History of Mankind (Chapter 11)

This is 11th Chapter in History of Mankind. Read about Ashoka the great, Ashoka and India’s Renaissance. How Ashoka became a saintly king? and, The War of Kalinga.

Ashoka the great, The great emperor of India

Ashoka, the son of Bindusara and the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya (Wikipedia), ascended the throne in 268 B.C. He conquered Kalinga in 256 B.C. The ravages of the Kalinga war deeply affected Ashoka. He became a Buddhist and won ‘men’s heart by the Law of Duty.’ Ashoka sent his ambassadors to the countries of Asia, Europe and Africa to spread Indian culture and Buddhism. During his reign India was at the height of her all round prosperity. Ashoka who died in 226 B. C ., inherited a part of the saintliness of his spiritual master Buddha. By his life, actions and words, he practised what he preached.

Ashoka and India’s Renaissance

Ashoka occupies a unique position among the monarchs of the world. He is noted in history as a king of outstanding moral eminence. After his victory in the Kalinga war, he abandoned war for good and this is unparalleled in the history of mankind.

The remains at Mohenjo-Daro in Sindh and at Harappa in the Punjab, tell of the highly developed art and culture which flourished in the Indus Valley in the third millenium B.C. Little record of art has been traced for the period between the Indus Valley civilisation and the Maurya period. Sculpture in the Maurya period was at its height of magnificence. The Lion Capital at Sarnath and the railings and gateways of the monumental stupas of Bharhut and Sanchi are outstanding specimen of spontaneous eloquence of Maurya art. The period of Ashoka is the brightest in all respects. It was not only an age of peace and plenty for the people but also of a moral and aesthetic renaissance for India.

After Ashoka the History of India Changed Dramatically

Ashoka was great ruler and was a great warrior. He took complete India under his control. However, the Kalinga was a tough nut. He wages a war against Kalinga and won it. However, with massacre that happened melted his heart. He accepted Buddhism and followed the path of Ahimsa. He withdrew from any battle and started spreading Buddhism.

This was when the rule became weak and India got divided into many provinces. They all wanted an independent rule. Gradually it became a reason for India to be annexed by invaders or rulers from outside. They captured India province by province and small kingdoms could not stand.

There came many rulers, however, they were not able to unite India as the Great King Ashoka.

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