It is said that Ashoka’s pacific policy destroyed the Maurya empire, but this is not true.
On the contrary, Ashoka has a number of achievements to his credit. He was certainly a great missionary ruler in the history of the ancient world.
He enthusiastically worked with great devotion for his mission and achieved a great deal at home and abroad.
Ashoka brought about the political unification of the country. He bound it further by one dharma, one language, and virtually one script called Brahmi which was used in most of his inscriptions. In unifying the country he respected such non-Indian scripts as Kharoshthi, Aramaic, and Greek. His inscriptions appear not only in different types of the Indian languages like Prakrit, but also in Greek and particularly in Aramaic which was a Semitic language of ancient Syria.
His multi-script and multi-lingual inscriptions enabled him to contact literate people. Ashoka followed a tolerant religious policy, not attempting to foist his Buddhist faith on his subjects; on the contrary, he made gifts to non-Buddhist and even anti- Buddhist sects. Ashoka was fired with a zeal for missionary activity. He deputed officials in the far-flung parts of the empire. He helped administration and promoted cultural interaction between the developed Gangetic basin and distant backward provinces. The material culture, characteristic of the heart of the empire, spread to Kalinga, the lower Deccan, and northern Bengal.
Above all, Ashoka is important in history for his policy of peace, non- aggression, and cultural conquest. He had no model in early Indian history for the pursuit of such a policy; nor was there any comparable example elsewhere except in Egypt where Akhnaton had pursued a pacific policy in the fourteenth century BC. But Ashoka was not aware of his Egyptian predecessor.
Although Kautilya advised the king to be always intent on physical conquest, Ashoka followed quite the reverse policy. He asked his successors to give up the policy of conquest and aggression, followed by the Magadhan princes till the Kalinga war, and counseled them to adopt a policy of peace sorely needed after a period of aggressive wars lasting for two centuries. He consistendy adhered to his policy, for though he possessed sufficient resources and maintained a huge army, he did not wage any war after the conquest of Kalinga. In this sense, Ashoka was certainly far ahead of his day and generation.
However, Ashoka’s policy did not have any lasting impact on his viceroys and vassals, who declared themselves independent in their respective areas after the king retired in 232 BC. Similarly, the policy did not succeed in converting his neighbours, who swooped on the north-western frontier of his empire within thirty years of Ashoka’s giving up power in 232 BC.