Respect for the other

“…Whoever praises his own religion, due to excessive devotion, and condemns others with the thought “Let me glorify my own religion”, only harms his own religion. Therefore contact (between religions) is good. One should listen to and respect the doctrines professed by others. Beloved – of –the-Gods, King Piyadasi (Ashoka), desires that all should be well-learned in the good doctrines of other religions.”
(Ashoka, 304 B.C. – 232 B.C.)

It is part of an edict of the Indian emperor, Ashoka the Great, who lived in the end of the 4th century B.C. and the beginning of the 3rd century B.C. Ashoka represents the most powerful political personality in the history of India, since his empire after a number of military conquests came to represent the greatest part of present – day India as well as the geographical regions represented today by all of Pakistan, all of Afghanistan, as well as the eastern sections of Iran. The national emblem of Ashoka’s empire which is the “wheel of life” with its many spokes, represents today the national emblem of the modern nation state of India, while emperor Ashoka is the political leader who spread the Buddhist religion not only throughout India but also throughout central Asia. Having recognized the brutality of his imperialistic policies, Ashoka decided to embrace Buddhism and to create those socio-political and cultural preconditions for a more peaceful and humane imperial state.