Asoka

aАk
Harmony of Religions Translation of Girnar Rock Edict No. 12 By Sthiramati (Email: sthiramati@gmail.com) June 2012

however the running themes include ethics. cave walls. morality. The following picture shows the location of his edicts: The edicts reflect the thoughts of Aśoka on a variety of topics. He is probably the only emperor in history to have declared that the chief conquest is not the one by force but the one by moral law (dharma). He was perhaps the only emperor in history to establish an empire based on righteousness (dharma) rather than on force.Introduction Aśoka (304 – 232 BCE) was undoubtedly the greatest emperor known to ancient India. He says in the thirteenth Rock Edit of Shahbazgarhi: . social and animal welfare programs. He left his vision for posterity by way of indelible inscriptions (known as edicts) on rocks. and pillars. and his commitment to Buddhism.

This edict uses the phrase “Devanāmpiya Asokasa”. and happiness (िाभस्यं). i.Original text (transliterated into Devanagari) इछति हि दे वनंप्रियो सव्रभूिन अक्षति सयमं समचरियं िभससये अतय च मुखमुि प्रवजये दे वनंप्रियस यो ध्रमप्रवजयो Sanskrit equivalent इच्छति हि दे वानांप्रियः सववभिानाम ् अक्षतिं संयमं समाचयं िाभस्यं । अयं च मख्यिम: प्रवजयः ू ु दे वनांप्रियस्य यः धमवप्रवजयः । Translation Devanāmpriya (दे वानांप्रियः) desires (इच्छति) for all living beings (सववभूिानाम ्) freedom from harm (अक्षतिं). meaning “Of Devanāmpiya Asoka”. Aśoka generally refers to himself by the titles he assumed for himself: Devanāmpiya and Piyadasi. restraint (संयमं). “of Asoka”. . harmonious living (समाचयं). The language used by Aśoka was a Prākrit called Māgadhī. named after the region (Māgadha) where it was spoken. And this (अयं च) indeed is the principal conquest (मुख्यिम: प्रवजयः) of Devanāmpriya (दे वनांप्रियस्य) – the moral conquest (धमवप्रवजयः). This conclusively shows that Devānāmpiya was a title used by the person named Asoka. transliterated as असोकस (asokasa). although the edicts in the westernmost regions of his empire (now in Afghanistan) used Kharoṣṭhī and Greek scripts. Only a few edicts refer to him by his name – one of them being a minor rock edict in Maski in Raichur district in Karnatka. meaning “Thus said the King Devanāmpiya Piyadasi”. The script used in most of the edicts is Brāhmī. Many of his edicts start with the words “Devanāmpiya Piyadasi Rājā hevaṁ āha”.e. On the right is a photograph of the Maski edict: Here is a graphic version of the top line of the inscription: This line contains the phrase aАks.

he honors them by gifts and various kinds of offerings. . Doing this. several officers to propagate the teachings. officers for the welfare of women. or should happen with restraint in those contexts (where it is appropriate). This indeed is the fruit of this – the growth of one’s sect and the illumination of Dharma. However. it is difficult to find such magnanimity even nowadays. Furthermore. Devanāmpiya does not consider gifts and honors to be as valuable as this – that there should be growth of the essential principles of all sects. Those who are content with their own sects should be told – Devanāmpiya does not consider gifts and honoring other sects as important as (the fact) that there should be growth of the essential values of all sects. as well as other officers have been appointed for this purpose. 12 A set of fourteen rock edicts. This indeed is the wish of Devanāmpiya – that all sects be well known and be endowed with auspicious teachings. Therefore harmony alone is the right approach. including ascetics and householders. other sects should indeed be honored in the appropriate contexts. The growth of the essence can indeed happen in several ways. Indeed. Of these Edict No. Therefore. Here is a picture of an estampage (obtained by pressing wet paper on to the rock face). 12 is particularly interesting because it shows the broadmindedness of Emperor Aśoka with respect to the various religions that existed during his time. Whoever indeed honors own sect and condemns other sects from complete devotion thinking thus . But the root of that (increase) is this – restraint of speech. The one in Girnar (present day Gujarat) is dated to 257 BCE by archaeologists and scholars. are found in five different places in India. one causes one’s own sect to grow and also benefits other sects. How (should harmony be achieved)? Thus – all should listen to the views of each other and also propound their views. How? Praise of one’s sect and criticism of other sects should not happen at inappropriate occasions.The Girnar Rock Edict No. officers in charge of pastures. with minor differences. The one who does what is contrary to this causes damage to one’s own sect and also harms other sects.“how should I glorify my own sect” – a person behaving thus damages his own sect even more. prepared by the ASI (Archaeological Society of India) of this edict: Complete Translation of Edict Emperor Devanāmpiya Piyadasi honors all sects.

Detailed Translation There are nine lines in this edict as shown is the graphic version below (for clearer legibility): The following will now be presented each line of the text: 1. he honors them (िूजयति) by gifts (दानेन) and various kinds of offerings (प्रवप्रवधाय च िूजया). Translation in English 6. including ascetics (िवजजिातन) and householders (घिस्िातन). Image from the original inscription 2. it does not display conjunct consonants and does not display all vowel signs properly. Text in Devanāgarī script 4. Inadequacies are indicated by a question mark) 3. . Equivalent terms in Sanskrit 5. Notes Line 1 òφnMΑβ दे वानंप्रिये प्रियदसस िाजा सव िासंडातन च िवजजिातन च घिस्िातन च िजयति दानेन च ू Αydó θª sv ΌsMÍþ c pv°âþ c Gr?þ c Γjyæ ñΉn c दे वनांप्रियः िाजा प्रियदर्शी सवावन ् िाषण्डान ् च िव्रजजिान ् च गिस्थान ् च िूजयति दानेन च ृ ωωDAy c Γjα Γjyæ Ή प्रवप्रवधाय च िूजया िूजयति ने प्रवप्रवधया च िजया िजयति ू ू Translation Emperor (िाजा) Devanāmpiya Piyadasi (दे वानंप्रिये प्रियदसस) honors (िूजयति) all sects (िासंडातन). Text in Brāhmī script using a Brāhmī word processor (The one used has some limitations – in particular.

This was probably the term current at the time to refer to all nāstikas. and Priyadarśī – “one with a benevolent gaze”. or essential ृ ृ principles that form the core values of a particular sect essential principles (सािवढी) of all sects (सविासंडानं). The growth of the essence (सािवढी) can . ु Notes  The term सािवढी (Skt.Notes  Ashoka generally refers to himself by the titles he chose for himself: Devānāmpriya – “beloved of the gods”. as well as kings in Sri Lanka. which literally means a heretic or fraud. it also indicates that these sects were more pronounced at the time than the orthodox brahminical sects  Line 2 n ç tê ñnM v Γª न िु िथा दानं व िूजा व दे वानंप्रियो मंञािो यथा ककति v òφnMΑγ mM»ä yê Фæ सािवढी अस ЎrvF as सविासंडानं svΌsMÍnM न िु िथा दानं वा िूजा वा दे वनांप्रियः मन्यिे यथा ककसमति ? सािवप्रधः स्याि ् सवविाषण्डानाम ् ृ ЎrvF सािवढी िु बिुप्रवधा सािवप्रधः िु बिुप्रवधा ृ Translation ç b Кωё However. indicating that it was a title favored by the Mauryas as well as kings inclined towards Buddhism and Jainism. सािवप्रधः) means increase (वप्रधः) of the essence (साि). and hence Ashoka! For more details on this word. This title was also used by his predecessors and successors. Interestingly the word devānāmpriya eventually acquired the meaning of “fool” – no doubt an invention of the Brahmins who detested Buddhism. Hindi िाखण्ड). see the Appendix. The term used to denote a sect is िासंड (Skt. िाषण्ड. Devanāmpiya (दे वानंप्रियो) does not consider (न िु िथा मंञािो) gifts and honors (दानं व िजा) to be as valuable (यथा) as this (ककति) – that there should be (स्याि ्) growth of the ू indeed happen (ि) in several ways (बिु प्रवधा).

Line 3 ts िस िस्य िस्य िु इदं िस िु इदं ts ç idM ΰlM y मूलं य मूलं यि ् वचोगुज्िः ककसमति ? आत्मिाषण्डािूजा वा िििाषण्डगिाव वाचगुिी ककंति vвЭæ Фæ A?ΌsMDΓª आत्ििासंडिूजा व िििासंडगििा ं v prΌsMDgrЕ v ý B χ apkrNmИ lКС व नो भवे अिकिणजहि लिुका व अस वा नो भवेि ् अिकिणे लघुका वा स्याि ् Translation But (ि) the root (मलं) of that (िस) (increase) is this (इदं ) – restraint of speech (वाचगिी). or should happen (अस) v as लिु derived from लघु – “small”. means “minimal” or “as little as possible” The overall purport of this statement is restraint in speech is essential for the welfare and growth of one’s sect Line 4 tmИ िजहि tmИ pkrÜ Γ¬tα ç ev prΌsMÍ èn िजहि िकिणे िजेिया ू िु एव िििासंडा िेन tn िन pkrÜn िकिणेन । एवं evM kνM करं िजस्मन ् िजस्मन ् िकिणे िूजजिव्या िु एव िििाषण्डाः िजस्मन ् िजस्मन ् िकिणे । एवं कववन ् ु A?ΌsMfM c vFyæ prΌsMfs c upkκæ आत्मिासंडं च वढयति िििासंडस च उिकिोति आत्मिाषण्डं च वधवयति िििाषण्डं च उिकिोति . How ु ू ु (ककं ति)? Praise of one’s sect (आत्ििासंडिजा) and (व) criticism of other sects (िििासंडगििा) ं ू with restraint (व लिुका) … (continued) Notes    वचोगुज्िः speech (वाक् ) that is hidden (गुज्िः) should not happen (नो भवे) at inappropriate occasions (अिकिणजहि).

other sects ु (िििासंडा) should indeed (एव) be honored (िूजेिया) in the appropriate contexts (िेन िन also benefits (उिकिोति) other sects (िििासंडस). Furthermore (ि).to blame. condemn Translation The one who does what is contrary to this (िदञथा किोिो) causes damage (छणति) to one’s own sect (आत्ििासंड) and (च) also (प्रि) harms (उिकिोति) other sects (िििासंडस). Notes  Line 5 िकिण should be interpreted as “context” िकिणेन).Translation … in those contexts (िजहि िजहि िकिणे) (where it is appropriate).to destroy गिवयति . Doing this (एवं करं ). one causes one’s own sect (आत्मिासंड) to grow (वढयति) and (च) ं tdz ê kκä A?ΌsMfM c CNæ prΌsMfs c Α upkκæ γ И Ув िदञथा किोिो आत्ििासंडं च छणति िििासंडस च प्रि उिकिोति । यो हि कोचच िदन्यथा कववन ् आत्मिाषण्डं च क्षक्षणोति िििाषण्डं च अप्रि अिकिोति । यो हि कजचचि ् ु A?ΌsMfM आत्ििासंडं िजयति िििासंडं च गििति ू Γjyæ prΌsMfM c grhæ आत्मिाषण्डं िजयति िििाषण्डं च गिव यति ू Notes   क्षक्षणोति . Whoever (यो ं कोचच) indeed (हि) honors (िजयति) own sect (आत्ििासंड) and condemns (गििति) other sects ं ू (िििासंड) … (continued) ं .

Therefore (ि) harmony (समवायो) ं alone (एव) is the right approach (साधु). Notes  The word समवायः means “coming together”.Line 6 svM A?ΌsMf Bæα सवं आत्ििासंडभतिया ककंति ФMæ सवं आत्मिाषण्डभक्तत्या ककसमति आत्मिाषण्डं दीियेम इति सः च िुनः िथा कववन ् आत्मिाषण्डं ु आत्ििासंडं दीियेम इति सो च िन ु A?ΌsMfM õpβm iæ А c Βn tT kθä A?ΌsMfM िथ किािो आत्ििासंडं ΡFtrM uphΈæ t बाढििं उििनाति ि समवायो एव साधु smφγ ev Ўú बाढििं उििजन्ि िि ् समवायः एव साधु Translation … from complete devotion (सवं आत्ििासंडभतिया) thinking thus (इति) . implying exchange of ideas and appreciation of each others views Line 7 kMæ ककंति अञमंञस [a]zmMzs ककसमति अन्योन्यस्य धमं श्रणुयुः च र्शुश्रषेिन ् च एवं हि दे वानांप्रियस्य इच्छा ककसमति ू ृ धंमं स्रुणार च सुसुंसेि च एवं हि दे वानंप्रियस DMmM ГÛν c ГГMЏr c evM И òφnMΑys इछा ककंति i£ kMæ svΌsMÍ सविासंडा बिुस्रिा च असु कलाणागमा च असु ु सवविाषण्डा: बिुश्रिाः च स्युः कल्याणागमाः च स्युः ु bКГâ c aГ kοÛgΪ c aГ .“how (ककं ति) should I glorify (दीियेम) my own sect (आत्ििासंड)” – a person (सो) behaving thus (िथ किािो) damages ं (उििनाति) his own sect (आत्ििासंड) even more (बाढििं िुनः).

propagate. This indeed (एवं हि) is the wish असु) and (च) be endowed with auspicious teachings (कलाणागमा असु).from कल्याण – “well being”. and आगमाः – “teachings” (इच्छा) of Devanāmpiya (दे वानंप्रियस) – that (ककं ति) all sects (सविासंडा) be well known (बिु स्रुिा β c tæ tt psMΈ èИ vt? ये च ित्र िि िसंना िेहि विव्यं दे वानंप्रियो नो यथा दानं व िूजां व मंञिे òφnMΑγ ý yê ñnM v Γª v mMzè िथा ककंति tê kMæ ये च ित्र ित्र िसन्नाः िः वक्तिव्यम ् दे वानांप्रियः न यथा दानं वा िूजां वा मन्यिे िथा ककसमति ЎrvF सािवढी अस as सवविासंडानं svΌsMÍnM bhС c eây बिका च एिाय सािवप्रधः स्याि ् सवविाषंडानाम ् बिुका च एिस्म ृ Translation Those (ये च) who are content (िसंना) with their own sects (ित्र िि) should be told (िः वक्तिव्यम ्) – Devanāmpiya does not (नो) consider (मंञिे) gifts (दानं) and (च) honoring other sects (िूजां) as important (यथा) as (िथा) (the fact) that there should be (अस) growth of the essential values (सािवढी) of all sects (सवविासडानं). i. derived from the root ु ू ु ू श्रु – “to listen” बिुश्रिाः – famous or well known. र्शश्रषेिन ् .e. Notes    Line 8 र्शश्रषा – service.may serve the purpose of. Therefore (एिस्म).Translation How (should harmony be achieved)? Thus – all should listen (स्रुणार) to the views (धंमं) of each other (अञमंञस) and (च) also propound their views (सुसुंसेि). several (विु का)… (continued) . from heard (श्रिाः) by many (बिु ) ु ु कल्याणागमाः .

Line 9 Aê अथा ? pâ व्याििा धंममिामािा DMmmЕΪâ c i î JKmЕΪâ अथावय व्याििाः धमवमािामात्राः च स््यध्यक्षमिामात्रा च व्रजभूसमका ृ च इथीझखमिामािा च वचभूसमका च अञे च तनकाया c vc Υ έС c a½ c þСα च अन्ये च तनकायाः ayM c ets Pl y A?ΌsMfvF अयं च एिस फल य आत्ििासांडवढी च िोति धंमस च दीिना इदं च एिस्य फलं यि ् आत्मिाषण्डवप्रधः च भवति धमवस्य च दीिना ृ Translation … officers to propagate the teachings (धंममिामािा). officers for the welfare of women (इथीझखमिामािा). as well as (च) other (अञे) officers (तनकाया) have been appointed (व्याििा) for this purpose (अथा). c Зæ DMms c õ pΈ . Some Mahāmātras were provincial governors. and Stryadhyakṣamahāmātras for the welfare of women. Notes  Aśoka had appointed high ranking officials. for various purposes: Dharmamahāmātras for the propagation of the teachings of the Buddha (dharma). This indeed (अयं च) is the fruit (फल) of this (एिस) – the growth of one’s sect (आत्ििासांडवढी) and (च) the illumination (दीिना) of Dharma (धामस). called Mahāmātras. . officers in charge of pastures (वचभूसमका).

e.Appendix – Derivation of Devanāmpriya The word devanāmpriya (दे वनांप्रियः) is an example of what is known as aluk samāsa (अलुक् समासः) (i. in other senses). the usage is devapriya” This clearly indicates that the meaning of “fool” evolved much later. elsewhere (i. If the case endings are removed. says: दे वानांप्रिय इति च मूखे । अन्यत्र िु दे वप्रियः । “Used as devanāmpriya it means “a fool”. . Bhaṭṭojī Dīkṣita (17th CE) in his Siddhānta Kaumudī. which are normally removed. However. are retained). commenting on this sutra. Kātyāyana (3rd Century BCE). in a vārttika on Panini 6|3|21 says: दे वानांप्रिय इत्यत्र च षष्ठ्या अलुग ् वक्तिव्यः । Neither the Kāśikā (7th CE) or the commentaries on it say anything about it meaning a fool. the word would have been devapriya (दे वप्रियः). a compound word in which the case endings.e.

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