GUWAHATI, Sept 9 - Delivering the third foundation lecture of Cotton College State University on the theme �Ashoka as a Universal Indian� at the Pragjyotish ITA, Machkhowa today, Nayanjot Lahiri, Professor of History, Ashoka University said that the Emperor has fascinated generations of writers and scholars.
�Part of this has to do with his manifest presence through profusion of words in public arenas across large parts of India. Partly the fascination with him stems from the fact that we are drawn to leaders and public figures whose ideas and actions have influenced the lives of large population,� said Prof Lahiri observing that Ashoka seen as an indefatigable communicator till almost the end of his life in the context of public communication in contemporary cultures makes him distinctive.
Prof Lahiri while elaborating on the traits of the Emperor, seen from the point of view of a historian, said that there are many challenges in portraying the life and character of the Emperor because his story was told many centuries later. �There are huge challenges in writing about an ancient life as there is no contemporary account of those years.�
She added that the ways in which Ashoka made himself visible was proof that he was a communicator par excellence. �He strived to create an image through his messages that has an universal appeal. His messages are found everywhere,� said Prof Lahiri asserting that like Gandhi, Ashoka belongs to a genre of universal Indians.
Prof Lahiri also interacted with the students, teachers and other dignitaries present on the occasion. Replying to a question on Ashoka�s repentance after the Kalinga War, Prof Lahiri said that the Emperor�s repentance was not fake. �An ancient sovereign who took responsibility for a politically reprehensible action is a move that is rare. Such an act takes a lot of courage and hardly found in present day politics,� said Prof Lahiri pointing out that this act of Ashoka was so must in contrast with the self-serving politician that the Emperor arouses an admiration virtually unseen in Asia until the appearance of Mahatma Gandhi.