The Edict Project

TM Krishna in collaboration with Ashoka University presents The Edict Project

Through this project, we hope to reimagine Ashoka’s edicts in musical form. The project aims at creating vibrant academic, socio-political and aesthetic conversations around the edicts.

What are Ashoka’s Edicts?

Ashoka, Emperor of the Mauryan empire, reigned from 268 BCE to 232 BCE. As with his father Bindusara (often conflated with Bimbasara) and grandfather Chandragupta, he believed in expanding, consolidating and ruling his empire centred around Pataliputra (modern Patna) through the traditional means of imperial kingship. After the violent annexing of Kalinga, King Ashoka underwent a transformation and dharma became the pivot of his royal policy and personal belief. He disseminated these ideas through a novel medium: a series of inscriptions incised on natural rock-faces and on pillars. These are to be seen across India from ‘up-north’ to ‘down-south’, and also in modern-day Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Known as ‘Edicts’, the inscriptions are, in the central and eastern parts of India, in Prakrit using the Brahmi script and in the north-west, In Kharoshthi, Greek and Aramaic.

The edicts are addressed to his subjects who, he says in his edict in Kalinga, are to him as his own children.

Why Ashoka’s Edicts?

Ashoka’s edicts are simple, brief, personal. And yet are profound, abiding and universal. They have been translated, published, quoted as signals of the soul. Sung in the original Prakrit in a garland of raga-s drawn from the Karnatik tradition, with their meaning given in English sub-titles, they now carry the philosopher-emperor’s vision of a humane society into the realm of the arts.

The first set of 4 edicts taken from different locations have been set to music and shared on October 14th, the day Babasaheb Ambedkar embraced Buddhism.

Credits:

Voice – TM Krishna
Research – Shravasti Dhammika
Research and Translation – Dr. Naresh Keerthi
Introductory Text – Gopalkrishna Gandhi
Sound and Visual – Rithvik Raja

Concept, Composition, Production: TM Krishna

Composition: Raga-Tala Malika

Lyrics:

Kapi, Adi 
munise pajā mamā athā 
pajāye ichāmi hakaṃ kiṃti? 
savena hita sukhena 
hida lokika palalokikayam 

Shubhapanthuvarali, Chatushra Jampa 
nasti ediśaṃ dānaṃ 
yadiśaṃ dharma-dānam 
dharma-saṃstavo; 
dharma-saṃvibhago; 
dharma-saṃbamdho; 

Mohanam, Mishra Chapu 
ta samavāyo eva sadhu kiṃti 
aññam-aññassa dhaṃmaṃ srunāru ca; 
susuṃsēra ca 

Desh, Khanda Chapu 
tato pacā adhunā ladheṣu kaligeṣu tivvre 
dharma-silana dharma-kamata 
dharmanuśasti ca 
devanapiyasa so asti anusōcana 
devanapriasa vijiniti ca kaligani