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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Emperor Ashoka has the Dubious Distinction of Bringing in Pacifism and Destruction of Military thought

The great Emperor Ashoka ruled the entire length and breadth of India. His rule was marked by great economic progress and all around development. His empire spread overseas as well. History books give him the title ' The Great' and writing something against him is almost like blasphemy. But some times some facts have to be written to generate debate. Ashoka as per records invaded the kingdom of Kalinga. Before this he had conquered the entire India with the sword. The battle with Kalinga( modern Orissa) was a bloody one, but Ashoka was victorious. It also caused tremendous blood shed and deaths.

 It is reported that after the battle a Buddhist monk was brought before Ashoka. The monk admonished Ashoka about all the bloodshed he had caused and asked him to repent. However Ashoka ordered the Monk to be thrown in a butning cauldron of oil. This was duly done,but lo and behold the monk sat on a Lotus flower that had miraculously appeared and thus was saved. This tale may or may niot be true, but the fact is Ashoka gave up war as an instrument of state policy.
Ashoka was deeply impressed by the sermon and the miracle. Accordingly he converted to Buddhism and renounced war as an object of state policy. This was to say the least disastrous , as over the centuries this concept of pacifism crept into Indian thought. The act of Ashoka of renouncing war as a part of state policy is difficult to explain. But in turn it had a deleterious effect on Indian Military thought, as pacifism became an ingrained part of Indian thought.
Thus for centuries after Ashoka disappeared from the map of India the Indians could not shake of this concept of Ashoka and hard military thought was replaced with compassion and pacifism. Perhaps , this is one of the reasons for the successive defeats of the Indian armies against the Moslems, who came with no such notions in their mind. scholars must study this aspect of the thought process of Ashoka and it's effect on the Military thought of India