Dhauli, Odisha - rapid expansion of Buddhism took roots here!!

Lord Buddha'a statues, Dhauli, Odisha. Alamy
The areas surrounding Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha has many monuments of great antiquity, particularly related to Buddha and Buddhism. So are countless temples of beauty and glory. Dhauligiri, just 10 km from Bhubaneswar, on the banks of Daya river  is well-known for the Peace Pagoda / Shanti Stupa. A major attraction is the Rock Edicts of Emperor Ashoka engraved on a mass of rock leading to the summit of the hill. This historical place where Buddhism flourished is symbolic of world peace  and universal peace-hood. 

Peace Stupa, Dhalui, Orissadreamstime.com
This history of this place goes way back to 262 B.C or the Mauryan Empire and the reign of Emperor  Ashoka whose land  was extended up to Mysore in south and from Baluchistan to Bangladesh in the east. The present region (Kalinga) did not belong to Ashoka, He, a great warrior with powerful army of several thousand  soldiers, invaded Kalinga Desa (part of Odisha and N. Andhra), inhabited by  peace-loving people. Near Dhauli, the natives fought tooth an nail with a mighty army of Ashoka to save their mother land. In the wake of violent war, thousands of innocent  of people were killed and wounded in the Kalinga war (.c. 262 – c. 261 BCE)  The near-by Daya river, obviously,  turned red with the blood of the slain soldiers and people.. A Buddhist monk opened the eyes and soul of Emperor Ashoka about his great victory and gain of more land at the cost of lakhs of precious lives that could  not be revived. "What have you gained out of  this horrible war?", asked the monk. Ashoka realized his folly and felt guilty. The word of wisdom uttered by the monk changed his personality. Overcome by remorse, he took a vow not to fight wars again. He later became a staunch follower of Buddhism and spent his time preaching and spreading the messages of Lord Buddha. During Ashoka's reign Dhauli became an important centre of Buddhist activities. He built several chaityas, stupas and pillars there. 

Lord Buddha'a statues, Dhauli,www.dhauli.net

Thus king Chandashoka became  Dharmashoka, a simple and peace loving person and the Buddhist monk who brought about the change in him was one Upagupta. Ashoka spent much of his time erecting monuments in Dhauli, glorifying the value of non-violence and peace.  Dhauligiri is synonymous with the victory of  non violence over violence and evil of war. In the annals of human history and wars, no other war has brought upon a change in the heart and soul of the victor  from one of pride and wanton cruelty to that of an extreme piety and humility as this great Kalinga war. The rapid expansion of Buddihism took its roots in the aftermath of this violent war.

The Shanti Stupa, the white tomb situated on the small hills of Dhauligir is in white, symbolic of  world peace, so it is also known as "Peace Pagoda". This  great monument was built by Japan Buddhist Sangh and the Government of Odisha in 1971-72. There are
 four statues of Goutam Buddha in different postures facing four different direction of Shanti Stupa. Two of them in meditative state, one standing and another in sleeping posture.  Fine inscribtions in the form of statues or images and details about the Kalinga war are found on the walls of the Shanti Stupa.
The most significant attraction for the tourists from other parts of India and abroad, in particular SE Asia, are  the famous Edicts of Ashoka  These edicts were  brought to light way back in 1837-38 by one Lieut. M. Kittoe and for the first time. Written in Magadhi Prakrita Language and the early Brahmi script  it was studied by  James Princep.  At Jaugada,  near Kabisurya Nagar in Ganjam district of Odisha, similar Rock Edicts of Ashoka are found. It shows Ahoka's ken interest to spread the message of Lord Buddha across the land during his life time.