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The inscriptions of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (reigned 268–232 BC) are unique. This was the first time a ruler tried to unify his subjects by promoting peace and ethical conduct, importantly, written in their regional languages and scripts. This fragment comes from the ancient port town of Sopara in Thane, near Mumbai. Sopara, (ancient Shurparaka) was an important port city of the Konkan (West Coast). It is situated about 47 kms, north of Mumbai, and is now known as Nalasopara.

In mid third century BCE, Emperor Ashoka sent one of his missionaries Dhammarakshita, to Sopara to spread Buddhism in Western India. This edict is a testimony of this mission. The script of the edict is Mauryan Brahmi.

Translation :
• King Devanampriya Priyadars in (title of the king Ashoka ) speaks thus.
• Men perform various ceremonies during illness, at the marriage of a son or a daughter, at the birth of a child, (and) when setting out on a journey; on these and other such (occasions) men perform many ceremonies.
• But in such (cases) mothers and wives perform many and various trifling and useless ceremonies.
• Now, ceremonies should certainly be performed.
• But these (ceremonies) bear little fruit indeed.
• The following, however, bears much fruit indeed, viz. the practice of morality.
• The following (are included), in this (viz.) proper courtesy to slaves and servants, reverence to elders, gentleness to animals, (and) liberality to Brahmanas and Shramanas; these and other such (virtues) are called the practice of morality.
• Therefore a father, or a son……………

Details

  • Title: Ashokan Edict No. IX
  • Date Created: Maurya; About 250 BC
  • Physical Dimensions: 60 x 77 x 26 cm
  • Subject Keywords: India & the World, IatW
  • Medium: Basalt
  • Province: Nallasopara (near Mumbai), Maharashtra, India
  • Accession ID: SI 167

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