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The Edicts of Ashoka

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History of Ashoka’s Pillars and information regarding it
Ashoka was the third ruler of the Mauryan Dynasty and was one of the most powerful kings of the Indian subcontinent in ancient times. His reign in India dated from 273 B.C. to 232 B.C. Ashoka’s empire included most of India, South Asia and beyond, present Afghanistan and parts of Persia in the west, Bengal and Assam in the east and Mysore in the south. In Buddhist literature, Ashoka has been described as a cruel and merciless emperor. But after the Kalinga War, he embraced Buddhism and devoted his life to the principles of religion. Ashoka built several stupas and pillars in different parts of the country. One of these pillars, which is situated in Sarnath, has been adopted as the National Emblem of India.

1. History of Ashoka’s Pillar

After becoming a Buddhist, Emperor Ashoka got Buddhism propagated in countries other than India. He sent his son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra to Sri Lanka to propagate Buddhism. Ashoka had built eighty-four thousand stupas in three years and pillars in several places in India. These pillars became most famous due to their distinctive sculptures. In fact, the pillar of Sarnath was a memorial to the incident of Dharmachakra enforcement and was established to maintain the intactness of Dharmasangha.

2. How was the Ashoka’s pillar built?

The Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath was constructed from a nearly 45-foot-long sandstone block of Chunar. Its barrage is spherical except for the ground base, which becomes progressively thinner at the top. It has a larynx above the lash and apex above the larynx. Underneath the throat is the inverted lotus with pendulous parties. The circular larynx is divided into four parts. Live replicas of elephant, horse, bull, and lion have been engraved on them respectively. The top of the throat has four lion sculptures attached to each other from the back. In the middle of these four lions is a small bar that carried the 32 Tilli Dharmachakra, which symbolized the 32 great signs of Lord Buddha. This pillar is amazing in terms of its sculpture and polish. At present, the lower part of the pillar is in its original place. Only a few pieces of Dharmachakra were available.

3. Importance of lions in Ashoka’s Pillar

In Buddhism, the lion is considered synonymous with the Buddha. Synonyms of the Buddha include Shakyasimha and Narasimha. We find this in Pali’s stories. For this reason, the Dhammachakkpavattana Sutta preached by the Buddha has been called the Singhagarjana of the Buddha.

These roaring lions are visible as Dhammachakkpavattana. After the Buddha attained enlightenment, the monks went in all four directions and ordered ‘Bahujan Hitaya Bahujan Sukhaya’ for public welfare in Isipatan (Mrigadava), which is known as Sarnath today. Therefore, the third ruler of the Mauryan Empire, Chakravartin Ashoka, the great, the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya, built a sculpture of four roaring lions here. At present we call it an Ashoka Pillar.

4. Where is the Ashoka Pillar located in India?

Emperor Ashoka built pillars for the propagation of Buddhism in various parts of India and engraved Buddha’s teachings as inscriptions on these pillars. Here we are going to tell you about some of the important pillars made by Ashoka, the Great.

4.1 Ashoka Pillar, Sarnath

A pillar of Ashoka, the great is located in Sarnath which was built in 250 B.C. The pillar of Sarnath is known as Ashoka Pillar. Four lions sit on the top of the pillar and all have their backs adjacent to each other. India has adopted the Ashoka Pillar of Sarnath as its national symbol. In addition, the chakra at the bottom of the Ashoka Pillar is placed in the central part of the Indian tricolor. For your information, let us tell you that that the Ashoka Pillar has now been kept in the Sarnath Museum. Three articles have been written on the Ashoka Pillar, the first of which is of Ashoka’s time and has been written in Brahmi script, while the second article is from the Kushana period and the third article is from the Gupta period.

4.2 Ashoka Pillar, Allahabad

This pillar is situated outside the Allahabad Fort. It was built in the 16th century by Emperor Akbar. Inscriptions of Ashoka are written on the exterior of the Ashoka Pillar in the Brahmi script. Samudragupta brought the Ashoka pillar from Kaushambi to Prayag in 200 A.D. and the Prayag-Prashasti composed by his court poet Harisen was carved on it. After this, the story of Mughal emperor Jahangir ascending the throne in 1605 A.D. has also been engraved on the Ashoka Pillar in Allahabad. The pillar is believed to have been demolished in 1800, but in 1838 the British erected it again.

4.3 Ashoka Pillar, Vaishali

This pillar is located in Vaishali, Bihar. Emperor Ashoka is believed to have become a follower of Buddhism after Kalinga Vijay and erected an Ashoka Pillar at Vaishali. Since Lord Buddha gave his last sermon at Vaishali, this pillar was built in the memory of him. The Ashoka pillar at Vaishali is quite different from the other pillars. At the top of the pillar is a flawed figure of a lion whose mouth is in the north direction. It is considered to be the direction of the last journey of Lord Buddha. Next to the pillar is a brick stupa and a pond, known as Ramkund. It is a sacred place for Buddhists.

4.4 Ashoka Pillar, Delhi

The pillar, built by Ashoka, the great, is located in Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi. This Ashoka Pillar of Delhi was built in the Indian subcontinent by the great Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century B.C. This pillar is 13.1 meters tall and has been constructed of polished sandstone. It is believed that earlier this pillar was located in Meerut but when Feroz Shah Tughlaq came to Meerut in around 1364, he was fascinated by the beauty of this pillar. After this, he took this Ashoka Pillar from Meerut to Delhi and got it installed in his fort.

4.5 Ashoka Pillar, Sanchi

This pillar is located in Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh. This pillar was built in the third century and its structure is influenced by the Greco Buddhist style. As a remnant of the ancient history of Sanchi, this pillar still stands strong today and despite being centuries old, it looks newly constructed. It is also very similar to the Sarnath pillar. Four lions are seated at the top of the Ashoka Pillar in Sanchi.

Apart from this, Ashoka’s pillars are also located in:
– Nigali Sagar and Rummindei (Lumbini), Nepal
– Rampurwa and Lauria Nandangarh (Champaran), Bihar,
– Lauria Araraj (Champaran, Bihar) and Amravati (Guntur, Andhra Pradesh)

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