Noble Eightfold Path

(ca. 528 BCE)


One specific impact of the Pali canon in general and the Noble Eightfold Path in particular had to do with Ashoka, one of the greatest rulers in Indian history, who reigned from 269 to 232 BCE. Ashoka was a member of the Maurya Dynasty, and he was largely responsible for uniting the numerous provinces of the Indian Subcontinent, including the regions of modern-day Bangladesh and Pakistan, into a coherent state. Having expanded the territory of his empire for several years, he turned his attention to the kingdom of Kalinga, located on the eastern coast of present-day India (corresponding roughly to today’s Orissa). A key event in his reign was the Battle of Kalinga, fought in 261 BCE, which resulted in a victory for Ashoka’s forces. But the death of about one hundred thousand people, the imprisonment of one hundred and fifty thousand, the displacement of many more, and the large-scale devastation resulting from the war moved Ashoka very much, and according to Buddhist...

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Buddha (Yale University Art Gallery)

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