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The last emperor of India’s Mauryan Dynasty, Ashoka became a patron of Buddhism after witnessing the suffering caused by his military conquest of Kalinga. Following this, he renounced violence in favor of “conquest by Dharma.”
Ashoka adopted the Buddhist virtues of honesty, compassion, humility, & non-violence. As a ruler with perhaps the power to outcast minority religions, Ashoka nonetheless exercised & encouraged tolerance & respect for all spiritual alignments.
Ashoka appointed “Dharma Ministers,” public servants—especially attentive to gender & religious minorities—who also reported the state of the general citizenship to Ashoka frequently. Under his rule, the government constructed hospitals, veterinary hospitals, wells, & other public-serving structures.
The Emperor had stupas & monasteries built, along with pillars inscribed with his interpretations of just spirituality & philosophy. He sent his own children as preaching missionaries to Sri Lanka, & made personal efforts to settle disputes within the Sangha (or Buddhist community).
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