Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has geared up for protecting the Ashoka rock edict site near Erragudi on Gooty-Pathikonda road in Kurnool district.
The inscriptions were one of the important treasures of Mouryan king Ashoka (269-231 BCE) falling under major and minor rock inscriptions. From the archaeological point of view, Yerraguidi site is the most important location in the entire South India.
Of late, the archaeologists noticed damage to the inscriptions on account of adverse weather effects. In several spots, the script got worn off and cracks developed. An immediate action plan was launched to protect the precious rock edicts by constructing a shelter to give protection from rain and sun.
Archaeological officer Krishna Chaitanya told The Hindu that a shelter was being planned at a cost of Rs. 4.80 lakh and special transparent roof sheets from Patna were sourced which protected them from rain but allowed passing of sufficient light inside.
The officials planned to put up boards with the content of the inscriptions in Telugu. However, care was being taken not to disturb the ambience of the site.
Unpolished granite rocks would also be used as notice boards.
The inscriptions in Brahmi Script and Prakrit language are believed to have been etched during the tours of King Ashoka after his Kalinga campaign.
He was said to have camped at several places in his 256-day sojourn. According to local historians, Jonnagiri, which was known as Swarnagiri during Mauyan time, was treated as South Indian capital of the kingdom.
What inscriptions say
The content in the inscription was inconsonance with other Ashokan group of inscriptions where the king was referred to Piyadasi and the Beloved of Gods.
The Yerraguidi inscriptions contained in 28 parts on nine rocks which advocated that one should be obedient to one’s parents, one should likewise be obedient to one’s elders, one should be kind to living beings, one should speak truth, one should propagate the attributes of dharma, no-living being be slaughtered for sacrifices.
The rock edict says “on the roads, trees have been caused to be planted and wells dug for the enjoyment of animals and men.” The edict declares that “these records related to dharma have been caused to be written by me (Ashoka) for the purpose that it may last and that my sons and grandsons may exert themselves for the welfare of all men.”
Dr. Abdul Khader, historian and principal of S.J. College, has said the rock edict could be considered the first law enacted for the welfare of wildlife in the entire world.
In fact they were directive principles of state policy of Mouryan Kingdom. He underscored the need for preserving it for posterity and exposing the site to school and college students in Kurnool district.