Published: August 15th 2010August 15th 2010
Elephant in the rock
This relief is the top of a huge rock - underneath which is a wall with Ahoka's edicts. You can see them through glass and a grate (not really amenable to a photograph).
The monsoons have arrived and cooled things down - and on this particular Saturday they had abated and the sun shining and I thought - time to get out for a short little adventure. I chose the Dhauli Hill, 8 klms from Bhubaneswar (where I am living). It is a hill with vast open space adjoining it, and has major Edicts of Ashoka engraved on a mass of rock, by the side of the road leading to the summit of the hill.
The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars of Ashoka, as well as boulders and cave walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty during his reign from 269 BCE to 231 BCE. These inscriptions are dispersed throughout the areas of modern-day India, Nepal and Pakistan and represent the first tangible evidence of Buddhism. They proclaim Ashoka's beliefs in the Buddhist concept of dharma and his efforts to develop the dharma throughout his kingdom. Although Buddhism and the Buddha are mentioned, the edicts focus on social and moral precepts, rather than specific religious practices or the philosophical dimension of Buddhism.
Perhaps the most important of these sites is the the
Shanti (PEACE) Stupa
The Stupa viewed from Ashoka's edicts (on the left)
Dhauli Hill. It’s important because it marks Ashoka’s remorse for his conquest of the Kalingas around 264 BC - a bloody battle (one hundred and fifty thousand were deported, one hundred thousand were killed and many more died from other causes) that really turned Ashoka and led to his conversion to Buddhism. Dhauli Hill is presumed to be the area where Kalinga War was fought.
As with all the inscriptions, the ones at Dhauli revolve around a few recurring themes: Ashoka's conversion to Buddhism, the description of his efforts to spread Buddhism, his moral and religious precepts, and his social and animal welfare program.
Following his conversion, Ashoka traveled throughout India and visited sacred Buddhist locations, where he would typically erect a pillar bearing his inscriptions.
The Rock Edicts found here include Nos. I-X, XIV and two separate Kalinga Edicts. In Kalinga Edict VI, he expresses his concern for the "welfare of the whole world". The rock-cut elephant above the Edicts is the earliest Buddhist sculpture of Orissa. The stone elephant shows the animal foreparts only, though it has fine sense of form and movement. It has another significance, which is related to earth in form of
From the entrance courtyard
an elephant, and to that extent, the elephant probably represented the Buddha to devotees.
On the top of the hill is a white peace pagoda built in the 1970s by the Japan Buddha Sangha and the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha.
Close by I also happened upon a beautiful old Shiva temple - set in a veritable rainforest enclosue - a place where you could just sit and feel that you had really escaped from the noise and bustle and grime and heat of Bhubaneswar. So I did!
There are more photos below