July 16, 2014

Alexander's Invasion & its impact on Indian History

Alexander’s Invasion
  • He defeated the last king of the line of Darius, Xerexes in 333 BC and 331 BC. After! occupying the realm of the Persian king, Alexander crossed the Hindukush mountains in eastern Afghanistan in 327 BC.
  • He fought many tribes and took the city of Pushkalavati (near the junction of Swat and Kabul rivers) before crossing the river Indus in 326 BC.
  • It is stated that the Indian sources are silent on Alexander's campaign. Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund in A History of India comment that "The memory of Alexander the Great returned to India only very much later with the Islamic conquerors..."
  • The king of Taxila accepted Alexander's sovereignty. Alexander met with stiff resistance from the elder Paurava king whom he defeated. He later returned the kingdom to Paurava.
  • Conquering the tribal territories around the kingdom of the elder Paurava, he crossed River Akesines (Chenab) and the Hydraotes (Ravi). Over-running the Kathasoi stronghold Sangala, he reached River Hyphasis (Beas). Here, it is said, his troops were unwilling to press on farther.
  • Alexander retraced his steps to the Jhelum, then led a division back through Baluchistan and is said to have reached Sua in Babylon, where he died in 323 BC.
  • Alexander converted the conquered territories (west of Hydaspes) into satrapies under Persian or Macedonian governors helped by the local chiefs in some cases (Ambhi of Taxila, for instance).
  • Beyond the river, he set up protected states under Vassal kings, like the Paurava king and the king of Abhisara. In Pushkalavati, Taxila and some other places garrisons were setup. New cities, especially on the river banks, were built

Impact of the Invasion:
  • For about 200 years, the Indo-Persian rule continued and the impact of such a relationship was tremendous.
  • The Western world came to know more about India-the people and the country. Contacts were established enhancing trade and commerce (ancient Persian coins found in the region north-west of India indicate this).
  • New scripts were introduced-Aramaic (referred to as Yavanani by Panini) and Kharoshthi, written from right to left like the Arabic script
  • The Kharoshthi script was used in Asokan inscriptions in the north-west The Iranian impact was also felt in art and architecture.
  • The Asokan bell-shaped capitals on pillars show influence of Iranian models.
  • The preambles of Asoka's edicts and the terms used therein (for .the Iranian 'Dipi', the Asokan scribes substituted 'Lipi') follow the Iranian models and methods.
  • The Greeks, thus, came to know about the wealth of these regions. Alexander's conquest of areas north-west of India and the adjacent parts increased contacts between ancient Europe and ancient India.
  • Four distinct routes (land and sea) were opened up and trading facilities increased. Alexander sent a fleet under Nearchus to explore, probably, the coast and to look for harbours from the mouth of River Indus to that of the River Euphrates.
  • The Greek historians of the time have left behind geographical accounts. Their records of Alexander's campaign and their accounts of the socio-economic conditions in the north-west parts of India are a wealth of useful information.
  • Alexander's conquest meant a number of Greek settlements in the region and the extension of areas where the Greeks had settled earlier.
  • These included the city of Alexandria (region of Kabul), Boukephala (on River Jhelum) and another Alexandria in the Sindh region.
  • The Macedonians established them in the north-west by defeating the petty states in the area. Thus, the various political units were joined into one and a kind of union established which greatly helped in consolidating Mauryan power in that region.
  • Probably, Chandragupta Maurya had seen the working of Alexander's military and had acquired some knowledge which contributed to his rise as a strong emperor.
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