Inscriptions of Ashoka
Rock Edict (RE) XI
Original text of the Girnar edict as per estampage by Meena Talim
1. देवानं पियो पियदसि राजा एवं आह | नास्ति एतरिसं दानं यारिस धंमदान धमसस्तवो वा धंमसंविभागो व धमसंबाधो व |
2. ततं इद भवति दासभतकम सम्पतिपंत्य मातरि पितरि साधु सुसुसा मितसस्तुतं ञतिकानं बाम्हणसमणानं साधु दानं |
3. पाणानं आनरभो साधु | एव वतव्य पिता वा पुतानं व भातामितसस्तुत ञतिकेन व आव पटीवेसियेहि इद साधु इद कव्यम |
4. सो तथा कस इलोकचस आरधो होति परत च अनंत पुइञ भवति तेन धमदानेन |
English translation by Meena Talim
1. King Devanamppiya Piyadassi speaks thus: There is nothing like charity of Dhamma or related to Dhamma.
2. Here the following are comprised of (such as) proper courtesy to slaves and servants, good service to mother and father and gifts to friends, acquaintances, relatives, Brahmanas and Sramanas.
3. Abstain from killing animals is good. This should be told to father, sons, brothers, friends, acquaintances and relatives.
4. If one who does this he will acquire happiness in this world and by performing such an act of Dhamma-dana, he shall cultivate immense merit.
English translation of the Shahbazgarhi text by G Buhler
King Priyadarsin, beloved of the gods, speaks thus :- “There is no such gift as the almsgiving of the law, nor anything like the intimacy through the law, the charitable gift of the low and connection through the law.” This law includes the good treatment of slaves and servants, obedience towards parents, liberality towards friends, acquaintances, relatives, ascetics and Brahmans, and non-destruction of living creatures. Therefore a father, or a son, or a brother, or a master, or a friend and acquaintance, or even a neighbor ought to give advice on this matter, saying :- “This is meritorious; this ought to be done.” He who acts thus both gains this world and produces for himself endless merit in the next through this almsgiving of the Sacred Law.
English translation of the Shahbazgarhi text by V A Smith
Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King :
There is no such alms-giving as is the alms-giving of the Law of Piety, friendship in piety, liberality in piety, kinship in piety. Herein does it consist in proper treatment of slaves and servants, in hearkening to father and mother, in giving to friends, comrades, relations, ascetics, and Brahmans, in abstaining from the sacrificial slaughter of living creatures. This ought to be said by father, son, brother, master (omitted by Girnar text), friend, or comrade, nay, even by a neighbor “This is excellent, this ought to be done.” Acting thus a man both gains this world and in the other world produces endless merit, by means of this alms-giving of piety.
English translation by D R Bhandarkar
Thus saith king Priyadarsin, Beloved of the gods: There is no such gift as the gift of Dhamma, to wit, acquaintance with Dhamma, participation in Dhamma, and kinship with Dhamma. Therein this happens “seemly behavior towards slaves and servants, meritorious hearkening to father and mother, meritorious gifts to friends, acquaintances, and relatives, and to Brahmans and Sramanas (and) meritorious non-slaughter of animals.” This ought to be said by a father, a son, a brother, a master, a friend or acquaintance, nay, even a neighbor: “This is meritorious; this ought to be done.” He, who does it in this manner, accomplishes the worldly life and obtains infinite spiritual merit through that gift of Dhamma.
English translation of the Shahbazgarhi text by R K Mookerji
Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King: There is no such gift as the gift of Dharma, acquaintance in Dharma, or the distribution of Dharma, or kinship in Dharma. It is as follows: proper treatment of slaves and servants, obedience to mother and father, liberality to friends, companions, relations, Brahmana and Sramana ascetics, and abstention from slaughter of living creatures for sacrifice. This is to be preached by father, son, brother, master, friend, comrade, or neighbor – that this is commendable, this should be accepted as duty. Thus doing, one gains this world while infinite merit occurs in the world beyond by the Dharma-dana.
English translation of the Kalsi text by D C Sircar
Thus saith king Priyadarsi, Beloved of the Gods.
There is no such gift as the gift of Dharma, no such act of dividing as the separation of Dharma from what is not Dharma, and no such kinship as kinship thorough Dharma. These comprise the following, viz., proper courtesy to slaves and servants, obedience to mother and father, liberality to friends, acquaintances and relatives as well as to he Brahmanas and Sramanas, and abstention from the slaughter of living beings.
In respect of this, whether one is a person’s father, or sons, or brother, or master, or friend, or acquaintance, one ought to say to him: “This is meritorious, This ought to be done.” If he acts in this manner, happiness in this world is attained by him and endless merit is produced for him in the next world by the said gift of Dharma.
English translation by S Dhammika
Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: There is no gift like the gift of the Dhamma, (no acquaintance like) acquaintance with Dhamma, (no distribution like) distribution of Dhamma, and (no kinship like) kinship through Dhamma. And it consists of this: proper behavior towards servants and employees, respect for mother and father, generosity to friends, companions, relations, Brahmans and ascetics, and not killing living beings. Therefore a father, a son, a brother, a master, a friend, a companion or a neighbor should say: “This is good, this should be done.” One benefits in this world and gains great merit in the next by giving the gift of the Dhamma.
Similarity with RE IX – This edict is very similar to RE IX as in both, King Ashoka tells about the activities included in his Dhamma. In RE IX he mentions Dhamma-ceremonies and in the present edict is mentions Dhamma-dana. Both, Dhamma-ceremonies and Dhamma-dana, involve same set of activities and duties. It would not be an over statement if we say that RE XI is a subset of RE IX. And Ashoka himself explained, later in another edict, that many things are repeated in his edicts and he did so as these are pleasing to hear again and again.