Ashoka the Great was one of India's greatest emperors. His empire covered most of modern India and stretched from present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan in the west, to Bangladesh in the east, reaching as far south as northern Kerala and Andhra. After a life of military conquest Ashoka became sickened by the violence and suffering he had brought about and became a devout Buddhist, vegetarian and committed pacifist. Although there is no evidence that Nepal was ever part of his empire, he built the Ashokan pillar at Buddha's birthplace, Lumbini, and many stupas (Buddhist shrines) in and around Kathmandu. The Ashokan chakra (wheel) that symbolises Buddhist spiritual principles remains the central symbol of the Indian flag to this day.

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