Ashoka Maurya commonly known as Ashoka and also as Ashoka the Great was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost the entire Indian subcontinent from the circa 269 BCE to 232 BCE, grandson of Chandragupta. One of the India’s greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over the realm that stretched from the Hindu Kush Mountains in the west of Bengal in the East and covered the entire Indian subcontinent except parts of the present day Tamil Nadu and Kerela. The empire’s capital was the Pataliputra (in Magadha, present day-Bihar), with the provincial capitals at Taxila and Ujjain.
In about 260 BCE Ashoka waged a bitterly destructive war against the state of Kalinga. He conquered Kalinga, which none of his ancestors had done. He embraced Buddhism after witnessing the mass deaths of the Kalinga war, which he himself had waged out of the desire for the conquest.
He reflected on the war in Kalinga, which reportedly had resulted in more than 100,000 deaths and 150,000 deportations. Ashoka converted gradually to Buddhism beginning about the 263 BCE.
Ashoka is also referred to as Samraat Chakravartin Ashoka – the “Emperors Ashoka”.
Ashoka ruled for an estimated forty years. Legend states that during his cremation, his body burned for seven days and nights. After, the death of Ashoka, the Mauryan dynasty lasted just 50 more years until his empire stretched over almost the entire Indian subcontinent.
In the year 185 BCE, about 50 years after Ashoka’s death, the last Maurya ruler, Brihadratha, was assassinated by the commander-in- chief of the Mauryan armed forces, Pushyamitra Shunga, while he was taking the Guard of Honour his forces. Pushyamitra Shunga founded the Shunga dynasty (185 BCE-75 BCE) and ruled just the fragmented part of the Mauryan Empire. Many of the north-western territories of the Mauryan Empire became the Indo-Greek Kingdom.
King Ashoka, the 3rd monarch of the Indian Mauryan dynasty, is also considered as one of the most exemplary ruler ever lived.