It is heard of first as the residence of Asoka (afterwards emperor), when viceroy of, the western provinces.
James Prinsep was then devoting his rare genius to the decipherment of the early inscriptions of northern India, especially those of Asoka in the 3rd century B.C. He derived the greatest assistance from Tumour's work not only in historical information, but also as regards the forms of words and grammatical inflexions.
The name here used by the chronicler for Pali is "the Magadhi tongue," by which expression is meant, not exactly the language spoken in Magadha, but the language in use at the court of Asoka, king of Kosala and Magadha.
After careful analysis, he decided not to go.
What is greatly needed is a new edition of this work including the Asoka inscriptions discovered during the last twenty years, and a similar edition of the other inscriptions.
It seems probable that the Vinaya and the four Nikayas were put substantially into the shape in which we now have them before the council at Vesali, a hundred years after the Buddha's death; that slight alterations and additions were made in them, and the miscellaneous Nikaya and the Abhidhamma books completed, at various times down to the third council under Asoka; and that the canon was then considered closed.
The first empire, called Maurya,reached its greatest extent in the time of Asoka (264-227 B.C.), who ruled from Afghanistan to Madras.
According to tradition it was invaded by an Aryan-speaking colony from the valley of the Ganges in the 6th century B.C. It received Buddhism from north India in the time of Asoka, and has had considerable importance as a centre of religious culture which has influenced Burma and Siam.
Of Asoka, of the Guptas of Maghada, or of the ancient Hindu kingdom of Vidarbha (Berar); and inscriptions and numerous discoveries of coins prove that, during the middle ages, the open spaces were occupied by a series o Rajput dynasties.
The existence, a few miles beyond the Nepalese frontier, of an inscribed pillar had been known for some years when, in 1895, the discovery of another inscribed pillar at Nigliva, near by, led to the belief that this other, hitherto neglected, one must also be an Asoka pillar, and very probably the one mentioned by Hsuan Tsang.
The latter give the names of the donors of particular portions of the architectural ornamentation, and most of them are written in the characters used before and after the time of Asoka in the middle of the 3rd century B.C. The monuments are Buddhist, the bas-reliefs illustrate passages in the Buddhist writings, and the inscriptions make use of Buddhist technical terms. Some of the smaller topes give us names of men who lived in the Buddha's time, and others give names mentioned among the missionaries sent out in the time of Asoka.
It is not possible from the available data to fix the exact date of any of these topes, but it may be stated that the smaller topes are probably of different dates both before and after Asoka, and that it is very possible that the largest was one of three which we are told was erected by Asoka himself.
Asoka was the grandson of Chandragupta, the founder of the Maurya (Peacock) dynasty, who had wrested the Indian provinces of Alexander the Great from the hands of Seleucus, and he was the son of Bindusara, who succeeded his father Chandragupta, by a lady from Champa.
"If a man's fame," says KOppen, "can be measured by the number of hearts who revere his memory, by the number of lips who have mentioned, and still mention him with honour, Asoka is more famous than Charlemagne or Caesar."
See also Asoka, by Vincent Smith (Oxford, 1901); Inscriptions de Piyadasi, by E.
Senart (Paris, 1891); chapters on Asoka in T.
Smith, Edicts of Asoka (1909).
After the death of the great Buddhist king, Asoka (c. 231), the Maurya empire began to break up, and it was finally destroyed about fifty years later when Pushyamitra Sunga murdered the Maurya king Brihadratha and founded the Sunga dynasty.
Descendants of Asoka continued, however, to subsist in Magadha as subordinate rajas for many centuries; and as late as the 8th century A.D.
King Asoka in the 3rd century B.C. sent Buddhist missionaries from India to the Mediterranean lands; their preaching has, it is true, left little or no trace in our Western records.
On the coins struck in India, the well-known Indian alphabet (called Brahmi by the Indians, the older form of the Devanagari) is used; on the coins struck in Afghanistan and in the Punjab the Kharoshthi alphabet, which is derived directly from the Aramaic and was in common use in the western parts of India, as is shown by one of the inscriptions of Asoka and by the recent discovery of many fragments of Indian manuscripts, written in Kharoshthi, in eastern Turkestan (formerly this alphabet has been called Arianic or Bactrian Pali; the true name is derived from Indian sources).
24 a of slight additions made to this Nikaya as late as the time of Asoka, 3rd century B.C. And the developed doctrine, found in certain portions of it, shows that these are later than the four old Nikayas.
These works of the oldest period, the two centuries and a half, between the Buddha's time and that of Asoka, were followed by a voluminous literature in the following periods - from Asoka to Kanishka, and from Kanishka to Buddhaghosa, - each of about three centuries.
To the north-east of this spot has been found an inscribed pillar, put up by Asoka as a record of his visit to the Lumbini Garden, as the place where the future Buddha had been born.
North-west of this another Asoka pillar has been discovered, recording his visit to the cairn erected by the Sakyas over the remains of Konagamana, one of the previous Buddhas or teachers, whose follower Gotama the Buddha had claimed to be.
We can see now that the very event which seemed, in the eyes of the world, to be the most striking proof of the success of the new movement, the conversion and strenuous support, in the 3rd century B.C., of Asoka, the most powerful ruler India had had, only hastened the decline.
About the middle of the 3rd century B.C. Asoka, the king of Magadha or Behar, who reigned from 264 B.C. to 227 B.C., became a zealous convert to Buddhism.
In 246 B.C. Asoka is said 1 to have convened at Pataliputra (Patna) the third Buddhist council of one thousand elders (the tradition that he actually convened it rests on no actual evidence that we possess).
Tradition states that Asoka set up 64,000 memorial columns; and the thirty-five inscriptions extant in our own day show how widely these royal sermons were spread over India.
Asoka did not think it enough to convert the inferior races without looking after their material interests.
Asoka recognized proselytism by peaceful means as a state duty.
Asoka, however, not only took measures to spread the religion; he also endeavoured to secure its orthodoxy.
The northern canon, or, as the Chinese proudly call it, the " greater vehicle of the law," includes many later corruptions or developments of the Indian faith as originally embodied by Asoka in the " lesser vehicle," or canon of the southern Buddhists.
In this way Kanishka and his Kashmir council became in some degree to the northern or Tibetan Buddhists what Asoka and his council had been to the Buddhists of Ceylon and the south.'
The monuments of the great Buddhist monarchs, Asoka and Kanishka, confronted him from the time he neared the Punjab frontier; but so also did the temples of Siva and his " dread " queen Bhima.
On the east, in the Gangetic valley, Chandragupta (320-296 B.C.) firmly consolidated the dynasty which during the next century produced Asoka (264-228 or 227 B.C.), and established Buddhism throughout India.
Antiochus Theos (grandson of Seleucus Nicator) and Asoka (grandson of Chandragupta), who ruled these two monarchies in the 3rd century B.C., made a treaty with each other (256).
In 272 B.C. he in turn was succeeded by Asoka, the Buddhist emperor, the religious side of whose reign has already been described.
After Asoka the Mauryas dwindled away, and the last of them, Brihadratha, was treacherously assassinated in 184 B.C. by his commander-in-chief, Pushyamitra Sunga, who founded the Sunga dynasty.
It is not, however, as a conqueror that Kanishka mainly lives on in tradition, but as a Buddhist monarch, second in reputation only to Asoka, and as the convener of the celebrated council of Kashmir already mentioned.
The Chola kingdom, like the Pandya, is mentioned by the Sanskrit grammarian Katyayana in the 4th century B.C., and was recognized by Asoka as independent.
Smith, The Early History of India (Oxford, 1904, 2nd ed., 1908); and Asoka (" Rulers of India " series, Oxford, 1901); J.
Here arose the successive dynasties of Asoka, of the Guptas, and of Harshavardhana, which for a thousand years exercised imperial sway over the greater part of India.
P. 57 n.), belongs even to the most ancient MSS., and to the Asoka inscriptions of the 3rd century B.C. When these specially Indian features have been allowed for, Baler contends that the symbols borrowed from the Semitic alphabet can be carried back to the forms of the Phoenician and Moabite alphabets.
The inscription is of the same type as the Asoka inscriptions, but, in Buhler's opinion (Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, xxx., 1898, p. 389), is older than Asoka's time.
This last institution indeed is not found in the ancient Vinaya, but was almost certainly modelled on the traditional account of the similar assemblies convoked by Asoka and other Buddhist sovereigns in India every fifth year.
- The now generally accepted date of the Buddha is arrived at by adding together two numbers, one being the date of the accession of Asoka to the throne, the second being the length of the interval between that date and that of the death of the Buddha.
The first figure, that of the date of Asoka, is arrived at by the mention in one of his edicts of certain Greek kings, as then living.
On the death of Asoka in 231 B.C. the empire of the Mauryas broke up, and their heritage in the west fell to the Andhra dynasty of the Satavahanas of Paithan on the Godavari, a Dravidian family whose dominion by 200 B.C. stretched across the peninsula from the deltas of the Godavari and Kistna to Nasik and the Western Ghats.
It was also the seat of the Nlaurya Empire, founded by Chandragupta, which extended over all India under Asoka; and, later, of the powerful Gupta dynasty.