Asoka’s status at first was that of a lay worshipper but later he had a close
relationship with the Sangha, and consequently he became more zealous in
his belief. He calls upon his subjects to be zealous as this will lead to
progress. However he does not equate dhamma with Buddhist teachings;
Buddhism remains his personal belief. The Yerragudi Minor Rock Edict
makes it even more certain that he wishes dhamma to permeate through all
social levels. In 250 BC the Third Buddhist Council was held under Asoka’s
patronage. Yet his avoidance of narrow sectarianism is proved by the fact that
even at this stage when the council was busy weeding out dissident elements
and attacking other sects, Asoka in his 12th regnal year donated a cave to the
Ajivikas in the Barabar Hills.
In the later years of his reign Asoka issued a number of minor pillar
edicts. Some of them are associated with his purely Buddhist activities, while
others are concerned with his general activities. He is satisfied with the
progress of dhamma, but he appears to be obsessed by the idea that everyone
must practice dhamma. The germ of fanaticism begins to show as is apparent
in the Minor Pillar Edict I. This was a most unfortunate tendency. There is a
strong hint in these later edicts that he was becoming involved in a puritanical
fantasy of sin and virtue.
MAURYAN ADMINISTRATION, ECONOMY,
SOCIETY AND ART
Saptanga Theory Kautilya explains the saptanga theory or the theory of
the seven elements of the state. According to him the state is constituted by
the following elements: (1) svamin (king), (2) amatya (minister or high
official), (3) janapada (territory and population), (4) durga (fort), (5) kosa
(treasury), (6) bala (army) and (7) mitra (ally).
King Svamin or king is the soul among all the seven elements of the state.
Kautilya deals with various qualities that a king has to possess or cultivate,
and the training he has to receive. He advises the king to find his happiness in
the good of his people. Mauryas, who were paternal monarchs, followed his