, one of the greatest rulers of India, was the most famous of the Mauryas who ruled over North India. He reigned from 273 to 232 BC. Ashoka extended the Maurya Empire to the whole of India except far South and the south-east, reaching even into Central Asia. He conducted several military campaigns to expand his empire. His last major campaign was fought for the conquest of the Kingdom of Kalinga (in Orissa
) in 261 BC.
Ashoka succeeded in conquering Kalinga after a long and brutal war. The war took a toll of 100,000 men. 150,000 men were injured and thousands were captured and retained as slaves. The battle field of horrific bloodshed profoundly affected Ashoka. The Kalinga war was a turning point in his life. Deeply distressed, he gave up war and sought peace in Buddhist teachings of love and non-violence. He gave up hunting and slaughtering of animals. Ashoka shunned violence of every kind and adviced his subjects to do the same.
Ashoka actively promoted
Buddhism. Under his reign Buddhism spread to Syria, Egypt, Macedonia, Central Asia and Burma (now Myanmar). Ashoka inscribed official orders on rocks and pillars at various places to spread the message of love and peace in his effort to spread Buddhism.