History

The Mauryas

Inscriptions of Ashoka

Rock Edict (RE) VI

Original text of the Girnar edict as per an estampage by Meena Talim

  1. ……. राजा एवं आह अतिकते अंतरं
  2. भूतपुव त …. म अथकमेन व पटिवेदना वा त मया एवं कतं [.]
  3. सवे काले भुंजमानस मे ओरोधनम्हि गभागारम्हि वचम्हि व
  4. विनीतम्हि य च उयानेसु च सवत्र पटिवेदका स्टिता अथ मे जनस
  5. पटिवेदथ इति [.] सव्रता च जनस अथे करोमि [.] य च किचि मुखतो
  6. अनापयामि स्वयं दापकं वा स्त्रापापकं वा य वा पुन महामत्रेसु
  7. आचयिके आरोपितं भवति ताय अथाय विवादो निझति संतो परिसाय
  8. आनंतरं धु पटिवेदेतय मे सवता सर्वे काले [.] एवं मया आनपितं [.] नास्ति हि मे तोसो
  9. उस्टानम्हि अथ सतंरणाय व [.] कटव्यमेता हि मे सव लोकहितं [.]
  10. ….. च पुन एस मूले उस्टानंच अथ संतीरणा च [.] नास्ति हि कंमतरं
  11. सवे लोगहितप्ता [.] य च कीचिं पराक्रमामि अहं कितिं भूतानं आनंणं गछेयं
  12. इध च नानि सुखावयामि परत्रा स्वंग आराधयंतु [.] त एताय अथाय
  13. अयं धमंलिपि लिखापिता कितिं चिरं तिस्टेय इति तथा च मे पुत्रा पोता च प्रपोत्रा च
  14. अनुवतरं सवलोकहितायं  [.] दुकरं तु इद अनत्र अगेन पराकमेन

English translation of the Girnar text by Meena Talim

  1. King Devanamppiya Piyadassi speaks thus: In the times past, never in the past…………
  2. there was an act of fulfilling affair and (king’s men)reporting it, but all has been done by me
  3. All the matter should be reported to me, about the people, at all times, while I am eating, in the inner chamber, even at campaign
  4. or I am being carried (in the palanquin) towards the park. Everywhere reporters are posted (standing). I shall be informed about the people.
  5. I shall always look after the benefit of the people, whatever has to be aid verbally, I shall proclaim it, even about bestowing charity.
  6. I shall (myself) give alms to disciples (religious men) and again when Mahamattas come forward and find difficulty to solve matters, and
  7. In the case of petitioners, who begs for favor (mercy) and thereby dispute arises of favorable disposition then it should be informed to me even in the midst of assembly
  8. In should be informed about everything and at all times. This is my order. I am not happy (do not get pleasure) otherwise.
  9. If, dispute arises and not pacified. Then it is my duty and has to be performed for the sake of benefit of the people.
  10. Again if the roots (of dispute) arise then it has to be investigated and pacified. Indeed there is no better act then this.
  11. For the welfare of all men-whatever little effort I take it an act of repaying the debt which I owe to people
  12. Let them (people) exert for various pleasures here and attain heaven in the next world.
  13. For this purpose I have caused this scripture to be written. let the fame last long and my sons, grandsons and great-grandsons
  14. follow this for the welfare of men. It is difficult to perform this without great valor.

English translation of the Shahbazgarhi text by G Buhler

King Priyadarsin, beloved of the gods, speaks thus: A long period has elapsed, during which formerly the dispatch of business and the hearing of informers have not regularly taken place. Now I have made the following arrangement, that the informers may report to me the concerns of the people at any time, while I dine, in my harem, in my private rooms, in the latrine, in my carriages, and in my pleasure garden and everywhere I dispatch the business of people. Moreover, if, with respect to anything which I order by word of mouth to be given or to be obeyed as a command, or which as a pressing matter is entrusted to my officials, a dispute or a fraud happens in the committee of any caste or sect, I have given orders that it shall be brought forth with my cognizance in any place and at any time; for I am never satisfied with my exertions and with the dispatch of business. For I consider the welfare of my people as something for which I must work. But the root of that is exertion and the dispatch of business. There is no more important work then to secure the welfare of all. And which I owe to the creatures, that I may make some happy in this world, and that they may gain heaven in the next. This religious edict has been written for the following purpose, that it may endure for a long time and that my sons and grandsons may thus exert themselves for the welfare of all men. But this is difficult to carry out without the utmost exertion.

English translation of the Girnar text by V A Smith

Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King :

A long period has elapsed during which in the past business was not carried on or information brought in at all  times.  So by me the arrangement has been made that at all times, when I am eating, or in the ladies’ apartments, or in my private room, or in the mews, or in my [?] conveyance, or in the pleasure-grounds, everywhere the persons appointed to give information should keep me informed about the affairs of the people. And in all places I attend to the affairs of the people. And, if, perchance, by word of mouth I personally command a donation or injunction ; or, again, when a matter of urgency has been committed to the High Officers, and in that matter a division or adjournment takes place in the Council, then without delay information must be given to me in all places, at all times.  Such is my command. Because I never feel satisfaction in my exertions and dispatch of business.  For work I must for the welfare of all the folk ; and of that, again, the root is energy and the dispatch of business; for nothing is more essential than the welfare of all the folk. And whatsoever efforts I make they are made that I may attain release from my debt to animate beings, so that while in this world I make some persons happy, they may win heaven in the world beyond. For that purpose have I caused this scripture of the Law to be written in order that it may endure, while my sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons may take action for the welfare of all  folk. That, however, is  difficult save by the utmost exertion.

English translation by D R Bhandarkar

Thus saith king Priyadarsin, Beloved of the gods: –  A long period has passed (when) formerly there was no dispatch of business and reporting at all hours. This, therefore, I have done, namely, that at all hours and in all places – whether I am eating or am in closed (female) apartments, in the inner chamber, in royal stables, on horseback or in pleasure orchards, the reporters may report people’s business to me. People’s business I do at all places and when in respect of anything which I personally order by word of mouth, for being issued or proclaimed, or, again, (if) in respect of any emergent work that may superimpose itself on the Mahamatras, there is any division or rejection in the council, I have so commanded that it shall be forthwith communicated to me at all places and at all hours. I am never satisfied with (my) exertions or with (my) dispatch of business. For the welfare of the whole world is an esteemed duty with me. And the root of that, again, is this, namely,  exertion and dispatch of business. There is no higher duty then the welfare of the whole world. And what little effort I make – what it is for? – (in order) that I may be free from debt to the creatures, that I may render some happy here and that they may gain heaven in the next world. For this purpose have I caused this document of Dharma to be engraved: what for? in order that it may endure for a long time and that my sons and grandsons may similarly exert themselves for the welfare of all whole world. This however is difficult to carry out without the utmost exertion.

English translation of the Girnar text by R K Mookerji

Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King : In times past, there was not before at all hours discharge of administrative business or the receiving of reports. So by me has thus been arranged : at all hours, when I am eating, or in the harem, or in the inner apartments, or even in the ranches, or in the place of religious instruction, or in the parks, everywhere, Prativedikas are posted with instruction to report on the affairs of my people. In all places do I dispose of the affairs of the people. And it perchance by word of mouth I personally command a donation or a proclamation; or again, if an urgent matter has been assigned to the Mahamatras and if in connection therewith a debate or deliberation takes place in the Parisat, then without a moment’s interval should it be reported to me in all places, at all hours.
Thus has been ordered by me.
For there is no satisfaction of mine in exertion and dispatch of business. My highest duty is ,indeed, the promotion of the good of all. Of that, again, the root is this : exertion and dispatch of business. There is no higher work then the promotion of the commonweal. And if I am at all making any exertion, it is in order that I may obtain the discharging of debt to all living beings, and make them happy in this world, while they may attain heaven in the world beyond. Now, for this purpose is this religious edict inscribed that it may last for ever, and that my sons, and grandsons, and great-grandsons may follow it for the good of all. But this is difficult of achievement except by great and sustained effort.

English  translation of the Girnar text by D C Sircar

Thus saith king Priyadarshi, Beloved of the Gods.
Formerly, in ages gones by, there was no transaction of state business and no reporting of incidents at all hours. So I have made the following arrangements, viz., that the reporters may appear before me for reporting the affairs of the people at any time and place, whether I am engaged in eating or in the harem or in the bed-chamber or on a promenade or in the carriage or on the march. And I am now attending to people’s affair at all places. And, when I issue an order orally in connection with any donation or proclamation or when an emergent work presses itself upon the Mahamatras and in case there is in that connection a controversy among the Ministers of the Council or an argumentation in the Council in favor of a particular view, the fact must be reported to me immediately at any place and at any time. Thus have I ordered.
I am never complacent in regard to my exertions or the dispatch of people’s business by me. I consider it only my duty to promote the welfare of all men. But exertion and prompt dispatch of business lie at the root of that. There is verily no duty which is more important to me than promoting the welfare of all men. And whatever effort I make is made in order that I may discharge the debt which I owe to all living beings, that I may make them happy in this world, and that they may attain heaven in the next world.
Therefore, this record relating to Dharma has been caused to be written by me on stone for the purpose, viz., that it may last for long time and that my sons, grandsons and great-grandsons may confirm to it for the welfare of all men. This, however, is difficult to accomplish without utmost exertion.

English translation by S Dhammika

 Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: In the past, state business was not transacted nor were reports delivered to the king at all hours. But now I have given this order, that at any time, whether I am eating, in the women’s quarters, the bed chamber, the chariot, the palanquin, in the park or wherever, reporters are to be posted with instructions to report to me the affairs of the people so that I might attend to these affairs wherever I am. And whatever I orally order in connection with donations or proclamations, or when urgent business presses itself on the Mahamatras, if disagreement or debate arises in the Council, then it must be reported to me immediately. This is what I have ordered. I am never content with exerting myself or with despatching business. Truly, I consider the welfare of all to be my duty, and the root of this is exertion and the prompt despatch of business. There is no better work than promoting the welfare of all the people and whatever efforts I am making is to repay the debt I owe to all beings to assure their happiness in this life, and attain heaven in the next.
Therefore this Dhamma edict has been written to last long and that my sons, grandsons and great-grandsons might act in conformity with it for the welfare of the world. However, this is difficult to do without great exertion.

Observations:

Heaven – In this inscription, Ashoka mention about the next world which suggests that he believed in the next world. He also believed that good deeds done in this world will pay off in the next world. There has been quite a debate among scholars over the mention of next world. Does heaven play any role in Buddhism? Buddhism does not believe in next birth, however there is surely mention of attainment of the next world. Therefore, mention of heaven does not prove that the edict was influenced by Hindu thoughts.

Ashoka, the statesman – This edict throws a good light on the administrative qualities of Ashoka. He mentions that he has appointed officials to carry out justice. He had instructed those to inform him of important matters. He mentions that he is ever ready to listen and solve disputes, conflicts and other matters which are not resolved at the level of his officials.

He also mentions that though there are officers placed to resolve such matters however there can be cases where his intervention is required and for that, he is ever ready to listen even when he is in private. Because, he must ensure that all such matters are resolved on time, as this is the duty of a king and by this way he can return the favor he owned to his subjects.

How nicely he said, “the welfare of his people is of supreme importance to me, and whatever little effort I put, I take it as an act of repaying the debt which I owed to people.” He is not speaking like a king in any authoritative manner, but as a very decent and down to earth person.

Back to Main Page