If Ashoka had not converted to Buddhism

Discussion in 'Religion & Culture' started by Yusuf, Sep 8, 2012.

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Do you like Ashoka ?

  1. Yes

    69.8%
  2. No

    11.6%
  3. Cant say

    18.6%
  1. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Ashoka is arguably the greatest emperor of India. Great conqueror. Finally converted to Buddhism and became a pacifist.

    What if he had not converted to Buddhism and remained "Chandashok"?


    He would probably have invaded south India and may be united entire subcontinent as one and spread the cultural influence of north towards the south and may be left a lasting effect of a linguisitic and cultural unity?
     
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  3. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    Yeah, perhaps it would have been better if he had not had a change of heart and turned pacifist after Kalinga war.
     
  4. Tolaha

    Tolaha Senior Member Senior Member

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    What an excellent topic to raise, YB! :thumb:

    civfanatic, LB and myself have been trolling the ShoutBox with discussions on these topics. It was wise of you to attempt to stop the messing of the SB! :D


    Nope, Ashoka would not invade the South. Because he didnt have to! The 'probable' map of India before Ashoka came to power:

    File:Bindusara mauryan empire.GIF - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The tiny bit that you see at the bottom in grey, were feudatories/allies. No point in conquering someone who has already proclaimed complete loyalty to you! The only bit that stuck out was Kalinga, a republic, but Ashoka put that down soon enough.

    As for what would have happened if Ashoka remained Chandashoka, it's a big 'if'. Maybe Chandashoka would have expanded his empire all over. But what after he passed away? You have a huge empire which is trying to be ruled by the king in faraway Pataliputra. With the primitive transportation networks that we had during those times, with any semblance of weakness in the centre, you would have had distant regions trying to break free. Exactly like what happened with the Mauryan empire after Ashoka. The empire was too big and just waiting to break down! Erstwhile feudatories broke free, Satavahanas raised their rule in the South and Central India, while North west fell for Greeko Bactrians. If you wanted the empire to remain intact, a Chandashoka would have to be born in every other generation! Something that cannot happen.

    And mind you, I said Chandashoka, not Ashoka. Ashoka had the luxury of following on Buddha's ideologies, promoting Buddhism as a state religion. He had the luxury of doing what he desired as a man, not overburdened in his role as a protector of the empire. That was because as Chandashoka, he had cleared even the vestiges of revolt within the empire. By the time the 'phase' of Chandashoka got over, the enemies were either too small and insignificant or just too distant. Ashoka's successors had relatively smaller enemies as well, but they didnt have the luxury of the fear that a Chandashoka had brought about in their enemies!

    As for cultural and linguistic unity, even with the size of the empire he had, attempted for philosophical unity but not cultural or linguistic. In this regard, he has followed on Indian traditions of not imposing such on the citizens. Don't see why a Chandashoka would have done things differently as it did not bring him any strategic advantages. Even if we stretch our imagination and assumed that he was able to bring about some sort of a cultural unity, it is difficult to assume that this cultural unity would last more than his empire did.

    Maybe the Mauryan empire could have been more decentralized. Loosely bound feudatories with a strong army, a concept tried out by a few other empires in India. But that would limit the spread of cultural benchmarks and take us back to where we started with.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
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  5. pankaj nema

    pankaj nema Senior Member Senior Member

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    Buddhism had already been well established in India before King Ashok

    SO It is quite possible that some other king or Ashok's Descendents would have embraced Buddhism
     
  6. pankaj nema

    pankaj nema Senior Member Senior Member

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    SImilarly the South Indian languages and culture too was well settled
    during Ashoka's Time

    SO How could so many millions of South Indians be brought under one language or one
    culture

    South India would revolted and opposed this IMPOSITION of North Indian Culture and Hindi :lol:
     
  7. Tolaha

    Tolaha Senior Member Senior Member

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    Chandragupta Maurya - Kshatriya(probably) -> Jainism

    Bindusara - Ajivika (Brahminism!)

    Ashoka - ? -> Buddhism

    Samprati - Jainism

    The point of my post being, that religion was never a rigid factor those days, in emperors and citizens alike. Some descendant might have embraced Buddhism while his next of kin would embrace something else that he/she felt better!
     
  8. diesel

    diesel New Member

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    well said. embracing a monastic religion or the other was a tradition, a precedent, set by chandragupta that ashoka merely followed. it is good that he did. had he continued with his conquests, he would have ended up a chengiz or alexander with a lot of territory under his seal but little consolidation (a kingdom that would wither with his death). in the guise of buddhism, ashoka was able to consolidate his empire that saw through several generations of his and later that of the guptas, palas and the harshas.
     
  9. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

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    Ashoka was not a conqueror. :nono:..Chandragupta was. Ashoka was born with a silver spoon.
     
  10. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

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    ^^^^
    Good administrator and dynamic leader perhaps.
     
  11. agentperry

    agentperry Senior Member Senior Member

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    he would have lived in the depression for his entire due life.
    none of the hospitals and other civic amenities he constructed after conversion would be there.
    and other things are subject matter of debate but these things are certin
     
  12. diesel

    diesel New Member

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    ha ha! you have some twisted notions about what connotes a conqueror and what "silver spooned." ashoka was NOT the heir apparent. he killed 100s of his brothers and probably his father too. his FIRST conquest was the THRONE. his life was pre-meditated. he had been exposed to buddhism by his would-be wife even before he had been crowned. he had defined the limits of his empire to which he persevered to accomplish. and after accomplishing what he had set out, he resigned to a monastic order like his grandfather.

    chandragupta was hardly a conqueror. he did not conquer pataliputra by military strength. it was a quasi republic governed by trade guilds. with the help of chankaya and wile and guile, he won the favour of the guilds who sanctified his coronation. his control over the NW territory was through a marital alliance, not WAR. OTOH ashoka fought WARS. he fought in gandhara to quell rebellion and controlled the area with an iron fist. he was a merciless fighting machine (buddhist/hindu/jain exaggerations of kalinga war apart). ashoka's dictate to the surrounding republics was crisp and clear -- become a satrapy or die. he expanded his empire to have it emerge as the largest in the sub continent's history.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
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  13. GPM

    GPM Tihar Jail Banned

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    Had Asoka not become a Buddhist, he would be pacifist. Whole of India under his control and Afghanistan and parts of Iran.

    He would not have a large class of freeloader Buddhist monks, who were in fact becoming nuisance too. They hardly contributed to economy and refused serve in military. Result: India was weakened economically and militarily. This situation would have been avoided and he would have left a strong empire. Mautayan emperors became too much interested in luxury and became decadent. A rot set in. This would have been avoided.

    Mind you, Maurayan empire was finally overthrown by Pushamitra, a brahmin. Cycle came full, empire was established by a Brahmin and overthrown by another.

    Pushamitra put a stop to state grants to viharas, there was a peace and stability and a golden era was ushered. Had Asoka not converted, that task could have been done by him and half a century would not have been wasted.
     
  14. diesel

    diesel New Member

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    i agree.

    i disagree. very if/then assumptions. the contributions buddhism has made (because opf ashokan patronage) are our real tangible legacy today, not the size of the empire he had carved. able statesmanship is not just about military wars and conquest. what is the legacy of a chengiz or an alexander today except that they conquered and lost with their death. they gave the world only pain and suffering in their wake.

    again, blaming the decadence of ashoka's successors is not fair. ashoka's father, bindusara, was himself a decadent and callous leader.

    mind you, puhamitra is (reportedly to have) destroyed stupas recklessly. the indo greeks came to pataliputra and humiliated pushamitra for his vengeful streak. they subsequently retreated because they had no interest in these provinces.

    mind you, pushamitra himself became a patron of buddhism later! the guptas, palas and harshas would all be buddhist kings. the satavahanas, hindu brrahmins, were also buddhist kings! the cycle never got completed. hinduism never got to enjoy royal patronage again.

    the satavahana kings never converted. yet they were buddhist kings. we don't know if they converted. my point is it was not at all unusual to be a hindu and practise buddhism or patronize it.
     
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  15. GPM

    GPM Tihar Jail Banned

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    What are special legacies of Asokan period? An able administrator? Like our MMS? Tax revenues falling, agriculture falling, trades on decline, military on retreat!! A large class of idle lotus eaters, grand stupas [Maya style]. Come on, even Buddhist philosophy was in a stasis?

    Bindusar actually expanded his empire. But post Asoka, Mauryan empput the economy on a stable keel. ire shrank continously.

    Pushyamitra put the economy on a stable keel, arts, sceinces, literature, philosophy had a boom. Panini, Charak, Susuruta, Pingala etc are the product of that golden age. Even Buddhist philosophy broke its stasis.

    Columony against Pushyamitra appeared 300 years after his death, and are no longer taken seriously.
     
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  16. diesel

    diesel New Member

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    panini is of pushyamitra age? you got your facts seriously messed up. give some links before making random assertions.
     
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  17. blank_quest

    blank_quest Senior Member Senior Member

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  18. blank_quest

    blank_quest Senior Member Senior Member

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  19. diesel

    diesel New Member

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  20. ashdoc

    ashdoc Senior Member Senior Member

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    Does anybody like emperor Ashoka ??

    i dont like this emperor ashoka . he ruined the greatest empire india had ever created---built painstakingly by his grandfather chandragupta maurya and his preceptor Chanakya for the defence of this land against foreign invaders .

    Chandragupta had defeated the greek invader selukos nikator who was alexander's general and regained punjab and baluchistan besides adding a foreign territory to india---afghanistan . this was india's greatest moment---a peaceful civilization had come of age as a military power !! the general of a world shaking conqueror ( for selukos was alexander's general ) was royally humiliated and forced to give his daughter Helena in marriage to chandragupta---and giving a daughter in marriage after defeat to the victor was a humiliation in those days.....

    india's star was rising....

    and then came ashoka with his effeminate philosophy of pacifism......

    his policy converted india into a land full of monasteries which were filled with monks instead of fighters . all the military mindset was lost and people were forced into pursuit of pacifism .

    after his death the empire broke into pieces and was gone as the military mindset required to maintain cohesion of the empire was lost because the military became a unfavoured profession and being a monk became more important . all the empire's greatness was gone .

    ashoka was good for other nations as he brought civilization and culture to them . he was bad for india .

    very truely someone ( a colonel rane writing in a marathi book on india's wars ) has said---'' why is it that all the mahatmas of the world had to be born into this country only . that is truely our nation's misfortune !! "
     
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  21. LurkerBaba

    LurkerBaba Staff Administrator

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