When I read about Ashoka the 3rd century BC ruler of much of India, my curiosity was aroused. Ashoka began as a warlord but felt remorse at the waste of life on the battlefield. He invited followers of the Buddha to teach him . As a result he abolished the death penalty and recommended prisoners be treated with respect and wild animals protected and set about the creation of a kind of welfare state -300years before Christ! It is thanks to spreading his edicts beyond India that the religion we know as ‘Buddhism’ exists today. But he was forgotten for 1000 years. How could that happen? Today the Madras Courier has published my analysis of what happened. In my opinion it is poignantly relevant to the world today.
My second novel Sculpting the Elephant is partly inspired by a desire that more people know about Ashoka . I don’t like it that the cruel and evil are remembered and the good often forgotten . The contemporary plot is about a mixed relationship but it links to the story of a nineteenth century fictional polymath who becomes obsessed about uncovering the lost story of Ashoka .