What do Asokan inscriptions tell about the Mauryas? Describe the limitations of the inscriptional evidence.
Ashoka was the first ruler who had inscribed his messages on stone surfaces- natural Rock and polished pillars. His inscription gives us the following detail about the Mauryan administration :
a. The name of Ashoka is not mentioned in any of these inscriptions. Instead the titles of Devanampiya- which means beloved of the court, and Piyadassi which means pleasant to behold, were mentioned.
b. He did not have any desire for Fame and Glory.
c. He propagated the concept of Dhamma.
d. It includes respecting the elders, treating slaves and servants kindly, respecting the brahmins and those who renounced the worldly life, and respecting religion and traditions which are different from their own.
The limitations of inscriptional evidence are:
a. Sometimes many important letters were damaged or missing in the inscription. This made the work for epigraphist very difficult.
b. The letters were very faintly engraved.
c. Many inscriptions were discovered but not all have been translated and published.
d. Most of the inscriptions were destroyed and we only have a fraction of them.
e. It is not always easy to be sure about the exact meaning of the words used in them. Some of them may be specific to a particular place or time.
f. Scholars are constantly debating the various ways to read it.
g. The context of the inscription only gave a view of the perspective of the person who commissioned it.
h. It did not give a clear view of the political and economically important facts of that duration. For example, the joy and sorrow of common people and the agricultural practices are not mentioned anywhere in these inscriptions.
i. History should not only tell us about the life of the kings and but also of the common people.