Rock edicts of Khalsi

Coordinates: 30°31′05″N 77°50′54″E / 30.5180°N 77.8482°E / 30.5180; 77.8482

The Rock edicts of Khalsi, also Kalsi, are a group of an Indian rock inscriptions written by the Indian Emperor Ashoka around 250 BCE. They contains some of the most important of the Edicts of Ashoka. The inscription in Khalsi contains all the Major Rock Edicts, from 1 to 14. They were discovered in Khalsi, a village in Uttarakhand, northern India, by Alexander Cunningham about 1850.

Rock edicts of Khalsi
Rock edicts of Khalsi (Edicts N°1 to 12 and beginning of Edit N°13 of Ashoka on the main face of Khalsi rock).
WritingPrakrit in Brahmi script
Createdcirca 250 BCE
Period/cultureMaurya Empire
Present locationKhalsi, Dehradun District, Uttarakhand, India
Khalsi is located in South Asia
Khalsi (South Asia)
Edict No13 of Ashoka, Khalsi inscription, with the identification of Hellenistic kings Antiochos II, Ptolemy II, Antigonos II Gonatas, Magas of Cyrene and Alexander II of Epirus[1]
The Khalsi inscription is one of many Edicts of Ashoka, which ultimately cover almost all of his territory.

The inscriptionEdit

The Rock edicts of Khalsi are among the many inscriptions of Ashoka, the first being the Bilingual inscription of Kandahar, written in Greek and in Aramaic, in the year 10 of his reign.[1] The other inscriptions of Ashoka are in Indian language (various forms of Prakrits) with the exception of the Kandahar Greek Edict of Ashoka, and were only published from around 3 to 4 years later, and until 27 years after his coronation.[1]

The Khalsi edicts, placed in North-Western India, were located near the Hellenistic world represented by the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and its capital Ai Khanoum.[1]

The inscriptions were written on a solid quartz rock.[2] The main face (east face) of the rock contains Edicts 1 to 12 and the first part of Edict 13. On the right side (north face) is the drawing of an elephant with the word in Brahmi Gajatama, of uncertain meaning.[2] On the left side (south face) is the continuation of the inscription started on the main face, with the second part of Edict 13 and Edict 14.[3]

This last edict, Edict No.13, is particularly important in that it mentions the main Hellenistic kings of the time, as well as their precise geographical location, suggesting that Ashoka had a very good understanding of the Greek world of the time.[1] It is also this inscription which made it possible to date the reign of Ashoka with a certain precision, between 260 and 230 BCE.[1] This Edict also appears, although in a less well preserved form, in the Girnar inscription,[4] and very damaged in the Mansehra inscription.[5]

Edict 13 refers in particular to contemporary rulers of the Hellenistic period, who had inherited the conquests of Alexander the Great. Its mentions Antiochos II, Ptolemy II, Antigonos II Gonatas, Magas of Cyrene and Alexander II of Epirus.[6]

Now, it is the conquest by the Dharma that the Beloved of the Gods considers as the best conquest. And this one (the conquest by the Dharma) was won here, on the borders, and even 600 leagues from here, where the king Antiochos reigns, and beyond where reign the four kings Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander, likewise in the south, where live the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Tamraparni

— Extract from Edict No.13.[7]

Some scholars believe that Buddhist communities have emerged in the Hellenistic world following Ashoka's reign, notably in Alexandria (this community being mentioned four centuries later by Clement of Alexandria). Given Ashoka's particularly moral definition of "Dharma" it is possible that he simply wants to say that virtue and piety now exist from the Mediterranean to the south of India. An expansion of Buddhism to the West is unconfirmed historically. In other inscriptions, Ashoka also states that he sent emissaries to the West to transmit medical care and medicinal plants (Major Rock Edict No.2). We do not know what the influence of these emissaries was on the Greek world.


The inscriptions have been remarkably stamped and published by E. Hultzsch in "Inscriptions Of Asoka", the full text of which is available online.[8]

Relation to Greek philosophyEdit

According to Valeri Yailenko, the Kineas inscription of Ai Khanoum, dated about 300 BCE, probably influenced the writing of the Edicts of Ashoka a few decades later, around 260 BCE (see also Hellenistic influence on Indian art).[1] The edicts put forward moral rules which are extremely close to the Kinéas inscription of Ai Khanoum, both in terms of content and formulation.[1] Short, aphoristic expressions, the subjects being discussed, the vocabulary itself, are all elements of similarity with the inscription of Kineas.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Yailenko 1990, pp.239-256
  2. ^ a b Inscriptions of Asoka by Alexander Cunningham, Eugen Hultzsch, 1877 pp.15-16
  3. ^ S.Dhammika, The Edicts of Ashoka King The Fourteen Rock Edicts / 13
  4. ^ Inscriptions Of Asoka, E.Hultzsch, 1925 p.25
  5. ^ Inscriptions Of Asoka, E. Hultzsch, 1925 p.83
  6. ^ VP Yailenko, "Aï Khanoum's Delphic Maxims and the Formation of Asoka's Dharma Doctrine", in: Ancient History Dialogues, 1990, volume 16, number 1, pp.239-256
  7. ^ S.Dhammika, The Edicts of King Ashoka The Fourteen Rock Edicts/13
  8. ^ Inscriptions Of Asoka, E.Hultzsch, 1925 Full text


  • Valeri P. Yailenko, Aï Khanoum's delphic maxims and the formation of the Asoka dharma doctrine, Dialogues d'histoire ancienne, volume 16, number 1, 1990, 239-256

External linksEdit

Edicts of Ashoka
(Ruled 269–232 BCE)
Regnal years
of Ashoka
Type of Edict
(and location of the inscriptions)
Geographical location
Year 8 End of the Kalinga war and conversion to the "Dharma"
Year 10[1] Minor Rock Edicts Related events:
Visit to the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya
Construction of the Mahabodhi Temple and Diamond throne in Bodh Gaya
Predication throughout India.
Dissenssions in the Sangha
Third Buddhist Council
In Indian language: Sohgaura inscription
Erection of the Pillars of Ashoka
Kandahar Bilingual Rock Inscription
(in Greek and Aramaic, Kandahar)
Minor Rock Edicts in Aramaic:
Laghman Inscription, Taxila inscription
Year 11 and later Minor Rock Edicts (n°1, n°2 and n°3)
(Panguraria, Maski, Palkigundu and Gavimath, Bahapur/Srinivaspuri, Bairat, Ahraura, Gujarra, Sasaram, Rajula Mandagiri, Yerragudi, Udegolam, Nittur, Brahmagiri, Siddapur, Jatinga-Rameshwara)
Year 12 and later[1] Barabar Caves inscriptions Major Rock Edicts
Minor Pillar Edicts Major Rock Edicts in Greek: Edicts n°12-13 (Kandahar)

Major Rock Edicts in Indian language:
Edicts No.1 ~ No.14
(in Kharoshthi script: Shahbazgarhi, Mansehra Edicts
(in Brahmi script: Kalsi, Girnar, Sopara, Sannati, Yerragudi, Delhi Edicts)
Major Rock Edicts 1-10, 14, Separate Edicts 1&2:
(Dhauli, Jaugada)
Schism Edict, Queen's Edict
(Sarnath Sanchi Allahabad)
Lumbini inscription, Nigali Sagar inscription
Year 26, 27
and later[1]
Major Pillar Edicts
In Indian language:
Major Pillar Edicts No.1 ~ No.7
(Allahabad pillar Delhi pillar Topra Kalan Rampurva Lauria Nandangarh Lauriya-Araraj Amaravati)

Derived inscriptions in Aramaic, on rock:
Kandahar, Edict No.7[2][3] and Pul-i-Darunteh, Edict No.5 or No.7[4]

  1. ^ a b c Yailenko,Les maximes delphiques d'Aï Khanoum et la formation de la doctrine du dhamma d'Asoka, 1990, p. 243.
  2. ^ Inscriptions of Asoka de D.C. Sircar p. 30
  3. ^ Handbuch der Orientalistik de Kurt A. Behrendt p. 39
  4. ^ Handbuch der Orientalistik de Kurt A. Behrendt p. 39