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  • eBUDDHANET'SBOOK LIBRARY E-mail: bdea@buddhanet.net Web site: www.buddhanet.net

    Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc.

    Edited by Anuradha Seneviratna

    King Asoka and Buddhism Historical & Literary Studies

    King Asoka and Buddhism Historical & Literary Studies

  • King Aśoka and Buddhism HISTORICAL AND LITERARY STUDIES

    EDITED BY ANURADHA SENEVIRATNA

    BUDDHIST PUBLICATION SOCIETY KANDY SRI LANKA

    PUBLISHED IN 1994 BUDDHIST PUBLICATION SOCIETY

    P.O. BOX 61 54, SANGHARAJA MAWATHA

    KANDY, SRI LANKA COPYRIGHT © 1994 BY ANURADHA SENEVIRATNA

    ISBN 955–24–0065–2.

  • iv

    Buddhism / Indian History / Asian Studies

    King Aśoka and Buddhism King Aśoka, the third monarch of the Mauryan dynasty in the third century B.C., was the first ruler of a unified India and one of the greatest political figures of all time. After he embraced the teachings of the Buddha, he transformed his polity from one of military conquest to one of Dharmavijaya — victory by righteousness and truth. By providing royal patronage for the propagation of Buddhism both within and beyond his empire, he helped promote the metamorphosis of Buddhism into a world religion that spread peacefully across the face of Asia.

    The present collection of essays by leading Indological scholars draws upon both the inscriptions and the literary tra- ditions to explore the relationship between King Aśoka and the religion he embraced. In highlighting the ways in which Aśoka tapped the ethical and spiritual potentials of rulership, these papers deliver a message highly relevant to our own time, when politics and spirituality often seem pitted against one another in irreconcilable opposition.

    Contents: Richard Gombrich: Aśoka-The Great Upāsaka; Romila Thapar: Aśoka and Buddhism as Reflected in the Aśokan Edicts; Ananda W.P. Guruge: Unresolved Discrepancies between Buddhist Tradition and Aśokan Inscriptions; N.A. Jayawickrama: Aśoka’s Edicts and the Third Buddhist Council; Anuradha Seneviratna: Aśoka and the Emergence of a Sinhala Buddhist State in Sri Lanka; John S. Strong: Images of Aśoka; Ananda W.P. Guruge: Emperor Aśoka’s Place in History.

    Cover design by Mahinda Jeevananda

  • v

    The Editor Anuradha Seneviratna is Professor of Sinhala at the Univer- sity of Peradeniya. His prior publications include The Springs of Sinhala Civilization; Buddhist Monastic Architecture in Sri Lanka; Mahintale: Dawn of a Civilization; and a two-volume work on the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.

    The Buddhist Publication Society The BPS is an approved charity dedicated to making known the Teaching of the Buddha, which has a vital message for people of all creeds. Founded in 1958, the BPS has published a wide variety of hooks and booklets covering a great range of topics. Its publications include accurate annotated transla- tions of the Buddha’s discourses, standard reference works, as well as original contemporary expositions of Buddhist thought and practice. These works present Buddhism as it truly is — a dynamic force which has influenced receptive minds for the past 2,500 years and is still as relevant today as it was when it first arose. A full list of our publications will be sent upon request with an enclosure of U.S. $1.50 or its equivalent to cover air mail postage. Write to:

    The Hony. Secretary Buddhist Publication Society

    P.O. Box 61 4 Sangharaja, Mawatha,

    Kandy, Sri Lanka.

  • vi

    The Contributors

    Richard Gombrich is Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University and Fellow of Balliol College. He is also the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the Pali Text Society. His previous publications include Precept and Practice: Traditional Buddhism in the Rural Highlands of Ceylon (1971), The World of Buddhism (with Heinz Bechert, 1984), Theravāda Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo (1988), and Buddhism Transformed (with Gananath Obeyesekere, 1990).

    Ananda W.P. Guruge has served as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to France and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO in Paris. He is presently the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the United States. He holds a Ph.D. and D. Litt. (Hon.) and is the author of The Society of the Ramayana (1960), From the Living Fountains of Buddhism (1984), Buddhism — The Religion and its Culture (2nd ed. 1984), and The Mahāvaṃsa — An Annotated New Translation with Prolegomena (1989).

    N.A. Jayawickrama was Professor and Head of the Department of Pali of the University of Peradeniya and later Professor and Head of the Department of Pali and Buddhist Civilization at the University of Kelaniya. He is at present Editorial Adviser to the Encyclopaedia of Buddhism and Professor Emeritus of the University of Peradeniya. His publications include The Inception of Discipline and the Vinayanidāna (1962), The Epochs of the Conqueror (1968), and The Story of Gotama Buddha (1990).

  • vii

    Anuradha Seneviratna is Professor of Sinhala at the University of Peradeniya. His publications include The Springs of Sinhala Civilization (1989), Buddhist Monastic Architecture in Sri Lanka (1992), Mahintale: Dawn of a Civilization (1993), and a two- volume work on the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (1987, 1990).

    John S. Strong is Associate Professor of Religion at Bates College, U.S.A., and author of The Legend of King Aśoka (1983) and The Legend and Cult of Upagupta.

    Romila Thapar is Professor of Ancient Indian History at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Her publications include Aśoka and the Decline of the Mauryas (1961), A History of India, Vol. I (1984), and From Lineage to State (1984).

  • viii

    Contents The Contributors ....................................................................................................................... vi

    Editor’s Preface .......................................................................................................................... xi

    Editor’s Note ............................................................................................................................. xii

    Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................... xiii

    1 Aśoka — The Great Upāsaka RICHARD GOMBRICH ................................................................................................. 1 1. Aśoka’s Inscriptions ........................................................................................ 2

    2. Aśoka in Buddhist Tradition ..................................................................... 6

    3. The Missions: Interpreting the Evidence ......................................... 10

    Notes ........................................................................................................................... 13

    2 Aśoka and Buddhism as Reflected in the Aśokan Edicts ROMILA THAPAR ......................................................................................................... 15

    3 Emperor Aśoka and Buddhism: Unresolved Discrepancies between Buddhist Tradition & Aśokan Inscriptions ANANDA W.P. GURUGE ......................................................................................... 37 1. Introduction ........................................................................................................ 37

    2. Conversion of Aśoka to Buddhism ..................................................... 42

    3. When, How and by Whom? ................................................................... 46

    4. Major Discrepancies in Events and Dates ....................................... 49

    5. Historical Reliability of Rock Edict XIII ........................................... 54

    6. Aśoka’s Role in the Propagation of Buddhism in his Empire ........................................ 63

    7. Foreign Missions of Aśoka ......................................................................... 70

  • ix

    8. Conclusions ......................................................................................................... 79

    Notes .......................................................................................................................... 84

    4 Aśoka’s Edicts and the Third Buddhist Council N.A. JAYAWICKRAMA ............................................................................................... 92

    Notes ........................................................................................................................ 106

    5 Aśoka and the Emergence of a Sinhala Buddhist State in Sri Lanka ANURADHA SENEVIRATNA .................................................................................. 111 1. Introduction .................................................................................................... 111

    2. Sources .............................................................................................................. 112

    3. The Mission to Sri Lanka: Brief Account ....................................... 115

    4. The Political Background ...................................................................... 118

    5. The Sri Lanka-Kalinga Tie ..................................................................... 122

    6. Aśoka and Tissa ...........................................................................................

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