Constantine and Ashoka

December 4 2012

Constantine’s motive for becoming a convert to Christianity was ethically much inferior to Ashoka’s motive for becoming a convert to Buddhism. Ashoka’s motive had been repentance for his crime of having waged an aggressive war, and he had never gone to war again. Constantine’s motive was gratitude for his victories in three successive civil wars.

Mankind and Mother Earth, OUP, 1976, posthumous

2 Responses to “Constantine and Ashoka”


  1. Are politicians simply motivated by ethics or questions of moral rectitude? Or is economic stability, thus maintenance of political power, a more significant factor?

    Don’t you think Ashoka’s motivation may well have had something to do with the expanding trade networks in Asia at the time; and the fact that a large proportion of these traders were alienated from the Brahminical nexus with local rulers, thus attracted to Buddhist reforms?

    Similarly with Constantine, was not a factor in his conversion the growing influence of educated, Christian, traders and a need to rebuild after the three civil wars?

    Seems to me that it is too easy to credit the personality cults that are created around these politicians.


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