The question arises; why on earth did we create such a great story about Asoka. If we look at the Indian tradition, Asoka is not considered a great king. In fact, he was forgotten as he truly deserved. The British discovered Asoka in the 19th century by deciphering some of the Brahmni scripts and saw that he existed at some point. The British began to dig out the fact that Asoka existed, but his elevation to being the greatest is even more recent, as he started becoming prominent in historical literature in the 1920’s and 30s. It turns out that his elevation is directly related to the Nehruvian Socialism. In that era, it was becoming more and more clearer that in no time, India would become a free country. The younger generation of politicians which were coming up at the time needed a lineage for their ideological viewpoint. Essentially the place that one would look for a lineage would be the Arthashastra and there lied the problem. The Arthashastra is entirely inconvenient for someone looking to promote Socialism. Here I should also point out that those people who think that this is the Machiavelli of India, have got it wrong too, as the Arthashastra is nothing like the latter. It is a very well written text about how to run an empire once you have created it, and it was the work of a person who created one of the world’s greatest empires. Comparing the creator of the world’s most magnificent empire, which Chanakya was, to a small time political advisor is a useless exercise. Although there are some small sections on internal security and spies etc, the Arthashastra is also not about these things, it essentially talks about rules of law, taxation and other issues related to, how to run a kingdom. But the principles on which it is based is what I would a call a strong but a limited state. The Chanakyan state concerned itself with activities like defense, internal security, infrastructure and municipal order, coinage, taxation, and some very broad, big picture things. It was clearly not a Welfare State. In fact, Chanakya very clearly says that the state should not interfere in the life of the citizens and let them be happy with whatever they chose to do within their confines. He was particularly against prohibitions on the citizens as long as people are enjoying themselves and not interfering in public order. In areas where state should be paramount, Chankya had no sense of humour but beyond these particular areas, a state should not expand itself. So Chanakyan state was clearly not about interfering in people’s life, nor was it a welfare state. In such a state, the state would interfere if there was a calamity. When Nehru and his aides found this as an inconvenient fact, they began to look through the Indian history and find someone who shared their world view and that is when they came across Asoka’s inscriptions in which he continuously talks about how to interfere in people’s lives. In fact, he creates an entire cadre of people called the Dharma Mahamantra, what we today may call a religious police. These people would instruct the citizens on things which were prohibited on different days of the week. These instructions by Asoka were a reflection of micromanagement to the extent of running the state as a Nanny State. If one happens to be a Fabian Socialist, this would seem like a wonderful idea to them. His character was taken out from the history and dust him off, hide all the massacres he did, and he was presented as Asoka the great. This is the history of Asoka, a completely fabricated story which was pulled out of the annuls of history by the British for their own purposes, and then pushed him up by the Nehruvian Socialists who pushed him up to be this great king because it essentially suited their story and then whitewashed everything around him. The point of sharing all this is to state that most of our history is bunkum.

Now that we have determined this, we have to go about trying to correct our history. We must take the journey to dig up our own history and start telling it from our own perspective, because if we don’t do this now, it will be done for us by others who will have their own agenda. Fortunately, we live in a day and age where travel is easier, we have more access to books, so it is not that easy to fool everybody all the time. Therefore you and I have our work cut out for us and we must get about exploring and sharing our true history, for the benefit of our own as well as the future generations

For Part 1 of this article,  please visit