Skip to main content

Selected Edicts of King Ashoka

Selected Edicts of King Ashoka


King Ashoka (r. 268–231 b.c.), Priyadarśī in the Edicts, the third of the Mauryan kings, left behind on rock and pillar edicts the oldest Indian written documents of any historical significance. In addition to their historical importance, the edicts also contain a number of personal statements believed to have been drafted by Ashoka himself. For this reason, more is known about the personality of Ashoka and his administration and policy than any other ancient Indian ruler. His story was a remarkable one. After a decade as a typical Indian king he had, after the Battle of Kalinga, a change of heart and embarked on a new policy. While not abjuring force entirely, he established a social policy marked by high ethical content. To enforce this policy he created a class of officials called dharma-mahāmātra, "Officers of Righteousness." It is believed that Ashoka became a Buddhist, although he supported other religious sects. The Pāli canon was codified at a great Buddhist council held at Ashoka's capital, Pataliputra, and he sent missionaries to Ceylon. It was during his reign that Buddhism ceased to be an Indian sect alone and began to be a universal religion. Rock Edict VIII tells of how Ashoka was converted to his new policy and how his life changed. Rock Edict VI explains how he was available to officials day and night, no matter what he was doing, as his highest calling was the welfare of his subjects.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Selected Edicts of King Ashoka." Encyclopedia of India. . 17 Jul. 2019 <>.

"Selected Edicts of King Ashoka." Encyclopedia of India. . (July 17, 2019).

"Selected Edicts of King Ashoka." Encyclopedia of India. . Retrieved July 17, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.