He was young, handsome, and strong
Powerful, ambitious and aggressive,
He fought and won many battles
He was always on the offensive.
He became great, within a short period
The Emperor of a great stretch of land,
Like his father, who defeated Greeks
Rival kingdoms he couldn’t stand.
One last tiny kingdom stood
Between him and ultimate glory,
On the eastern border of his empire
Kalinga, controlled its own territory.
Scene was set for a great battle
Never heard or seen in the history,
Ashoka, was merciless and ruthless
He slaughtered his way to victory.
There was complete and total destruction
Of Kalinga’s people and its kingdom,
Victorious was the great emperor
The cost was innocent lives and freedom.
As he surveyed the battlefield after battle
He saw the dead men and their grieving wives,
Saw the spilled blood, flesh and scavenging vultures
Saw the ghosts of the dead, the cries of dying lives.
He asked himself, what did he achieve?
In grief and sorrow his heart sank,
He renounced everything, for his sins
Found solace in Buddhism and became a monk.
He became truly great, for what he did
Not for his victories or for his empire
But for his renouncing of all pleasures
Living, rest of his life without desire.