King Ashoka

Ashoka Maurya (304 BCE - 232 BCE) commonly known as Ashoka and also as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 270 BCE to 230 BCE. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests. His empire stretched from the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan to present-day Bangladesh and the Indian state of Assam in the east, and as far south as northern Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.

In about 260 BCE Ashoka waged a bitterly destructive war against the states of Kalinga (modern Orissa). He conquered Kalinga, which none of his ancestors starting from Chandragupta Maurya had conquered. His reign was headquartered in Magadha (present-day Bihar). He supposedly embraced Buddhism after witnessing the mass deaths of the Kalinga War, which he himself had waged out of a desire for conquest.
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watering the Ashoka
tree at twilight, devotees
honouring Kama...

- Shared by Brinda Buljore -
Haiku Culture Magazine, 2013

Saraca asoca (the Ashoka tree; lit., "sorrow-less")
is a plant belonging to the Caesalpiniaceae subfamily of the legume family. It is an important tree in the cultural traditions of the Indian Subcontinent and adjacent areas.

The ashoka tree is considered sacred throughout the Indian subcontinent, especially in India and Sri Lanka. This tree has many folklorical, religious and literary associations in the region. Highly valued as well for its handsome appearance and the color and abundance of its flowers, the ashoka tree is often found in royal palace compounds and gardens as well as close to temples throughout India.

The ashoka tree is closely associated with the Yakshi mythological beings. One of the recurring elements in Indian art, often found at gates of Buddhist and Hindu temples, is the sculpture of a Yakshi with her foot on the trunk and her hands holding the branch of a flowering ashoka tree. As an artistic element, often the tree and the Yakshi are subject to heavy stylization. Some authors hold that the young girl at the foot of this tree is based on an ancient tree deity related to fertility.

Yakshis under the ashoka tree, were also important in early Buddhist monuments as a decorative element and are found in many ancient Buddhist archaeological sites. With the passing of the centuries the yakshi under the ashoka tree became a standard decorative element of Hindu Indian sculpture and was integrated into Indian temple architecture as salabhanjika, because there is often a confusion between the ashoka tree and the sal tree (Shorea robusta) in the ancient literature of the Indian Subcontinent.
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Kāmadeva, Kamadeva (Sanskrit in Devanagari: कामदेव)
is the Hindu god of human love or desire. Other names for him include; Manmadhudu (Telugu: మన్మధుడు) Atanu (one without a body), Ragavrinta (stalk of passion), Ananga (incorporeal), Kandarpa ("inflamer even of a god"), "Manmatha" मन्मथ Manmadha (churner of hearts), Manasija (he who is born of mind, a contraction of the Sanskrit phrase Sah Manasah jāta), Madana (intoxicating), Ratikānta (lord of Rati), Pushpavān, Pushpadhanva" Kusuma shara कुसुमशर (one with arrow of flowers) or just Kāma ("longing"). Kamadeva, is son of Hindu goddess Sri and, additionally, Pradyumna, Krishna’s son is considered as incarnation of Kamadeva.
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Seal of the Fifth Dalai Lama, a gift of the Chinese Emperor

This seal with a dragon-shaped handle is inscribed in the three official languages of the Qing dynasty - Chinese, Manchu and Tibetan.

It reads:
"Seal of the Dalai Lama, Buddha of Great Compassion in the West, leader of the Buddhist faith beneath the sky, holder of the vajra."

The Chinese script is a standard official version of Small Seal Script, codified from the calligraphy of China's early history when writing was done with a stylus rather than a brush. Manchu script is derived from Mongol and ultimately from Uighur script, and Tibetan from the ancient Indian Brahmi script used by
Emperor Ashoka, the first great Dharmaraja patron of Buddhism in India.

The seal was made for the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617-1682), a political genius and great religious scholar, who changed the face of east and central Asia, and who is generally referred to as 'The Great Fifth.'

Allied with the Mongol Gushri Khan, the Fifth Dalai Lama brought the various Tibetan clans and religious orders into a semblance of national unity by the middle of the 17th century. He also earned the devotion of the Mongol nobility, who flooded Lhasa with gifts, which he used to enrich his country with great works of art, monasteries, and public buildings. He chose Lhasa as his capital, transforming it into a cosmopolitan city. He ordered the construction of his seat of government, the Potala Palace, to be built on Red Hill, where the palaces of earlier Tibetan Kings once stood, consciously reclaiming ancient glories.
(Text courtesy of the Rubin Museum of Art, June 2005).

Himalayan Art
source : 2006 Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation.




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