Asoka and the Buddhist Faith Essay

Asoka and the Buddhist Faith Essay

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Asoka was the third ruler of the Mauryan Empire and is considered the greatest ruler of ancient India. Asoka not only unified India under one government, he also introduced the concept of conquest by moral force over violence. Furthermore, he is arguably one of the most important figures in the early development of Buddhism. It is because of Asoka’s royal patronage that Buddhism spread beyond India and became the world religion that it is today.
Buddhism is one of the oldest religions in the world, which began in India. The origin of Buddhism is traced back to the experience of single man, Siddhartha Gautama, later known as the Buddha. Born around 563 B.C.E., legend follows that Siddhartha was the son of a prince in a kingdom near the border of what is now India and Nepal. As such, he was sheltered from the world and lived a life of luxury and comfort. (Molloy 124) However, at age 29 Siddhartha left the royal grounds and witnessed the suffering of ordinary life for the first time. What he saw deeply affected him and caused him to question everything in his materialistic life. Siddhartha made the decision to give up his possessions and embark on a search for enlightenment, an event known as the Great Going Forth. (Molloy 125)
After many years of seeking answers to his questions, particularly about suffering and death, Siddhartha came to a revelation and decided to adopt a path of moderation known as the Middle path, which found ground somewhere in between self-indulgence and asceticism. According to legend, Siddhartha sat under what is known as the Bodhi Tree and meditated intensely until at last he achieved Enlightenment when he reached a state of profound understanding. From that point on he was known as the Buddha. (Molloy 127)...


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...ge parts of India, becoming the predominant faith for much of the population. (Allen 399)
Asoka did not force anyone to adopt Buddhism as his or her faith. Rather, he spread the principles in the hope that people would choose to follow them on their own and lead an ethical life. After Asoka’s death the Mauryan Empire gradually declined (Molloy 138). His Empire may not have survived, but Asoka is known today as one of the greatest rulers of ancient India and the most important figure in Buddhism after the Buddha himself. Buddhism may not be the dominant religion in India today, but there are millions of Buddhism followers worldwide today because of Asoka’s influence. If not for Asoka, Buddhism may have remained an entirely Indian religion. It is due to his influence that Buddhism is practiced worldwide today. His memory will always live on in the Buddhist community.

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