Ashok Effect

Author Name : Arvind Bhargava
Last update : 2017-08-24 13:05:01
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Ashok Effect

Background - 

Samrat (Emperor) Ashok ruled over most of the Indian Subcontinent from 268 to 232 B.C. He was the greatest ruler of known Indian History.

Family -

From an early age, he lived with strife and family politics and survived numerous plots to kill him and his parents. His Father, Bindusar, the second king of the Mayuran dynasty, had many wives and many sons who fought with each other to take control of the realm. Bindusar also had external enemies from neighboring kingdoms and the Greek armies that Alexander left behind.

Guru - 

Chanakya is the most famous politician in the history of India. He taught and trained Chandragupta Mayura, Ashok’s grandfather, to become the first ruler of the Mayuran dynasty. Chanakya was a great thinker, sadly mitigated by the small minded rulers of small kingdoms in India. He tried to join the kingdoms together so that they could be a force that could deal with the advancing Greek armies (Alexander) coming ever closer to south Asia. After much frustration with the ruling class, he put together his own army of Kshatriyas from humble origins. Chandragupta was his star pupil and he propelled him to become a rare king of a much united India.

Chanakya defeated the Greek army and other conspiring kingdoms by careful planning and without spilling too much blood. He believed in making his enemies fight each other. Chanakya niti (rules) are still taught in politics today. They can help you in the art of war, business and social networking.

Chanakya helped bring up Ashok and instilled in him that a united India is the only forward thinking future. Unfortunately, after Chandragupta retired and his son Bindusar took the throne, the system went back to corrupt ministers, back stabbing royal families and many split neighboring kingdoms.

Ashok got his teachings from Chanakya and from his mother – both of them taught him that his country was the only thing worth fighting for. All those who came in the way of progress were his enemies. He had to fight all the way through his journey to get himself a great empire. History belongs to the winner, so no one knows for sure that he was a good or bad guy or a mix of both from surviving records.

Ashok Effect –

I termed this, as I think Ashok exemplified this phenomenon best in our history to my knowledge. When a person gets continued success in anything – power, money, knowledge, etc, he or she keeps at it with full ruthlessness. The person does not care about what he is destroying to achieve that hoard. Sometimes, some of those people hit a snag and no matter what they do, they do not advance anymore. This causes a burnout and the person feels dejection and gives up on increasing his wealth. Finally, some are lucky to have ensuing events to make them look at humanity as a whole and inspire them to do something about the betterment of life.

Ashok killed, conquered, and annexed almost all of India. When he was done and had no more to fight left in him, he settled down. He then realized that his favorite wife and daughter had left the palaces and joined the Buddhist movement. He got into a slump for a while as he had no more to achieve and no one to share with—in essence, he burned out. He made himself learn about Buddhism to see why they left. As he was a fierce competitor he also learned the teachings fiercely. He was so impressed with Buddha’s teachings that he became the best pupil and the biggest propagator/sponsor of the religion. He gave all his wealth, time, and energy to spread the word. He sent monks all over the world to spread Buddhism; he created the great trunk road – a highway system in old India (like Eisenhower’s US interstate system in 1956); he created schools, hospitals, rest houses all over India. He also was responsible for building many sculptures and buildings in India.

My opinion - Buddhism would not be a world religion if not for Ashok's efforts.

So my theory about Ashok Effect is that a person goes through a transformation in his life from an aggressive accumulator of wealth by any means to someone making a difference in many peoples’ lives. The more accomplished or stronger the personality is, the stronger the effect is.

Another Example -

Bill Gates is probably the best example of Ashok Effect in modern times. He started Microsoft and made it into the world’s largest SW house. Probably 5 out 7 billion people use Microsoft’s client software. Mr. Gates destroyed all competition in its way and left skeleton companies in his wake. He enticed employees from competing firms, or bought rights to their software or just plain bought the companies. As an example – he bought rights to Spyglass’ web browser for $30M and started giving it away for free with windows software. This killed spyglass ($30M ran out in 18 months) and Netscape which were selling competing browsers for $60 a piece. Every eighteen or so months Microsoft’s shares split (possibly 8 times) and it made Mr. Gates $75B.

Then came EU (European Union) Commission which sued Microsoft for unfair practices. This stopped Mr. Gates’s success and gave him a big burn-out. He gradually moved out of Microsoft and started his foundation. Not sure what he saw or experienced that brought him to this stage.

As of today, Mr. Gates has pledged almost all of his wealth, time, and energy to eradicate world’s poverty, illiteracy, and most diseases. He will make a difference in the world much like Samrat Ashok did.

Billions -

There are many people in the world now who can and will do the same - become rich, get a burn-out, get inspired, and do good things in the world.  Not that these people had any burn-outs but they will be making a lot of difference - givingpledge.

Moral of the story - every human being can do the same at their own pace and level.

(edited by Shivani Bhargava).


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