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Written by one of the eminent historians this book brings out substantially the chief features of King Asoka's glorious rule. It represents Asoka as a great humanitarian, wise statesman, good administrator, social reformer, and upholder of truth, law, and order. Nowhere else can we get such an immense wealth of information on the social and cultural milieu in the reign of this monarch? The book is divided into eight chapters. Of these the first six deal with the early life and family of the Emperor, the details of his career as king, his administration, religion, monuments, and the social conditions of the country during this period. The last two chapters contain the text of the inscriptions, their translation, and annotation. Chapters II and VII are followed by appendices on the Asokan chronology from the legends and Rock Edicts. Chapter VIII has an appendix on the Script, Dialect, and Grammar of the inscriptions. The value of the book is enhanced by the insertion of an index and addenda on some valuable inscriptions and Rock Edicts, fifteen plates, and a map of Asoka's Empire.


 About the Author

Noted historian and politician, Dr. Radhakumud Mookerji, started life as a Professor of History at the Bengal National College under the Principalship of the late Sri Aurobindo. Subsequently, he joined Mysore University where he was a Professor of History from 1917 to 1921. Thereafter he became a Professor and Head of the Department of History at Lucknow University and remained there for an unbroken period of twenty-five years. After retirement, he continued to be an Emeritus Professor of History at the same University where his friends had endowed a Lectureship in his name. He was a prolific author and had to his credit 15 books on different aspects of ancient India.

Radha Kumud Mukherjee (also spelt Radhakumud or Radha Kumud Mookerji; 25 January 1884 – 9 September 1963) was an Indian historian and a noted Indian nationalist during the period of British colonial rule. He was the brother of the sociologist Radhakamal Mukerjee.

Mukherjee obtained a doctorate from the University of Calcutta in 1905 and joined the newly established National Council of Education, teaching at the Bengal National College. After 1915, he embarked on a series of tenures at universities in Benares, Mysore, and Lucknow.

He published Indian Shipping: A History of Seaborne Trade and Maritime Activity of the Indians from the Earliest Times in 1912. He was an advocate of the notion of Greater India in which Indian merchants and adventurers with huge fleets brought Indians to Southeast Asia and became the foundation of kingdoms in that region.

He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1957 for his contribution to Public Affairs.


Preface to the Third Edition


The progress of Asokan scholarship and of the growing popularity of the study of Asokan history at Universities has called for a new edition of the work incorporating in it some of the inscriptions of Asoka discovered since the second edition and figuring in this edition as Addenda for convenience of printing. The most important of these inscriptions is that found at Shar-i-kuna off Kandahar of which the most singular feature is its two versions given in Greek and Aramaic for the benefit of the particular subjects of Asoka’s empire speaking the two different languages. Other important points of the new inscriptions are brought out in their proper places in the Addenda.


I owe my grateful acknowledgements to the kind help given to me by Dr. D. C. Sircar, Carmichael Professor of the Calcutta University and by Adhir Chakravarti M. A. of Government Sanskrit College, Calcutta, for correcting the proofs and helping me materially in other ways. The design of the jacket I owe to the renowned artist Sri Asit Kumar Haldar, showing the original form of the Asokan Pillar at Sarnath.




I. Early Life and Family I
II. History II
  Appendix A: On Asokan Chronology from the Legends 44
III. Administration 47
IV. Religion 60
V. Monuments 79
VI. Social Conditions 101
VII. Translation and Annotation of the Inscriptions:  
  A. Minor Rock Edicts 107
  B. Bhabru (Bairat No.2) Rock Edict 117
  C. Kalinga Rock Edicts (Separate) 120
  D. Fourteen Rock Edicts 128
  E.  Seven Pillar Edicts 172
  F.   Four Minor Pillar Edicts 193
  G. Two Commemorative Pillar Inscriptions 201
  H. Three Cave Inscriptions 205
  Appendix B: On the Chronology of the Asokan Edicts 208
VIII. Texts of the Inscriptions 215
  Appendix C: On the Script, Dialect, and Grammar of the Inscriptions 246
  Index 255
  Addenda 275

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