How could he appear to be happy when he had nothing?
Ashoka was the third king in his family.When Ashoka was running the empire he had made very strict laws and death penalties for just minor crimes. He was said to have a massive temper.
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Kalinga did not want to go under Ashoka's control, which led to war(bloddy battle). After the Mauryans won the war there had been around 100,000 people dead. The rest of the Kalingans were massacred or sold into slavery. This led to Ashoka feeling remoursful.
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After the bloody battle Ashoka saw a buddhist monk meditating and wondered how during such a rough time he appeared so happy. Ashoka later ended up being a part of the Buddhist culture
He had several temples built. He also had laws that followed buddhist principals carved into rocks. He wanted to be a part of the buddhist culture.
Now that they were a part of buddhist culture, Ashoka banned unnecessery slaughter of animals. He improved learning centers and helped improve water systems for trade and agriculture.
Ashoka also built roads to help travelers to get to hospitals when needed. He also sent missonairies as far as Sri lanke, Syria, Egypt, China and Greece to spread the message of Buddha. This was helping spread Buddhism beyond the Indian subcontinent.