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How King Asoka Institutionalized BuddhismBuddhism and Jainism in Ancient and Medieval IndiaDhamma sadhu kiyam cu dhamme ti Apasinave bahu kayane daya dane sacesocaye -- Dhamma is good but what constitutes Dhamma It includes little evil muchgood kindness generosity truthfulness and purity In the third century BC there lived a king described by the historian HG Wells asa ruler who stood out amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd thecolumns of history and shines almost alone a star Wells was referring to thelegendary Buddhist king Asoka The exact dates of Asokas birth and death are stilldebated by scholars even today However it is generally excepted that he was bornsometime late in the fourth century BC or early third century BC Although Buddhistliterature preserved the legend of Asoka for many years there was not any definitivehistorical record of his reign It was in the 19th century that these records were providedMany edicts were found in India Nepal Pakistan and Afghanistan These edicts wereinscribed on rocks and pillars and exhibited Asokas reforms and policies During hisreign c 265-238 BC also given as c 273-232 BC Asoka practiced his policy ofconquest by Dhamma principles of right life The policy was three pronged administration based on Dhamma instruction in Dhamma for the populace and personalpractice of Dhamma by the ruler The results of this practice were instantly visibleamong Buddhist circles across India as well as in neighboring countries The durabilityand significance of these edicts are a testament to the legacy of King Asoka and are stillPerhaps the most striking example of Asokas policy of administering his domainbased on the Dhamma is his adoption of Buddhist philosophy after his bloody conquestof Kalinga Centered in east-central India Kalinga had recently succeeded from theMagadhan dynasty in about 321 BC Shortly thereafter Kings Asoka in only his eighthyear of reign reconquered the area in a battle described as one of the most brutal clashesin Indian history Supposedly the hardships suffered
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