Asoka was not only great as missionary, but was also great as a ruler. The examples he showed as a king are rare in the annals of monarchs. The finest principles of his administration were announced in his Kalinga rock Edict. He proclaimed: “All men are my children. Just as for my children I desire that they been united with all welfare and happiness of this world and of the next, precisely do I desire it all for men.” Asoka thus appears as a paternal king who considered it his duty to work for the happiness of has subjects.
Asoka’s prime objective was to work both for material and spiritual welfare for men. The Dharma Mahamatras were appointed to look to that. On the material side, the emperor ordered for liberality and charity towards the needy; for protection of the interests of different sects of people; for protecting people against injuries; for reduction of punishments to criminals and for release of old men or fathers of many children from prisons etc. Only the spiritual side, he taught people all those values, which made life nobler and better.
Besides Dharma Mahamatras, he also appoints Rajukas “shall make themselves acquainted with what gives happiness or pain, and exhaust the people of provinces along with the faithful, so that they may give happiness in this world and in the next.” The emperor further wrote: “just as a person feels confident after making over a child to a clever nurse, saying unto himself: ‘the clever nurse desires to bring up my offspring’, even so have I appointed the Rajukas for the welfare and happiness of the provincials, in order that they may perform their duties without fear, with confidence, and without perplexity.”
Asoka taught of his administrative works as sacred duties. He commanded his officers to be a dutiful, sincere and just. His inscriptions are full of instructions for the servants of the state. As regards himself, he wanted to be only duty always and everywhere. He announced: “At all hours and in all places, whether I am eating or am in the closed apartments, in the inner chamber, in the royal rancho, only horseback or in pleasure orchards, the reporters may report People’s business to me. People’s business I do at all places.”
Asoka’s administration was humanitarian and liberal. He wanted to reduce the sufferings of men in their actual living. For pilgrims he built inns. For travelers, he built roads. For men and animals, he laid orchards. All these public works were undertaken in proportion to the gigantic size of the empire. Asoka’s period was as time of hectic activities in the service of men.
In his unbound kindness, the emperor thought of minimizing bodily pain of both man and animals. He established all over his empire centers of medical treatment. They were of two kinds, one for men, and other for animals. Medicinal plants and herbs were planted extensively.
A political ruler though he was, Asoka’s concept of rule was ethical. He considered the service of men as a religion of ruler. But what for? To him, as king was in debt to his people. It is by duty that he should release himself from that debt. His philosophy of Government can be summed up in his following words:
“There is no higher duty than the welfare of the whole world .and what little I made, what is it for? In order that I may be free from debt to the creatures, that I may render some happy here and that they may gain heaven in the next world.”
What Asoka thought for his people and what actually he did for them make him they noblest of the king’s history ever possessed. That settles his place in history as the greatest of the monarchs.