Aśoka’s dharma policy: The status of early Buddhism and its relationship with other Indian traditions
Nguyen Thi Hue
King Aśoka of the Maurya period (321-185 BCE) is considered a Great Emperor of India. He is the first man in the history that unified the Indian subcontinent. Despite of academic controversies as to whether the King is “really a Buddhist,” for Buddhist history, Aśoka is “a Buddhist” who has great merit in the development and propagation of Buddhism.
He zealously supports the Sangha and have the missionaries sent to the different parts of the Indian subcontinent and outside. With his patronage, Buddhism has become a religion of the world from the third century BCE. During his reign, Buddhism attained the brightest point in Indian religious history. It became the national religion when Aśoka was applying ethical principles of Buddha’s teaching to rule his subjects in a practical way.
With such primary points, the article aims to critically understand the status of Buddhism in the Maurya dynasty with special attention on analyzing the Dharma policy of the King. This hopes to shed some light on the question of how Buddhism, a religion of the “other world,” is able to convey its spiritual messages to this world of conflict and disharmony.