Edicts of Ashoka – Rock Edict III

Inscriptions of Ashoka

Rock Edict (RE) III

Sanskrit text of the Girnat text by Dr Hiranand Sastri

  1. देवानंपियो पियदसि राजा एवं आह [.] द्वादसवसाभिसितेन मया इदं आणपितं [.]
  2. सर्वत विजिते मम युता च राजूके च प्रादेसिके च पंचसु वासेसु अनुसं
  3. यानं नियातु एतायेव अथाय इमाय धमानुसास्ति यथा अन्या
  4. य पि कंमाय [.] साधु मातरि च पितरि च सुस्त्रूसा मित्रसंस्तुत- णातिनं बाम्हण –
  5. समणानं साधु दानं प्राणानं साधु अनारंभो अपव्ययता अपभाडता साधु [.]
  6. परिसा पि युते आणपयिसति गणनायं हेतुतो च व्यंजनतो च [.]

English translation of the Girnar text by Meena Talim

  1. King Devanamppiya Piyadassi speaks thus: In the twelfth year after my coronation, I am proclaiming this order.
  2. Everywhere in (my dominion) the land which I have conquered, let the Yuttas, Padesikas and Rajukas set out in tour, every five years.
  3. This has been done for the purpose of instructing (people) in Dhamma and performing other business.
  4. Meritorious is an obedience to mother and father, be good to friends, acquaintances and relatives, charity to Brahmanas and Sramanas.
  5. Meritorious is to abstain from killing animals; to be moderate in expenditure and possessions (goods).
  6. The council of Mahamatras shall order Yuttas (to count) to register (these rules) according to cause and according to letter.

English translation of the Girnar text by V A Smith

Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King :
When I had been consecrated twelve years this command was issued by me :
”Everywhere in my dominions the subordinate officials, the Governor, and the District Officer must every five years proceed in succession on transfer, as well for their other business, as for this special purpose, the inculcation of the Law of Duty (or Piety),”
to wit : ” An excellent thing is the hearkening to father and mother; an excellent thing is liberality to friends, acquaintances, relatives, Brahmans, and ascetics; excellent  is  abstention from the slaughter of living creatures; excellent is small expense with  small accumulation.”
The Council also will inculcate [the same] on the officials  in  the Accounts Department, with regard both to the principle and the text [of the order].

English translation of Shahbazgarhi text by G Buhler

King Priyadarsin, beloved of the gods, speaks thus:- When I had been anointed twelve years [this following order was given by me]:- “Everywhere in my empire both my loyal Rajukas and vassals shall go forth on a tour every five years, – the reason of this is the preaching the sacred law – as also for other business, (saying) :-  Meritorious is the obedience towards mother and father [meritorious is the liberality] towards friends, acquaintances and relatives, towards Brahmans and ascetics; [meritorious is the abstention from killing living creatures], meritorious is the abstention from reviling heterodox men. Moreover, the teachers and ascetics of all schools will inculcate what is befitting at divine service, both according to the letter and according to spirit.”

English translation by D R Bhandarkar

Thus saith king Priyadarsin, Beloved of the gods:
When I have been consecrated twelve years; this order was issued (by me):-
Everywhere in my dominions the Yuktas, the Rajjukas and the Pradesikas shall proceed on circuit every fiver years as well as for this purpose (for the instruction of Dhamma), as for other business, to wit, – “meritorious is the hearkening to mother and father; meritorious is liberality to friends, acquaintances and relatives, to Brahmans and Sramanas; meritorious is the abstention from slaughter of animals; meritorious is small expenses and small accumulation.” The council (of ministers) shall order the Yuktas in regard to the reckoning (of this expense and accumulation) both according to the letter and according to spirit.

English translation of the Girnar text by R K Mookerji

His Sacred and Gracious Majesty thus saith:
By me consecrated twelve years was the following ordained:
Everywhere within my dominions, the Yuktas, the Rajuka and the Pradesika must, every five years, go out on tour by turns as well for other businesses too as for this purpose, for this religious instruction:
Commendable is the service of father and mother; commendable is liberality to friends, acquaintances, relatives, Brahmans, Sramanas; commendable is abstention of the slaughter of the living creatures; commendable also is not to spend or hoard too much. The council will also similarly instruct the Yuktas for purposes of accounts in accordance with my order and its grounds.

English translation by D C Sircar

Thus saith king Priyadarsi, Beloved of the Gods.
The following was ordered by me twelve years after my coronation.
Everywhere in my dominions, the officers called the Rajjukas and Pradesikas shall set out every five years on a circuit for inspection throughout their charges, as much for their other duties as for the special purpose of preaching Dharma in the following words”
“Meritorious is obedience to mother and father. meritorious is liberality to friends, acquaintances and relatives and to Brahmans and Sramanas. Meritorious is abstention from the slaughter of living beings. Meritorious is to spend little and store little.”
The Council of Ministers shall order the officers about the observance of these instructions with reference to both my intentions and my words.

English translation by S Dhammika

Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, speaks thus: Twelve years after my coronation this has been ordered — Everywhere in my domain the Yuktas, the Rajjukas and the Pradesikas shall go on inspection tours every five years for the purpose of Dhamma instruction and also to conduct other business. Respect for mother and father is good, generosity to friends, acquaintances, relatives, Brahmans and ascetics is good, not killing living beings is good, moderation in spending and moderation in saving is good. The Council shall notify the Yuktas about the observance of these instructions in these very words.


महामात्र  (Mahamattas) – This word is frequently used in various Pali texts in the meaning of ‘minister’.

युता (Yukta) – E Senart translates it in the sense of ‘the faithful’. G Buhler takes it as an adjective of Rajuka and translates it by ‘loyal’. F W Thomas points that this term is found in the Arthashashtra of Kautilya where he mentions that these were employed in the revenue department and involved in collection of revenues. But, Thomas suggests that Yuktas, here in this inscription, refers to subordinate officers accompanying the higher officers on tours.

D R Bhandarkar goes with Kautilya and tells that Yuktas were revenue officers in charge of the king’s property. Meena Talim suggests that this is the Pali form of ‘ayukta’ which means ‘secretary’. Ayukta got changed to yukta which in Pali became yuta.

धर्मं-महामात्र  (Dhamma-mahamattas) – This is a new official post instituted by Ashoka. The main responsibility of these officers was to spread and look after the Dhamma or teachings of Ashoka.

राजूका  (Rajjuka) – G Buhler suggests that this word has been derived from rajju-gahaka, meaning a rope holder. In the ancient times, rope was used to measure land to calculate taxes, hence this officer would have been the in-charge of that department. E Hultzsch tells that his duty is to measure the fields and assess the land-taxes. F W Thomad also suggests that Rajukas were high officials, mainly involved with measurements and collections of taxes.

R K Mookerji suggests that this word has been derived from ‘Raja’ which in Pali could even mean a Mahamatra. Rajako is used in Mahavamsa to refer a king. Childers mentions that this could mean an official who has the power of life and death. Mookerji tells that the Rajukas were next to the king and viceroy and had the powers of justice, rewards, privileges and pardons as evident from the pillar edict IV.

K P Jayaswal derives rajuka from rajan, and takes Rajukas to denote “the rulers of ruler-ministers, the Committee of the Parisha vested with real executive powers over the whole empire”.

प्रदेसिका  (Padesika) – R K Mookerji suggests that Padesika would have been a higher officer than Rajukas as it is mentioned in ascending order in this inscription. Kern identifies it with a local governor and E Senart agrees with him.

F W Thomas identifies them with the pradestris who were in charge of the executive, revenue, police and judicial service. D R Bhandarkar agrees with Thomas. Meena Talim explains that these were the regional officers, probably appointed to take care of spread of Dhamma.

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