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N. N. Wig

Department of Psychiatry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education và Research, Chandigarh, India

Department of Psychiatry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Retìm kiếm, Chandigarh, IndiaAddress for correspondence: Dr. N. N. Wig, 279, Sector 6, Panchkula - 134 109, Haryana, India. E-mail: ni.oc.oohayThis is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative sầu Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alượt thích 3.0 Unported, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.quý khách đang xem: Chakravartin là ai

Emperor Ashoka is widely regarded as one of the greathử nghiệm rulers of India. This paper mainly giao dịch with his medical condition as recorded in the Buddhist texts of Sri Lanka as well as in the Buddhist texts of North India & Nepal. These sources mention his skin disorder which is described as very rough and unpleasant lớn touch. He is also known to lớn have episodes of loss of consciousness at various times in his life. One of the earliest representations of Ashoka, about 100 years after his death at one of the gates of Sanđưa ra Stupage authority, shows Ashoka fainting when visiting the Bodhi tree and being held by his queens. In this sculpture, Emperor Ashoka is shown as a man of short height, large head và a paunchy abdomen. In this paper, it is speculated that Emperor Ashoka was probably suffering from von Recklinghausen disease (Neurofibromatosis Type 1), which could explain his skin condition, episodes of loss of consciousness (probably epilepsy) & other bodily deformities.

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Keywords: Emperor Ashoka, fainting episodes, neurofibromatosis, skin disorder, von Recklinghausen disease


The purpose of this paper is lớn consider the skin disorder and other illnesses of Emperor Ashoka và to suggest a possible medical diagnosis for his condition. Emperor Ashoka is generally regarded as one of the greademo rulers of India who ruled about some 2250 years ago. His empire covered most of the countries except perhaps the Southern tip of India & also extended khổng lồ what is now Pakistung và Afghanistung. Surprisingly most of what we currently know in the history about this great emperor has been put together relatively recently, during the last 200 years or so after the arrival of East India Company. Governor General Warren Hastings và Sir William Jones, a senior judge in Calcutta"s Supreme Court started the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1784. Sir William Jones was a great scholar, & he is generally recognized as the “Father of Indian Studies.” Asiatic Society of Bengal soon became the center where in regular meetings various new discoveries about Indian history, especially of the pre Muslyên period were presented và discussed. It also started a research journal, which recorded important findings of various historical sites, pillars, writings on Rocks, coins found in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, etc., Records of the Asiatic Society of Bengal are a rich source of ancient history of India. It is a fascinating story how step by step various people collected information about Mauryan dynasty kings, Chandragupta, Bindusara, Ashoka and their successors. This is very well described in John Keay"s Book “India Discovered" (1981) and even more comprehensively covered in the recent book “Ashoka – The Search for the India"s Lost Emperor” by Charles Allen. These researches have sầu unfolded a glorious chapter in the early history of our country. One may also mention in passing that even the full life history of Mahatma Buddha was not clearly known at that time, and some early scholars even suggested that he could be an “African” conqueror.


Historically the information about Emperor Ashoka has been collected from various sources. Most important source is of course, various writings (Edicts) engraved on Rocks and some stone pillars found in different parts of India và Pakistung at places as far as apart as Bihar, Odisha, Gujarat, Karnataka, North West Frontier Province in Pakistung and even in Afghanistung. Some of the best known Roông chồng Edicts are in Girnar (Junaragh District, Gujarat) và Ashoka pillars now at Ferozeshah Kotla Cricket Ground in Delhi (originally from Western U.Phường.) và in Allahabad (originally from Kausambhi). In these Edicts, Ashoka usually refers to himself as Devam – Piya (Beloved of the Gods) and King Piyadamê mẩn (pleasant to lớn behold).

Apart from these Rock và Pillar Edicts, there are two other main written sources about Ashoka"s life, one from Sri Lanka và one from Nepal-both Buddhist texts. The Sri Lankan reference is from the book “Mahavansha” or the Great Dynastic Chronicle, (earlier called Deepavansha – or a chronicle of the Island). This book contains detailed reference of King Ashoka, how he sent his son Mahinda and daughter Sanghamitta lớn propagate Buddhism in Sri Lanka, how he completely changed after battle of Kalinga và turned to lớn Buddhism etc., The language of this book is Pali – variation of Prakrit, which was the spoken language in Magadh (Bihar) at that time.

The second source is the book Divyavadna, which is Mahayamãng cầu or Northern Buddhist tradition. It is written in Sanskrit, – which was the language of elites. One of the 38 stories in this book is “Ashokavadana” or Legkết thúc of King Ashoka setout in nearly 10,000 verses.

Both these versions, Northern and Southern Buddhist accounts tell the story of King Ashoka with of course, significant differences as per religious traditions of North (Mahayana) & South (Theravada). Both groups of writings point out how Ashoka was a ruthless ruler before he turned Buddhist. He is known khổng lồ have killed almost all his hundred or so step brothers who could have sầu been possible claimants to his throne. By his order, terrible tortures were inflicted on prisoners in his jail in Patliputra. Earlier in life he was often referred lớn as Chanda Ashoka or Ashoka – the Ferocious.” However, after becoming Buddhist he became known as “Dharma Ashoka.”

Numerous historians have lavished exceptional praise about the later day Ashoka. His rule by “Dharma” or moral force và with “Ahimsa” or nonviolence as depicted in his Edicts is indeed a rare example in world history. As Wells in his famous book, “The Outline of History” has written “Amuốn the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history – the name of Ashoka shines và shines almost alone, a star. From the Volga to Japan his name is still honored.” To Ashoka must also go the credit of one of the earliest idea of a “Welfare State” in history when in his Edicts he says that he considers all his subjects as his children & their welfare is his responsibility.


As stated in the beginning, the main purpose of this article is to lớn consider various medical illnesses of King Ashoka as described in historical records và which, to lớn best of our knowledge have sầu not been medically analyzed or written about before. The bulk of the medical information about Ashoka as mentioned in this article has been obtained from recently published book “Ashoka – the search for India"s Lost Emperor” by Charles Allen (2013).

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The second very clear medical condition, which is described, are the episodes of fainting or unconsciousness at various time in his life. There are several such episodes described in Sri Lanka"s Great Dynastic Chronicle. For example, when on pilgrimage to various Buddhist places, at Kushinagra, Ashoka is so much overcome with emotions that he fainted và had to be revived by attendants. Similar episode happened when he visited the Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya, where, he again fainted. This scene is depicted in one of the gates of Sanđưa ra Stupage authority where Ashoka is shown fainting & being held by his queens (Photograph in Charles Allen"s book page 344).

The third reference to his health condition is toward the kết thúc of his life when Ashoka is seriously ill và “an impure substance was oozing from his pores.” The queen Tishyarakshita ordered a tìm kiếm to lớn find a man with similar illness. A large worm was found in the belly of that man. After trying various remedies, the queen succeeded in killing the worm by onion juice. The onion was generally considered as unclean vegetable in religious belief, but the queen gave onion treatment lớn king Ashoka & he was cured by that. It is also worth noting how the images of Ashoka have sầu undergone changes in Indian sculpture. As Charlies Allen points out in his book, the sculpture at gates of Sanchi Stupa are probably some of the earliest images, made His ugliness and frailties are all forgotten now.


Hence, we have the following available information about king Ashoka"s health:

He had a gross skin condition in which his skin was lượt thích crude dust or dirt. It was unpleasant to look at & unpleasant to lớn touch

He had many episodes of loss of consciousness

His father Bindusara is also known khổng lồ have sầu “spots” on his skin as indicated by his name.


It is of course, very risky khổng lồ make a modern diagnosis of medical conditions of somebody toàn thân who live more than 2000 years ago. All we have is the descriptions given in some Buddhist texts related lớn Ashoka"s life.

In our opinion, putting all the facts together, it seems likely that King Ashoka suffered from what we now Hotline, Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (von Recklinghausen"s disease) The well-known Harrison"s Principles of Internal Medicine describes von Recklinghausen"s disease as “characterized by cutaneous (skin) neurofibromas and pigmented lesions of skin called “Café-au lait spots.” Neurofibromas are benign peripheral nerve tumors. They are present as multiple, palpable, rubbery, tumors in the skin. They are generally asymptomatic but at time many have sầu in addition hydrocephalus (large head), scoliosis, short stature, hypertension, epilepsy và mental retardation.

The description seems to fit in well with King Ashoka"s skin condition and the fainting fits may have sầu been due to epilepsy. One can also speculate about his short height probably due to scoliosis & his large head could be a sign of hydrocephalus. He certainly did not have sầu mental retardation; on the other hand, he was exceptionally intelligent.

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We are grateful khổng lồ Professor B. K. Sharma, former Professor of Medicine và Director, Postgraduate Institute, Chandigarh for his help and encouragement in writing of this paper.


Source of Support: Nil

Conflict of Interest: None declared


1. John K. England: Windward An imprint of W.H. Smith và Sons; 1981. India Discovered. 2. Allen C. London: Abacus, An imprint of Little, Brown Book Group; 2013. Ashoka – The tìm kiếm for India"s Lost Emperor. 3. Wells HG. London: Cassel và Company Ltd; 1930. The Outline of History. Popular Edition; p. 402. 4. Sagar SM, Israel MA. Neurofibromatosis type I, (von Recklinghausen diseases) In: Anthony S, Fauci, Eugene Braunwald, Dennis L. Kasper, Stephen L. Hauser, Dan L. Longo, Larry J. Jameson, et al., editors. Harrison"s Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. McGraw Hill, Medical, New York: 2008. p. 2607. Articles from Indian Journal of Psychiatry are provided here courtesy of Wolters Kluwer -- Medknow PublicationsChulặng mục: NGÔI SAO

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