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Akbar vs. Ashoka: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 16, 2024
Akbar was a 16th-century Mughal Emperor known for his empire expansion and religious tolerance, while Ashoka was a 3rd-century BCE Mauryan Emperor renowned for spreading Buddhism and his edicts.

Key Differences

Akbar, ruling from 1556 to 1605, was a Mughal Emperor who significantly expanded his empire across the Indian subcontinent through conquest and diplomacy. Ashoka, who reigned in the 3rd century BCE, was a Mauryan Emperor, famous for his conversion to Buddhism after the Kalinga War and his subsequent efforts to spread Buddhist principles. While Akbar is remembered for his military conquests and administrative innovations, Ashoka is noted for his moral and religious transformation and the propagation of Buddhist values.
Akbar is celebrated for his policy of religious tolerance and efforts to integrate non-Muslims into his empire's society and administration. In contrast, Ashoka is known for his humanitarian approach to governance, as exemplified by his promotion of the Buddhist concept of Dhamma, which emphasized moral and ethical living. Akbar's reign marked a significant period of cultural and religious fusion, while Ashoka's reign is distinguished by his commitment to the principles of non-violence and compassion after his conversion to Buddhism.
Under Akbar's rule, the Mughal Empire experienced significant cultural development, including advancements in arts, architecture, and literature. Ashoka, on the other hand, is known for his contributions to the spread of Buddhism across Asia and his efforts in erecting pillars and edicts that articulated his policies and religious beliefs. Akbar's era is often regarded as a golden age in Indian art and culture, whereas Ashoka's legacy includes architectural and epigraphical remains that offer insights into ancient Indian history and Buddhism.
Akbar's administration was marked by a strong central government and innovative revenue collection systems, which helped in the consolidation of the Mughal Empire. In contrast, Ashoka's rule saw the implementation of welfare projects like the construction of roads, hospitals, and rest houses, reflecting his concern for his subjects' well-being. Akbar's governance focused on a robust and efficient administration, while Ashoka's approach was more oriented towards the moral and social welfare of his people.
Akbar's diplomatic marriage alliances and patronage of diverse cultures played a significant role in maintaining his empire's unity and prosperity. In contrast, Ashoka's propagation of Buddhism and his edicts focused on ethical governance and the welfare of all beings, including animals, signifying a shift towards a more compassionate rule. Akbar's strategies were aimed at strengthening political power and cultural integration, whereas Ashoka's rule is marked by a significant shift in policy towards peace and moral governance after the Kalinga War.

Comparison Chart

Historical Period

16th century
3rd century BCE



Religious Affiliation

Islam, with a policy of tolerance
Buddhism, after conversion

Governance Style

Military conquests, administrative reforms
Moral and ethical governance, welfare projects


Cultural fusion, architectural achievements
Spread of Buddhism, ethical edicts

Akbar and Ashoka Definitions


Akbar is known for his policy of religious tolerance.
Akbar held discussions with leaders of different faiths to promote harmony.


Ashoka adopted Buddhism after the Kalinga War.
The horrors of the Kalinga War led Ashoka to embrace Buddhism.


Akbar established a strong central administrative system.
Akbar's administrative reforms streamlined the governance of his empire.


Ashoka erected pillars with inscriptions of his teachings.
The Ashoka Pillars are significant archaeological artifacts.


Akbar expanded the Mughal Empire significantly.
Akbar conquered large areas of India to extend his empire.


Ashoka was an ancient Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty.
Ashoka's reign marked a significant era in ancient Indian history.


Akbar was a Mughal Emperor of India.
Akbar's reign is often considered a high point in Mughal architecture.


Ashoka is renowned for spreading Buddhism.
Ashoka sent missionaries to various parts of Asia to propagate Buddhism.


Akbar was a patron of arts and culture.
Under Akbar, Mughal painting and literature flourished.


Ashoka focused on ethical governance and welfare.
Ashoka's edicts reflect his concern for the moral well-being of his subjects.


A tree of species Saraca asoca, native to South Asia and western Myanmar.


A tree of species Saraca indica, native to Southeast Asia and eastern Myanmar.


What empire did Ashoka belong to?

Ashoka was part of the Mauryan Empire.

What was Ashoka's religion?

Ashoka converted to Buddhism.

What are Ashoka's edicts?

Inscriptions on pillars and rocks detailing Ashoka's policies and Buddhist teachings.

Was Akbar a military leader?

Yes, Akbar was known for his military conquests.

What was Akbar's approach to administration?

Akbar implemented innovative and effective administrative reforms.

What was unique about Ashoka's governance?

Ashoka focused on moral and ethical governance after his conversion to Buddhism.

When did Akbar rule?

Akbar ruled from 1556 to 1605.

Was Akbar known for religious tolerance?

Yes, Akbar was known for his policy of religious tolerance.

How did Akbar interact with different cultures?

Akbar embraced and patronized various cultures within his empire.

Did Akbar contribute to Indian architecture?

Yes, Akbar significantly contributed to Mughal architecture.

Did Akbar have a policy towards other religions?

Akbar encouraged dialogue and respect between different religions.

Did Akbar influence art and literature?

Yes, Akbar's reign was a golden age for Mughal art and literature.

How is Akbar viewed in Indian history?

Akbar is viewed as a wise and just ruler who strengthened the Mughal Empire.

What are some of Ashoka's major achievements?

Spreading Buddhism and implementing welfare projects.

What legacy did Akbar leave behind?

A legacy of cultural fusion, architectural brilliance, and administrative prowess.

Did Ashoka promote animal welfare?

Yes, Ashoka's edicts included measures for animal welfare.

How did Ashoka influence Buddhism?

Ashoka greatly expanded Buddhism's reach across Asia.

What was Ashoka's approach to war?

Ashoka renounced war after the Kalinga War, focusing on peace and ethical rule.

Did Ashoka's conversion to Buddhism affect his empire?

Yes, it led to a more compassionate and ethical form of governance.

How are Ashoka's edicts significant today?

They provide insights into ancient Indian history and ethical governance.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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