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Emperor Asoka

A Short Story for Children - By Prema Sastri

A boy stood in a forest, with a wooden branch in his hand.  Before him was a springing tiger.  The boy hit the tiger on the head and killed it.  A few days later a war elephant crossed his path.  This time the boy had a knife with him.  He sliced the elephant’s throat. In time, he came to be known as the heartless king.

The youth was not immune to affairs of the heart.  He was hiding in Kalinga from his brother Susima.  He saw a dusky fisher woman, Karubahi, and later made her his queen.  At the battle of Ujjain,which was instigated by his brother, he was injured.  He was nursed back to health by Buddhist monks, who gave him Devi as a personal nurse.  The youth was enamoured of her, became a Buddhist and made her his queen.  Sad to say the queen was later murdered by his brother’s hired assassin.

The careless, cruel young man became Asoka the Great.  Devanamapriya, or Beloved of The Gods was one of his many names.  The Asoka Chakra which he had designed adorns the centre of the Indian nation flag.  The pillar with four lions which he built in Sarnath is the national emblem.  Asoka became the model of a powerful, yet benevolent king.

It happened at Kalinga.  Asoka son of Bindusara and grandson of Chandragupta had been nominated king by his father.  
He inherited a vast empire.  Only Kalinga dared to withstand him.  Asoka marched on Kalinga with a huge army.  More than 
a hundred thousand men fought on either side.  There was a terrible conflict.  Asoka won the war.  He lost his pride and blood-thirsty nature.

At night he inspected the battlefield.  All around him were dead warriors.  Their widows wept and cursed Asoka.  Horses neighed in torture with broken limbs.  The field was covered with blood.  Asoka went down on bended knee.  He added his cry to those around him. “What have I done?” 

The king rode back a changed man.  He gave up war and embarked on a programme of peace.  He constructed hospitals and rest houses.  He banned animal slaughter, protected wild life and even built hospitals for animals.  He sponsored centres for learning and gave equal honour to all religions, though he himself was a Buddhist. We have come to know about his magnificent work through rock inscriptions or edicts which have been found  in regions as far apart as Afghanistan to Raichur.

The elderly king looked round his bedchamber.  He was alone.  His sons were abroad, propagating Buddhism.  His grandsons were quarrelling over the succession.  His queen Trishya had plotted against him.  All his life he had regarded his subjects as his children.  Now there was no one to serve him.  He crept away to become a Buddhist monk.  Asoka died at the age of seventy two. His ideals  of love and service still shine on the Indian flag, and in the hearts of her people.   

Hope you enjoyed reading Emperor Asoka Short Story .