Minor Pillar Edicts

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Minor Pillar Edicts of Ashoka
Brahmi script on Ashoka Pillar, Sarnath.jpg
Minor Pillar Edict on the Sarnath pillar.
Material Sandstone
Created 3rd century BCE
Present location India, Afghanistan
Locations of the Minor Pillar Edicts of Ashoka.

The Minor Pillar Edicts of Indian Emperor Ashoka refer to 5 separate minor Edicts of Ashoka inscribed on columns, the Pillars of Ashoka, which are among the earliest dated inscriptions of any Indian monarch. A full English translation of the Edicts was published by Romilla Thapar.[1]

These edicts are preceded chronologically by the Minor Rock Edicts and may have been made in parallel with the Major Rock Edicts. The inscription technique is generally poor compared for example to the later Major Pillar Edicts, however they are often associated with some of the artistically most sophisticated pillar capitals of Ashoka. This fact led some authors to think that the most sophisticated capitals were actually the earliest in the sequence of Ashokan pillars and that style degraded over a short period of time.[2]

These were made probably made at the beginning of the reign of Ashoka (reigned 262-233 BCE), from the year 12 of his reign, that is, from 250 BCE.[3]

History[edit]

Ashoka was the third monarch of the Maurya Empire in India, reigning from around 269 BCE.[4] Ashoka famously converted to Buddhism and renounced violence soon after being victorious in a gruesome Kalinga War, yet filled with deep remorse for the bloodshed of the war. Although he was a major historical figure, little definitive information was known as there were few records of his reign until the 19th century when a large number of his edicts, inscribed on rocks and pillars, were found in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. These many edicts were concerned with practical instructions in running a kingdom such as the design of irrigation systems and descriptions of Ashoka's beliefs in peaceful moral behavior. They contain little personal detail about his life.[4]

List of the Minor Pillar Edicts[edit]

Asoka’s Minor Pillar Edicts are exclusively inscribed on several of the Pillars of Ashoka, at Sarnath, Sanchi, Allahabad (a pillar initially located in Kosambi), Rummindei and Nigali Sagar. They are all in the Prakrit language and the Brahmi script.

These pillar edicts are:[1]

The Schism Edicts

Asoka’s injunction against shism in the Samgha. Found on the Sarnath, Sanchi and Allahabad pillars. These are among the earliest inscriptions of Ashoka, at a time when inscription techniques in India where not yet mature.[5] In contrast, the lion capitals crowning these edicts (Sarnath and Sanchi) are the most refined of those produced during the time of Ashoka.[5]

All the Schism edits are rather fragmentary, but the similarity of their messages permit a clear reconstruction:

"The Beloved of the Gods orders the officers of Kauśāmbī/ Pāṭa(liputra) thus:

No one is to cause dissention in the Order. The Order of monks and nuns has been united, and this unity should last for as long as my sons and great grandsons, and the moon and the sun. Whoever creates a schism in the Order, whether monk or nun, is to be dressed in white garments, and to be put in a place not inhabited by monks or nuns. For it is my wish that the Order should remain united and endure for long. This is to be made known to the Order of monks and the Order of nuns."[6]

The Queen's Edict

Ashoka announces that the Queen should be credited for her gifts. Found on the Allahabad pillar.

The Rummindei Edict

Records the visit of Ashoka to Lumbini, location of the birth of the Buddha, in today's Nepal.

The Nigali Sagar Edict

Ashoka mentions his dedication for the enlargement of the Stupa dedicated to the Kanakamuni Buddha.

Inscription techniques[edit]

The Kosambi-Allahabad Schism Edict, as the Sarnath or Sanchi Schism Edicts, display low inscriptional skills. They were made by inexperienced Indian engravers at a time when stone engraving was still new in India.[7]

The inscription technique of the early Edicts, particularly the Schism Edcits at Sarnath, Sanchi and Kosambi-Allahabad, is very poor compared for example to the later Major Pillar Edicts, however the Minor Pillar Edicts are often associated with some of the artistically most sophisticated pillar capitals of Ashoka, such as the renowned Lion Capital of Ashoka which crowned the Sarnath Minor Pillar Edict, or the very similar, but less well preserved Sanchi lion capital which crowned the very clumsily inscribed Schism Edict of Sanchi.[8] These edicts were probably made at the beginning of the reign of Ashoka (reigned 262-233 BCE), from the year 12 of his reign, that is, from 256 BCE.[9]

According to Irwin, the Brahmi inscriptions on the Sarnath and Sanchi pillars were made by inexperienced Indian engravers at a time when stone engraving was still new in India, whereas the very refined Sarnath capital itself was made under the tutelage of crafstmen from the former Achaemenid Empire, trained in Perso-Hellenistic statuary and employed by Ashoka.[7] This suggests that the most sophisticated capitals were actually the earliest in the sequence of Ashokan pillars and that style degraded over a short period of time.[8]

The Rummindei and Nigali Sagar edicts, inscribed on pillars erected by Ashoka later in his reign (19th and 20th year) display a high level of inscriptional technique with a good regularity in the lettering.[7]

Description of the Minor Pillar Edicts[edit]

The Minor Rock Edicts of Ashoka are exclusively inscribed on some of the Pillars of Ashoka, at Sanchi, Sarnath, Allahabad, Rummindei and Nigali Sagar.

Minor Pillar Edicts of Ashoka
Name Location Map Pillar & inscription Capital/ Close-up
Sarnath Located in Sarnath, Bihar
Schism Edict.[10]

Sarnath Schism Edict of Ashoka:
Sarnath pillar inscription.jpg

".......... [cannot] be divided. The Samgha both of monks and of nuns is made united as long as (my) sons and great-grandsons (shall reign, and) as long as the moon and the sun (shall shine). The monk or nun who shall break up the Samgha, must be caused to put on white robes and to reside in a non-residence. For my desire is that the Samgha may be united (and) of long duration."

— Inscriptions of Asoka. New Edition by E. Hultzsch pp.160-162
Ashoka Pillar, Sarnath.jpg Sarnath capital.jpg
Sanchi Located in Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh
Schism Edict.[10]

Sanchi Schism Edict of Ashoka:
Sanchi pillar Ashokan inscription.jpg

"... path is prescribed both for the monks and for the nuns. As long as (my) sons and great-grandsons (shall reign ; and) as long as the Moon and the Sun (shall endure), the monk or nun who shall cause divisions in the Sangha, shall be compelled to put on white robes and to reside apart. For what is my desire ? That the Sangha may be united and may long endure."

— Edict of Ashoka on the Sanchi pillar.[11]
Ashokan Pillar - Stupa 1 - Sanchi Hill 2013-02-21 4361.JPG Sanchi capital frontal view.jpg
Allahabad (Kosambi) Located in Allahabad (originally in Kosambi, Bihar
Schism Edict, Queen's Edict. Several Major Pillar Edicts (1-6) are also inscribed.[10]

Allahabad Schism Edict of Ashoka:
Allahabad Kosambi pillar Schism Edict.jpg

Devanampriya commands (thus).

The Mahamatras of Kosambi................
.....................is made united.
....................should not be received into the Samgha.
And also that monk or nun (who) shall break up the Samgha, should be caused to put on white robes and to reside in a non-residence.[12]


Allahabad Queen's Edict:

Allahabad Kosambi pillar Queen Edict.jpg

"On the order of the Beloved of the Gods, the officers everywhere are to be instructed that whatever may be the gift of the second queen, whether a mango-grove, a monastery, an institution for dispensing charity or any other donation, it is to be counted to the credit of that queen … the second queen, the mother of Tīvala, Kāruvākī.[6]

Allahabad Kosambi pillar of Ashoka.jpg Frieze of capital of Lat at Allahabad.jpg
Rummindei
/Paderia
Located in Lumbini, Nepal
Rummindei Edict.[10]

Rummindei Edict of Ashoka:

When King Devanampriya Priyadarsin had been anointed twenty years, he came himself and worshipped (this spot) because the Buddha Shakyamuni was born here. (He) both caused to be made a stone bearing a horse (?)and caused a stone pillar to be set up, (in order to show) that the Blessed One was born here. (He) made the village of Lummini free of taxes, and paying (only) an eighth share (of the produce).

— Ashoka inscription on the Lumbini pillar.[13]
The words "Bu-dha" (Buddha) and "Sa-kya-mu-nī " ("Sage of the Shakyas") in Brahmi script, on Ashoka's Rummindei Minor Pillar Edict (circa 250 BCE).
BRP Lumbini Ashoka pillar.jpg

Paderia Pillar.png
Lumbini - Pillar Edict in Brahmi Script, Lumbini (9241396121).jpg
Nigali Sagar Located in Nigali Sagar, Nepal
Nigali Sagar Edict.[10]

Nigali Sagar Edict of Ashoka:

"Devanam piyena piyadasin lajina- chodasavasa bhisitena Budhasa Konakamanasa thube-dutyam vadhite Visativa sabhisitena –cha atana-agacha-mahiyite silathabe-cha usa papite"

“His Majesty King Priyadarsin in the 14th year of his reign enlarged for the second time the stupa of the Buddha Kanakamuni and in the 20th year of his reign, having come in person, paid reverence and set up a stone pillar”.[14]

"Budha-sa Konākamana-sa" ("Of the Kanakamuni Buddha") inscription in the Brahmi Script, at Nigali Sagar, 250 BCE
Nigali Sagar word Stupa.jpg

This inscription has the first known instance of the use of the word "Stupa" (here spelled in the Brahmi script as "Thube").[15]


Nigali Sagar pillar full view.jpg

Ashoka Inscriptions Nigali Sagar pillar inscription.jpg
Nigali Sagar pillar Ashoka inscription.jpg

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Romila Thapar (1997). "Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas" (PDF). Delhi: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  2. ^ The True Chronology of Aśokan Pillars, John Irwin, Artibus Asiae, Vol. 44, No. 4 (1983), pp. 247-265 [1]
  3. ^ Yailenko, Valeri P. (1990). Les maximes delphiques d'Aï Khanoum et la formation de la doctrine du dhamma d'Asoka (in French). pp. 239–256.
  4. ^ a b "The Edicts of King Ashoka". Archived from the original on 14 March 2007. Retrieved 15 March 2007.
  5. ^ a b Irwin, John (1983). The True Chronology of Aśokan Pillars. pp. 247–265.
  6. ^ a b Thapar, Romila (2012). "Appendix V: A Translation of the Edicts of Aśoka". Aśoka and the Decline of the Mauryas (PDF) (3rd ed.). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 388–390. ISBN 9780198077244. Retrieved 8 February 2016. (Subscription required (help)).
  7. ^ a b c Irwin, John (1983). The True Chronology of Aśokan Pillars. pp. 250&264.
  8. ^ a b The True Chronology of Aśokan Pillars, John Irwin, Artibus Asiae, Vol. 44, No. 4 (1983), pp. 264 [2]
  9. ^ Yailenko, Valeri P. (1990). Les maximes delphiques d'Aï Khanoum et la formation de la doctrine du dhamma d'Asoka (in French). pp. 239–256.
  10. ^ a b c d e The Geopolitical Orbits of Ancient India: The Geographical Frames of the ... by Dilip K Chakrabarty p.32
  11. ^ John Marshall, "A Guide to Sanchi" p.93 Public Domain text
  12. ^ Inscriptions of Asoka. New Edition by E. Hultzsch (in Sanskrit). 1925. p. 160.
  13. ^ Hultzsch, E. /1925). Inscriptions of Asoka. Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 164-165
  14. ^ Basanta Bidari - 2004 Kapilavastu: the world of Siddhartha - Page 87
  15. ^ Amaravati: The Art of an early Buddhist Monument in context. p.23

External links[edit]


Edicts of Ashoka
(Ruled 269-232 BCE)
Regnal years
of Ashoka
Type of Edict
(and location of the inscriptions)
Geographical location
Year 8 End of the Kalinga war and conversion to the "Dharma"
Year 10[1] Minor Rock Edicts Related events:
Visit to the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya
Construction of the Mahabodhi Temple and Diamond throne in Bodh Gaya
Predication throughout India.
Dissenssions in the Sangha
Third Buddhist Council
In Indian language: Sohgaura inscription
Erection of the Pillars of Ashoka
Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription
(in Greek and Aramaic, Kandahar)
Minor Rock Edicts in Aramaic:
Laghman Inscription, Taxila inscription
Year 11 and later Minor Rock Edicts (n°1, n°2 and n°3)
(Panguraria, Maski, Palkigundu and Gavimath, Bahapur/Srinivaspuri, Bairat, Ahraura, Gujarra, Sasaram, Rajula Mandagiri, Yerragudi, Udegolam, Nittur, Brahmagiri, Siddapur, Jatinga-Rameshwara)
Year 12 and later[1] Barabar Caves inscriptions Major Rock Edicts
Minor Pillar Edicts Major Rock Edicts in Greek: Edicts n°12-13 (Kandahar)

Major Rock Edicts in Indian language:
Edicts No.1 ~ No.14
(in Kharoshthi script: Shahbazgarhi, Mansehra Edicts
(in Brahmi script: Kalsi, Girnar, Sopara, Sannati, Yerragudi, Delhi Edicts)
Major Rock Edicts 1-10, 14, Separate Edicts 1&2:
(Dhauli, Jaugada)
Schism Edict, Queen's Edict
(Sarnath Sanchi Allahabad)
Rummindei Edict, Nigali Sagar Edict
Year 26, 27
and later[1]
Major Pillar Edicts
In Indian language:
Major Pillar Edicts No.1 ~ No.7
(Allahabad pillar Delhi pillar Topra Kalan Rampurva Lauria Nandangarh Lauriya-Araraj Amaravati)

Derived inscriptions in Aramaic, on rock:
Kandahar, Edict No.7[2][3] and Pul-i-Darunteh, Edict No.5 or No.7[4]

  1. ^ a b c Yailenko,Les maximes delphiques d'Aï Khanoum et la formation de la doctrine du dhamma d'Asoka, 1990, pp.243.
  2. ^ Inscriptions of Asoka de D.C. Sircar p.30
  3. ^ Handbuch der Orientalistik de Kurt A. Behrendt p.39
  4. ^ Handbuch der Orientalistik de Kurt A. Behrendt p.39