The Rock Edicts was the first tangible evidence of, how Buddhism spread under the patronage of the most powerful monarchs of Indian history. These edicts were deciphered by the British archaeologist and historian James Prinsep. Edicts were basically decoding of practical instructions in running kingdom such as the irrigation systems design and descriptions of Monarchs beliefs in peaceful moral behaviour.
Major Rock Edict I
In this rock edicts, King prohibited animal slaughter especially during the festive gatherings.
Major Rock Edict II
In this rock edict, there are descriptions of Kingdoms of South India like Chola, Pandyas, Satyapura and Keralputra. It also provides for care for man and animals.
Major Rock Edict III
It was made after 12 years of Asoka’s coronation. It says that the Yuktas (subordinate officers and Pradesikas (district Heads) along with Rajukas (Rural officers) shall go to the all areas of kingdom every five years and spread the Dhamma Policy of Asoka. It also decoded the practical instructions to generosity to Brahmins.
Major Rock Edict IV
Dhammaghosa is ideal to the mankind and not the Bherighosa. Impact of Dhamma on society.
Major Rock Edict V
It states about the concerns about the policy towards slaves and mentioned the appointment of Dhammamahamatras. And also in this rock edict, Ashoka mentions that”Every Human is my child”.
Major Rock Edict VI
It describes King’s desire to get informed about the conditions of the people constantly. In other words, talks about welfare measures.
Major Rock Edict VII
It decoded the practical instructions of King to tolerance for all religions - “To foster one’s own sect, depreciating the others out of affection for one’s own, to exalt its merit, is to do the worst harm to one’s own sect.”
Major Rock Edict VIII
It describes Asoka’s first Dhamma Yatra to Bodhgaya & Bodhi Tree.
Major Rock Edict IX
It condemns the popular ceremonies like ceremonies after birth, illness, marriage and before setting out of journey. It also stress on the practice of dhamma.
Major Rock Edict X
It condemns the fame and glory and reasserts the merits of the dhamma policy.
Major Rock Edict XI
It explained the policy of dhamma and also emphasises the act of individual towards elders and also abstaining from killing animals and liberality towards friends
Rock Edict XII
It directed and determined request for tolerance among different religious sects.
Major Rock Edict XIII
It is the paramount importance in understanding the Ashok’s Policy of dhamma. This rock edict pleads the way of conquest which is dhamma instead of war. This is logical culmination of the thorough processes which began from the 1st rock edict.
Major Rock Edict XIV
It describes engraving of inscriptions in different parts of country.
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Other Rock Edicts and inscriptions
1. Edict I: Asoka declared all people are my sons
2. Edict II: proclamation of edicts even to a single person.
3. Queen Edict: Mentions about second queen of Asoka
4. Barbara cave Inscription: Discusses giving away the Barbara cave to Ajivika sect Kandhar
5. Bilingual Rock Inscription: Expresses gratification over Ashoka’s policy
Click on the link: Summary of Ancient Indian Dynasties and their contributions
Asoka’s 7 pillar edicts have been found at Topra (Delhi), Meerut, Kausambhi, rampurva, Champaran, Mehrauli. Minor pillar edicts have been found at Sanchi, Sarnath, Rummindei, Nigalisagar.
1. Pillar Edict I: Asoka’s principle of protection to people
2. Pillar Edict II: Defines dhamma as minimum of sins, many virtues, compassion, liberality, truthfulness and purity
3. Pillar Edict III: Abolishes sins of harshness, cruelty, anger, pride etc
4. Pillar Edict IV: Deals with duties of Rajukas
5. Pillar Edict V: List of animals and birds which should not be killed on some days and another list of animals which have not to be killed at all occasions. Describes release of 25 prisoners by Asoka.
6. Pillar Edict VI: Dhamma Policy
7. Pillar Edict VII: Works done by Asoka for Dhamma Policy. He says that all sects desire both self control and purity of mind.
Other Pillar Inscription
1. Rummindei Pillar Inscription: Asokha’s visit to Lumbini & exemption of Lumbini from tax.2. Nigalisagar Pillar Inscription: It was originally located at Kapilvastu. It mentions that Asoka increased the height of stupa of Buddha Konakamana to its double size.
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