All humans are one family. All people are my children.
– Ashoka the Great, emperor during the Maurya Dynasty in India
After a terrible battle during which horrific things were done, Ashoka (304-232 BCE) felt great regret and remorse.
What have I done? he asked himself, as he viewed the death and destruction that surrounded him. It was a life-changing moment: He committed himself to Buddhism.
That led to his development of a plan for the brotherhood of man and world peace. Yes, way back then.And he was an early proponent of human and animal rights, making clear that all living things should be protected. He, like thinking people today, believed strongly that those who are cruel to animals will be cruel to people, too. So–he forbade the common religious practice of animal sacrifice. He was a man ahead of his time. Who thought deeply about his world and his deeds. And who followed his thoughts with words and most importantly, actions. How sad that in all those years, all those centuries, our world hasn’t changed very much, if at all.
How many generals of today walk around a battlefield with these thoughts? Probably too few. The death and destruction of war impacts virtually every nation, still today. People are still cruel to other living beings. And yet, so many centuries ago, an emperor in India saw the futility of violence and tried to make a better world.
Just another piece of evidence that India, in fact, created an “empire of the spirit.”*
We are deep in discussion and research for our next trip to India.
*From the PBS documentary, The Story of India