disintegration of small principalities once again paved
way for an invasion of India. This time, it was by a Great
warrior with a mastermind behind it.
On the eve of the Persian invasion, Northwest India
was divided into petty states.
Darius I was the first foreign king to invaded Indian
provinces. Some of Indian provinces like Punjab and Gandhara
are mentioned as parts of Achamenian Empire. The Indian
provinces provided them mercenaries or supplies for wars
against Greece. The Persian hold over India continued
till 330 B.C. Alexander, the great Greek king, defeated
the last Persian ruler Darius III.
Alexander's path to India-
Alexander embarked a far-reaching scheme of campaigns
and conquests in the east. As mentioned above, his first
conquest was that of Persia in 330 B.C. In 327 B.C. he
completed his conquest of Eastern Iran. He took control
of Hindukush, Bactria and Marcanda or Samarkand.
Alexander turned towards India in later part of
327 B.C. His army was estimated of around 30,000 men.
Main scenes of his invasion were, the Kabul valley, the
plains of Punjab and the lower course of Indus.
From Nicaea, near India, he sent invitations to Indian
kings. Some kings like Ambhi of Taxila and Sasigupta were
in Alexander's favour.
Alexander had no difficulty in handling such a big unguarded
country. The small states were easy to win. Even those
states, which were not willing to buy peace, had no time
to retaliate. The speedy Greek forces eliminated any chances
of the reunion of the Indian states.
First, Alexander made two main divisions of his army.
The first was sent to build a bridge on the river Indus
and the other was sent to the hilly regions to fight.
Alexander himself had to deal with strong opponents on
the hills. The first Indian king to lose was the king
of Astakenoi. The strength of the Greek enemy beat him
down. The next stage in Alexander's campaign was the fort
of Aornos or Varana. Alexander posted a garrison here.
The Greek army crossed the Indus thereafter. Beyond Taxila,
between the rivers Jhelum and Chenab was the kingdom of
Porus. Porus was opposed to Ambhi, the king of
Taxila. Ambhi not only welcomed Alexander, but also provided
him help. Both the two armies were standing on either
sides of the river Jhelum. Excellent tactics, military
superiority and the advantages of rains were the plus
points to help Alexander. Alexander won the battle
of Jhelum. He however gave back the throne to Porus,
whom he respected a lot.
Alexander further marched to the interiors of the country.
Right from the beginning he had to face a lot of difficulty
with small tribal units. The great kingdom of Magadha
his next target.
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Magadha was very famous for its prosperity in those
times. The soldiers had already suffered
greatly. Their patience and strength was exhausted by
the climatic conditions in particular. So Alexander had
to order the retreat to Persia, ending the campaign in
On his way back some assembled republican people like
Malavas and some Brahmanas opposed him. All Malava cities
became the centers of resistance. The chief of the Mushikas
also seems to have given tough resistance. Alexander's
last halt was at Patala. In September 325 B.C. Alexander
proceeded through Baluchistan to Babylon where he died
after two years.
Death of Alexander-
Alexander died a sudden death at the age of 33, in the
year 323 B.C.
A conqueror of such a caliber lacked the quality of a
good administrator. Most of the conquests of Alexander
were not consolidated. He had appointed Satrapis or officers
but they all became independent after his departure. Even
in India, he gave back the conquered territories to the
old principalities. Alexander did not have a worthy successor.
So after his death, the territories which he had conquered,
one after another, became independent. His own kingdom
was also affected and suffered because of his absence.
Effects of Alexander's Invasion
Though the invasion failed to mark the political life
of India, it had definitely influenced the social and
cultural life. The effects of the invasion are either
over-emphasized or under-emphasized. The Greek settlements
could not have a permanent effect on the Indians, at the
same time, their influence cannot be denied. The effects
were as follows:
1)The routes used by Alexander became trade routes between
India and the West. He also opened a sea route to the
West. Still, we cannot say that 'because of the Greek
invasion the Indian trade flourished'. There are evidences
to prove that India already had good commercial connections
with the rest of the world.
2) Alexander brought with him a number of historians and
scientists. These people recorded many details about the
Indian society. The foreign resources are useful in reconstructing
the basic chronology of events. Again, we cannot completely
rely on these sources. These accounts are most of the
3) A very important effect is observed in the field of
art. The Gandhara School of art is very much influenced
by the Greek art. Similarly, we also see Indian influence
on the Greek art as well. So there was a cultural exchange
between the two countries.
4) There is one more point that Alexander tried to get
the scattered principalities under one control. This situation
must have helped Chandragupta Maurya in the later years.We
can say that though the consequences were not of a far-reaching
nature there was a large amount of give and take at both