The Allahabad Ashoka Pillar is a unique monument that carries three particularly significant edicts that describe Ashoka’s 27th ruling year, the achievements of Samudragupta as eulogised by Hari Sena, and Jahangir’s family tree. The Allahabad Pillar of Ashoka is remarkable for the particular inscriptions that it carries and the very different inscriptions that it carries, with wide-ranging references. These are a reflection of the diverse period of history extending across three millennia with each later inscription registering a change.
1. The edicts on the pillar are all in different languages, using different scripts. Ashoka’s edict was written in Prakrit, Samudragupta’s in Brahmi and Jahangir’s in the Nastalik (a Persian script).
2. The inscriptions on the pillars described edicts about morality based on Buddhist tenets.
3. At the base of the pillar is an inverted lotus flower which forms a platform for the pillar.
4. At the top are four lions sitting back to back facing the four directions.
5. Other illustrations on the pillar include the Dharma Chakra with 24 spokes.
6. Ashoka built the Sarnath pillar to commemorate the site of the first preaching of Lord Buddha, where he taught the Dharma to five monks. The Sarnath Lion Capital is replete with symbolism inspired by Lord Buddha’s life.
7. The Elephant is a representation of Queen Maya’s conception of Buddha when she saw a white elephant entering her womb in a dream.
8. The Bull represents desire during the life of the Buddha as a prince.
9. The Horse symbolizes Buddha’s departure from palatial life and the Lion represents the attainment of Nirvana by Lord Buddha.