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Akbar vs. Ashoka — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on January 23, 2024
Akbar was a Mughal Emperor known for his military conquests and administrative reforms, while Ashoka was a Mauryan Emperor famous for his conversion to Buddhism and spreading its principles.
Akbar vs. Ashoka — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Akbar and Ashoka


Key Differences

Akbar (1542-1605), the third Mughal Emperor, is known for expanding the Mughal Empire across the Indian subcontinent through military conquests and alliances. Ashoka (304-232 BCE), the third Mauryan Emperor, also expanded his empire extensively but is most renowned for his conversion to Buddhism after the Kalinga War and his efforts to spread Buddhist principles.
The governance style of Akbar was inclusive and innovative, promoting religious tolerance and cultural integration in a diverse empire. He established a centralized administrative system with efficient tax policies. In contrast, Ashoka's rule, particularly after his conversion to Buddhism, was marked by non-violence, religious tolerance, and welfare policies aimed at the well-being of his subjects.
Akbar is celebrated for his patronage of arts and culture, which led to the development of a unique Indo-Persian culture, prominently visible in architecture and painting. Ashoka, while not as noted for artistic patronage, left a lasting legacy through the Ashoka Pillars and Edicts, which propagated Buddhist teachings and moral codes.
Akbar's religious policy was known for its syncretism, most notably reflected in the establishment of the Din-i-Ilahi, an attempt to blend elements of various religions. Ashoka, after adopting Buddhism, focused on ethical governance and the spread of Buddhist values, without enforcing it as a state religion.
The historical impact of Akbar includes the establishment of a strong central government that influenced Indian politics for centuries. Ashoka's impact is most profound in spreading Buddhism across Asia and establishing it as a major world religion.

Comparison Chart

Time Period

304-232 BCE

Empire Expansion

Expanded Mughal Empire significantly
Expanded Mauryan Empire, later promoted peace

Governance Style

Inclusive, centralized administration
Ethical governance post-Buddhism conversion

Religious Policy

Promoted religious tolerance, created Din-i-Ilahi
Spread Buddhism, ethical governance

Cultural Impact

Patronage of arts, Indo-Persian culture
Ashoka Pillars and Edicts, spread of Buddhism

Compare with Definitions


Promoter of religious tolerance.
Akbar's policy of religious tolerance was ahead of his time.


Spreader of Buddhism in Asia.
Ashoka played a key role in making Buddhism a major world religion.


Patron of arts and culture.
The Mughal painting style flourished under Akbar's patronage.


Erected pillars with edicts promoting Buddhism.
The Ashoka Pillars spread Buddhist teachings across his empire.


Innovator in governance and administration.
Akbar established a centralized administrative system.


Renowned for non-violence post-conversion.
Ashoka's commitment to non-violence influenced his entire reign.


Creator of Din-i-Ilahi.
Akbar attempted to blend elements of various religions in Din-i-Ilahi.


Mauryan Emperor who embraced Buddhism.
Ashoka adopted Buddhism after the Kalinga War.


Mughal Emperor known for empire expansion.
Akbar greatly expanded the Mughal Empire's territory.


Known for his moral and ethical governance.
Ashoka's rule was marked by compassion and welfare policies.

Common Curiosities

When did Ashoka reign?

Ashoka reigned from approximately 268 to 232 BCE.

Was Akbar a patron of the arts?

Yes, Akbar was a great patron of the arts, notably fostering the development of Mughal painting and architecture.

What era did Akbar rule in?

Akbar ruled from 1556 to 1605 during the Mughal era in India.

Who was Akbar?

Akbar was the third emperor of the Mughal dynasty in India, known for his military conquests and administrative innovations.

What is Akbar most known for?

Akbar is most known for his expansive empire, religious tolerance, and cultural contributions.

Did Akbar have any unique religious policies?

Yes, Akbar was known for his policy of religious tolerance and created a syncretic religion known as Din-i-Ilahi.

What was Akbar's approach to different religions?

Akbar adopted an inclusive approach, respecting and incorporating elements from various religions.

What are the Ashoka Pillars?

The Ashoka Pillars are a series of columns distributed across the Indian subcontinent, inscribed with edicts promoting Buddhism and moral principles.

Who was Ashoka?

Ashoka was the third emperor of the Mauryan dynasty, famous for his conversion to Buddhism and spreading its teachings.

Was Ashoka known for military conquests?

Ashoka initially expanded his empire through military conquests but later embraced non-violence after converting to Buddhism.

How did Ashoka communicate his policies?

Ashoka communicated his policies through inscriptions on pillars and rocks throughout his empire.

What is Ashoka’s most significant contribution?

Ashoka's most significant contribution was the spread of Buddhism and his ethical approach to governance.

Did Akbar expand the Mughal Empire?

Yes, Akbar significantly expanded the Mughal Empire through military conquests and alliances.

How did Ashoka impact Buddhism?

Ashoka greatly expanded the influence of Buddhism through his edicts and pillars, and his support helped establish it as a major world religion.

What legacy did Akbar and Ashoka leave behind?

Akbar left a legacy of a strong centralized empire with rich cultural heritage, while Ashoka's legacy is marked by his role in spreading Buddhism and ethical governance.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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