History

The Mauryas

Inscriptions of Ashoka

Pillar Edict (PE) VII

Original text by Meena Talim

English translation by Meena Talim

1. Piyadassi, the beloved of the God says this: Those kings
2. who lived in the past (in between) desired thus: how will
3. Dhamma increase amongst people? In proportion there was no growth of Dhamma.
4. Therefore, king Piyadassi, the beloved of the God says thus: This have
5. said: In the past these kings desired, how will there
6. be (in proportion) an increase of Dhamma? It is not adequate.
7. In what way then these people should follow Dhamma?
8. In what way will people increase Dhamma? How many
9. would turn to growth of my Dhamma. Then king Piyadassi, beloved of the God said thus:
10. This I have said. I am proclaiming a proclamation of Dhamma
11. I will instruct according to Dhamma, I teach accordingly, let people after hearing it follow and bend towards it.
12. There will be exceedingly growth of Dhamma. For this purpose I have made proclamation of Dhamma which they should listen. I have instructed Dhamma in many ways and commanded accordingly. Just as men extend and admonish many people in Dhamma-discourses and establish them, even so Rajjukas extend services to many hundred thousand living beings. This is also I have commanded; this and the Dhamma-discourses must be admonished by Dhammayuttas to people.
13. Piyadassi, beloved of the God says thus: this after considering I have erected these Dhamma-pillars; I have made (installed) Dhamma-mahamattas and proclaimed Dhamma. Thus said the beloved of the God; I have caused nigrodha-tress to be planted on the roads, which will be useful for giving shed to animals and men. I have caused mango-trees to be planted to make mango-grove; every half a mile dug water-wells.
14. caused resting places, caused to construct drinking halls, for the use for animals and men. These comforts are small, but in the past rulers have also given various comforts and happiness to people and my Rajjukas have also made people happy. This is in connection with Dhamma and it should be followed. This I have done.
15. Piyadassi, beloved of the God says thus: My Dhamma-mahamattas have pervaded everywhere for this purpose and favored many. They look after ascetics, householders and all heretics. I have made them pegged together and this will pervade everywhere; Brahmanas and Ajivikas. This I have done.
16. These will pervade to Niganthas and various heretics. Thus Piyadassi, beloved of the God said.
17. These and many other important ones (heads) are included in the work of dispensing (serving) charity, and also my queens are included, all have successfully, without, obstructing and in various ways, have been gladly followed me. Here, in this (proper) direction I have also made my children (to follow), others, queens and princes (to work). All of them will pervade for division of charity.
18. Dhamma should be followed according to the instructions given in Dhamma (verses). These are religious charities. They should be followed such as compassion, charity, truth, purity, humility and piety and should be increased in this world. Thus, Piyadassi, beloved of the God says: I have cherished (acquired) some good qualities and I am placing them before the people so that way will be followed. This will grow and (in future)
19. will grow. Reverence to mother and father, reverence to teacher and elderly ones should be extended. Similarly, Brahmanas, Sramanas, poor miserable ones, servants and those who are dependent on food should be looked after. Piyadassi, beloved of the God says thus: the growth of Dhamma will increase amongst men in two ways, namely, discipline through Dhamma and meditation.
20. Here one may in a smaller way follow Dhamma-discipline but meditation is the best. I have myself done it by following Dhamma-discipline. These and those living beings should not be killed; I have made many such disciplinary rules. In this world of men, meditation will increase the growth of Dhamma. Be there a non-violence towards living beings and killing of animals should be prohibited. For this purpose, I made this.
21. My sons and grandsons will follow it as long as (existence of) sun and moon; therefore, it should be followed. This should be followed here and for the next world. I have created this Dhamma-lipi to inscribe after the twenty-seventh year of my coronation. Thus says the beloved of the God.
22. This Dhamma-lipi is on the rock-pillar or may it be on rock-slab there; all have been so that it (Dhamma) should last long.

English translation by V A Smith

1. Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King: The kings who lived in times past desired that men might grow with the growth of the Law of Piety. Men, however, did not grow with the growth of the Law of Piety in due proportion.
2. Concerning this  thus saith  His Sacred  and Gracious Majesty the King: ‘This [thought] occurred to me : In times past kings desired that men might grow with the growth of the Law of Piety in due proportion ; men, however, did not in due proportion grow with the growth of the Law. By what means, then, can men be induced to conform? By what means can men grow with the growth of the Law of Piety in due proportion ? by what means can I lift up at least some of them through the growth of that Law?
3. Concerning this  thus saith  His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King : ‘ This [thought] occurred to me : ” Proclamation of the Law of Piety will I proclaim ; with instruction in that Law will I instruct; so that men hearkening thereto may conform, lift themselves up, and mightily grow with the growth of the Law of Piety.” For this my purpose proclamations of the Law of Piety have been proclaimed ; instructions in that Law ‘of many kinds have been disseminated ; my [?] missioners, likewise my Agents set over the multitude, will expound and expand my teaching. The Governors,  also, set  over   many hundred thousands of souls have received instructions  “In such and such a manner expound my teaching to the body of subordinate officials of the Law.”
4. Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty : ‘Considering further the same purpose, I have set up pillars of the Law, appointed Censors (High Officers) of the Law, and made a proclamation of the Law.
5. Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King : ‘ On the roads, too, I have had banyan-trees planted to give shade to man and beast ; groves (or “gardens “) of mango-trees I have had planted ; at every half-kos I have had wells dug ; rest-houses, too, have been erected; and numerous watering-places have been provided by me here and there for the enjoyment of man and beast. A small matter, however, is that so-called enjoyment. With various blessings has mankind been blessed by former kings, as by me also ; by me, however, with the intent that men may conform to the Law of Piety, has it been done even as I thought.’
6. Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty : ‘My Censors (or “High Officers”) of the Law of Piety, too, are employed on manifold objects of the royal favour affecting both ascetics and householders, and are likewise employed among all denominations. On the business of the Church, too, they are employed, as well as among the Brahmans and Jains are they employed.  Similarly, they are employed among the Jains; among miscellaneous sects, too, are they employed. The High Officers of various kinds shall severally superintend their respective charges, whereas the High Officers of the Law of Piety (Censors) are employed both on such things and also among other denominations.
7. Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King : ‘ Both these  and many other  officers, heads  of departments, are employed in the distribution of alms, both my own and those of the Queens ; and in all my female establishments both here [soil, "at the capital"] and in the provinces they indicate in divers ways sundry places where satisfaction may be given. Those same officers are also employed in the distribution of the alms of my sons, and likewise of the other Princes, sons of the Queens, in order to promote the practice of the Law of Piety and conformity to that Law. The practice of the Law of Piety and the conformity referred to are those whereby compassion, liberality, truth, purity, gentleness, and saintliness  will thus grow among mankind.
8. Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King : ‘ Whatsoever meritorious deeds have been done by me, those deeds mankind will conform to and imitate, whence follows that they have grown and will grow in the virtues of hearkening to  father  and mother, hearkening to teachers (or ” elders “), reverence to the aged, and seemly  treatment of Brahmans and ascetics, of the poor and wretched ; yea, even of slaves and servants.’
9. Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King : ‘ Among men, however, when the aforesaid growth of piety  has grown, it has been effected by twofold means, to wit, by regulations of the Law  of Piety and by reflection. Of these two, however, regulations of the Law are of small account,  whereas reflection is superior. Nevertheless, regulations of the Law of Piety have been made by me to the  effect that such and such species are exempt from slaughter, not to speak of numerous other regulations of the Law of Piety which have been made by me. Yet the superiority of reflection is shown by the growth of piety among men and the more complete abstention from killing animate beings and from the sacrificial slaughter of living creatures. So for this purpose has this been recorded, in order that my sons and descendants (lit. ” great grandsons “)  may conform thereto, and  by thus conforming may win both this world and the next. When I had been consecrated twenty-seven years I had this scripture of the Law written.
10. Concerning this His Sacred Majesty saith : ‘ This  scripture of the Law of Piety, wheresoever pillars of stone or tables of stone exist, must there be recorded so that it may long endure.’

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: In the past kings desired that the people might grow through the promotion of the Dhamma. But despite this, people did not grow through the promotion of the Dhamma. Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, said concerning this: “It occurs to me that in the past kings desired that the people might grow through the promotion of the Dhamma. But despite this, people did not grow through the promotion of the Dhamma. Now how can the people be encouraged to follow it? How can the people be encouraged to grow through the promotion of the Dhamma? How can I elevate them by promoting the Dhamma?” Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, further said concerning this: “It occurs to me that I shall have proclamations on Dhamma announced and instruction on Dhamma given. When people hear these, they will follow them, elevate themselves and grow considerably through the promotion of the Dhamma.” It is for this purpose that proclamations on Dhamma have been announced and various instructions on Dhamma have been given and that officers who work among many promote and explain them in detail. The Rajjukas who work among hundreds of thousands of people have likewise been ordered: “In this way and that encourage those who are devoted to Dhamma.” Beloved-of-the-Gods speaks thus: “Having this object in view, I have set up Dhamma pillars, appointed Dhamma Mahamatras, and announced Dhamma proclamations.”
Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, says: Along roads I have had banyan trees planted so that they can give shade to animals and men, and I have had mango groves planted. At intervals of eight //krosas//, I have had wells dug, rest-houses built, and in various places, I have had watering-places made for the use of animals and men. But these are but minor achievements. Such things to make the people happy have been done by former kings. I have done these things for this purpose, that the people might practice the Dhamma.
Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: My Dhamma Mahamatras too are occupied with various good works among the ascetics and householders of all religions. I have ordered that they should be occupied with the affairs of the Sangha. I have also ordered that they should be occupied with the affairs of the Brahmans and the Ajivikas. I have ordered that they be occupied with the Niganthas. In fact, I have ordered that different Mahamatras be occupied with the particular affairs of all different religions. And my Dhamma Mahamatras likewise are occupied with these and other religions.
Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: These and other principal officers are occupied with the distribution of gifts, mine as well as those of the queens. In my women’s quarters, they organize various charitable activities here and in the provinces. I have also ordered my sons and the sons of other queens to distribute gifts so that noble deeds of Dhamma and the practice of Dhamma may be promoted. And noble deeds of Dhamma and the practice of Dhamma consist of having kindness, generosity, truthfulness, purity, gentleness and goodness increase among the people.
Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: Whatever good deeds have been done by me, those the people accept and those they follow. Therefore they have progressed and will continue to progress by being respectful to mother and father, respectful to elders, by courtesy to the aged and proper behavior towards Brahmans and ascetics, towards the poor and distressed, and even towards servants and employees.
Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: This progress among the people through Dhamma has been done by two means, by Dhamma regulations and by persuasion. Of these, Dhamma regulation is of little effect, while persuasion has much more effect. The Dhamma regulations I have given are that various animals must be protected. And I have given many other Dhamma regulations also. But it is by persuasion that progress among the people through Dhamma has had a greater effect in respect of harmlessness to living beings and non-killing of living beings.
Concerning this, Beloved-of-the-Gods says: Wherever there are stone pillars or stone slabs, there this Dhamma edict is to be engraved so that it may long endure. It has been engraved so that it may endure as long as my sons and great-grandsons live and as long as the sun and the moon shine, and so that people may practice it as instructed. For by practicing it happiness will be attained in this world and the next.
This Dhamma edict has been written by me twenty-seven years after my coronation.

Back to Main Page