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Kerala PSC Indian History Book Study Materials Page 408Book's First Page
control over Arachosia, Paropanisadae and Diversity of Asokan Edicts The wide range of Asoka’s edicts, mostly addressed in first person, directly to his subjects and/or his officers, however, speaks of diversity in the contents of these inscriptions. These cannot but give an impression that the edicts probably had a master or central draft, prepared by the emperor himself at Pataliputra; these were later adopted, extended and abridged by provincial and local authorities, according to the local needs, but within the broad framework of the central drafts of the edicts. This is once again corroborated by the emperor’s own classification of his edicts as vistata (extended), majhima (medium size) and samkhita (short or abridged). The Greek and Aramaic edicts were partly translations, transliterations, explanations and also summaries of Asoka’s ideas and ideals found in his Prakrit inscriptions written in Brahmi and Kharoshti. Wide Network of Communications and Transport Though the Maurya realm was nearly pan-Indian in extent and must have been beset with problems of contacts, the dispersal and distribution of Asoka’s edicts are clear pointers to a network of communications and interconnections within the empire. • One of the Aramaic edicts at Laghman has certain contents which do not figure in most of the inscriptions of Asoka. If read in combination with another similar Asokan edict at Laghman, it speaks of a royal road (karapathi, i.e. rajapatha) and officers entrusted with its maintenance, which was considered as dispensing a meritorious work (purtabaga). • The names of places and distances mentioned in the Laghman edicts amply bear it out that these were direction signals and distance posts. • The Laghman edicts provide a striking corroboration of the accounts of Eratosthenes (an elder contemporary of Asoka) on a Maurya royal road connecting West Asia with Palimbothra or Pataliputra. • The impressions of the Classical authors that the Mauryas looked after proper maintenance of road network and erected direction giving signals and distance recorders are also strikingly confirmed. • The Aramaic records also make it clear that the dating method in the Asokan inscriptions was in the expired year counted from the date of Asoka’s consecration.