Ashoka was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from c. 268 to 232 BCE.Ashoka was born to the Mauryan emperor, Bindusara and Subhadrangī (or Dharmā).He was the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the Maurya dynasty.According to Roman historian Appian, Chandragupta had made a “marital alliance” with Seleucus; there is thus a possibility that Ashoka had a Seleucid Greek grandmother.Ashoka had several elder siblings, all of whom were his half-brothers from the other wives of his father Bindusara.
Bindusara’s death in 272 BCE led to a war over succession. Bindusara wanted his elder son Susima to succeed him but Ashoka was supported by his father’s ministers, who found Susima to be arrogant and disrespectful towards them.The Dipavansa and Mahavansa refer to Ashoka’s killing 99 of his brothers, sparing only one, named Vtashoka or Tissa .The coronation happened in 269 BCE, four years after his succession to the throne.
Ascending the throne, Ashoka expanded his empire over the next eight years, from the present-day Assam in the East to Balochistan in the West; from the Pamir Knot in Afghanistan in the north to the peninsula of southern India except for present day Tamil Nadu and Kerala which were ruled by the three ancient Tamil kingdoms.
Ashoka is believed to have had five wives. They were named Devi (or Vedisa-Mahadevi-Shakyakumari), the second queen, Karuvaki, Asandhimitra (designated agramahisī or “chief queen”), Padmavati, and Tishyarakshita.
Kalinga was a prosperous region consisting of peaceful and artistically skilled people. Known as the Utkala .Kalinga was under the rule of the Nanda Empire until the empire’s fall in 321 BCE .Ashoka set himself to the task of conquering the newly independent empire as soon as he felt he was securely established on the throne .Ashoka was successful in conquering Kalinga – but the consequences of the savagery changed Ashoka’s views on war and led him to pledge to never again wage a war of conquest.Ashoka had seen the bloodshed and felt that he was the cause of the destruction. The whole area of Kalinga was plundered and destroyed. Some of Ashoka’s later edicts state that about 100,000 people died on the Kalinga side and an almost equal number of Ashoka’s army, though legends among the Odia people – descendants of Kalinga’s natives – claim that these figures were highly exaggerated by Ashoka. As per the legends, Kalinga armies caused twice the amount
of destruction they suffered.The Kalinga War prompted Ashoka, already a non-engaged Buddhist, to devote the rest of his life to ahimsa (non-violence) and to dharma-vijaya (victory through dharma). Following the conquest of Kalinga, Ashoka ended the military expansion of the empire and began an era of more than 40 years of relative peace, harmony, and prosperity.
His patronage led to the expansion of Buddhism in the Mauryan empire and other kingdoms during his rule, and worldwide from about 250 BCE .Prominent in this cause were his son Mahinda (Mahendra) and daughter Sanghamitra (whose name means “friend of the Sangha”), who established Buddhism in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).Ashoka’s military power was strong, but after his conversion to Buddhism, he maintained friendly relations with three major Tamil kingdoms in the South–namely, Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas–the post-Alexandrian empire, Tamraparni, and Suvarnabhumi. His edicts state that he made provisions for medical treatment of humans and animals in his own kingdom as well as in these neighbouring states. He
also had wells dug and trees planted along the roads for the benefit of the common people.
Ashoka believed that Buddhism is beneficial for all human beings as well as animals and plants, so he built a number of stupas, Sangharama, viharas, chaitya, and residences for Buddhist monks all over South Asia and Central Asia. According to the Ashokavadana, he ordered the construction of 84,000 stupas to house the Buddha’s relics.Ashoka also sent many prominent Buddhist monks (bhikshus) like Madhyamik Sthavira to modern Kashmir and Afghanistan; Maharaskshit Sthavira to Syria, Persia / Iran, Egypt, Greece, Italy and Turkey; Massim Sthavira to Nepal, Bhutan, China and Mongolia; Sohn Uttar Sthavira to modern Cambodia, Laos, Burma (old name Suvarnabhumi for Burma and Thailand), Thailand and Vietnam; Mahadhhamarakhhita Sthavira to Maharashtra (old name Maharatthha); Maharakhhit Sthavira and Yavandhammarakhhita Sthavira to South India.
The Lion Capital of Ashoka , a sculpture of four Asiatic lions standing back to back, on an elaborate base that includes other animals.It was originally placed atop the Aśoka pillar at the important Buddhist site of Sarnath by the Emperor Ashoka, in about 250 BCE.This Lion Capital of Ashoka from Sarnath has been adopted as the National Emblem of India and the wheel (“Ashoka Chakra”) from its base was placed onto the center of the National Flag of India.