Prof Romila Thapar writes about the Allahabad Ashoka Pillar
“It was probably originally cut, sculpted and polished at Chunar (near Varanasi), from where a number of pillars were quarried. The sculpting and the polishing were done on site and, possibly, even the engraving. It was engraved on the orders of Ashoka Maurya and first erected at Kaushambi, a city of political importance in the neighbourhood of what is now Allahabad. Some centuries later, it was shifted to its present location in the Allahabad fort. Its surmounting capital was, possibly, a seated lion, now lost.”
On it are inscribed 6 of the 7 edicts that were issued by Ashoka in 240 BCE.
Written in Brahmi script, the Prakrit language edicts talk of the dhamma as a system of social ethics which was central to Ashoka.
It also contains the Schism Edict which states that those monks and nuns who cause dissension in the Sangha are to be expelled.
In 4th c CE Samudragupta had an inscription engraved on it. This was composed by the poet Harishena in Sanskrit and written in the Gupta Era Brahmi script.
The third inscription on it was engraved on orders of Emperor Jahangir
Prof Romila Thapar has examined the 3 inscriptions & writes “The Gupta inscription endorses all that was contrary to what was said in the Edicts, as it glorifies conquest through violence. Dharma for the Guptas was the Brahmanical Dharma. They had no idea who the author of the earlier inscriptions was, but presumably the pillar appeared an impressive object. A lion capital would have given it an added royal significance.Was it an attempt by the Guptas, who were of a non-kshatriya caste, to claim the legitimacy to rule by inscribing their deeds on the pillar? In their other inscriptions, much was made of their marital alliance with the high status Licchavis.”
Jahangir ‘s inscription is composed in Persian and written in a fine nastaliq script by the emperor’s favourite calligrapher, Abdullah Mushkin Qalam.
“The inscription records the ancestry of Jahangir. It is almost as if the pillar by now was recognised as bestowing legitimacy on rulers. “