Asoka (Sk.). A celebrated Indian king of the Môrya dynasty which reigned at Magadha. There were two Asokas in reality, according to the chronicles of Northern Buddhism, though the first Asoka—the grand father of the second, named by Prof. Max Muller the “Constantine of India”, was better known by his name of Chandragupta. It is the former who was called, Piadasi (Pali) “the beautiful”, and Devânam-piya “the beloved of the gods”, and also Kâlâsoka; while the name of his grandson was Dharmâsôká—the Asoka of the good law-—on account of his devotion to Buddhism. Moreover, according to the same source, the second Asoka had never followed the Brahmanical faith, but was a Buddhist born. It was his grandsire who had been first converted to the new faith, after which he had a number of edicts inscribed on pillars and rocks, a custom followed also by his grandson. But it was the second Asoka who was the most zealous supporter of Buddhism; he, who maintained in his palace from 60 to 70,000 monks and priests, who erected 84,000 totes and stupas throughout India, reigned 36 years, and sent missions to Ceylon, and throughout the world. The inscriptions of various edicts published by him display most noble ethical sentiments, especially the edict at Allahahad, on the so-called “Asoka’s column ”, in the Fort. The sentiments are lofty and poetical, breathing tenderness for animals as well as men, and a lofty view of a king’s mission with regard to his people, that might be followed with great success in the present age of cruel wars and barbarous vivisection.
Source: H.P.Blavatsky - The Theosophical Glossary