'The victory of Dharma brings with
it love and affection. Devanampriya believes that, however small may be
the love gained by its victory, it brings ample reward in the other world."
This is what Ashoka has said in one
of his inscriptions.
The teaching of Buddha brought peace
to Ashoka who was haunted by memories of the agony he had seen in Kalinga.
Buddha's message of nonviolence, kind-
ness and love of mankind appealed to the unhappy Ashoka. A disciple ofBuddha.
Upagupta initiated him into Buddhism. From that day Ashoka's heart became
the home of compassion, right living, love and nonviolence. He gave up
hunting and eating meat. He put an end to the killing of animals for the
royal kitchen. Realizing that it was not enough if he lived a righteous
life, he proclaimed that all his subjects also should live a life of righteousness.
'Of all victories, the victory of Dharma
is the noblest. One may win a piece of land by fighting a war. But by kindness,
love and pity one can win the hearts of people. The sharp point of the
sword spills blood; but from Dharma springs the fountain of love. The victory
won by arms brings fleeting joy but the victory of Dharma brings lasting
joy'-Ashoka realized this truth. So he taught his subjects this lesson:
'All people should live a life of truthfulness,
justice and love. Respect your parents. Treat your teachers and relatives
with affection. Be modest in their presence. Give charity. Do not be unkind
to animals. No one should think that he end his religion are the greatest.
All religions preach the same virtues. Just as it is bad to indulge in
self-praise and slandering others, it is bad to condemn other religions.
Respect for other religions brings glory to one's own religion.'
Ashoka did not think of the good of
only his subjects; he thought of the good of all mankinds'. He wished to
win the hearts of people and to serve the world through religion and through
good will and good action. He decided to dedicate his energy and all his
powers and wealth to this goal.
The first thing that Ashoka did to
spread righteousness among his people was to undertake a pilgrimage. It
took place two years the Kalinga war. His pilgrimage started with his visit
so Sambodhi, the holy place where Gauthama, the Buddha breathed his last.
He visited other holy places during the pilgrimage. Ashoka has explained
in his own words the purpose of his pilgrimage. 'To meet Brahmins and Shramanas
and to give gifts to them. To meet the elders and to honor them with gifts
of gold. To meet people and to preach the law of Dharma and to discuss
Dharma.' These were the important objects.