Also known as: Ashoka
fl. 250 BCE
Mauryan King of India. After a conventional, ruthless, and successful military career dedicated to the pursuit of power and conquest, Asoka unexpectedly changed course. He converted to Buddhism and dedicated the rest of his life to useful public works and especially to the propagation of principles of non-violence, toleration, kindness (especially to slaves and inferiors), generosity, and charity collectively referred to as dhamma.
Asoka's new philosophy was circulated throughout the kingdom as a series of Edicts which were inscribed on large granite stones, some of which have survived.