Emperor Ashoka Deathbed Memoir
I am Maurya Ashoka from India, and I was the emperor of the Indian subcontinent (land of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) during the period of 269-232 BCE where by I ruled for approximately forty years (Vincent, 1901). This paper describes my achievement in politics, art, architecture, religion, and intellectual life as well as a description of some of actions that can make history judge me harshly, and the form of legacies I am proud of.
As I reflect back on my political life as the emperor of the Indian subcontinent, I can count on several political goals that I was able to achieve. Extending the empire under my authority throughout southern and western India is one of great political achievement I succeeded in the period of 260 BC where by I managed to manipulate and command my strong army to conquer the powerful royal soldiers of Kalinga forces. During my political reign, I was also able to establish and put into force principles of “Not to Harm” by putting in place rules that stopped hunting and quarrelsome sport activities and the powerful army under my command maintained peace and law in my empire (Bentley, 1993).
Demolishment of systems that were practicing forced labor and forcing foreign people to be their servants for several years before having freedom to settle on their own work was another political goal that I achieved in my reign as an emperor. As a leader, I was able to establish good relations with other states across Asia and Europe, which promoted trade in the empire under my rule. In my political life, I was also able to come up with a strategy that geared to massive public works building campaigns throughout my empire that contributed to more developments (Vincent, 1901).
In my reign, priests and ministers of Hindu religion had a role to play in my empire court and I supported Buddhist missioners who advocated for people to join their religion regardless of their color and gender and pleaded with people to embrace the virtue of helping one another. I also contributed in bringing together the third Buddhist council of India and south Asia Buddhist orders that helped in making Buddhist religion better and at the same time spreading it. I commissioned Buddhist missioners to go to Sri Lanka, west Asia, Greece and south East Asia and I requested them to build monasteries, schools and to print literature of Buddhist for people to read in order to gain knowledge on Buddhism (Sarao, 2007).
Art and Architectural Work
A lot of ancient Buddhist artwork and architecture in subcontinent India were as result of my influence as an emperor. Stupas made of bricks and which served as sacred places of worship as well as free standing Sarnath pillar that is made of monolithic columns are among of my architectural work. Examples of my important architecture are Indra`s pole also called yashti, the Axis Mundi which is also named as kambha and they are related to Vedic and ancient holy places and also with the dhvaja kingship (Vincent, 1901). The key characteristic of my pillars is that they do not have visible bases but instead, they are seen originating from a ground logged with water and in most cases, my architecture work had a lion picture, which was a representation of royal symbol.
Actions that can lead to Harsh History Judgment
The most fearful action and I regret of is when I commanded my army to fight the Kalinga force with a purpose of extending my territory in which more than one hundred thousand soldiers and common citizen of Kalinga were killed (Bentley, 1993). I felt guilty of my action as I walked through the land of Kalinga after the victory when I saw many number of dead bodies and the cries of family members of the people who had died. The sight of this scene made me become sick, I recall asking myself question of why I did that, whether what I did was a victory, and if yes what could be called defeat. I also asked myself whether what I did was fair or unfair and whether I was justified to kill innocent children and women in order to expand the empire and for prosperity while destroying the other’s kingdom and it splendor. I thought of how women would have lost their husbands, other children their parents and some parents their children or unborn infant and I questioned myself whether the dead bodies were marks of victory or defeat. This strong guilty made me change my chaotic thinking and I converted from Hinduism to Buddhism religion since Buddhist religion was supporting virtues for caring and helping others (Sarao, 2007).
Among the achievements that am proud of are; schools and monasteries that were built under the influence of my authority and the Buddhist literature that were published through my support. My contribution in supporting Buddhist missioners’ as they evangelized to people to join their religion is also a legacy I left since many people were converted and started embracing the virtue for helping others.
Jerry Bentley. (1993). Old Encounters: Cross Cultural Contacts and Exchange in Premodern Times. Newyork. Oxford press, pg44-50.
K.T.Sarao. (2007).A Text Book of the History of Theravada Buddhism (2nd ed).Department of Buddhism Studies. University of Delhi. Pg 89-93.
Smith, Vincent. A. (1901). Ashoka. The Buddhist Emperor of India. Rulers of India Series.Oxford.Clarendon press, pg139-150.