• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Critically examine the contributions which Ashoka made to the early development of Buddhism.

Extracts from this document...


(a) Critically examine the contributions which Ashoka made to the early development of Buddhism. At the beginning of Ashoka's reign (c.269 BCE) Buddhism had been in existence and expansion for about two hundred years. The Second Council had already occurred by that time, and there were disagreements over the Vinaya (rules for the monks). Buddhism had only spread throughout North India and was widely seen as a religion for monks, which was supported by the lay people (those who were not monks). Ashoka's grandfather, Chandragupta, had created the Mauryan Dynasty, which extended the Kingdom of Magadha to cover the whole of Northern India. Since Ashoka's father, Bindusara, was a powerful monarch, Ashoka would have been educated and trained in the Brahminical religion and brought up to be a militaristic ruler. The Brahminical concept of kingship involves conquest and enlargement of land ownership, which is greatly different to the Buddhist promotion of peace. Ashoka was very much a typical Brahminical king, and was said in the Buddhist Chronicles to have been a bloodthirsty monarch. He expanded his empire through many battles; his last was the conquest of Kalinga which created much unnecessary carnage. ...read more.


Edicts helped Buddhism to spread throughout his empire, but Ashoka sent missionaries to nearby countries in the hope that the religion would spread even further. His missionaries are probably the main reason that the faith was spread into Southeast Asia and his own son, Mahinda, travelled to what is now Sri Lanka and developed the religion there. Ashoka not only spread the religion but also spread its reputation and made it known to be a peaceful and accepting religion. He encouraged people to accept other's religions and also promoted non-violence. However the spread of the policies of peace may be responsible for the collapse of the Mauryan Dynasty. Ashoka was no longer interested in conquering to develop his kingdom, but was only concerned with the spread of Buddhism and others may have taken advantage of his peaceful nature, leading to the downfall of the empire his father and grandfather had built. Ashoka made great contributions to the early development relating to the Sangha. He saw it as his duty to support the Sangha, while also nurturing all religious traditions in his realm. He strengthened the monastic community by giving land, food and money to the Buddhist Sangha; the pillar edicts also mention gifts to the Sangha. ...read more.


He emphasised the way people should be acting, for example not harming living things. He led by example, a few of the many things he did include not eating meat, not committing animal sacrifices and replacing the royal hunt with the royal pilgrimage. As well as pilgrimages, worship was also encouraged by Ashoka by the building of many Stupas containing relics of the Buddha. These became local centres of worship and encouraged devotion to the Buddha. People could also use these centres as places where they can meditate while using statues of the Buddha to guide them. Ashoka promoted Buddhism as a peaceful religion. He emphasised the fact that it accepts all other religions which led to Buddhism being known as a tolerant and non-violent religion. This probably increased people's desire to join the faith. Although many positive things came out of Ashoka's promotion of Buddhism, there are also some negative points which must be taken into consideration. Ashoka interpreted the Dharma broadly in order to make it accessible to everyone. This meant that some distinct teachings were 'watered down'. His main emphasis was on maintaining good ethics in order to ensure that you will have a good rebirth, meditation was not stressed as a means of gaining higher states of consciousness to eventually attain enlightenment. Penny Williams 13S ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Buddhism section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Buddhism essays

  1. In what ways and to what extent did the European Enlightenment challenge established sources ...

    Bacon provided a model and believed that knowledge should be useful and science should be practical. Eventually people started to believe that they were cleverer than their ancestors and maybe modern knowledge was more advanced. By the middle of the 18th Century religious interpretation of the universe had changed dramatically.

  2. Today is a result of yesterday, tomorrow is a result of today.(TM) To what ...

    Acting morally means acting right at this very moment. Acting right at this moment is the only true morality. It can be discussed right and wrong as abstract concepts, but those abstractions are always detached from the real situation in front of a Buddhist now, and so they are partial

  1. Emergence Of The Buddha

    The origins of Buddhism are closely connected with the origins of Hinduism. Buddhists don't believe in a God they just worship the highest in the caste system, the Brahmin. The Buddha is a highly respected person in the Buddhists Society. Buddhism is an amalgamation, an adaptation of Religions over time.

  2. A discussion of the Buddhist beliefs about Buddha and Christian beliefs about Christ

    Jesus speaks positively about not seeking happiness in transient material goods and to have unselfish kindness to all, but for different reasons. He said about material objects, "Do not save riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal.

  1. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

    Hinduism is a very complex and thought out religion that essentially gives an answer for any question that you might have about your life. With each answer Hinduism gives a reason and a possibility of strengthening your understanding of the answer.

  2. Buddhism - Select, describe and explain the events in the life of Siddhartha Gautama ...

    The fourth is patience, being thoughtful to other people. The fifth is meditation, which helps Buddhists keep calm. The sixth Paramitas is wisdom, the way of finding the truth. Buddhists have upaya kausala or skilful means. This means they try to see what is the right thing to do in a situation.

  1. Buddhism is one of the biggest religions founded in India in the 6th and ...

    This man had nothing, yet he had obtained happiness. This made Siddhartha realize the vanity of earthly pleasures. That very night Siddhartha did the unthinkable. At the age of 29, although married with a beautiful young son as well as heir to a very rich throne, he forsook it all,

  2. Select, describe and explain the events in the life of Siddhartha Gantama which illustrate ...

    I undertake to refrain from taking what is not given 3. I undertake to refrain from the misuse of the senses 4. I undertake to refrain from wrong speech 5. I undertake to refrain from taking intoxicants which cloud the mind If Buddhists do not abide by these they will

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work