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Aśoka and the Decline of the Mauryas$
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Romila Thapar

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780198077244

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198077244.001.0001

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The Policy of Dhamma

The Policy of Dhamma

(p.173) Chapter V The Policy of Dhamma
Aśoka and the Decline of the Mauryas

Romila Thapar

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates why Aśoka Maurya adopted the policy of Dhamma and the purpose it served. It considers the immediate background of the Mauryas, the development of Buddhism at this period, and the relationship between Buddhism and the ideas of Aśoka. It explains that the concept of Dharma used in the sense of Law and Social Order was by no means new to Mauryan India and that Aśoka, with the adoption of Dhamma, made an attempt to humanise it and show that in fact what mattered most was virtuous behaviour. It also argues that in the propagation of his Dhamma Aśoka was attempting to reform the narrow attitude of religious teaching and to promote throughout the empire a consciousness of social behaviour so broad in its scope, that no cultural group could object to it.

Keywords:   Dhamma, Buddhism, Dharma, law, social order, virtuous behaviour, religious teaching, social behaviour, cultural group

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