Rock Edict of Ashoka

about 250 BC
Dhauli, near Bhubaneshvar

Dhauli is located in the ancient territory of Kalinga, now the state of Orissa, which the emperor Ashoka Maurya (reigned 272-231 BC) conquered with appalling loss of life in about 260 BC. Thereafter Ashoka repented of the violence which he had done, and converted to Buddhism. He expressed his remorse, and his intention to govern the kingdom according to the principles of his new faith, in a series of rock-cut edicts that he caused to be inscribed on over 100 monuments throughout his vast kingdom.

The importance of Ashoka's conversion to Buddhism in the 3d century BC can only be paralleled, in the West, by Constantine's conversion to Christianity in the 4th century AD.

The Dhauli monument is seen in this photo. Its sculpted elephant faces east. Ashoka's inscription is cut into the north face of the rock, below the sculpture. The hill temples in the background are modern: a white "peace" stupa built by the Japanese (l.), and a reconstructed Shiva temple (r.).