"All men are my children. I am like a father to them. As every father desires the good and the happiness of his children, I wish that all men should be happy always."These are the words of an emperor who lived two thousand and three hundred years ago.
We see in history how even mere chieftains grew arrogant and used their powers selfishly and unjustly. But the emperor who said the above words ruled over the greater part of India. He had the power of life and death over millions of his subjects.
Is it surprising that free India remembers him with admiration?

This emperor was Ashoka (also called ‘Devanampriya Priyadarshi’). The wheel in the abacus of the pillar which he erected as a memorial at Saranath now adorns the national flag of free India.

Who was ‘Priyadarshi’?
The rock inscription of Devanampriya Priyadarshi were being discovered all over India for centuries. But for a long time the identity of this ‘Devanampriya Priyadarshi’ remained a puzzie.

One day in the year 1915 near a village called Maski in Raichur District of Karnataka, a rock inscription was discovered on a hill. In this inscription for the first time the name of Ashoka was found with titles like Devanampriya and Priyadarshi. It was then certain that Devanampriya Priyadarshi was no othe than Ashoka.

The Mauryan Emperor, whose name shone like a very bright star in the history of the world, and whom the world honors and lovers ven two thousand years after his death.

Ashoka was the grandson ofChandragupta Maurya. Chandragupta was the first ruler of the Mauryan Empire. He ruled for about twentyfour years, and then, seeking peace of mind, handed over the reigns of his empire to his son, Bindusara. This Bindusara was the father of Ashoka.Subhadrangi was the mother of Ashoka. She was the daughter of a poor man of Champakanagar.
As a boy Ashoka was not only active also mischievous. He was a skilful hunter. From the time of Chandragupta Maurya the hunting expedition of the Emperor and the royal family was a splendid sight.
Ashoka was not handsome. But no prince excelled him in valour, courage, dignity, love of adventure and ability in administration. Therefore even as a prince Ashoka was loved and respected by his subjects and by his ministers. Bindusara siscovered the ability of his son quire early and, when Ashoka was still young, appointed him Governor of Avanti.

Ujjain was the capital of Avanti. It was a beautiful city, and the home of knowledge, wealth and art. Within a few days of taking over the administration of Avanti, Ashoka became an excellent statesman. I t was when he was in this city tha he married Shakya Kumari, the beautiful daughter of a merchant of Vidishanagar. She gave birth to two children, mahendra and Sanghamitra.

Ashoka’s volour, courage and wisdom were soon tested. The citizens of Taxila rose in revolt against the rule of Magadha. Bindusara’s eldest son, Susheema (also called could not put down the rebellion. Bindusara sent Ashoka to suppress the revolt. Ashoka to suppress the revolt. Ashoka did not have enough forces but yet moved towards the city boldly.

A suprising thing happened. The citizens of Taxila never thought of fighting against Ashoka. They gave him a grand welcome.

They pleaded, "We do not hate either Bindusara or the royal family. The wicked ministers are responsible for our revolt. We misunderstood you because of their evil advice. We are not rebels. Please forgive us."

Ashoka understood the real situation and punished those responsible for the revolt. He stayed there for some days and gave the people some advice in simple and beautiful words. When complete peace had been established in the city, Ashoka returned to his province.

Days and years passed.

Bindusara grew old. His body became weak. His health decllined.

Among his ministers one minister by name Radhagupta was prominent. He and the others began to think about the future welfare of the empire.

Bindusara’s eldest son was Susheema. According to custom he should have succeeded to the throne.

But the rovolt of Taxila had exposed his weakness.

Besides, he had begun to behave with insolence.

The council of ministers felt that the empire would suffer and lose peace, and prosperity and that thee would be no justice in the land if Susheema was