by Anuradha Seneviratna
King Asoka, the third monarch of the Mauryan dynasty in the third century B.C., was the first ruler of a unified India and one of the greatest political figures of all time. After he embraced the teachings of the Buddha, he transformed his polity from one of military conquest to one of Dharmavijaya — victory by righteousness and truth. By providing royal patronage for the propagation of Buddhism both within and beyond his empire, he helped promote the metamorphosis of Buddhism into a world religion that spread peacefully across the face of Asia. This collection of essays by leading Indological scholars draws upon both the inscriptions and the literary traditions to explore the relationship between King Asoka and the religion he embraced. In highlighting the ways in which Asoka tapped the ethical and spiritual potentials of rulership.