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Ashoka (c.271–238 bc) Indian emperor (r.264–238 bc). The greatest emperor of the Maurya Empire, he at first fought to expand his Empire. He was revolted by the bloodshed of war and, renouncing conquest by force, embraced Buddhism. He became one of its most fervent supporters and spread its ideas through missionaries to neighbouring countries and through edicts engraved on pillars. His empire encompassed most of India and large areas of Afghanistan.

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Ashoka (Indian ruler): see AŚOKA.