Edicts of Ashoka

Inscriptions of Ashoka

There will be no doubt that there is no other Indian king except Ashoka on which so much has been written and will be written in future. He has been the center of attraction among scholars for many decades, of India and abroad. Since the successful interpretation of Brahmi script by James Princep, there have been at least 20 different authorities who have tried to interpret his inscriptions in their own way and manner. Such attention has never been provided to any other inscription of any other king.

The list below depicts principal events in the scholarship of Ashoka till present.

1750 CE – Padre Tieffenthaler rediscovered Delhi-Meerut pillar, the first Ashokan inscription
1785 CE – J H Harington rediscovered Barabar and Nagarjuni hill caves inscriptions
1785 CE – Captain Polier rediscovered Delhi-Topara pillar inscription
1801 CE – Asiatic Researches published copies of Delhi-Topara and Allahabad-Kosam pillar inscriptions
1822 CE – Major James Tod rediscovered Girnar rock edict
1834 CE – Bengal Asiatic Society published a copy of Allahabad Pillar inscription with Brahmi alphabet table prepared by James Princep
1836 CE – M A Court rediscovered Shahbazgarhi rock edict
1837 CE – James Princep first successfully read the Delhi-Topara inscription, published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal vol vi
1837 CE – James Princep published his readings of Lauriya Araraj and Lauriya Nandangarh pillar inscription readings and reading of the Queen’s edict
1839 CE – E L Ravenshaw prepared a copy of Sahasram rock edict
1840 CE – C Masson made a copy of Shahbazgarhi rock edict, Captain Burt rediscovered Bhabru edict at Bairat
1850 CE – Sir Walter Eliot made a copy of the Jaugada rock edict
1860 CE – Forrest rediscovered the Kalsi rock edict
1872 CE – Carlleyle rediscovered the Bairat minor rock edict and Ramapurva pillar inscription
1877 CE Inscriptions of Asoka (Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum vol I) by Alexander Cunningham
1881 CELes Inscriptiones de Piyadasi (in French) by M Emile Senart
1882 CE – Dr Bhagwan Lal Indraji rediscovered the Sopara rock edict
1889 CE – Captain Leigh rediscovered the Mansehra rock edict
1891 CE – B Lewis Rice rediscovered three minor rock edicts in Mysore
1895-96 CE – Fuhrer rediscovered Rummindei pillar edict and Nilgai Sagar pillar edict
1903 CE – B Lewis Rice discovered edicts of Chitradurga dist
1905 CE – Oertel rediscovered the Sarnath pillar edict
1915 CE – C Beadon rediscovered the Maski rock edict
1918 CEAsoka by J M Macphail
1920 CEAsoka, the Buddhist Emperor of India by V A Smith (ISBN 9788120613034)
1920 CEEdicts of Asoka by V A Smith (ISBN 9788121505895)
1924 CEAsoka by Alfred C Woolner (ISBN 9788185557540)
1925 CEInscriptions of Asoka (Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum vol I) edited by E Hultzsch
1925 CEAsoka by D R Bhandarkar (ISBN 9788120613331)
1928 CEAsoka by R K Mookerji (ISBN 9788120800861)
1929 CE – Yerragudi edict discovered
1931 CE – Palkigundu and Gavimath edicts were discovered
1936 CEThe Asokan Rock as Girnar by Hiranand Sastri
1948 CEAsokan Inscriptions in India by M N Mehendale
1950 CEEdicts of Asoka: Priyadarsin by A N K Aiyangar, G S Murti & C M Vaidtaratna
1954 CE – Rajula-Mandagiri and Gujarra edicts were discovered
1955 CEAsoka and His Inscriptions by B M Barua
1956 CEAsoka’s Edicts by Amulyachandra Sen
1956 CEThe Chronology of the Reign of Asoka Moriya by Pierre Herman Leonard Eggermont
1958 CE Edicts of Asoka by N A Nikam & Richard P McKeon (ISBN 9780226586113)
1960 CESelect Asokan Epigraphs by K L Mukhopadhyay
1961 CEAsoka and the Decline of the Mauryas by Romila Thapar (ISBN 9780195639322)
1966 CEAsoka Maurya by Balkrishna Govind Gokhale
1969 CE – K A N Sastri
1975 CEInscriptions of Asoka by D C Sircar (ISBN 9788123006659)
1977 CEBimbisara to Asoka by Sudhakar Chattopadyaya
1979 CEAsokan Studies by D C Sircar
1984 CEStudies in Aramaic Edicts of Asoka by B N Mukherjee
1990 CEInscriptions of Asoka by N P Rastogi
1991 CEA Monograph on Asoka Priyadarsin by K K Moorthy
1993 CEThe Edicts of King Asoka by S Dhammika (ISBN 9789552401046)
1993 CEAsoka: the Righteous by Ananda W P Guruge (ISBN 9789559226000)
1994 CEKing Asoka and Buddhism by Anuradha Seneviratna (ISBN 9789552400652)
1995 CEAsoka the Great by D C Dhir (ISBN 9788170187783)
1995 CEKing Asoka and Buddhism by  A. Seneviratna
1997 CEAsoka His Own Man by Basil Johnson (ISBN 9788120204447)
2002 CEAsoka the Great by Monisha Mukundan (ISBN 9788171676798)
2005 CEAsoka the Great by Madhukar Piplayan, Moses Michael & S S Bauddh (ISBN 9788188794591)
2006 CEThe Great Sons of the Tharus Sakyamuni Buddha and Asoka the Great by Babita Singh (ISBN 9789994696215)
2006 CEThe Edicts of Asoka by Charles F Horne (ISBN 9781428694217)
2007 CEAsoka as depicted in his Edicts by K L Hazra (ISBN 9788121511674)
2007 CEAsoka king Priyadarsin by A K Nandy (ISBN 9788189468200)
2009 CEAsoka in History and Historical Memory by Patrick Olivelle (ISBN 9788120834026)
2010 CEEdicts of King Asoka by Meena Talim (ISBN 9788173053856)
2011 CEAsoka by S Ram & Shiva Gajrani (ISBN 9788131103104)
2012 CEReimagining Asoka Memory & History by H P Ray, Janice Leoshko & Patrick Olivelle (ISBN 9780198078005)
2012 CEAsoka the King and the Man by K K Thaplyal (ISBN 9788173054334)
2013 CEAsoka History & Inscription by N C Panda (ISBN 9788180903373)

Inscriptions or edicts of Ashoka are categorized in five different categories. These are

  1. Rock Edicts (RE) – There are 14 in number. At few places some of these edicts have been replaced with specific edicts suitable for those places. These specific edicts are called as Separate Kalinga edicts.
  2. Minor Rock Edicts (MRE) – These are majorly 2 in number. A separate religious edict found at Bairat is sometimes also considered in this category.
  3. Pillar Edict (PE) – These are seven in numbers.
  4. Minor Pillar Edicts (MPE) – These are two in number.
  5. Cave Inscriptions – These are found at the caves of Barabar and Nagarjuni hills in Bihar.

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