Ashoka the Great was the younger son of Emperor Bindusara and grandson of the mighty Indian ruler King Chandragupta, founder of the great Mauryan Empire. Ashoka was a skilled hunter and renowned for his bravery and valor.
The Mauryan subjects were fond of Ashoka, and the king saw this as a good way to earn the people’s trust by appointing the young Ashoka as governor of the territory of Avanti. Ashoka also successfully stopped the uprising in the state of Taxila that threatened the Indian empire, a task that his elder brother Susheema failed to accomplish. So in 272 BC, when Bindusara died, the Mauryan Council bypassed the right of Susheema and crowned Ashoka as the new Mauryan king in 268 BC.
Ashoka’s reign was generally peaceful, until after eight years, when he pursued the conquest of the Indian kingdom of Kalinga, which remained the sole independent territory in India. He eventually won the war, after a bloody battle that thousands of people dead, bathing the battleground in blood and littering it with limbs of dead soldiers which were devoured by carnivorous birds. Elsewhere, a scene of nightmare dominated the plains. So big a tragedy for such a small kingdom, and so much suffering for so big a vanity in his heart to win.
Ashoka was downtrodden at the site of the spoils of war, and was said to have experienced terrible nightmares even when he was awake. Soon, the mighty ruler avowed never to go into war again. He sought to get his peace of mind back through a public declaration of remorse by creating the “Edicts of Ashoka,” a collection of inscriptions on temple columns and caves that proclaim Ashoka’s advocacy for Ahimsa (non-violence) and Dharma (peace), the basic tenets of the Buddhist religion.
The Kalinga War proved to be the first and last war that Ashoka The Great embarked on during his reign as Mauryan King.