Ashoka is a king who truly deserves the title of Great. Unlike other “great men”, he earned his title not with blood and war, but rather through peace. He conquered what Alexander and Caesar never could: his desire to conquer.
Ashoka, also spelled Aśoka, (died 238? BCE, India), last major emperor of the Mauryan dynasty of India. His vigorous patronage of Buddhism during his reign (c. 265–238 BCE; also given as c. 273–232 BCE) furthered the expansion of that religion throughout India. Following his successful but bloody conquest of the Kalinga country on the east coast, Ashoka renounced armed conquest and adopted a policy that he called “conquest by dharma” (i.e., by principles of right life).
According to his own accounts, Ashoka conquered the Kalinga country (modern Orissa state) in the eighth year of his reign. The sufferings that the war inflicted on the defeated people moved him to such remorse that he renounced armed conquests. It was at this time that he came in touch with Buddhism and adopted it. Under its influence and prompted by his own dynamic temperament, he resolved to live according to, and preach, the dharma and to serve his subjects and all humanity.
Ashoka repeatedly declared that he understood dharma to be the energetic practice of the sociomoral virtues of honesty, truthfulness, compassion, mercifulness, benevolence, nonviolence, considerate behaviour toward all, “little sin and many good deeds,” nonextravagance, nonacquisitiveness, and noninjury to animals. He spoke of no particular mode of religious creed or worship, nor of any philosophical doctrines. He spoke of Buddhism only to his coreligionists and not to others.
Further more, apart from banning royal hunting, he also introduced veterinary clinics for animals, the Mauryan Empire under Ashoka has been described as “one of the very few instances in world history of a government treating its animals as citizens who are as deserving of its protection as the human residents”
A sample quotation that illustrates the spirit that guided Ashoka is: All men are my children. As for my own children I desire that they may be provided with all the welfare and happiness of this world and of the next, so do I desire for all men as well.
Ashoka was the rarest kind of person: one who would confess his crimes and renounce war. I hope that the world leaders of today can learn this message, and stop the bloodshed between countries.