The India Post, Chandigarh, 20th January, 2009 :The Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture & Archaeology, Panjab University, Chandigarh organized Professor Lakshman Sarup Memorial Lecture on the topic “Religious Policy of Asoka” which was delivered by Prof. K.K. Thaplyal, former Professor & Head, Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture & Archaeology, Lucknow University, Lucknow.
The lecture was chaired by Prof. O.P. Bharadwaj, Ex Veda Vyasa Professor of Indology. Thaplyal in his lucid talk distinguished between personal religion of Asoka and religion for the common people propagated by him. His talk was mainly based on the edicts issued by Asoka. Some of these inscriptions are addressed to the Buddhist Sangha and others to public. From these inscriptions we learn that personal religion of Asoka was Buddhism but he preached Dhamma for the general public. He adopted a cosmopolitan approach to religion. He lays down that people should be kind, truthful and pure. He refers to introspection, which helps one to improve oneself. One should be active, tender, do less sins and as much good as one can. One should avoid cruelty, anger, false pride and should never be envious. Asoka laid stress on social and economic values. He considers Dhammadana to be the best of all and in his views uniformity in ethical values should be primary. Prof. Thaplyal concluded that king Asoka tried to unify his kingdom not only politically but also culturally. His talk becomes very relevant in present scenario where violence and intolerance is rampant not only in India but in whole world.