In Our Time

BBC Radio 4

Society & Culture, History

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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of ideas


Ashoka the Great

February 5th, 2015

Episode 430 of 515 episodes

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Indian Emperor Ashoka. Active in the 3rd century BC, Ashoka conquered almost all of the landmass covered by modern-day India, creating the largest empire South Asia had ever known. After his campaign of conquest he converted to Buddhism, and spread the religion throughout his domain. His edicts were inscribed on the sides of an extraordinary collection of stone pillars spread far and wide across his empire, many of which survive today. Our knowledge of ancient India and its chronology, and how this aligns with the history of Europe, is largely dependent on this important set of inscriptions, which were deciphered only in the nineteenth century. With: Jessica Frazier Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Kent and a Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies Naomi Appleton Chancellor's Fellow in Religious Studies at the University of Edinburgh Richard Gombrich Founder and Academic Director of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies and Emeritus Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford Producer: Thomas Morris.