Brief Note on Ashoka’s Pillar in Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh)
Ashoka’s Pillar: Close to the south Gateway lie the ruins of a column erected by Ashoka with an inscription in Brahmi characters calling on Buddhists to avoid schisms. The Pillar, when intact, was about 42 feet in height. It has a crowning ornament of four lions, set on its back.
It was beautifully finished and given a lustrous polish. The abacus is adorned with four ‘honey-suckle’ designs separated one from the other by pairs of geese, symbolical, perhaps, of the flock of the Buddha’s disciples.
The lion-motif found on pillars erected by Ashoka has been adopted by the Indian Republic as the State emblem. Ashoka erected about thirty pillars all over India of which the remains of ten are extant. Some pillars marked the sites sanctified by the Buddha, while others marked the course of a pilgrim’s way to the holy places. They contain inscriptions calling on the populace to follow the path of truth and righteousness.
Some authorities think that the pillars represent trees and are derived from a period when tree worship was widespread. Others hold that the Ashoka pillars were the handiwork of Perso-Greek sculptors and that the decrees of the Achaemenian monarchs, engraved on rocks at Behistun and elsewhere, furnished the models on which the edicts of Ashoka were based.