Several rock edicts were discovered with the name Devanam piyadasi (meaning, Beloved servant of the God) and these edicts were scattered across the present-day Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. The identity of Devanam piyadasi was a mystery till 1915 when a British gold-mining engineer discovered an edict in Maski. In this edict, the name Ashoka is clearly mentioned beside the pseudonym Devanam piyadasi. This confirmed for the first time, that all the previously found edicts belonged to Ashoka and cleared the mystery around Devanam piyadasi. Much later, another edict was found in Gujarra village, Datia district, Madhya Pradesh. This edict also contains text similar to that of the Ashokan edict found in Maski.
During our Raichur trip, we noticed that this is the only place that was being protected very well. There is a guard on duty to ensure that miscreants do not vandalize the precious edict. The guard was very knowledgeable and shared a lot of information. A museum is under construction near the rock edict. The guard said that the idea is to exhibit the antiquities excavated near Maski.
Script on the edict is written in the Prakrit language and Bramhi script. The first line contains the name Devanam piyadasi Ashoka.
I was out of words when I came to know that Ashoka, at the peak of the Mauryan empire, ruled an empire that comprises of present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, some parts of Iran, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and most of India. Much of these conquests were made by his grandfather, Chandragupta. Ashoka took the Mauryan empire to its pinnacle. I can’t help but wonder how he ruled such a vast empire with such varied people during a time when there were no phones or cars for more than 35 years, peacefully!
Do visit this unique edict that survived for 2200 years.
How to reach: Maski is a 2 hour drive from Raichur. There are also frequent buses from Raichur.