Edicts of Ashoka – Laghman Edicts

Inscriptions of Ashoka

Laghman Edicts

In 1969, Mr and Mrs Jean Bourgeois of Belgium discovered an interesting inscription on a vertical slab of stone near the top of a hill, on the left or eastern bank of the Laghman river and near the modern track which goes up the Laghman valley up to the confluence of the rivers Alisang and Alingar and ultimately reaches Metaghlam, the headquarter of the province pf Laghman in Afghanistan. This hill or ridge, called Sultan Baba, is not far from the village of Qarghai and Shalatak.

The inscription consists of six lines is composed in Aramaic script. It has been edited by A Dupont-Sommer (1970), H Humbach (1973), M N Bogolubov (1973) and V A Livshitz and I Sh Shifman (1977). From henceforth we refer this inscription as Laghman Sultan Baba edict.

Not far from the above site, in the valley of Laghman and on the left bank of the Laghman river, there is another cliff known as Sam Baba. These two cliffs, Sultan Baba and Sam Baba is about 2 km distance. In 1973, an another Aramaic inscription slab is discovered on Sam Baba cliff by G D Davary.

This record, consists of ten lines and composed in Aramaic script, has been edited by Davary himself, H Humbach (1974) and L V Livshitz and I Sh Shifman (1977). From hencefortj, this inscription is referred as Laghman Sam Baba edict.

Laghman Sultan Baba Aramaic Edict

English translation by B N Mukherjee

(Line 1-3) “In the year 16, king Priyadarsi scattered abundantly (i.e. dispersed) and pushed out of (or expelled from) the prosperous [population] the lovers of what is hunting of creatures and fishes and what (i.e. that which) is worthless (or empty) work”.
(Line 3-5) “300 bows [measure] this mountain named Tdmr. This road is Krpty (Karapathi), [so] it is said. [From here] the garden is more than 120 [bows distant]. Trt’ is [from] here 100 [bows distant]. The height [of the mountain is] 80 [bows]” [or “Trt’ is [from] here [distant by] 100 in addition to 80 [bows]”].
(Line 6) “With the judge [named] W’su.”

Laghman Sam Baba Edict

English translation by B N Mukherjee

(Line 1-5) “In the month [of] Elul (Ululu) [of] the year 16 king Priyadarsi scattered abundantly (i.e. dispersed) [and] pushed out of (or expelled from) the prosperous [population] [those who] rush [after] what is hunting of fishes and creatures [and] the lovers of what (i.e. that which) is worthless (or empty) work.”
(Line 5-8)”500 (?) bows [measure] this mountain named ‘hwty. This road [is] Krpty (Karapathi), [so] it is said. Towards the garden [the disance is] 300 [bows]. Trt’ is [from] here 13 [bows]. The height [of the mountain] is 200 [bows]” [or “Trt’ is [from] here 13 [bows] in addition to 200 [bows]”].
(Line 8-9) “The scribe ….. with (i.e. together with) W’su the judge [and] the pure [one].”
(Line 10) “Whsu, the dispenser of meritorious work, the governor the pure [one] [and] (settler of guilt and punishment ?).”


Worthless work – This might refer to the worthless ceremonies, performed at various occasions, enumerated by Ashoka in his Rock Edict (RE) IX.

Karapathi – Karapathi stands for ‘military road’ or lord’s way’. This suggests that mountains on which these inscriptions were found was located on the royal road. This puts Laghman area as a topographically important region during Ashoka’s time.

Qst’ or Qasta (bows) – This unit of measurement is used to indicate inter alia the distances between the sites. This is the third unit of measurement found in Ashoka’s edicts, the other two are yojana and kosa.

The garden from Sultan Baba hill is said to be 120 bows far while from Sam Baba it is 300 bows. Both these mountains are about 2 km apart which concludes that 180 bows equals to approximately 2 km. This means 1 qst’ (bow) equals to 11.1 meters.

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