What is Ashoka’s Imperial code of conduct?

           Being a far-sighted ruler, Ashoka was aware that if good habits were to be inculcated in his subjects, he would have to interact with them at their mental level. He knew that high philosophical thoughts and teaching would not be effective, and so he formulated a ‘code of conduct’ for his subjects.

           This code of conduct was known as the ‘Dhamma’, and was very broadly based, so as to include people of all religious denominations. In this code, Ashoka instructed people to follow the path of the Dhamma by doing maximum work for noble causes. He also urged his subjects to observe virtues such as respect for elders, following a path of non violence, and being tolerant of other people’s beliefs and ideas. These rules were engraved on rocks and pillars erected throughout the country.

           Ashoka emphasized that evils as rage, cruelty, anger, pride and envy are to be avoided, and virtues like kindness, liberty, truthfulness, gentleness, self-control and purity of heart, were to be pursued vigorously. Ashoka established hospitals for humans and animals, and made liberal donations to the Brahmans and ascetics of different religious sects. He appointed special class of officials called dharama-hamatras whose sole responsibility was to propagate the Dhamma among the people. Ashoka also sent missions to foreign countries to propagate the Dhamma.