ASOKA AND THE MAKING OF MODERN INDIA: An International Conference
Posted: February 13, 2009
The inscriptions or dhammalipi are dated between his 8th and 27th regnal year, corresponding approximately to 264-245 BCE. Most of these are written in the Brahmi script in the eastern or western (Gandhari) dialects of Prakrit, the exceptions being the north-western edicts in Kharosthi and those in Greek and Aramaic. These are the earliest inscriptions in India and present invaluable insights both into Asoka's political and religious philosophy and into the society of his time. It is not known how soon the Brahmi script was forgotten, but Chinese pilgrims who travelled to Buddhist sites in South Asia in the first millennium CE claimed that Asokan inscriptions could be read. Since 1837 when James Prinsep deciphered the Asokan edicts, the Mauryas, who ruled between 317 and 186 BCE, have occupied a central position in ancient Indian historiography and the modern Indian psyche.