Ashoka the Great

5 Feb, 2015 950 History of Asia

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Indian Emperor Ashoka. Active in the 3rd century BC, Ashoka conquered almost all of the landmass covered by modern-day India, creating the largest empire South Asia had ever known. After his campaign of conquest he converted to Buddhism, and spread the religion throughout his domain. His edicts were inscribed on the sides of an extraordinary collection of stone pillars spread far and wide across his empire, many of which survive today. Our knowledge of ancient India and its chronology, and how this aligns with the history of Europe, is largely dependent on this important set of inscriptions, which were deciphered only in the nineteenth century.

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  • Jessica Frazier 8 episodes
    Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Kent and a Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies
  • Naomi Appleton 2 episodes
    Chancellor's Fellow in Religious Studies at the University of Edinburgh
  • Richard Gombrich No other episodes
    Founder and Academic Director of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies and Emeritus Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford

Reading list

  • Ashoka: The Search for India's Lost Emperor
    Charles Allen (Little Brown, 2012) Google Books →
  • Asokan Sites and Artefacts: A Source-book with Bibliography
    Harry Falk (Von Zabern, 2006) Google Books →
  • The Edicts of Asoka
    N. A. Nikam and Richard McKeown (eds.) (University of Chicago Press, 1959) Google Books →
  • Asoka: In History and Historical Memory
    Patrick Olivelle (ed.) (Motilal Banarsidass, 2010) Google Books →
  • King Asoka and Buddhism: Historical and Literary Studies
    Anuradha Seneviratna (ed.) (Buddhist Publication Society, 1994) Google Books →
  • The Legend of King Asoka: A Study and Translation of the Asokavadana
    John S. Strong (Princeton University Press, 1983) Google Books →

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Programme ID: b0511tm1

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Auto-category: 954.02 (History of ancient India to 647)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. In 1837, a young British administrator in Calcutta, James Princep, succeeded in deciphering a series of mysterious and ancient inscriptions.