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The Edicts of Ashoka

2 Pages 577 Words June 2017

King Piyadasi (or "Beloved of the Gods), a title that emphasized kindness, converted from Hinduism to Buddhism twelve years after he started ruling. He ruled from 269-232 BCE and during this time he sought peaceful ways to unite the people under his rule. He used his power to try and make life better for the people, but he used it in sort of a passive/aggressive way as he tried to change the way people thought and lived. The dhamma edict that was written during his time demonstrates tolerance and acceptance of all other religions.
“This Dhamma edict has been written on stone so that it might endure long and that my descendants might act in conformity with it.”1 This is one way he tries to reinforce his legitimacy as a political ruler. It’s clear to me that he’s using religion as a political tool throughout his time as ruler. He has what they call “Dhamma Mahamtras”2, a kind of royal official under him that go out and spread the word about dhamma and serve as enforcers that make sure people are doing the right thing. The document portrays a friendly, but non-physical relationship between the ruler and his subjects. He does not kill people or animals, but he still wants people to know of his limits and that he rules over them.
King Piyadasi uses religion to reinforce his power as a ruler as well. I believe he feels that his adoption of Buddhism makes him a nice ruler and places limits on the way he rules. King Piyadasi no longer allows the killing of people and animals like before. The idea of tolerance and acceptance for all other religions is one way he sort of passively reinforces his power as a ruler through religion itself. The document says “But Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, does not value gifts and honors as much as he values this – that there should be growth in the essentials of all religions.”3 In the textbook, Buddhists goal is to achieve nirvana and as it seems King Piyadasi is working towards that...

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