Indian History: Asoka’s Dhamma (Need of Dharma)

Indian History: Indus And Vedic Civilisation

Indian History: Foreign Relation of Asoka

Indian History: Decline of The Mauryas

‘Father and mother must be obeyed; similarly respect for living creatures must be enforced, truth must be spoken. These are the virtues of the law of Duty (or “Peity”. Dhamma) which must be practisd. Similarly, the teacher must be reverenced by the pupil, and proper courtesy must be shown to relations.

This is the ancient standard of duty (or “Piety”) – leads to length of days and according to this men must act.

The three obligations – of showing reverence, respecting animal life, and telling the truth – are inculcated over and over again in the edicts.

Besides, it was meant for all – Buddhists, brahmins, Jains and Ajivikas, In the way, it was the sara or the essence of the good principles of all religions. Also, while pleading on behalf of his dhamma, Asoka passionately appealed for toleration towards all religions and a reverence for each other.

Had this dhamma got anything to do with Buddhist principles, Asoka would have openly stated so in his edicts since he never southt to hid/his support for Buddhism. For that matter, Asoka did not incorporate any of the fundamental tenets of Buddhist faith such as the Four Noble Truths, the chain of casualty the sacred eight-fold path, and the Nirvana. The omissions, also with repeated reference to the concept of svarga or heaven (a Hindu belief) show that his dhamma cannot be identified with Buddhism.
Since Asoka’s dhamma was not intended for the cause of Buddhims during his dharama-yatras, he not only visited various places of Buddhist importance, but also gave gifts to sramanas and Brahmins. Most of all, even after entrusting the propagation of dhamma to the Dharma Mahamatras, Asoka continued to style himself as the beloved of the devas, a Hindu concept, since there were no Gods in Buddhism at that time.

Asoka specifically states that his missions were sent to various places (Ceylon and various Western countries) and maintains that they were all successful. It is difficult to accept this claim because historical evidence shows that his officials overshot the mark. Definitely, there was resentment against their way of doing things. It is known from evidence that Asoka presumed that not only he was a seeker of truth but also he did reach the truth. Such convictions are always harmful. Most of all, it is important to note that there is no authentic proof that his missions were a success. Significantly, none of Asoka’s successors continued the propagation of dhamma. Far worse is the fact that in the later ages, his pillar inscriptions came to be misunderstood as symbols of phallus.