appears to have been too broad to be treated
Meaning of Dhamma
Asoka’s dhamma was neither a new religion nor a new political philosophy.
Rather, it was a way of life, a code of conduct and a set of principles to be
adopted and practised by the people at large. Its contents were so broad and
humanitarian that no cultural group or religious sect could object to its
propagation by Asoka. Though the concept of dhamma used in the sense of
law and social order was not new to the ancient Indians, Asoka gave a new
meaning and significance to the concept by humanising it.
It is generally accepted that dhamma was Asoka’s own invention. It may
have been influenced by Buddhist and Hindu thought, but it was in essence
an attempt on the part of the king to suggest a way of life which was both
practical and convenient, as well as highly moral. If his policy of dhamma
had been merely a recording of Buddhist principles, Asoka would have stated
so quite openly, since he never sought to hide his support for Buddhism. In
connection with the religious aspect of the edicts, the mention in them that
attainment of heaven (svarga) is the reward of moral life in no way proves
that he was concerned with the religious aspect of the attainment of heaven.
Asoka was merely trying to relate the degree of reward to a known and
valued symbol in the mind of the average person.
Propagation of Dhamma
The message of Dhamma was propagated in Aramaic and Greek in the north-
western borderland of the subcontinent, implying thereby that linguistic and
associated cultural issues of that region were taken into consideration by the
Maurya emperor probably with a view to facilitating their coalescence into
the Indian material and political milieu. On the other hand, the emperor chose
to issue a large number of edicts in Prakrit in Brahmi script for areas in the
Deccan, which must have been better acquainted with Dravidian languages.
The use of Prakrit in Asoka’s inscriptions from the Deccan may be seen as an
intrusive element, imposed by the apex political authority to ensure its firm
control over the distant southern region.
The Kandahar Greek edict, the contents of which have considerable
similarities with and correspondence to REs XII and XIII, enlists the virtues