Ashoka the Great
My favourite hero in history is Ashoka the Great. Many kings have lived and ceased to be; nobody remembers them, but Ashoka’s name will live till the world lasts.
He was a kind ruler. All his time was spent in thinking of the welfare of his subjects. He himself attended to even the minute details of his administration. His one desire was to make his subjects happy. His subjects could meet him at any time and in any place. No place, not even his private place, was forbidden to them. He had trees planted on either side of the roads; he had wells dug by the road-side; he had rest-houses and hospitals built for both men and animals. He, therefore, came to be known as Ashoka the Great. He was a wise and righteous ruler and was truly called the Father of the People.
Ashoka waged only one war early in his reign. He saw the horror of it; he vowed never to go to war again. He said, “I have seen the horror of victory. I shall not draw the sword again, except to defend my country against invasion. My dreams are broken and dead, but today I begin a new dream. Instead of battle, I will give my people safety; instead of war, I will give them peace.” And he kept his vow. His reign was a reign of peace. He gave his people lasting peace and made such laws for them as were just, wide and fair.
Ashoka became a Buddhist and sent out bands of missionaries to all parts of the country to preach Buddhism. He is famous for the pillars he set up in all parts of his kingdom, inscribed with his edicts. His aim in life was to establish in the hearts of his people Dharma or Righteousness. The chief principles of this Dharma were reverence to superiors, including animals; and truthfulness in thought, word and deed. He banned the killing of animals altogether, for either sport or meat-eating.
Ashoka was more of a saint than of a ruler. He was a saint because his main desire was to make his subjects virtuous and noble, wise and good. He cared more for their souls than for their bodies.
What greater tribute can Free India pay to the memory of this great and good king than this, that the National Flag .