I’m working on a history writing question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.
What does this excerpt tell you about the tenets of Buddhism? Does it surprise you that these edicts are considered documents in the history of social welfare? Why? (200 words)
Asoka, The Rock Edicts (257BC)
THUS saith His Sacred Majesty: — For more than two-and-a-half years I was a lay
disciple, without, however, exerting myself strenuously. But it is more than a year
since I joined the Order, and have exerted myself strenuously. During that time the
gods who were regarded as true all over India have been shown to be untrue. For
this is the fruit of exertion. Nor is this to be attained by a great man only, because
even by the small man who chooses to exert himself immense heavenly bliss may
Thus saith His Sacred Majesty: — Father and mother must be hearkened to;
similarly, respect for living creatures must be firmly established; truth must be
spoken. These are the virtues of the Law of Piety which must be practiced.
Similarly, the teacher must be reverenced by the pupil, and towards relations fitting
courtesy must be shown.
This pious edict has been written by command of His Sacred and Gracious Majesty
the King. Here in the capital no animal may be slaughtered for sacrifice, nor may
the holiday-feast be held, because His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King sees
much offense in the holiday-feast, although in certain places holiday-feasts are
excellent in the sight of His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King.
Thus says His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King: —For a long time past it has
not happened that business has been dispatched and that reports have been received
at all hours. Now by me this arrangement has been made that at all hours and in all
places—whether I am dining, or in the ladies’ apartments, in my bedroom, or in my
closet, in my carriage, or in the palace gardens—the official Reporters should report
to me on the people’s business, and I am ready to do the people’s business in all
places. And if, perchance, I personally by word of mouth command that a gift be
made or an order executed, or anything urgent is intrusted to the superior officials,
and in that business a dispute arises or a fraud occurs among the monastic
community, I have commanded that immediate report must be made to me at any
hour and in any place, because I never feel full satisfaction in my efforts and
dispatch of business.
Source: Eva March Tappan, ed., The World’s Story: A History of the World in Story, Song and Art, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1914).
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