The Righteous Reign How King Asoka Institutionalized — страница 4

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Personal Practice of Dhamma by the Ruler Buddhism was perhaps the most influential force in Asoka?s life. Asoka viewed his reforms as being part of the duties of a Buddhist. Although he tolerated most religions, he nevertheless hoped that his subjects would adopt Buddhism for themselves. Asoka undertook several pilgrimages to Lumbini and Bodh Gaya to spread the word of Dhamma. He also sent monks to various regions in India and beyond with the same purpose. Asoka?s commitment to Buddhism was such that he familiarized himself with enough of the sacred texts to recommend some of them to the monastic community. Some scholars have advanced that Asoka had a simplistic view of Dhamma. Their claim, that the edicts say nothing about the philosophical aspects of Buddhism. The purpose of

the edicts however was not to promote philosophical discourse among the monks, but rather to inform and educate Asoka?s subjects, ?to encourage them to be more generous, kind and moral.? As such, there was no reason for Asoka to delve into the deep philosophy underlying Buddhism. Asoka was concerned with being an administrator and a Buddhist more than a source of original Buddhist insight. He took ?as keen an interest in Buddhist philosophy as he did in Buddhist practice.? Another example of Asoka?s personal adherence to Buddhist principles can be found in Asoka?s court. Prior to Asoka, hunting was commonly accepted as the royal sport. In accordance with his ideal of non-injury, Asoka replaced this practice with a pilgrimage to sites associated with the Budda. It was during some

of these pilgrimages that Asoka erected his edicts and according to some, even erected the original ten stupas said to contain relics of the Budda. Furthermore, Asoka demanded that his entire royal household become vegetarian. The Brahmanical practice of animal sacrifice was prohibited in the capital, and a large number of animals enjoyed protection, similar to the endangered species laws of today. Asoka has come to represent the ideal Buddhist monarch. He combines the leadership qualities of a strong leader with the compassion of a saint. The edicts of Asoka are testament to a standard of morality seldom seen throughout history. The path which led Asoka into the pages of history started with his administration based on Dhamma. Administration however is not enough to convince a

populace and transform a religion. Asoka realized this and took the next logical step, educating his people in the Dhamma. Once again though Asoka knew that any movement is only as good as its leader. That is why Asoka so reverently adhered to Buddhist principles in his own life. Insight and inspiration. Reverance and respect. These ideals led Asoka to greatness and Buddhism to the rank of ?world religion.? In light of current political situations around the world as well as in the United States, a ruler like Asoka could be just what our time needs — a uniter. Babb, L.A. Absent Lord: Ascetics and Kings in a Jain Ritual Culture. U of Cal., 1996. Dundas, P. The Jains. Routledge, 1992. ENCYCLOP?DIA BRITANNICA. Asoka,5716,10007+1+9884,00.html?kw =asoka North Park University History Department, History Department. Asoka Rock and Pillar Edicts. That the True Dhamma Might Last a Long Time Ven. S. Dhammika. The Edicts of King Asoka An English rendering