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Asokan Edicts- An Assemblage of Sociological Assertions and Moral Guidelines

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Item Code: UAI256
Author: Suttisa Lappermsap
Publisher: Eastern Book Linkers
Language: English
Edition: 2017
ISBN: 9788178543147
Pages: 186
Cover: HARDCOVER
Other Details 10.00 X 7.50 inch
Weight 570 gm
About the Book
The most authentic source material for Mauryan History especially Asoka's history is Mokan Edicts (numbering 33) which are known to be the oldest, the best preserved and the most accurately dated sources. These Mokan edicts are found in Indian sub-continent viz. throughout the areas of present day Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Mokan Edicts gives information about the social, political and religious lifestyles of Mauryan era and also gives ample proof of a powerful and able king's attempt to establish a society which he believed to be just, righteous and full of virtues.

Furthermore, Mokan edicts tell us about the strict adherence of Emperor Moka to the Buddhist principles and philosophies, most importantly the philosophy of Dhamma. However, even though there have been hints of Buddhism and the mentioning of Buddha in several inscriptions, the edicts focus more on the 'social assertions and moral guidelines', rather than religious or the philosophical aspects of Buddhism. Moka's conversion to Buddhism, the efforts he placed in trying to spread the religion throughout Asia and the world, his moral and religious laws and principles, and his social and animal welfare program form the central themes that the inscriptions revolve around. The present book has made an attempt to explore the social and moral guidelines as advocated by the King Moka based on his edicts. The book not only deals with social and moral principles of the Moka but also explored the geographical location, various languages used in edicts, and date of Moka and the Buddha.

About the Author
Suttisa Lapper sap was born at Samutprakam, Thailand. She at first graduated Bachelor Degree of Science in Biotechnology from King Monkut's Institute of Technology, Ladkrabang, Thailand in 1999.

Having inspired by the exemplary conduct of the Great Master Para Mongkolthepmuni (Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro or Luang Pu Wat Paknam) who dedicated himself to propagating Buddhism and Dhammakaya meditation throughout his life with the axiom that 'Stillness of the mind is the key to success', Ms. Suttisa has started her work as a volunteer staff of Phra Dhammakaya Temple. She has worked as a co-operative officer with the International Buddhist Society (IBS), in their educational and moral projects such as the "Path of Progress", and the Dhammadayada Training Program etc., set in Thailand and some other countries of which Buddhist activity's training programs have been organized for various group of youths. While taking up the responsibilities to her daily duties, she has made an attempt to improve her academic study in Buddhist Religious field. Firstly, she finished her advanced level of Dhamma Studies in 2003, and the next Bachelor degree of Buddhism from the Dhammakaya Open University, Thailand in 2009. Since 2011, she has been working as a co-operative staff for the Oceania section of the International Affairs Department of the Dhammakaya Foundation and she has worked as a staff at the Dhammakaya Auckland Temple, New Zealand. At there, she got an opportunity to develop her skills in English Language and Communication which was funded by the Dhammachai International Research Institute (DIRI) under its English Course Study Program. From the year 2014, after learning basic courses of Ancient Indian Scripts and Languages, she has moved to continue her Higher Studies to Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida, and Uttar Pradesh in India. Presently, she has successfully completed her Master Degree in Buddhist Studies and Civilization from Gautam Buddha University. At present, she has been pursuing Master of Philosophy Program in Buddhist Studies from Gautam Buddha University to continue her further higher studies in Buddhist Studies since 2016. The present book is actually a revised version of her M.A. dissertation submitted to Gautam Buddha University which was completed under the supervision of Dr. Arvind Kumar Singh. Ms. Suttisa purposes to develop her academic knowledge and having experience of higher studies in Ancient Buddhist History, Buddhist Iconography and Ancient Indian Scripts/ Languages.

In the meantime, she has also received an International Creative Mind Award for the outstanding contribution in the field of "Buddhist Studies" on May 30th, 2016 from IBEI (International Buddhist Institute) and YSSSRF (Younker Scientific and Social Science Research Foundation) at Subharti University, Meerut (U.P.) in India.

Foreword
A review of ancient India is incomplete without mentioning the Asokan edicts carved into towering pillars and massive, earth-bound rocks stippled across the region as an assemblage of sociological assertions, moral guidelines and historic documentation. The actual story of Asoka that came to light was in 1837, when James Prinsep succeeded in deciphering an ancient inscription on a large stone pillar in Delhi. Several other pillars and rocks with similar inscriptions had been known for some time and had attracted the curiosity of scholars; Prinsep's inscription proved to be a series of edicts issued by a king calling himself Beloved of the Gods or King Piyadassi.

In the following decades, more and more edicts by this same king were discovered and with increasingly accurate decipherment of their language, a more complete picture of King Asoka and his deeds began to emerge.

Gradually, it dawned on scholars that the King Piyadasi of the edicts might be the King Asoka so often praised in Buddhist legends. However, it was not until 1915, when another edict actually mentioning the name Asoka was discovered, that the identification was confirmed. Having been forgotten for nearly 700 years, one. of the greatest men in history became known to the world once again.

King Asoka has come to be regarded as one of the most exemplary rulers in world history. The British historian H.G. Wells has written: Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history ... the name of Asoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star. The greatness of Asoka lay not only in the vastness of. his empire and that of governing it well but more than that, in his character, and the principles and ideals which he tried to pursue as a ruler. Asoka therefore, occupies a place not only amongst the great rulers of India but among those of the world. He treated his subjects as his own children and attempted not only for their material progress but also their moral and spiritual progress.

In the 19th century, there came-to light a large number of edicts, in India, Nepal. Pakistan and Afghanistan which are inscribed on rocks and pillars proclaim Asoka's reforms and policies and promulgate his advice to his subjects. The present rendering of these edicts, based on earlier translations, offers us insights into a powerful and capable ruler's attempt to establish an empire on the foundation of righteousness, a reign which makes the moral and spiritual welfare of his subjects its primary concern. With the rediscovery and translation of Indian literature by European scholars in the 19th century, it was not just the religion and philosophy of Buddhism that came to light, but also its many legendary histories and biographies.

Amongst this class of literature, one name that came to be noticed was that of Asoka, a good king who was supposed to have ruled India in the distant past. Examining the edict-adorned pillars and rocks across India starts with gaining an understanding of their instigator, Emperor Asoka himself.

Asoka's history is that of near legend and at the core of this legend status is his seeming conversion from his ways as a ruthless, power-hungry ruler who killed several of his brothers to earn the throne to that of a leader who, through civic projects, a reorganization of government and the implementation of moral codes inspired by Buddhist philosophy, displayed his care for the people living in his domain and beyond. While Asoka embraced Buddhism's precepts as an ideal moral code and wove them into his dhamma which was later carved into the pillars and rocks around his kingdom, his edicts also indicate that he embraced other religions and belief systems and even noted how the tolerance of these other religions was encouraged in the interest of peace and toward the work of greater enlightenment that came from valuing these belief systems. In an effort to make his beliefs known to all of the people of his kingdom, including foreigners traveling through it, a series of 14 edicts were carved into stone pillars and earth-bound rocks. These edicts which were repeated across the region through' being carved in various stones and pillars, created a circle network of dhamma professing artifacts to carry Asoka's message. Asoka wanted his dhamma to be seen as the summation of all good in all religions, of which Buddhism was for him the highest expression, yet without exclusion of others.

Preface
The present work is based on Asokan Edicts, its history, archaeology, paleography and decipherment of scripts from both Indian and foreign scholars who have directed their works on Asokan history and his welfare measures for mankind. On account of this, the story from various sources which were interrelated together and evidences remaining of Asokan period attracted me and led me to feed like my eyes (views) on historical analysis are widely opened from fantastic journey through the story of the ancient pass.

As a new researcher it is not possible for me to pass through all the ocean of vast information of Asokan historical and epigraphically study during limited period. Thus, this research deals with Asoka's background story which is mentioned in summary and the remarks on some number of his inscriptions. The illustration points related to sociological assertions on, his Dhamma Policy and the Moral Guidelines are focused and evaluated by using the supported information from the material sources. The views of many Asokan scholars and my owns view which are incorporated in this work are as follow;

King Asoka of the Mauryan dynasty has been regarded as one of India's greatest emperors. His ideas, his personality, his role of the great ruler (Dhammaraja) and his role of the great Buddhist supporters are respectfully expounded.

What was said by him (his intention) and his purposes found on the inscriptions, some important points of them are clarified.

Historical study of Asoka and archaeological information of his edicts from various primary and secondary sources take the important parts Buddhist History and Ancient Indian History.

This study of the collection of Asokan Edicts is the beneficial step for the further work on research study related to this topic. For the completion of this work, I would like, first of all, to express deepest gratitude to my respected Phrathepayanamahamuni Vi. (The Most Venerable Dhammajayo Bhikkhu) who is the abbot of Phra Dhammakaya Temple; Thailand, and the President of the Dhammakaya Foundation.

Phrasudharnmayanavidesa Vi. (The Most Venerable Sudhammo Bhikkhu), the Chairman of the Dhammachai International Research Institute (DIRI) and the 60th Dhammachai Education Foundation of Australia and New Zealand, for the great opportunity and scholarship funding support to my research work, he created the initial occasion for me to study abroad on this academic pursuit in Buddhist Studies. Without his helps, his understanding, encouragement and valuable advice, it could not be possible for me to complete daily responsibilities and to be succeeded in achieving this goal. My foremost and special thanks goes to Dr. Arvind Kumar Singh who has given me valuable suggestions and comments from time to time, his constant Ana continuing support, encouragement, due to which this work has been completed. I also would like to express my thankfulness to all the faculty members of School of Buddhist Studies and Civilization, Gautam Buddha University viz. Dr. Anand Singh, Dr. Indu Girish, Dr. Priyasen Singh, Dr. Chandrasekhar Paswan, etc., and School office staffs for kindness and support to me during my research work from start to finish and also to the staffs of the Library of Gautam Buddha University for permitting me to use books and reference materials which are available there.

For all of my inspiration and entireness, I would like to pay my gratefulness to the Authors who have worked on Asokan Edicts. I particularly would like to pay thankful to Acarya Chame Kaewglai, Dr. Chaisit Suwanvarangkul and Dr. Kitchai Urkasame who have guided and introduced me to come to Buddhist Studies and the Ancient Indian Languages and Scripts, Acarya Chakhrit Laemmuang, Ms. Prasong Somnoi and Ms. Natpiya Sara durn for their warmly supporting material sources and useful advice. Due to this, my research work would successfully be held. Lastly, I also take this opportunity to express highest gratitude to Phra Rajabhavanacarya Vi. (The Most Venerable Dattajivo Bhikkhu) who has cultivated patterns of moral behavior instilled inside my mind, the Samgha, and the Great Master Nun; Khun Yay Acarya Maha Rattana Upasika Chandra Khon-nok-yoong who was the founder of Phra Dhammakaya Temple. My special thanks goes to all of my teachers, my seniors, all lovely friends and especially the Buddhist laity who are always being the supporters of all moral and ethical projects. For deeply loved and highly respected, I would express all to my father (Mr. Boehlert Lapper sap) and mother (Ms. Serm Lapper sap) with my older sister (Ms. Supitcha Panitchokchai) and brother (Mr. Somboon Lapper sap) who warmly brought me up with so much of generosity, morally inspiration and motivated mentor go for higher studies, thank you.

Introduction
I. Sources of Asokan Historical Study

In the historical study of King Asoka there is not one material to get through his history, but there are several sources combined together which provide sufficient information about Asokan and Mauryan dynasty. The main sources of this work may be of the evidence provided by these two groups;

1. Literary Sources

1.1 The Buddhist literature; it is of chief importance.

1.1.1 The Jatakas reveal a general picture of social and economic conditions of the Buddhist period, which conditions continued as broad trends into the Mauryan period.

1.1.2 The Digha Nikaya is of interest in determining the influence of Buddhist ideas in the political sphere, for example, the question of the concept of the cakrauartin (universal emperor) as a political idea. It is a debatable point whether the account of the cakraoaran in the Cokkauaitisihanasdasuita is pre-Asokan, and therefore may have inspired him to imperial power, or whether conversely his political strength inspired the Buddhist thinkers to the idea of the cakraoartin:

1.1.3 The Samantapasadika is a collection of Pali commentaries on Therauada Tipaaka Vinaya. It was a translation of Sinhala commentaries into Pali by Buddhaghosa in the 5th century. Many of the verses used in Samantapasadika are from older Dipauamsa' 1.2 The Ceylon chronicles, the Dipauamsa and the Mahanirvana in particular, may also be regarded as source materials, since they describe at great length the part played by Asoka in the spreading of Buddhism, more particularly in the coming of Buddhism to Ceylon. Here again caution is necessary since these chronicles were written by Ceylonese Buddhist monks who depicted Asoka from the orthodox Buddhist standpoint. The Diplomas was compiled between the third century BCE and the fourth century CE and the Mahaveera, a more polished work, is believed to have been written in the fifth century CE.] A commentary on the Mahavira the Varrasatthapakasini composed in about the tenth century CE, contains many legends regarding the Mauryas which have been neglected by or have disappeared from other literature. Clearly, since none of these works are contemporary to our period, allowance must be made for changes in ideas and form, though it may well be that, since these works deal with a foreign tradition, they may have preserved some of the early stories without the political or social need to tamper too much with them. 1.3 The Divyavadana, Asokavadana and similar texts are a collection of legends built around the figure of Asoka and preserved outside India mainly in Tibetan and Chinese Buddhist sources. Their evidence cannot be taken too literally, since the compilation once again was done by Buddhist monks and no doubt the stories were used on occasion to illustrate the impact of Buddhism on Asoka. A further source in this particular class of literature is the history of Tibet written by the Lama (Taranatha) sometime in the late sixteenth century. It contains a garbled version of some historical traditions associated with the Mauryas 1.4 The Arthashastra of Kautilya was composed by the intimate friend and Prime Minister of Chandragupta Maurya named Chanakya or Kautilya.

It gives us information about the ideals and administrative system of the Mauryan administration. This book tells us the Chandragupta ruled successfully with the help of his army and officials. Its importance lies in the fact that it gives a clear methodical analysis of economic and political thought current at that time and more than that, its application to existing conditions. In the administrative measures of Asoka we can see a close similarity between the two?

1.5 The Puranas are collections of legends interspersed with religious teaching. Lists of the Mauryan kings are included into these. The legends no doubt contain some old traditions, but the Puranas as a whole are fairly late, dating from about the fourth century CE.

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