Inscriptions of Ashoka
Kalinga Edict II
This edict is found at Dhauli (Odisha), Jaugada (Odisha) and Sannati (Karnataka).
English translation by Meena Talim
1. The beloved of the God said thus: Mahamattas of Samapa should be told in the name of king. Whatever I see I desire. What?
2. I shall say it in action; I am stating it in action for the second time. This is important for me, hence I will teach you the meaning for the second time.
3. All men are my children. Therefore, I am desirous of one thing from them; what is it? My proclamations should be utilized for the benefit and happiness , for this
4. world and next world. This is my desire for all men. Those who live at border (land) and have not been conquered,
5. (may think) what wishes does your king have? This is my desire for the border-people and be told to them. Let them
6. on my behalf, be treated with care and fondness, assure to them that I desire for that happiness which they are entitled to. Let them not obtain sorrow. Our king will forgive them as he has forgiven this own (people).
7. Let them follow Dhamma for my sake. They should accomplish in this world and next world.
8. I am instructing (teaching) you for this purpose. You teach this much of my teachings to those who live on borderland and let them know my wishes,
9. my determination and my courage. Thus, while on touring (wandering) you should perform your duties. Assure them, they will obtain it.
10. Our king is just like a father. He, therefore, is compassionate to border-people just as he is compassionate to us. Thus,
11. all are children to our king. You thus instruct them. Let them know my wishes, courage and determinations, wander everywhere.
12. I shall become Desayutta. This is the meaning (purpose). Thus, you assure them of benefits and happiness in this
13. world and next world. By doing this they will attain to heaven. This is my command.
14. For this purpose this inscription has been written. Here, let Mahamattas be restrainful and perpetually join (to do good act) with them.
15. Follow the Dhamma by assuring it to border-people. This inscription should be heard in four monsoon months and on, in between Tissnakkha constellation.
16. At times (moment) even a one person can also hear it. By doing this, one would realize the meaning (of Dhamma) successively.
English translation of the Jaugada text by V A Smith
Thus saith His Sacred Majesty :
At Samapa the High Officers are to be addressed in the King’s words, as follows :
Whatsoever my views are I desire them to be acted on in practice and carried into effect by certain means. And in my opinion the chief means for attaining this purpose are my instructions to you.
“All men are my children;” and, just as I desire for my children that they may enjoy every kind of prosperity and happiness both in this world and, in the next, so also I desire the same for all men.
[If you ask] “With regard to the un-subdued borderers what is the king’s command to us ? ” [The answer is that ] “The King desires that ‘they should not be afraid of me, that they should trust me, and should receive from me happiness, not sorrow.’ Moreover, they should grasp the truth that ‘ the King will bear patiently with us,’ and that ‘for my sake they should follow the Law of Piety and so gain both this world and the next.’
” And for this purpose I give you instructions. Thereby being freed from my debt, giving instructions to you and making known my will, my inflexible resolve and promise. Now you, acting accordingly, must do your work, and must make these people trust me and grasp the truth that “the King is to us even as a father; he loves us even as he loves himself ; we are to the King even as his children.” By instructing you and intimating my will, my inflexible resolve and promise, I shall be provided with [trained] local officials for this business, because you are in a position to make these people trust me and to ensure their prosperity both in this world and in the next, and by so doing you may win heaven and also affect my release from debt [or “discharge your debt to me”]. And for this purpose has this scripture of the law of piety been written here, in order that the High Officers may strive without ceasing both to secure the confidence of these borderers and to set them moving on the path of piety. And this scripture must be recited at the beginning of each season of four months on the Tishya day. In the intervals also it may be recited. On occasion it may be recited even to one person. By acting this you .should endeavor to fulfill my instructions.
English translation by D R Bhandarkar
English translation by R K Mookerji
English translation by D C Sircar
English translation by S Dhammika
Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus: This royal order is to be addressed to the Mahamatras at Samapa. I wish to see that everything I consider to be proper is carried out in the right way. And I consider instructing you to be the best way of accomplishing this. All men are my children. What I desire for my own children, and I desire their welfare and happiness both in this world and the next, that I desire for all men.
The people of the unconquered territories beyond the borders might think: “What is the king’s intentions towards us?” My only intention is that they live without fear of me, that they may trust me and that I may give them happiness, not sorrow. Furthermore, they should understand that the king will forgive those who can be forgiven, and that he wishes to encourage them to practice Dhamma so that they may attain happiness in this world and the next. I am telling you this so that I may discharge the debts I owe, and that in instructing you, that you may know that my vow and my promise will not be broken. Therefore acting in this way, you should perform your duties and assure them (the people beyond the borders) that: “The king is like a father. He feels towards us as he feels towards himself. We are to him like his own children.”
By instructing you and informing you of my vow and my promise I shall be applying myself in complete fullness to achieving this object. You are able indeed to inspire them with confidence and to secure their welfare and happiness in this world and the next, and by acting thus, you will attain heaven as well as discharge the debts you owe to me. And so that the Mahamatras can devote themselves at all times to inspiring the border areas with confidence and encouraging them to practice Dhamma, this edict has been written here.
This edict is to be listened to every four months on Tisa day, between Tisa days, and on other suitable occasions, it should be listened to even by a single person. Acting thus, you will be doing your duty.
English translation by K R Norman1
Norman did a comparative study of all the three edicts (Dhauli, Jaugada and Sannati) to fill up the lacuna in different texts. Therefore his translation can be considered as a comprehensive one
- By order of His Majesty: at Tosali the prince and ministers are to be spoken to; His Majesty speaks thus: at Samapa the ministers, spokesmen of the king, are to be spoken to
- Whatever I consider as good, that I wish, in order that I may achieve (it) by my actions and gain it by a device
- And this device is thought best by me (in this) matter, namely instruction to you
- All men are my children
- Just as in the case of children, I wish that they may be joined (by me) with all happiness and prosperity concerns with this world and the next, similarly is my wish in the case of all men
- Perhaps my unconquered neighbors may think, “Of what desire (inclination) is the king with regard to us?”
- This is my wish with regard to my neighbors, namely that they may understand that the king’s wishes are so, that they may be unafraid to me, that they may have confidence, that they may receive happiness from me, not unhappiness. And thus may they realize, “His Majesty will forgive us whichever (of us) it is possible to forgive”, and for my sake may they practice the dhamma, and may they attain this world and the next
- (In this matter) I advise you. Thereby I am debtless (towards my people), having advised (you) and having made known my inclination, (what is) my firmness and my unshaking promise.
- But doing thus, the task is to be set in motion and they are to ne encouraged, whereby they may realize (HI Majesty) is like a father to us, (Hi Majesty) sympathizes with us as though with himself. We are like children to (His Majesty)
- I, having advised (you) and having made known my inclination (to you), (what) is my firmness and my unshaking promise; shall have done my duty to the (whole) region (for this reason)
- For you are (able) for their encouragement and for their happiness and prosperity connected with this world and the next
- And this doing you will gain heaven and will come to debtlessness for me
- For this reason this writing is written here, whereby the ministers may continually be concerned with the encouragement and the practice of the dhamma of (those) neighbors.
- And this writing is to be read out every four months of the Tissa (asterism day)
- But optionally) (from time to time) in between also on the Tissa day (it is to be read out) even to a single individual (there being an opportunity) it is to be read out
- And this doing you will be able to be successful
Ashoka, the Father of All – Ashoka reiterates his favorite line, that all men are his children. He extends the same to the people of bordering states. He asks his officers to tell these border-land people that they should also follow Dhamma. He also mentions that the people of border-lands should not be afraid of him as he has forgiving nature.
Objective – But why the king is so concerned about his border-land people? This edict is only found at the newly conquered territory of Kalinga. Therefore, it can be safely assumed that the king wants to convey his thoughts and processes to the newly conquered territory. He wants to assure the people of this territory as well as people of neighboring countries as they might be in fear about his next steps after victory over Kalinga.
Though Ashoka is in pacifying mood, but he did not restrain himself on impending his Dhamma on these people. He asserts that the people of border-land should follow Dhamma and instructs his officers to check if they are following this. This is somehow told in autocratic manner.
At this place, it would be right to check if Ashoka was partial towards people who follow Dhamma and who do not? In his own edicts, he has told that he honors all religions, therefore it would be unjust to call him partial. Also, it would be incorrect to say that he did not put these statements into practice.
Thus, Ashoka was not impartial towards people who follow Dhamma. However, he always advocates his Dhamma and asks his people to follow it. It would be hard to say how strict he was in this process. He advocated his Dhamma to his neighbors as well, but he was in no authority to impose it onto them.
And Ashoka would be well aware of this situation. Therefore it would be safe to say that this edict was not only meant for his neighboring countries but for the newly conquered territory which in past was his neighbor. Another objective of the edict was to ensure the people of border-land that they need not live in fear as Ashoka had no ambition to conquer further territories.
1 Norman K R (1994-95). A Comparative Study of Asoka’s Second Separate Edict published in Bulletin of the Deccan College Post-Graduate Research Institute vol. 54-55. Pune.