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  • Tên sách : Asoka & His Inscriptions
  • Tác giả : Beni Madhab Barua
  • Dịch giả :
  • Ngôn ngữ : Anh
  • Số trang : 368
  • Nhà xuất bản : New Age Publisher- Calcutta
  • Năm xuất bản : 1955
  • Phân loại : Sách tiếng Anh-English
  • MCB : 1210000002555
  • OPAC :
  • Tóm tắt :


          The present work on Asoka and his Inscriptions is the outcome of a prolonged study of the inscriptions and legends of the great Maurya emperor in their manifold historical bearings” Since I was initiated into the study of Indian inscriptions at first-hand in 1912 by the late Professor R. D. Banerji, then a Superintendent of the Archaeological Section of the Indian Museum, Calcutta, my strong conviction was that with a mere knowledge of the palaeography indispensable to decipherment and of the dictionary meaning of the words employed was not in itself sufficient for either a correct interpretation of the epigraphs or a thorough grasp of their importance as historical documents. A first-hand knowledge of contemporary literature and its language was as much a desideratum as the historical training and intellectual equipment for a proper assessment of their evidentiary values. In other words, the mere epigraphist or the mere linguist was incompetent to fulfil this task. And since I became associated with the Post-Graduate teaching in Arts inaugurated by Sir Asutosh Mookerjee in the premier Indian University of Calcutta, I began to press the need of supplementing the teaching of the inscriptions by trained epigraphists with that imparted by capable teachers in the language and literature departments, the epigraphic evidence being inseparable from the collective literary evidence.

          The original plan was just to edit the inscriptions including also those subsequently discovered or deciphered since the publication of Hultzsch’s work. Failing to publish the edition thus prepared for some reason or other, I had to remain content with the publication of Part II of my first work containing translations and notes. Encouraged by the reception accorded to this publication, I set my heart upon the present work intending it at first to serve as a short historical introduction to the first work. The present extension of its scope was far beyond my original contemplation. The widening of the historical vision has been partly due to a desire to justify the digression made from the path of the history of Indian Philosophy often regretted by Professor Sir Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan and other sincere friends and well-wishers, and partly due to a desire to vindicate, however imperfectly, the way of studying history from a philosophical and scientific point of view, treating the history of a country primarily as a comprehensive view of its collective life-movement. Here the reader may find the results of an honest endeavour for the realisation of some of the ideas formulated by me in the Presidential Address delivered in the Ancient Indian Section of the Indian History Congress held at Annamalainagar, South India, in December, 1945.

          Thus it will be seen that my work on Asoka and his records has grown up by at least three stages with the result that some of the earlier interpretations have been either completely abandoned or appreciably amended at a later stage; some of the questions which were left open in the previous publication have been finally decided in the present work. The reader’s attention may particularly be drawn to the discussion of the significance of Asoka’s epithets Devãnaippriya and Priyadasi lãjã Magadhe, the place of Pitinikas in relation to the Ristikas and Bhojas, and the precise import of Asoka’s statement sila vigadabhĩ chã kalapita. The relative values of the Asoka inscriptions and legends as materials for an authentic history have been carefully discussed. Nothing has been taken for granted. There is no foregone conclusion. The entire position of the history of Asoka has been critically reviewed in the light of the data derived mainly from a first-hand study of the inscriptions. The official functions of the Aipta-mahãmãtas have been placed on a sure footing. Part I has been devoted to such relevant themes as Aáoka’s personal history, empire, state, administration, personal and public life, dharma, dharmavijaya and place in history, while Part II, which is rather of a technical nature and, therefore, of little or no interest to general readers, has been devoted to the important problems that are apt to arise in connection with the study of the inscriptions from a purely linguistic and literary point of view. The appendix to Part I contains an instructive paper written by Dr. Iswarlal Topa of the Osmania University on Aáoka’s dhamma-culture.

          It will be seen that the legends of Asoka have been discredited wherever they have been found lacking in corro­boration from the inscriptions. I hope, I have not failed to appraise them properly. The historical vision is not confined to India. In dealing with Asoka, the historian is required to review the whole of the past, contemporary and subsequent history of mankind,—of sava munsã, all men. Accordingly Asoka’s Jambudvipa in which he sought to commingle gods and men or men and gods, to make, in other words a heaven of earth and an earth of heaven was, in one sense, the sub­continent of India, and, in another, the whole world of men. Concerning Asoka’s own records, that which disappoints us is their incompleteness and the cause of regret is that he had not caused all his dhamma-niyamas to be recorded. This deficiency of his records has been made up with the side-lights from as many sources as possible, including the Classical writings.

          I am one of those with whom the Arthasãstra up­holding the advanced political views ascribed to one Kautilya i.e., the treatise, as we now have it in prose, is the handiwork of a later exponent. There were, nevertheless, an earlier work, probably in verse—a Dandanlti with its prototypes in the pre-Asokan Mahãbhărata and Jatakas. It will be in vain, I think, to father the work in its present form on the political adviser of Chandragupta Maurya. Tables of parallels given in Part II may enable the reader to distinguish, partly at least, between what is pre-Asokan and what is post-Asokan in this important treatise on royal polity. I have been concerned to point out the difference and distinction even where at the first sight a verbal resemblance exists between one dictum and another. And I strongly feel that it is as much important to note the points of agreement as to note the points of difference. It is not for me to say how far I have succeeded in returning a correct verdict on the set of facts hitherto known to me. Certain it is that the pronouncement of a verdict on what might have been is not the business of the historian; he is primarily concerned with what it was. The judgements on ‘might have beens’ have gravely prejudiced the part played by Asoka in the history of India as well as of mankind. I am sorry that I could not help joining an issue with three of the great Indian scholars for whose writings I have otherwise nothing but admiration.

          I am painfully aware of the fact that human mind is not free from bias or prejudice either within the four walls of a university or within the bounds of the four oceans, Asoka who by his Dharmavijaya policy raised India in the estimation of the civilized world for all times to come is held responsible for the political or national decline of the Hindus, forgetting the fact that there was no idea of ‘nation’ or ‘nationality’ in India before Asoka. If Asoka’s grandfather Chandragupta was great, he was great not for being a tool at the hands of an Indian, Machiavelli but for his success, as observed by Justin, in making India free, “shaking off from its neck the yoke of slavery”. If the Arthasasrta embodies the political maxims of a Kautilya, this is worked with all its shrewdness and sagacity to strengthen the position of an ambitious monarch aspiring only to be a mighty despot. If Kautilya’s king believed that he was by his nationality just as much an Indian as his ministers and officers, viceroys and commissioners, there is no reason why he should have been advised not to trust any of them. The Magadhan method of administration, as noticed by Megasthenes, was a method, which evolved through a long line of rulers from the Bfihadrathas down to the Nandas, and the much idolised Kautilya is nothing but a lineal descendant of Varshakara, the Brahman minister of Ajataáatru who proved to be a veteran in the nefarious art of sowing the seeds of disssension in the neighbouring Vrijian confederacy.

          It is still uncertain whether Asoka’s Pãrindas were the Pulindas of the Purãpas. The name Pãrinda occurs in the Pali Cholavaipsa (XXXVIII. 29-30) in which Parinda and Khuddapãrinda are mentioned as two sons of a Pãndya King. It is possible, therefore, that the Parindas were racially connected with the Pandyas.

          The facts are presented as far as these could be gathered from all available sources and ascertained, the findings are given for what they are worth, and the labours of previous scholars are fully utilised. Whether the views and interpretations offered by previous scholars are accepted or rejected, reasons have been given for that. Even if the findings be found untenable, the facts stand as they are, and this alone is my satisfaction that I have honesty tried to facilitate a rational understanding of what is what.

          My indebtedness to the whole body of Asokan scholars headed by Prinsep and Cunningham and led further afield by Buhler and Senart is very great indeed. This does not mean, however, that the data of history should not be re-examined and revalued. If anyone has read or can interpret the Asokan records and legends better, his or her suggestions and criticism are always welcome, but mere disparagement is certainly not the better part of valour. Fortunately, I am not altogether alone to take a different view of the history of Asoka.

          When my right to deal with the ancient Indian inscriptions, particularly Asokan, was challenged by some of the epigraphist colleagues in the University, Mr. P. N. Banerjee M. A. Barrister-at-Law, then a Fellow and Syndic of the Calcutta University, rendered a most friendly service by asking me to vindicate my position, which in his opinion was unquestionable in this respect. I took up the challenge forthwith and published the paper entitled “Inscriptional Excursions” in the Indian Historical Quarterly, Vol. II, No. 1, 1926, with the kind assistance of its editor, Dr. N. N. Law. I sincerely regret the polemical rune of my writing, although its worth was openly recognized by Professor D. R. Bhandakar in the revised edition of his Carmichael Lectures on Asoka. But the compliment which I then paid to Mr. Banerjee stating that he was “a friend of all earnest scholars” stands Justified all the more now when he has assumed his new responsible office of the Vice-Qiancellor.

          Bhandarkar’s original lectures on the subject were followed by Hultzsch’s masterly edition and translation of the Inscriptions of Aáokạ and Professor Radhakumud Mookerji’s monograph and Professor Raychaudhuri’s Political History of Ancient India. Among the bonafide Pali scholars, Mr. Charan Das Chatterji, M. A., now Reader of Indian History at the University of Lucknow, and among my colleagues, Mr. Sailendra Nath Mitra, M. A., now Secretary to the Councils of Post-Graduate Teaching in Arts and Science, evinced a keen interest in the study of the Asokan inscriptions from the Buddhist literary point of view. I particularly wanted Mr. Mitra to prepare a critical edition of these inscriptions with as many close literary parallels as possible. He took up the work in right earnest only to give it up when he was about to reap a good harvest of his arduous labour. Thus I was compelled at last to do the work, with the assurance from Mr. Mitra that he would place at my disposal the new materials he was able to collect from various sources. These have been duly acknowledged wherever I have used them.

          I am grateful to Dr. Syamaprasad Mookerjee, ‘President of the Council of post-graduate Teaching in Arts, Calcutta University, for his genuine interest in the progress of this work and no less to Dr. B. C. Law for his generosity. Among the senior and junior colleagues, I must gratefully mention the name of Professors S. K. Chatterji and Stella Kramerisch, Dr. N. R. Roy, the Bagiswari Professor of Fine Arts, and Messrs D. L. Barua, N. N. Dasgupta and Sultan Alam Choudhury for their helpful suggestions.

          Mr. S. N. Mitra, Mr. Amitesh Banerjee, Professor of History, Daulatpur Hindu Academy, and my eldest son Mr. Basubandhu Barua, M. A. have helped me in deciding some of the disputed points. Mr. Anantalaỉ Thakur M. A., a University Research Scholar attached to me, has kindly prepared the indices, and my sixth daughter, Snehakana, has prepared the maps of Jambudvlpa, Atoka’s empire and five Greek territories.

          A critical edition of the Pali counterparts of Buddha’s Discourses recommended by Atoka in his Bhabru Edict, which is prepared by Mm. Professor Vidhusekhara Bhattacharyya and which is being seen through the press, may be regarded as a useful supplement to this work.

          The word tushtadanam, which is employed in the Arthasastra obviously as an equivalent of Atoka’s tufhayatana, does not support Dr. Hetti Arachi’s equation of tuthayatana with Pali tuthayatana.

          Dated, Calcutta,                                                             B. M. Barua

          The 20th May, 1946.




  1. Sources of information
  2. Their relative values

Personal History

  1. Consecration
  2. Conversion
  3. Accession
  4. Viceroyalty
  5. Early life, parentage, brothers and sisters
  6. Predecessors and pedigree (a) Social status
  7. Wives and children
  8. Successors
  9. Length of reign and last days
  10. Reign proper


  1. Extent of domain proper
  2. Extent of empire
  3. Sphere of influence
  4. Pataliputra, the capital



  1. Population
  2. Territory
  3. Sovereignty
  4. Government
  5. Constitution
  6. Method and policy
  7. Military strength and war policy
  8. Sources of revenue



  1. Imperial administration
  2. Provincial administration


Personal and Public Life

  1. Asoka the man
  2. Asoka the king



  1. As rajadharma
  2. As upasaka-dharma
  3. As universal religion



  1. Definition of Dharma-vijaya
  2. Dhrama-vijaya of great Epic
  3. Trailokya-vijaya of the Karaijdavyũha
  4. Digvijaya of Agni
  5. Dharma-vijaya of Asoka


Place in History

  1. Services to Buddhism
  2. Role as nation-builder
  3. Political reaction of Dharma-vijaya


Asoka and his Dhamma Culture      

By Dr. Ishwarlal Topa


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