The Edict Project by TM Krishna, in collaboration with Ashoka University.
Historic it was! On October 14, 1956, India’s first law minister and the architect of the Indian constitution, Bhimrao Ambedkar, alongside more than 3 lakh of his adherents, accepted Buddhism as a protest against the caste system that was prevalent and still continues to swallow the indian population at large. This day is commemorated as Dhammachakra Pravartan Day and today is its 64th commemoration.
It was on this day, Ambedkar made 22 pledges, when he revoked Hinduism. According to him, “I thereby reject my old religion, Hinduism, which is detrimental to the prosperity of humankind and which discriminates between man and man and which treats me as inferior.”
Ambedkar strongly fought against the caste discrimination towards Dalits and wrote extensively against the caste system in Hinduism and dedicated his entire life for the upliftment of the Dalit community.
Through this project, Krishna hopes to reimagine Ashoka’s edicts in musical form. The project aims at creating vibrant academic, socio-political and aesthetic conversations around the edicts.
What are Ashoka’s Edicts?
Ashoka, Emperor of the Mauryan empire, reigned from 268 BCE to 232 BCE. After the violent annexing of Kalinga, King Ashoka underwent a transformation and dharma became the pivot of his royal policy and personal belief. He disseminated these ideas through a novel medium: a series of inscriptions incised on natural rock-faces and on pillars. These are to be seen across India from ‘up-north’ to ‘down-south’, and also in modern-day Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Known as ‘Edicts’, the inscriptions are, in the central and eastern parts of India, in Prakrit using the Brahmi script and in the north-west, In Kharoshthi, Greek and Aramaic.
The edicts are addressed to his subjects who, he says in his edict in Kalinga, are to him as his own children.
Why Ashoka’s Edicts?
Ashoka’s edicts are simple, brief, personal. And yet are profound, abiding and universal. They have been translated, published, quoted as signals of the soul. Sung in the original Prakrit in a garland of raga-s drawn from the Karnatik tradition, with their meaning given in English sub-titles, they now carry the philosopher-emperor’s vision of a humane society into the realm of the arts.
The first set of 4 edicts taken from different locations have been set to music and shared on October 14th, the day Babasaheb Ambedkar embraced Buddhism.
Concept, Composition, Production: TM Krishna
Composition: Raga-Tala Malika
munise pajā mamā athā pajāye
ichāmi hakaṃ kiṃti?
savena hita sukhena
hida lokika palalokikayam
Shubhapanthuvarali, Chatushra Jampa
nasti ediśaṃ dānaṃ
Mohanam, Mishra Chapu
ta samavāyo eva sadhu kiṃti
aññam-aññassa dhaṃmaṃ srunāru ca;
Desh, Khanda Chapu
tato pacā adhunā ladheṣu kaligeṣu tivvre
devanapiyasa so asti anusōcana
devanapriasa vijiniti ca kaligani