Asoka’s inscriptions are in a variety of dialects. Most of his edicts are written in the official language of the empire-the eastern dialect, Magadhi.

In the remote provinces in the north-west, west and the south, the edicts were either modified under local influences or translated into the local dialects.

The inscriptions found in the Ganga-Yamuna basin and in Dussa are in the eastern dialect of Magadhi.

In the west the Rock Edicts of Girnar are in a dialect which may be called western, while a north-western variety is found in the edicts of Mansehra and Shahbazgarhi.


In the inscriptions of Rupnath, Sanchi, Bhabra and further south in the Deccan at Maski, Siddapura and Yerragudi, the language is almost the same as that of the eastern dialect.

The Arthashastra of Kautilya, Bhadrabahu’s Kalpasutra and the Buddhist work, Katha Vatthu, are considered the three main Indian works belonging to the Mauryan period.

Megasthenes’ Indika is considered the best of all the foreign accounts of the Mauryan period. However, the original Indika has been lost and some of its excerpts are available in works of classical Greek writers like Strabo and Diodorus who flourished in the first century bc.

Arrian, who wrote in the second century al), and Pliny the Elder, the Latin writer who also flourished in the first century ad, also appended portions of Indika in their works.