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Asian Kingships Comparison

Emperor Ashoka, Beloved of the Gods

Ashoka was the grandson of Chandragupta, the greatest Indian ruler ever. He came to power around 269BC, spending most of the time during his rule expanding the empire to the south. Ashoka’s name was inscribed on rocks and pillars already erected within his empire. Campaigns against Kalingas of Orissa and the Northern Deccan plateau became a turning point of his rule after seeing the outcomes brought by his greed for power and more territory where many people were killed. After the campaigns, he was converted to Buddha’s teachings and promised to spend the rest of his life spreading noble truths. Ashoka felt the need to proliferate Buddhism and act as an example of righteousness in power which could change others to follow it and encourage nonviolence. He also urged pilgrimages to practice vegetarianism instead of hunting. However, army law courts and disciplinary systems were maintained throughout his rule, including prosecution for major offenses. Ashoka’s reign was remarkable for his humanity and leadership qualities.

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Akbar the Man

Akbar believed in God as the ‘giver of life’ and adored nature. He loved taking care of gardens and had seen nearly all Mughal buildings, tombs, and palaces with flowering trees for shade. Akbar spent most of his time working in the imperial gardens. He also liked spending time with the Portuguese and Hindus, discussing philosophy and religion, where he participated in translating the Christian gospel into Persian. However, he rejected the dogma of Islam as the only true religion but accepted other religions in creation. Although Akbar was a religious person, in 1581, he moved from Islam doctrines, shocking Muslim leaders, and provoking revolt against himself. He forbade the slaughtering of cattle against Hindu values and became a vegetarian.

Hongwu: The Rebel Emperor

Zhu Yuanzhang, better known as Hongwu, was the first successful rebel leader in the Ming dynasty. Hongwu means great military power with the official dynastic title Ming Taizu. He came from a humble background born in 1328 and joined a Buddhist monastery in his early life, where he received his education. At age 25, he joined a rebel group and later ascended to power as an emperor.

As an emperor, he was a persistent worker concerned with his administration; although he had few close friends, his decisions were considered final and dictatorial. In most cases, he ordered punishment and torture for those suspected of disloyalty or any other offenses: and the form of punishment included public beating. Zhu Yuanzhang is said to have borrowed this idea from Mongol practices. Trusting nobody, he abolished the imperial secretariat position in 1380, which was a central administrative organ in the past rule. He further reorganized his army as per the new system and placed it in strategic locations across the empire.

Similarities and Differences

Regarding similarities, Ashoka, Akbar, and Hongwu had a religious background, which they practiced and embraced during their reign. For example, both Hongwu and Ashoka were Buddhist, while Akbar participated in translating the Christian gospel into Persian and attended mass. Ashoka and Akbar, in the nature of their religious lives, both became vegetarians. And lastly, concerning their differences, Hongwu was brutal in his leadership and demanded total loyalty as compared to the human nature of Ashoka, who advocated for nonviolence. Akbar was an environmentalist and adored nature while Ashoka spent most of his time inscribing his name on pillars and rocks.

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