New Delhi : Ashoka University formally launched The Edict Project in collaboration with Carnatic musician and author TM Krishna. Nayanjot Lahiri, Professor of History at Ashoka University and historian and Krishna came together at Ashoka University, named after the ancient emperor, to talk about the possible relevance of the teachings contained in Ashoka’s public writings and decrees. TM Krishna also sang verses from Ashoka’s edicts.
Rudrangshu Mukherjee, Chancellor, Ashoka University and eminent historian, said, “It is a great privilege for Ashoka University to have Nayanjot Lahiri and TM Krishna collaborate on this project which carries the philosopher-emperor’s vision of a humane society into the realm of the arts. The teachings of Ashoka loom large over India’s social and cultural imagination. His edicts on ruling and polity are seminal for understanding both social and political evolution of the subcontinent. Nayanjot’s scholarship augmented by TM’s mellifluous rendition brings forth the emperor’s timeless teachings and their relevance in guiding contemporary socio-political discourse.”
On collaborating with Ashoka University, Carnatic musician and author TM Krishna said, “Ashoka University draws from the Ashokan ethos of being able to learn, unlearn and transform. The Edict Project reflects upon Ashoka’s words honestly and critically. Hence, this collaboration is but natural. Ashoka’s words give us an opportunity to revisit our understanding of ourselves and our relationship with the outer world. Through this project we also hope to bring into public discourse a more compassionate understanding of governance and coexistence.”
Nayanjot Lahiri, Professor of History at Ashoka University, added, “Emperor Ashoka is the most powerful, prominent, and impressive king ever to rule ancient India, whose words advanced the notion of a fundamentally new kind of political and social community. Among his public messages, what resonates among liberals and in a liberal arts institution like Ashoka University is the one in which he advocates a public culture in which every denomination honours every other.
This idea of fellow feeling and empathy is as relevant now as it was then, and is integral to the reimagination and remembrance of Ashoka that lies at the heart of The Edict Project.”
Nayanjot has been working towards exploring many obscure facets of Ashoka’s life and works. She has authored two books on the emperor. Her book ‘Ashoka in Ancient India’ also received the John F Richards Award for the best book in South Asian History in 2016.
The Edict Project has been conceived in four parts. This edition is based on the theme ‘Ashoka and Memory’. In this, apart from Krishna’s renditions of the edicts, there is a conversation between Krishna and Lahiri and a short film by MK Raina that reimagines Ashoka’s words in the context of Kashmir. It included collaborations with artists from the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. Subsequent editions will represent the southern, eastern and western regions.
The Recording of the Event can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXWuHNHPX6g