The Mauryas

Inscriptions of Ashoka

Kandhar Greek-Aramaic Inscription

This edict was discovered in 1957, at a place situated a few miles west of present Kandhar in Afghanistan. It is engraved on a block of rock, which is part of the mountain in the vicinity of Shar-i-Kuna. Its upper part is occupied by a Greek inscription and the lower part with an Aramaic inscription. The Greek record consists of 14 lines while the Aramaic has 8 lines.

Sanskrit text translated from the original Greek text by N P Rastogi

1. दश-वषाभिषितेन रञ प्रियद्रशिन जनस्पि ध्रमनुशस्ति पवतिट |
2. ततो चु तेन मुनिश बढतरं ध्रम-युत कट प्रण च वढित हित-सुखेन सव्र पुठविय |
3. रञचु प्रणरंभो परितिजित | सव्रे हि च मनुशेहि लुडकेहि च सव्रे हि केवटेहि च रञो परितिजित विहिस भुतनं ।
4. येषु चु नासि संयमो ते पि च संयत भुत यथ तेन तने शकं |
5. ते पि च मत-पितुषु वुढेषु च सुश्रुषंति यदिशं नो भुत-प्रवं |
6. एवं च करमिन ते पच हित-सुखेन वढिशंति वढं च वढिशंति|

English translation by Meena Talim

1. Ten years after the coronation, King Piyadassin established the teachings of Dhamma, to the people.
2. That time, all men mostly (looked after) by Dhammayuttas. On the entire (all) earth there was increase in happiness and benefits for all living beings.
3. King has discarded killing, all men including hunters and fishermen have given up killing living beings. King has given up killing of living creatures.
4. Those who were not able to control, such beings have also started leading a restrainful life, as much as possible to them.
5. They also look after mother-father and elderly ones. Such was not (happened) before.
6. While doing this they will increase their happiness and benefit. It will increase with growth.

English translation by J Filliozat

1. Ten years having elapsed (from his installation)
2. King Piodasses has shown mankind (the way to) piety
3. and since then he has rendered mankind more pious
4. and everything is thriving on the whole earth
5. and the King abstains from animals (i.e. meat)
6. and all men including the kings, huntsmen and fishermen have stopped hunting and have become
7. obedient to father and mother.
8. And those who could not control themselves,
9. have ceased to do so, as far as they could.
10. and (having become) obedient to father and mother,
11. and to the elders,
12. contrary to what happened before.
13. They will henceforward, by thus acting
14. lead a better and
15. every way more profitable life.

Sanskrit text translated from the original Aramaic part of the inscription by N P Rastogi

1. दश-वषाभिषितेन रञ प्रियद्रशिन नो तद  ध्रमनुशस्ति पवतिट |
2. ततो अपयस हिनी जत सव्रस्पि च जनस्पि तेन दुप्रटभग निवटित | अस्ति पि संति च प्रिति च सव्र-पुठवियं
3. एत च भुतं | सुपठय चु रञो नो स्पमिकस लहुकं अरभियति | तस च द्रशन सव्र मनुश न अरंभंति | एवं पि ये च केवट ते अपि नियमेन संयत |
4. एवं पि येषं च नसि संयमो ते पि संयत भुत |
5. सव्र च मत-पितुषु सुश्रुषंति वुढेषु च सुश्रुषंति यदिशं तस तस  कटवं आरोपितं |
6. ध्रम-युतनं चु खो परत्र नस्ति विचरण |
7. सव्रे च मनुष ध्रम-चरणेन अभुंनत च अभुंनमिषितिं चेव |

English translation by Meena Talim

1. Ten years after the coronation King Piyadassin established the teachings of Dhamma, to us.
2. That (time) all men, who were not successful, or of low birth and misfortune (suffering misfortunes); their misfortune disappeared (returned). There was peace and love in the entire (whole) world.
3. Such was with living beings. King has well undertaken (vow of) as not to kill a big or small one. Taking him as an ideal (following his views) all men do not kill. Similarly, those who are fishermen they have restrainfully followed this rule, regularly.
4. Thus, those who were not able to control, they also have become restrained ones.
5. All serve mother and father, also serve old people. In this way each and each (everyone) one should follow the (lead up to) duty.
6. Dhammayuttas need not wander (travel for the welfare) in other world.
7. All men by following Dhamma will experience wonderful experiences. This is it.

English translation by J Filliozat

1. Ten years having elapsed (?) It happened (?) that our Lord Priyadarsi, the king became the institutor of Truth.
2. Since then, evil diminished among all men and all misfortunes (?) he caused to disappear;
3. and upon all the earth (there are) peace and joy. And furthermore (there is) this about food for our Lord, the king.
4. A few (animals) are killed, seeing this all men ceased (killing animals) even (?) those who catch fish (i.e. fishermen);
5. These men are subject to prohibition; similarly, those who were without restraint have ceased
6. to be without restraint. And (there reigns) obedience to one’s mother and to one’s father and to old people.
7. According to the obligations set on everyone by fortune. And there is no judgment for all pious men.
8. This (i.e. the practice of law) has been profitable for all men and shall be still profitable.

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  • Shashwath T.R.

    One doubt; are these inscriptions in Greek and Aramaic script really in Prakrit as the Devanagari transcription would suggest? I always thought they were in the Greek _language_…

    • Hi Shash,
      These inscriptions are in Greek and Aramaic language. However it is assumed that the information/letter carrying these inscriptions from Ashoka would have been drafted in Prakrit/Pali and it would have been translated to Greek or Aramaic. Therefore, it is a good study to translate these inscriptions back into Prakrit/Pali to understand in better perspective.