The Mauryas

Inscriptions of Ashoka

Rock Edict (RE) X

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

1. देवानंपियो पियदसि राजा यसो वा किति वा न महाथवहा मञते अन्नन तदात्पनो दिघाय च मे जनो
2. धंमस संसासगे अता धंमवुता च अनुविधियता | एतकाय देवानंपियो पियदसि राजा यसो व किती व इच्छति |
3. यं तु कचि परिकमते देवानं पियदसिराजा त सवं पारत्रिकाय किती सकले अपपरिवस अस |  एस तु परिसवा य अपुनं
4. दुकरं तु खो एतं छुदकेन व जनेन  उसटेन व अंञत अगेन पराकमंन  सवं परिचाजित्वा |  एता तु खो उसटेन दुकरं

English translation by Meena Talim

1. King Devanamppiya Piyadassi does not think of success or fame as a great thing to praise. On the other hand, let my people for a long
2. Time be attached with the Dhamma, and strung upon Dhamma. King Devanamppiya Piyadassi desires only this and that is his glory and fame.
3.  Whatever little effort the king is making, is all for the achievement in the next world. It is all an effort, or less value and this exhaustion is not a meritorious one.
4.  It is indeed difficult for lowly class of persons or high class persons or others to make such an effort to sacrifice everything and more so it is difficult for a person of high class.

English translation of the Shahbazgarhi text by G Buhler

King Priyadarsin, beloved of the gods, does not think that glory and fame bring much profit, except that he desires glory and fame with the view that at present and in the future the people may practice obedience to the Sacred Law, and that they observe the duties of the Sacred Law. For this purpose King Priyadarsin, beloved of the gods, desires glory and fame. But all the efforts of King Priyadarsin, beloved of the gods, are made with reference to the results for a future life. How so? It is his wish that all may be free from danger. Now the danger is sin. But assuredly the think is difficult to accomplish, whether for the low or for the great, except by the greatest exertion and by renouncing everything. But it is [most difficult] for the great.

English translation of the Girnar  text by V A Smith

His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King does not believe that glory or renown brings much profit unless in both the present and the future my people obediently hearken to the Law of Piety and conform to its precepts. For that purpose only does His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King desire glory or renown. Whatsoever exertions His Sacred  and Gracious Majesty the King makes, all are for the sake of the life hereafter, so that everyone may be freed from peril, and that peril is vice. Difficult, verily, it is to attain such freedom, whether by people of low or of high degree, save by the utmost exertion, giving up all other aims.  That, however, for him of high degree is difficult.

English translation by D R Bhandarkar

King Priyadarsin, Beloved of the gods, does not deem glory or fame as conducing to any great thing except in that, whether at the present time or in future, his people may show desire to hearken to Dhamma and practice the utterances of Dhamma. In this matter only does king Priyadarsin, Beloved of the gods, desire glory or fame. Whatever exertions king Priyadarsin, Beloved of the gods, puts forth are (all) with reference to the other world – why is it? – in order that every one may have as little parisrava as possible. But this is parisrava which is apunya (unrighteousness). This, however, is difficult to accomplish whether by the lower or the higher class (of officials), except by the utmost exertion and by renouncing everything. But it is most difficult for the higher (class).

English translation of the Kalsi text by R K Mookerji

His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King does not regard glory or fame as bringing much gain except that whatever glory or fame he desires, it would be only for this that the people might in the present time and in the future should practice obedience to Dharma and conform to the observance of Dharma. For this purpose does His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King wish for glory or fame. And what little he exerts himself, that is all for the hereafter, and in order that all may be free from confinement (or bondage). And this is bondage, viz., sin. This is, indeed, difficult of achievement by the lowly or high in rank except by strenuous preliminary effort, renouncing all. But among there (two), it is more difficult of achievement by the person of superior rank.

English  translation of the Girnar text by D C Sircar

King Priyadarsi, Beloved of the Gods, does not consider either glory in this life or fame after death as of great consequence, except in regard to the following, viz., that, at present as well as in future, the people of his dominions would practice obedience to Dharma and also that they would act in accordance with the principles of Dharma. On this account alone, King Priyadarsi, Beloved of the Gods, desire glory and fame.
Whatever endeavors are made by King Priyadarsi, Beloved of the Gods, are made for the sake of the people’s happiness in the other world and in order that all men should have little corruption. And, what is sinful is corruption. This comparative freedom from corruption is indeed difficult to achieve both for the poor and the rich if they do not make great efforts by renouncing every other aim. This is certainly more difficult for the rich to achieve.

English translation by S Dhammika

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, does not consider glory and fame to be of great account unless they are achieved through having my subjects respect Dhamma and practice Dhamma, both now and in the future. For this alone does Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, desire glory and fame. And whatever efforts Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, is making, all of that is only for the welfare of the people in the next world, and that they will have little evil. And being without merit is evil. This is difficult for either a humble person or a great person to do except with great effort, and by giving up other interests. In fact, it may be even more difficult for a great person to do.


Ashoka: The Emperor Modest – In this edict Ashoka tells his people that they should not go after fame and glory as the only glory to be attached to Dhamma and follow it. He mentions that he himself do not praise other glories apart from the previously mentioned. Later in the edict, he opens up his heart and mentions that sacrificing everything to attain this glory is not an easy task, for both, a lowly or highly person. It is even harder for a highly person.

It is very clear that Ashoka did all these efforts to make his next world life fruitful. In continuation with RE IX, he emphasizes on attainment of heaven. And he somehow regret that he was not able to do so till this time. However, it appears that he later realized that he was not able to achieve everything which was necessary for that. There might be a hint here that Ashoka wanted to leave everything and attain monk-hood which probably he was not able to do being an emperor. And this caused the space between his desire and what he achieved.

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