List of edicts of Ashoka

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List of edicts of Ashoka

The edicts of Ashoka are the first physical evidence of the Buddhism and how it was spread during his region. These edicts were deciphered by the British archaeologist and historian James Prinsep.

The edicts are divided into:

  1. Pillar Edicts (total 7)
  2. Major Rock Edicts(total 14) and 2 separate ones found in Odisha(Kalinga)
  3. Minor Rock Edicts, the queen’s Edict, Barabar Caves inscriptions and the Kandahar bilingual inscription


Message conveyed on each edicts of Ashoka are as follows:

1. Pillar Edicts

  • These are the edicts on the stone columns found from different places like Kandahar (Afghanistan), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Pakistan), Delhi, Vaishali and Champaran (Bihar), Sarnath and Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh), Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh), and Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh). Fragments of these edicts found from the different places.
  • All pillars are the monoliths, craved from one stone.
  • Two types of stones used to build pillars.
    1. Spotted white sandstone from Mathura
    2. Buff colored stand stone from Amaravati
Pillar Edict – I Ashoka’s principle of protection to people.
Pillar Edict – II Ashoka’s definition of Dharma.
Pillar Edict – III Avoid things that lead to evil, to violence, to cruelty, anger, pride and jealousy.
Pillar Edict – IV Work of Rajjukas(surveyors – related to the department of justice).
Pillar Edict – V List of animals and birds which are not to be killed on particular day and another list of animals whose killing is completely prohibited.
Pillar Edict – VI Dharma policy adopted by Ashoka (Also shows his Religious tolerance).
Pillar Edict -VII Ashoka’s work for his Dharma policy.

2. Major Rock Edicts

Major Rock Edict – I Prohibited animal sacrifices and animal slaughtering even in the royal kitchen.
Major Rock Edict – II The medical facilities and care provided by the king Ashoka, also mentioned about
Kingdoms of South India like Chola, Pandyas, Satyapura and Keralputra and Greek (even mentioned the name of Greek king Antiochos ).
Major Rock Edict – III It mentioned here that, King ordered Yuktas, the Rajjukas and the Pradesikas to go on inspection tour every 5 years. Also provided some practical instruction.
Major Rock Edict – IV Impact of Dharma policy on common people. It also says that his successors will also continue to practice this Dharma policy.
Major Rock Edict – V Talks about appointment and work of Dhammamahamatras and their policy for treating prisoners right way.
Major Rock Edict – VI It talks about the Ashoka’s desire to constantly informed about the condition of common people.
Major Rock Edict – VIII About Ashoka’s first visit to Bodhi tree, Dharma tour.
Major Rock Edict – IX Censure ceremonies performed by the people on various occasions, especially ceremonies performed by women.
Major Rock Edict – X It talks about giving up the desire for fame and glory and stresses on Dharma.
Major Rock Edict – XI Defines policy of Dhrama and also emphasis on people should pay respect to all other living beings.
Major Rock Edict – XII King requests for tolerance among different religions and sects.
Major Rock Edict – XIII King requests for tolerance among different religions and sects.
Major Rock Edict – XIV King talks about his conquest on Kalinga, and how he felt after watching the war scene. Now He only wants follow Dharma conquest. Also mention that Greek Kings, Antiochus of Syria, Ptolemy of Egypt, Antigonus of Macedonia, Magas of Cyrene, Alexander of Epirus and Cholas, Pandyas started to follow his Dharma instructions.

3. Kalinga Edicts (Separate Rock Edicts)

Kalinga Edict – I King declares that all men are his children. Talks about Mahamantras .
Kalinga Edict – II Proclamation of edicts even to a single person.

4. Minor Rock Edicts

  • Minor Rock edicts of Ashoka found from 15 places across India.
  • They are very important to link king ‘piyadasi’ to Ashoka, as Ashoka used his name in four of these places namely, Maski, Brahmagiri (Karnataka), Gujjara (MP) and Nettur (AP).
  • The Barabar Caves are the oldest surviving rock-cut caves in India, mostly dating from the Maurya Empire (322–185 BCE)
  • Queen Edict mentions second queen of Ashoka.
    1. It was the first inscription to give both Priyadarshan and Ashoka, thus identifying Ashoka with Priyadarshin found in other edicts.
    2. Before this inscription was discovered various places were identified as Suvarnabhoomi and there was a wide speculation about its location. With this inscription, it was confirmed Suvarnagiri is in Karnataka.
Minor Rock Edict -I (Gavimath, Karnataka) Ashoka’s inclusion in Buddhist Sangha.
Minor Rock Edict – II, (Brahmagiri, Karnataka) Promotion of Dharma.
Minor Rock Edict – III (Bairat) About Buddhist Sangha.
Queen Edict Talks about Ashoka’s second queen Karuvaki. Also mention the name her son Tivala.
Barabar Cave Inscriptions Talks about giving away Barabar caves to Ajivika sect.
Kandahar bilingual inscription It is written in two languages Greek and Aramaic. Both talks about the fishermen and hunter gave up hunting.

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