Chapter 8 Ashoka, The Emperor Who Gave Up War

Chapter Review: ▸ Ashoka, a Unique Ruler : Ashoka was the first ruler in the history of world, who gave directions to the people through inscriptions. Most of Ashoka’s inscriptions were in Prakrit and were written in Brahmi script.
▸ Ashoka’s views on Kalinga : Ashoka tried to conquer Kalinga. However, the violence and bloodshed led him to decide not to fight any more wars.
▸ Ashoka’s Dhamma : These were the set of instructions given by Ashoka to his subjects, which were inspired by Buddha’s teachings. He appointed officials and Dhamma Mahamatta, who taught people about ‘dhamma’, which was one of the ways to make the society a better one.
▸ Other Regions : The Mauryas controlled the vast areas between the main centers with the help of resources such as taxes and tributes. Also, the forested regions were expected to provide elephants, timber, honey and wax to the Mauryan officials.
▸ The Capital City : We come to know about the capital through Megasthenes, who was an ambassador sent to the court of Chandragupta by the Greek ruler of West Asia , Seleucus Nicator.
▸ Ashoka’s Messages to his Subjects : Ashoka got his messages inscribed on rocks and pillars. He also sent messengers to spread the Dhamma to other lands such as Syria, Egypt, Greece and Sri Lanka.
▸ Dynasty : A line of rulers from the same family, who are distinguished for their success, wealth and inherit the same from their successors.
▸ Ruling the Empire : Different parts of the empire were ruled in a different manner. For instance, the areas around Pataliputra was under the direct control of the Emperor. While other areas, such as the provinces of Taxila or Ujjain were ruled from provincial capitals by royal princes.
▸ The First Empire : Chandragupta Maurya founded the Mauryan Empire about 2300 years ago. He was supported by Chanakya or Kautilya whose ideas were written down in a book called Arthashastra.

Textbook Questions

Let’s Recall


Question1. Make a list of the occupations of the people who lived within the Mauryan empire.
Answer: The Mauryan empire consisted of people who were merchants, officials, crafts persons, farmers and herders, etc.


Question2. Complete the following sentences:
(a) Officials collected ……… from the area under the direct control of the ruler.
(b) Royal princes often went to the provinces as ……… .
(c) The Mauryan rulers tried to control ……… and ………
which were important for transport.
(d) People in forested regions provided the Mauryan officials with ……… .
Answer: (a) taxes (b) governors
(c) roads, rivers
(d) elephants, timber, honey and wax.


Question3. State whether true or false:
(a) Ujjain was the gateway to the north-west.
(b) Chandragupta’s ideas were written down in the Arthashastra.
(c) Kalinga was the ancient name of Bengal.
(d) Most Ashokan inscriptions are in the Brahmi script.
Answer: (a) False, (b) True, (c) False, (d) True.

Let’s Discuss


Question4. What were the problems that Ashoka wanted to solve by introducing ‘dhamma’?
Answer: There were a number of problems in the empire that led Ashoka to introduce his ‘dhamma’. People in the empire followed different religious, usually causing conflicts.
Animal sacrifice was common. Slaves and servants were ill-treated by their masters. There were quarrels among civiliAnswer: To solve these problems, Ashoka introduced his ‘dhamma’.


Question5. What were the means adopted by Ashoka to spread the message of ‘dhamma’?
Answer: Ashoka appointed officials (called ‘dhamma mahamatta’) to go from place to place and tell people about ‘dhamma’.
Ashoka got his messages inscribed on rocks and pillars too, in a language called as Prakrit which was comprehensible to all. Messengers were also send to other parts of the world.


Question6. Why do you think slaves and servants were ill-treated?
Do you think the orders of the emperor would have improved their condition? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer: Slaves and servants were ill-treated because their masters felt superior to them. The masters treated them as animals. It was because of the old ‘varna’ system.
The emperor’s orders might have helped to some extent.
Ashoka was a king who was loved by his subjects.
Moreover his ‘dhamma’ was a realistic innovation.

Let’s Do


Question7. Write a short paragraph explaining to Roshan why the lions are shown on our currency notes. List at least one other object on which you see them.
Answer: The lions are part of the Lion Capital in Sarnath. These lions are shown on our currency notes in honour of one of the greatest kings of India, Ashoka, who built the Capital. Moreover, on independence, the lion was recognized as the national animal, so the notes also showed the Lion Capital.
Another object which has the lions are shown are the coins of our currency.


Question8. Suppose you had the power to inscribe your orders, what four commands would you like to issue?
Answer: To answer this question, use your own imagination and help from friends and teacher.
Some sample points:
▸ Slavery be abolished.
▸ Animal sacrifice be stopped.
▸ People should not fight among themselves.
▸ No discrimination be practised based on gender, caste, creed, etc.

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