- Archaeological sources
- Literary sources
- Narratives of foreigners
The Inscription is the most important and reliable in the archaeological sources to know ancient Indian history, the oldest Inscription is from Bogajkoi of Central Asia, it is about 1400 BC and it helps in determining the date of Rigveda. Highlighting the importance of the Inscription, Fleet, a well-known historian, wrote that “the knowledge of the political history of ancient India only known to us from indepth study but other branches of India’s exploration also have to take shelter of Inscription at the end. It is also true that many Inscription have not been dated, but the text of different letters on these Inscription gives us indication regarding its time period.
- Indegenous record
- Foreign records
Indegenous records –
Ashokan Edicts and Inscriptions : There are Rock Edicts ,Pillar edicts, and cave inscriptions located at several places in the Indian subcontinent. Their importance came to be appreciated only after their decipheration by JAMES PRINCEP in 1837 and also the identification of Ashoka as the the author of these edicts in the beginning of the 20 th century . Majority of them are in the nature of ashoka’s proclamation to the public at large , and only a small group describe his own acceptance of Buddhism and his relarionship with Sangh( commune). Though Prakrit was the language used in them , the script varried from region to region ( kharoshti in the North-West , Greek and Aramaic in the West and Brahmi in the East of India).
Junagarh Rock Inscription of Rudradaman, Sohgaura copper plate Inscription in Gorakhpur district of UP , Mahasthan Inscription in Bogara district of Bangladesh- All these were directly concerned with the Mauryan Period , though they are beleived to be not necessarily those of Ashoka.
Material Remains : Wooden palace of Chandragupta Maurya , Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW), Silver and Copper punch marked coins found in Kumharar ( Patna) and other places are material remains of the Mauryan period .
Ashokan 14 major Rock Edicts and their Content
- Rock Edict 1 – In this major rock edicts there is prohibition of animal sacrifices and festive gatherings.
- Rock Edict 2 – It contains measures of social welfare. Mostly contains care for men and animals .
- Rock Edict 3- Respect to the Brahmanas, ordered his officers to spread Dhamma policy Ashoka.
- Rock Edict 4 – Courtesy to relatives ,elders, consideration for animals.
- Rock Edict 5 – Appointment of Dhamma Mahamatras, and their duties. In this rock edict it is mentioned that ” Every Human is my Child “
- Rock Edict 6 – King desire to get informed constantly about the condition of people.
- Rock Edict 7 – Need for tolerance among all religious sects.
- Rock Edict 8 – This Edict describes about the first Dhamma yatra of Ashok to Bodh Gaya and Bodhi tree.
- Rock Edict 9 – Mostly condemn the meaningless and popular ceremonies and rituals.
- Rock Edict 10 – Mostly stressed on the popularity of Dhamma and condemned the desire og glory and fame.
- Rock Edict 11– Explanation of Dhamma Policy .
- Rock Edict 12 – Appeal for the tolerance among all religious sects.
- Rock Edict 13 – Kalinga war mentioned, and also 5 contemporary Helenic ( Greek) kings.
- Rock Edict 14 – Inspiration to spend religious life, and encourage engraving of inscription in different parts of country .
2 Kalinga Rock Edicts
Minor Rock Edicts
- 7 Pillar Edicts were found at Meerut- Delhi ( Chhoti Lata ), Topra -Delhi ( Badi Lata) , Allahabad (UP) , Lauriya Nandangarh , Lauriya Areraj, and Rampurva ( Bihar )
- 4 Minor Pillar Edicts were found at Sanchi ( MP), Sarnath and Allahabad (UP) . Its clearly shows the fanaticism of Ashoka to Dhamma .
- 2 Tarai Pillar Edicts shows Ashoka’s respect for Buddhism. These were found at Rummandei/ Lumbini Nigaliva ( Tarai of Nepal )
In the next post we will discuss about the Literary Sources of Ancient India . So Stay connected with us .
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