What is Ashoka’s Dhamma? What steps were taken for Ashoka’s Dhamma Propagation?
Emperor Ashoka’s edicts tell of a supposed immense public works program. He built thousands of Stupas and Viharas for Buddhist followers, the Asokavadana says 84,000 such monuments were built. The Stupas of Sanchi are world famous and the stupa named Sanchi Stupa 1 was built by Emperor Ashoka. During the remaining portion of Ashoka’s reign, he pursued an official policy of nonviolence. The unnecessary slaughter or mutilation of animals was immediately abolished. Wildlife became protected by the king’s law against sport hunting and branding. Limited hunting was permitted for consumption reasons but Ashoka also promoted the concept of vegetarianism. Enormous rest houses were built through the empire to house travelers and pilgrims free of charge. He is acclaimed for constructing hospitals for animals and people alike, and renovating major roads throughout India.
However, there are historians who dispute the claim that Ashoka built any hospitals at all, and argue that it is based on a mis-translation, with references to ‘rest houses’ being mistaken for hospitals. The error is thought to have occurred because similar edicts and records talk of Ashoka importing medicinal supplies. Dharmashoka also defined the main principles of dharma, dhamma in Pallas nonviolence, tolerance of all sects and opinions, obedience to parents and other religious teachers and priests, liberality towards friends, humane treatment of servants, and generosity towards all. These principles suggest a general ethic of behavior to which no religious or social group could object.
In the Maurya Empire, citizens of all religions and ethnic groups also had rights to freedom, tolerance, and equality. The need for tolerance on an egalitarian basis can be found in the Edicts of Ashoka, which emphasize the importance of tolerance in public policy by the government. Ashoka was the sponsor of the third Buddhist council. According to Theravada accounts, Ashoka supported the Vibhajjavada sub-school of the Sthaviravada sect, which would become known by the Pali Theravada, but historians have concluded “this was clearly not the case,” finding instead that the council was convened to expel non Buddhists from the sangha in Pataliputra. After this council he sent Buddhist monks to spread their religion to other countries.