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Ashoka the Ungreat by [Mukhopadhyay, Subhodeep]
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Ashoka the Ungreat Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Length: 104 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English

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Ashoka Maurya. A great king. Master strategist. A legend. The inheritor of the greatest kingdom in Indian-subcontinent. One war, the bloody Kalinga War, however changes him forever. He makes a clean break with the past. Ashoka gives up Hinduism. He gives up war. He embraces Buddhism. He becomes a humanist. A messenger of peace and religious tolerance. This is what we are taught in schools and colleges. But how much of this is really true?

We worship Rama. We venerate Krishna. Our country is named after King Bharat. We recall Mandhatri when we talk of the old. We talk of Yudhistira's truthfulness. Bhima's strength. Arjuna's valor. Vikramaditya, Chandragupta, Raja Bhoja, Prithviraj Chauhan, Shivaji, Maharana Pratap, Guru Gobind Singh. They are our heroes. They are a part of our daily lives. Ashoka is not. We never talk about Ashoka conversationally. Our ancestors never talked about Ashoka. Ashoka was forgotten and unknown in India till the 19th century when the British popularized him. Later Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, eminent historians of Delhi, Shah Rukh Khan of Bollywood and others made him even more popular.

Subhodeep Mukhopadhyay delves into this Ashoka-industry and its massive propaganda. He undertakes a critical, unbiased and apolitical re-reading of Ashokan rock edicts, Buddhist sources like Ashokavadana and Mahavamsa and findings from latest cutting-edge research in Ashoka and Buddhist studies. He presents a radically different picture by joining the dots and taking all the available evidence to its logical conclusion. It becomes apparent that far from being an epitome of rationality and secularism, Ashoka was a ruthless tyrant and a religious fanatic, and much of what we know about him are mere fabrications.

This book is about the life and times of Ashoka the Ungreat.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1630 KB
  • Print Length: 104 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: The Tiny Man Publications (15 September 2016)
  • Sold by: Amazon Asia-Pacific Holdings Private Limited
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #13,325 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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I just finished reading Subhodeep's book "Ashoka, the (un)great". I must appreciate the extent of sources he has consulted in writing this book.

There is more (or, frankly, less) to Ashoka than what we are taught in schools: that he planted trees on either sides of roads and that he felt remorseful and took to Buddhism after waging a bloody war on Kalinga. If your​ history is a little more strong, you will remember that he sent his son Mahindra and daughter Sanghamitra to Ceylon to spread Buddhism.

As Subhodeep points out in this book, the evidence for all this is almost very meagre and all the evidences available contradict each other on almost every detail. The only thing on which they all agree upon is that there was a person called Ashoka who ruled from Pataliputra as his capital.

His famous rock edicts contradict the very few literary sources available on him and the absence of any Greek references about him (considering they wrote about his grandfather and father) is noteworthy.

The making of the "greatness" of Ashoka in the last two centuries, seems to be a historical hogwash and one may wonder if the reasons are also political.
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The book is a must read for all history enthusiasts, especially those interested in the history of Ashoka Maurya.

Ashoka, our textbooks say was a great emperor, who renounced war and adopted Buddhism after the Kalinga war. Our textbooks teach us how he was an embodiment of tolerance and secularism. Yet, the present author, convincingly demonstrates using primary and secondary sources that the image of Ashoka painted by the textbooks is just that: a fake painted image without basis in reality. The author narrates how Ashoka was a cruel missionary who did not hesitate to go any lengths to spread Buddhism, including killing monks of Jain and Ajivika order. The author also sheds light on the cruel and violent nature of many of Ashoka's actions.

In the words of author: "Ashoka the Great is therefore nothing but a political project... a weapon of mass distortion aimed at demeaning Dharma..."

A must read book for decolonizing our understanding of Ashoka.
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Writer has covered all topics and presented counter arguments and narrative using same material using which early historians have portrait Ashoka as Great, and proved that he is not as great as portrait but in contrary he was a missionary for Buddhism and use state as a tool to spread his ideology, and end up destrying a great Moryan Empire.
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