Indian history reveals the heroic deeds of great men. One bright star of Indian history was the first emperor to follow the principles of Ahimsa, Love and Peace. My hero is none other than the Emperor Ashoka-The Great.
The grandson of Chandragupta and the son of Bindusar, Ashoka was brought up in Patliputra. In 273 BC he ascended the throne of the Mauryan Empire, founded by Chandragupta, with a desire to expand his kingdom and unite India under his only rule. He began his conquests winning each war like a brave soldier.
The Kalinga war in 261 BC changed him completely. Seeing the great loss of lives and wealth he pledged never to wage war in future. The main factor that changed his heart was the self-immolation of a dancing woman from Kalinga who died fighting for him.
He devoted the rest of his life to the promotion of peace. He inspired people to be truthful, loving and dutiful. Though he adopted Buddhism and made it the state religion, he believed in religious tolerance. He also sent the priests to the neighboring kingdoms for the spread of Buddhism. The numerous inscriptions found on the rocks and pillars tell us about his religious edicts.
He worked for the welfare of his subjects. He made new laws, appointed ministers and made justice common for all the sections of the society. All the social services were provided to the people.
The improvement of roads and construction of shelter homes for the travelers led to the development of trade. In order to prevent cruelty to animals he banned animal slaughter throughout his kingdom. He devoted his life to the service to humanity and their well-being.
Art and sculpture also flourished under his rule. Even today, the Stupas at Gaya, Sarnath and Sanchi reflect his fine taste of architecture. The Ashok Chakra and the Lions of the iron pillar hold their importance in our national flag and stamps. These two symbols always remind us of Ashoka’s greatness.
Ashoka was a man of high learning. He had a strong character. He maintained friendly relations with the neighboring kingdoms. He was the most respected Emperor who won the hearts of all his subjects. He really was “The Great”.