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The Mauryan Empire in the third century BC took as its mission the dissemination of Buddaha's teaching to an ignorant world.

In the above sentence, is "took as" supposed to be "took its mission as ~"? If I am wrong, please let me know.

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In the pattern

to take something|someone as X

The basic meaning of take there is "to accept", and the as-phrase describes the nature of the taking or acceptance. Often, as can be paraphrased with to be in this pattern.

Do you take this woman as your wedded wife?
Do you take this woman to be your wedded wife?

They took it as their responsibility to clean up after the party.
They took it to be their responsibility to clean up after the party.

As you can see there, the as-phrase comes before a rather lengthy object

...to clean up after the party.

and there is a cleft with it, which stands as a proxy for to clean up after the party. That cleft occurs because this sentence would be unwieldy:

They took to clean up after the party as their responsibility.unidiomatic

We don't normally have infinitives as direct objects of take. But we could say it with a gerund:

They took cleaning up after the party as their responsibility.

P.S. In your original

The Mauryan Empire in the third century BC took as its mission the dissemination of Buddaha's teaching to an ignorant world.

the object is the dissemination of Buddaha's teaching to an ignorant world. That is a very lengthy object, much longer than cleaning up after the party, and so, to keep the relationship of the as-phrase and the verb intact, the as-phrase remains with the verb took instead of coming after the object. Here is what it would be if the object comes first:

The Mauryan Empire in the third century BC took the dissemination of Buddaha's teaching to an ignorant world as its mission.

We don't find a cleft there because we use a cleft with it when we need a nominal object because the actual object is an infinitive. There, we have an actual nominal, the dissemination.... We could recast the object:

The Mauryan Empire in the third century BC took it as its mission to disseminate Buddaha's teaching to an ignorant world.

but the collision of it and its makes the sentence confusing, which defeats the purpose of using a cleft.

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The Mauryan Empire in the third century BC took as its mission the dissemination of Buddaha's teaching to an ignorant world.

The sentence above is an example of heavy noun phrase shift. The Direct Object is a very long noun phrase:

  • the dissemination of Buddaha's teaching to an ignorant world.

We often move very long Objects like this to the end of the sentence. In the Original Poster's example, it has moved past the preposition phrase as its mission. If we put the phrases in their normal order, the sentence would look like this:

  • The Mauryan Empire in the third century BC took [the dissemination of Buddaha's teaching to an ignorant world] as its mission.

The preposition as is taking the noun phrase its mission as a Predicative Complement. In other words its mission describes the dissemination of the Buddha's teaching. We could paraphrase as its mission with the phrase to be its mission:

  • The Mauryan Empire in the third century BC took [the dissemination of Buddaha's teaching to an ignorant world] to be its mission.
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    Thanks for your detailed explanation. This kind of shift was news to me ~~ – user51561 Mar 23 '17 at 13:11
  • @user51561: "This kind of shift was, to me, news" ;) – Lightness Races with Monica Mar 23 '17 at 17:59
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Not exactly. It reads better with commas:

The Mauryan Empire in the third century BC took, as its mission, the dissemination of Buddaha's teaching to an ignorant world.

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    Hmm. I disagree. I don't think there should be a comma there at all. This is not a parenthetical phrase. – Araucaria Mar 23 '17 at 12:05
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    Agreed with Araucaria. The commas might make it clearer to the OP, but they don't really belong there, because "The Mauryan Empire took the dissemination..." doesn't make sense. – stangdon Mar 23 '17 at 12:05
  • @Araucaria I think the commas work well and I believe that writing it as a parenthetical makes sense. However, I have no data. It's just a hunch. – Lightness Races with Monica Mar 23 '17 at 18:00
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There are several good answers that explain what is correct in this case, but they don't really compare the two alternatives, so this is a supplement.

"Took as its mission" is filling a hole where a mission is needed. We need a mission or purpose, what should it be? Let's take X as our mission.

"Take its mission as" is interpretation. We've been told our mission is XYZ, but the description is ambiguous. What does it really mean? Let's take the mission to be X.

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