Emperor Ashoka – Ancient History Notes PDF for all Competitive Exams

Emperor Ashoka: Emperor Ashoka, also known as Ashoka the Great, is a prominent figure in Indian history and a crucial topic for UPSC exams. Here are some key notes on Emperor Ashoka. Emperor Ashoka’s life and reign are essential topics for UPSC aspirants as they illustrate the transformation of a ruthless conqueror into a benevolent and compassionate ruler who contributed significantly to the spread of Buddhism and the promotion of moral values in ancient India.

Emperor Ashoka

Early Life of Ashoka:

  • Ashoka was born in 304 BCE in Pataliputra (modern-day Patna, Bihar, India) to Emperor Bindusara and Queen Dharma.
  • He belonged to the Mauryan dynasty, which was founded by Chandragupta Maurya.

Ascension to the Throne:

  • Ashoka became the emperor of the Mauryan Empire after a power struggle following the death of his father, Bindusara, around 272 BCE.
  • His ascension to the throne was marked by a period of ruthless conquest and expansion of the empire.

Conversion to Buddhism:

  • Ashoka’s reign took a transformative turn after the Kalinga War in 261 BCE.
  • The brutalities of the Kalinga War deeply affected him, leading him to renounce violence and embrace Buddhism.
  • He became a devout Buddhist, following the principles of non-violence (ahimsa), compassion, and moral conduct.

Edicts of Ashoka:

  • Ashoka is famous for inscribing his edicts on pillars, rock surfaces, and cave walls across his empire.
  • These inscriptions, written in Prakrit, Greek, and Aramaic, are valuable historical records of his rule.
  • The edicts promote moral and ethical behavior, religious tolerance, and social welfare.

Dhamma (Dharma):

  • Ashoka’s Dhamma was a code of conduct based on Buddhist principles.
  • It emphasized compassion, tolerance, and non-violence.
  • Ashoka worked to spread the Dhamma both within his empire and beyond, sending emissaries and missionaries to neighboring regions and even to the Hellenistic kingdoms.

Administrative Reforms:

  • Ashoka’s rule was marked by efficient administration, with a focus on welfare.
  • He established a network of officials called “Dhamma Mahamatras” to promote moral and ethical values.
  • He sponsored medical facilities and encouraged the planting of medicinal herbs.

Social Welfare and Animal Rights:

  • Ashoka’s reign saw significant social welfare initiatives, including the establishment of hospitals and support for the elderly and disabled.
  • He issued edicts protecting wildlife and promoting animal rights.


  • Ashoka’s reign is considered a pivotal moment in Indian history, marking the spread of Buddhism and the promotion of moral values.
  • His contributions to Buddhism and the promotion of peace and tolerance left a lasting impact on Indian culture.
  • The Mauryan Empire reached its zenith under his rule.

Decline and Succession:

  • The later years of Ashoka’s rule remain somewhat unclear, but it is believed that he ruled for about 37 years.
  • After his death, the Mauryan Empire gradually declined and eventually fragmented.

Download Emperor Ashoka Notes PDF in Hindi

Download Emperor Ashoka Notes PDF in English

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By Team Learning Mantras