1. State the concept of Dhamma advocated by Ashoka.
  2. Discuss with examples why his concept of Dhamma is relevant even today.
  3. Conclusion

After the war in Kalinga, Ashoka advocated a code of social ethics based on pillars of tolerance, liberalism and compassion, termed as ‘Ashoka’s Dhamma’. It was neither a new religion nor a new political philosophy. It was a way of life, a code of conduct and practically stood for absence of sin, good deeds, charity, donation, truthfulness and purity. It is basically a moral code to guide individual behaviour in society according to universal moral laws. This doctrine becomes essential, especially for public servants in a society mired with challenges such as inequalities, intolerance and various ethical-political dilemmas.

Present day relevance in the context of public life:

  • Secularism and tolerance: Ashoka’s dhamma explicitly mentions that ‘one shouldn’t extol one’s own sect or disparage those of others, as doing so will harm others’.
  • Duties of Public servant– Special officials were appointed for distribution of alms to all sects so that all thrive and co-exist. They also taught people about ethics and read out messages for people who could not read.
  • Foreign Policy and Soft Diplomacy: Internationally, his policy is also relevant in today’s approaches to soft diplomacy, as he sent messages to spread ideas about Dhamma to other countries.
  • Sustainable Development Goals: Invoking these ideas in present day governance and administration, will not only create social capital and harmony, but also enable India to achieve targets in Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Human face to administration: It advises public servant to be free from jealousy, anger, cruelty, hastiness, laziness and fatigue.
  • Environmental democracy and justice (Environmental Ethics): The idea planting of trees along the roads to provide shade; building of guest-houses for travellers and construction of several watering places lays the foundation of modern environmental ethics by highlighting the importance of nature for a sustainable life.

Therefore, Ashoka’s policy of Dhamma becomes imperative in present times as it always kept people above profits, focuses on moral duties and secular harmony among all.

Legacy Editor Changed status to publish October 14, 2022