkening to teachers (or "elders"), and proper treatment (or "courtesy to") of friends, acquaintances, comrades, relatives, slaves, and servants, with steadfastness of devotion—to these befalls violence (or "injury"), or slaughter, or separation from their loved ones. Or violence happens to the friends, acquaintances, comrades, and relatives of those who are themselves well protected, while their affection [for those injured] continues undiminished. Thus for them also that is a mode of violence, and the share of this distributed among all men is a matter of regret to His Sacred Majesty, because it never is the case that faith in some one denomination or another does not exist.

So that of all the people who were then slain, done to death, or carried away captive in Kalinga, if the hundredth part or the thousandth part were now to suffer the same fate, it would be matter of regret to His Sacraed Majesty. Moreover,should anyone do him wrong, that too must be borne with by His Sacred Majesty, so far as it can possibly be borne with. Evcn upon the forest folk in his dominions, His Sacred Majest looks kindly, and he seeks to make them think. [aright] for [otherwise] repentance would eome upon His Sacred Majesty. They are hidden to turn from their [evil] ways that they be not ehastised. Because His Sacred Majesty desires for all animate beings security, self—contro1, peace of mind, and joyousness.

And this the chiefest conquest in the opinion of His Sacred Majesty, that conquest of the Law of Piety, which, again, has been won by His Sacred Majesty both here [in his own doininions] and among all his neighbours as far as six hundred leagues, where the king of the Greeks named Antiochos dwells, and to the north of that Antiochos [where dwell] the four (4) kings named severally Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas, and Alexander——[likewise] in the south, the Cholas and Pâṇḍyas as far as the Tamraparni [rive1']—and here, too, in the King’s dominions——among the Greeks, Kâmbojas, the Nâbhapantis of Nâbhaka; among the Bhojas, Pitinikas, Andhras, and Pulindas—everywhere they follow the instruction of His Sacred Majesty in the Law of Piety.

Even where the envoys of His Sacred Majesty do not penetrate, these people, too, hearing His Sacred Majesty's ordinance based upon the Law of Piety and his instruction in that Law, practise and will practise the Law.

And, again, the conquest thereby won everywhere is everywhere a conquest full of delight. Delight is won in the conquests of the Law. A small matter, however, is that delight. His Sacred Majesty regards as hearing much fruit only that which concerns the other world.

And for this purpose has this scripture of the Law been recorded, in order that my sons and grandsons, who may be, may not think it their duty to conquer a new conquest.

If, perchance, a conquest should please them (?) they should take heed only of patience and gentleness, and regard as a. conquest only that which is effected by the Law of Piety. That avails for both this world and the ncxt. Let all their joy be that which lies in effort; that avails for both this world and the next.'

Supplement in G. only (Senart, vol. i, p. 323).

. . . 'the white elephant bringing indeed happiness to the whole world.'


This long, important, and interesting edict, which was imperfectly known when Senart wrote in 1881, is now fully intelligible, except in certain small details. The decipherment. of the well-preserved Sh. text has cleared up most of the difficulties.

‘Kalinga,' 'the Kalingas,' or 'the Three Kalingas,' the province on the coast of the Bay of Bengal between the Mahânadî and Godâvarî, nearly equivalent to Orissa. The early history of the kingdom at various periods is treated in the Khâravela inscription (J. B. 0. Res. Soc., vols. iii, iv). The date of the conquest by Asoka in his ninth regnal year would fall approximately in 261 b.c.

'Inasmuch as the Brahmans and ascetics…to these befalls.' The reading and interpretation have been corrected by Hultzsch (J. R. A. S., 1913, p. 655).

‘Because it never is the case,’ &c. M. supplies an interesting variant, ‘There is no country where these (two) classes, (viz.) the Brâhmaṇas and the Sramaṇas, do not exist, except among the Greeks (Yoneshu)' (Hultzsch, ibid.).

'Should any one do him wrong.' This remarkable sentiment recurs in the Kalinga Borderers' Edict. R. E. XIII was not published in Kalinga. For the 'true conquest' idea see comment on R. E. X.

Antiochos, scil. Theos (261–246 {{smallcaps|b.c.), has been already mentioned in R. E. II.

'The four (4) kings.' The numeral figure is in the text. Ptolemy (Turumaye), scilo. Philadelphos of Egypt (285–247 b.c.). Antigonos (Aṁtikini), scil. Gonatas of Macedonia (278 or 277–239 b.c.); Magas (Maka) of Cyrênê to the west of Egypt, half-brother of Ptolemy Philadelphos. He declared his independence of Egypt about 285 b.c., and died in 258 b.c. Alexander is usually identified with a king of Epirus (272–? 258 b.c.), who opposed Antigonos Gonatas, but Beloch prefers to see a reference to a certain Alexander of Corinth.

'In the south,' nicha (Senart). For the Cholas and Pâṇḍyas see comment on R.E. II. The Keralaputra and Satiyaputra are not mentioned in this edict. Tâmraparni (Taṁbapaṁni) here, as in R. E. II, means the river in Tinnevelly, and not Ceylon. Yonas (Yavanas) mean, as in R.E. II, the Greek or Hellenized people on the NW. frontier. We have already met the Kâmbojas and Pitinikas in R. E. V. The Bhojas occupied the Ilichpur (Ellichpur) region in Berar or Vidarbha (Collins, Geogr. Data of the Raghuvaṁśa, Leipzig, 1907, p. 37).

The 'Nabhapantis of Nâbhaka' (Nabhake Nabhitina, the 'Nâbhake Nabhapaṁitishu of K.) have not been identified. The Arthaśâstra (Bk. i, chap. 6) mentions an ancient king named Nâbhâga. The Ândhras are well known. They were a powerful nation mentioned by Pliny, and after Asoka's death established a great kingdom stretching across India, which lasted for over four centuries, with fluctuations of dominion. See E. II. I., latest ed. The term Pulinda was used vaguely to denote wild hill-tribes. Here it probably refers to people like the Bhîls in the Vindhya and Sâtpura hills.

The next sentence shows that Asoka's envoys or missioners, dûta, carried on his propaganda among all the peoples named.

'Scripture of the Law,' dhramamipi, or dhaṁmalipi, K., as in other passages. Nipi, not dipi, is the correct reading (Hultzsch).

'If, perchance, a conquest should please them.' The translation has been suggested by Hultzsch, but the meaning is uncertain. Senart and Bühler took sara as 'by arrows,' or 'by arms,' a forced interpretation not likely to be right. 'Patience' seems to be the best rendering of kshânti (châtiṁ), but 'mercy' and 'forbearance' are alternatives. Asoka, as elsewhere, proclaims that his teaching results in 'delight,' 'joy,' or 'joyousness,' and insists on the superior claims of the next world.

The supplementaiy imperfect inscription appended only at G. seems to refer to the lost figure of an elephant, such as is incised on the rock at K. with the legend Gaj [o]tame (gajottama), 'the most excellent elephant.' At Dh. an elephant carved in relief looks down upon the inscriptions (E. H. I. frontispiece). The elephant was a familiar symbol of Buddha.


(G. text, which is slightly fuller than Sh.; all three, K. being the third, are well preserved.)

'This scripture of the Law of Piety has been written by command of His Sacred Majesty the King, [in a form] sometimes condensed, sometimes of medium length, and sometimes expanded; and everything is not brought together everywhere. For great is my dominion, and much has been written, and much shall I cause to be written.

And certain phrases have been uttered again and again by reason of the honeyed sweetness of this topic or that, in the hope that the people may act accordingly. It may be that something may have been written incompletely by reason of mutilation of a passage, or of misunderstanding, or by a blunder of the writer.'


This epilogue serves as an official commentary on the Fourteen Edicts describcd collectively as a Scripture of the Law of Piety. No attentive reader can fail to see the application of Asoka's remarks. The verbal repetitions are numerous to a wearisome degree, and many examples of the condensed, medium, and expanded expositions might be cited. 'Brought together' is offered as a rendering of the Sanskrit ghaṭitam (G.), ghaṭiti (Sh.), ghaṭite (K.). Senart translates réuui, that is to say 'gravé complet et sans omission.'

I do not understand how Bühler got the sense 'suitable.' which I adopted formerly.

'Much has been written' applies apparently to the Minor R. E., the Fourteen R. E.. and the Kalinga E. The inscriptions to be written seem to mean the Pillar and Minor Pillar E. 'Mutilation of a passage.' The words, equivalent to Sanskrit deśam saṁkhyâya, are susceptible of several interpretations. Deśaṁ may be taken to mean a 'part,' or 'commandment,' or 'space.' I follow Senart's rendering, 'soit qu'un passage ait été tronqué.'

As a matter of fact, blunders in the extant copies of the edicts are rare, Most of the apparent errors assumed by the early interpreters to exist were due to defective facsimiles. But mistakes do occur, as, for example. at Shâhbâzgarhi. passages are accidentally repeated in at least two instances.

The 'copy' from which the stone-cutter worked must have been scrupulously accurate as a. rule, and the cutting of the letters on the rock is beautifully executed in most cases.


The Kalinga Edicts

(Separate or Detached Edicts of earlier authors.)


(Separate or Detached Edict No. 2 of Prinsep, Bühler, &c.; J. text, facs. and transcript in A. .S. S. I. (Amarâvatî vol., 1887), p. 127, P]. lxix.)


Thus saith His Sacred Majesty:—

At Samapa the High Officers are to be addressed in the King's words, as follows :—

'Whatsoever my views are I desire them to be acted on in practice and carried into effect by certain means. And in my opinion the chief means for attaining this purpose are my instructions to you.'

"All men are my children;" and, just as I desire for my children that they may enjoy every kind of prosperity and happiness both in this world and in the next, so also I desire the same for all men.

[If you ask] "With regard to the unsubdued borderers what is the king's command to us?"

[The answer is that—] "The King desires that 'they should not be afraid of me, that they should trust me, and should receive from me happiness, not sorrow.' Moreover, they should grasp the truth that 'the King will bear patiently with us,' and that 'for my sake they should follow the Law of Piety and so gain both this world and the next.'"

And for this purpose I give you instructions. Thereby being freed from my debt, giving instructions to you and making known my will, my inflexible resolve and promise.

Now you, acting accordingly, must do your work, and must make these people trust me and grasp the truth that "the King is to us even as a father; he loves us even as he loves himself; we are to the King even as his children."

By instructing you and intimating my will, my inflexible resolve and promise, I shall be provided with [trained] local officials for this business, because you are in a position to make these people trust me and to ensure their prosperity both in this world and in the next, and by so doing you may win heaven and also effect my release from debt [or "discharge your debt to me"].

And for this purpose has this scripture of the law of piety been Written here, in order that the High Officers may strive without ceasing both to secure the confidence of these borderers and to set them moving on the path of piety.

And this scripture must be recited at the beginning of each season of four months on the Tishya day. In the intervals also it may be recited. On occasion it may be recited even to one person.

By acting this you should endeavour to fufil my instructions.'


This edict is now fully understood, and my former version stands almost unchanged. It and the companion document possess special interest as recording avowedly the very words of Asoka, who thus speaks to us from the rocks in his own person across the centuries. The translation of the two Kalinga Edicts is difficult by reason of the frequent changes from the third to the first person involved in the quotations from the sovereign's words. The two documents concern only the conquered province of Kalinga and the wild tribes dwelling on its borders, as they still dwell. These two edicts take the place of R. E. XI, XII, XIII, not published in Kalinga. The composition which I call the Borderers' Edict comes first upon the rock, following R.E. XIV. The text at Jaugada in the Ganjâm District, Madras, is substantially in perfect condition. That at Dhauli, in the Puri District, Orissa, is much mutilated. The texts agree in almost every detail, except that the Dhauli proclamation is addressed to the Prince and High Officers at Tosali, the capital of the newly-annexed province, whereas that at Jaugaḍa. is addressed to the High Officers of Samâpâ. Dhauli, according to M. M. Haraparshad Śâstrî, is a phonetic equivalent of Tosali. The ancient ruins surrounding the inscription rock at J augada evidently are to be identified with Samâpâ. The Prince (Kumâra) at Tosalî, presumably was one of Asoka’s sons, the offspring of one of the lawful Queens; see P. E. VII, sec. 7.

Both of the Kalinga Edicts were intended solely for the guidance of the officials of high rank entrusted with the administration of a country lately hostile and continually troubled by the presence on its borders of wild, half-savage tribes, who needed firm, though kindly, paternal government. The principles inculcated are admirable, and it is curious to find the leading propositions repeated in a proclamation issued in 1848 by an English oflicer who is not likely to have been acquainted with the Kalinga Edicts. Mr. Cust's proclamation at Hoshyârpur in the Panjab includes the following passages: 'What is your injury,I consider mine; what is gain to you, I consider my gain . . . Tell those who have joined in the rebellion to return to me, as children who have committed a fault return to their fathers, and their faults will be forgiven them ' (Aitchison, John Lawrence, p. 46, Rulers of India series).

A few points of detail require brief notice.

'Views'—literally, 'whatever I see' (dakhâmi).

'All men are my children;' an echo of the saying 'All beings are my children,' ascribed to Buddha, and found both in the Lotus de la bonne Loi, Burnouf, p. 89, and in the Dharma-saṅgraha, II, as quoted by Kern, Manual of Indian Buddhism (Strassburg, 1896), p. 61.

'Bear patiently;' compare R. E. XIII. The phrase 'discharge of debt' occurs also in R. E. VI

'I shall have (trained) local officials,' desâ âyutike hosâmî, literally, ‘I shall be local-oflicialed,’ an odd phrase. The âyuktas were the subordinate civil service.

The Tishya day is the day on which the moon is supposed to be in conjunction with the constellation so named. The three seasons are still recognized in parts of India. In the Arthaśâsta the division into six seasons is adopted. Bühler points out that Asoka's practice accords with that prescribed in the ancient Biahmanical sûtras. The few innovations introduced by Asoka into the established system of government were all directed to the propagation of dharma, as viewed by him from a Buddhist stand-point.


(References as for Edict I; Dh. text.)


In the words of His Sacred Majesty the High Officers administering the town are to be [addressed as follows:—

'Whatsoever my views are I desire them to be acted on in practice and carried into effect by certain moans. And in my opinion the chief means for this purpose are my instructions to you, because you have been set over many thousands of living beings that you may gain the affection of good men.

"All men are my children;" and, just as I desire for my children that they may enjoy every kind of prosperity and happiness both in this world and in the next, so also I desire the same for all men.

You, however, do not grasp this truth to its full extent. Some individual, perchance, pays heed, but to a part only, not the whole. See then to this, for the principle of government is well established.

Again, it happens that some individual incurs imprisonment or torture, and when the result is his imprisonment without due cause, many other people are deeply grieved. In such a case you must desire to do justice.

However, with certain natural dispositions success is impossible, to wit, envy, lack of perseverance, harshness, impatience, want of application, laziness, indolence. You must desire that such dispositions be not yours. The root of the whole matter lies in perseverance and patience in applying this principle of government. The indolent man cannot rouse himself to move, yet one must needs move, advance, go 911.

In the same way you must see to your duty, and be told to remember:—"See to my commands; such and such are the instructions of His Sacred Majesty." Fulfilment of these bears great fruit, non-fulfilment brings great calamity. By those who fail neither heaven nor the royal favour can be Won. Ill performance of this duty can never gain my regard, Whereas in fulfilling my instructions you will gain heaven and also pay your debt to me.

This scripture must be recited every constellation of Tishya day, and in the intervals between the Tishya days, on fit occasions it may be recited even to a single hearer. By such action you must endeavour to fulfil my intentions.

For this purpose has this scripture been here-inscribed in order that the administrators of the town may strive without ceasing [lit. "all the time"] that the restraint or torture of the townsmen may not take place without due cause.

And for this purpose, in accordance with the Law of Piety, I shall send forth in rotation every five years such persons [lit. "a person"] as are of mild and temperate disposition, and regardful of the sanctity of life, who knowing this my purpose will comply with my instructions.

From Ujjain, however, the Prince for this purpose will send out a similar body [of officials], and will not over-pass three years.

In the same way—from Taxila.

When the High Officers aforesaid . . . proceed on transfer in rotation,[then without neglecting their own [ordinary] business, they will attend to this matter also, and thus will carry out the king's instructions.'


The Jaugaḍa. text is addressed to the corresponding officers at Samâpâ. The Prince is not mentioned in either text, apparently because he was too exalted to be concerned. In so far as this document is identical with Ka-linga Edict I, the Borderers' Edict, see the comment on that edict.

'Administering,' viyohâikâ.

'Principle of government,' nîti. Bühler renders 'maxims of government,' Senart-, 'obligations morales.' I understand that Asoka alludes to the Nîti-śûstras, or treatises on the principles of government, which are either closely related to or identical with the class of works called Arthaśâstra. The existing treatises professedly devoted to Nîti, although much later than Asoka, must be based, like the Arthaśâstra of Kautilya, on lost ancient books.

'Torture;' the word corresponding with the Sanskrit parikleśa should be rendered 'torture,' not 'ill-usage,' as in my earlier version. Senart long ago rightly translated 'torture.' The discovery of Kauṭilya's Arthaśâtra has exposed the horrible Maurya law on the subject of judicial torture, which had come down from much earlier times, 'in the Śâtras of great sages,' as Kauṭilya affirms. The subject is fully treated in Bk. iv, chapters 8, 9, 11. Chapter 10 deals with mutilation and alternative fines, supposed to be equivalent. Chapter 8, which is devoted to 'trial and torture to elicit confession,' provides that 'those whose guilt is believed to be true shall be subjected to torture,' of which eighteen appalling kinds are enumerated. The victim might be compelled to endure any or all of those kinds. When- Asoka. refers to 'torture without due cause' he seems to mean arbitrary torture applied without regard to the law. The irregularities of officials such as those denounced in general terms by Asoka. are dealt with specifically in chapter 9, which enacts among other things that the superintendent of a jail who subjects a prisoner to unjust torture shall be fined 48 (silver) paṇas, probably nearly equivalent to either shillings or francs. If such an officer shall have beaten a prisoner to death, the fine was 1,000 paṇas. Execution was often accompanied by deliberate legal torment, as explained in chapter 11. It is clear that Asoka. maintained the ferocious criminal code of the Arthaśâstra and of his grandfather. He merely tried to remedy abuses in administration by admonition and supervision, but no man can now tell how far he succeeded or failed.

For the meaning of anusaṁyâna' see comment on R. E. III.

'Regardful of the sanctity of life.' The word used, as Bühler points out, represents the curious Sanskrit compound ślakshṇârambhaḥ, which means 'sparing in sacrificial slaughter.'

Both Taxila and Ujjain were the capitals of princely Viceroys, ordinarily sons of the sovereigns by principal queens. Literary tradition represents Asoka as having served his father at both cities before his accession. We cannot explain with certainty why it was thought necessary to transfer the officials in the outlying provinces every three years. 'Similar body [of officials];’ the word used represents the Sanskrit varga.

I think it may be said both that this document is now completely intelligible, and that the translation offered is entitled to acceptation as being correct.