Ashoka period : rewritten history

Romila Thapar, noted historian, in her book ‘History of India’, notes: “Until about a hundred years ago, Ashoka was merely one of the many kings mentioned in the Mauryan dynastic list included in the Puranas. But in 1837, James Princep deciphered an inscription written in the earliest known Indian script, Brahmi. The inscription referred to a king called Devanampiya Piyadassi (the beloved of the gods, Piyadassi). The mysterious king Piyadassi remained a puzzle, since the name did not tally with any mentioned in the sources. Some years later the Buddhist chronicles of Ceylon were examined and were found to refer to a great and benevolent Mauryan king as Piyadassi. Slowly the clues were put together and seemed to make sense, but the final confirmation came in 1915 with the discovery of another inscription in which the author calls himself King Ashoka, Piyadassi. It was evident that Piyadassi was a second name used by Ashoka.”

The edicts and inscriptions of Ashoka located in various parts of his empire acquaint not only with the personality of the king but also with the events of his reign.