The header itself is quite controversial the way it has been presented – Alexander the Great.
The great battle of Hydaspes says that Alexander won it after tough resistance from King Porus. Thereafter, Alexander was so impressed with the battle skills of Porus that Alexander –
- Forgave Porus
- Allowed Porus to continue with his kingship
- Added 2 more cities to Porus’s regime
- Gave up further invasion plans in the Indian Territory and retreated back
Are these really a conclusion of a victorious battle??
Alexander’s invasion of the Indian Territory has been drafted in the Indian context by referring the Greek chronicles and Greek history, which will obviously flatter their hero.This is why we read it as – the Battle of ‘HYDASPES RIVER’ and not ‘JHELUM RIVER’, fought by king ‘PORUS’ and not ‘PARVATESHWAR’.
Indian texts were not so eloquent about Alexander’s invasion, since he was not so successful in affecting Indian kingdoms. Secondly, Alexander was confronted by few petty kingdoms existing in the Indus basin, whereas, majority of the Indian subcontinent was ruled by the Nanda Dynasty, which never faced Alexander, therefore there is no mention of Alexander’s invasion in the Indian texts. Hence, western historians had a free run over presenting Alexander as noble conqueror.
NOBLE CONQUEROR – An Oxymoron
Alexander’s invasion of Persia doesn’t symbolize him as a merciful king. After conquering the whole of Greece, Alexander was very ambitious about invading Persia to avenge Xerxes’ invasion of the Greek territory.
Annexing the Babylonian region of the Persian Empire, Alexander burned down the wealthy city of Persepolis – the capital of Iran into ashes, avenging Xerxes’ burning down of Greek temples.The Persian king, Darius was overtaken and was eventually put to death.
Alexander then proceeded towards Afghanistan and entered the Indian Territory. King Ambhi of Gandhar became an ally of Alexander to score off some territorial issues with neighboring kingdoms. Alexander’s and Porus’s army met on the banks of the river Jhelum. Alexander’s army had 20000 footmen and a cavalry consisting 15000 horses. Porus’s army consisted of elephants which the Greek army had never faced before. Greek horses could not withstand the trumpet like cries of Indian elephants which created a disorder amongst the army formation.
Eventually, Alexander realized that if he continues the war, he would be completely ruined and devastated. Porus and Alexander thus signed a peace treaty, wherein, Alexander added 2 more cities in Porus kingship namely, Nicaea and Bucephala (named after his horse killed by Porus’s son).
Alexander has been presented as a noble man who had great respect for brave kings; obviously referring to Greek records. Of course nobody writes one’s setback episodes.
Ironically, Alexander was neither noble nor had a heart of gold. He treated his enemies very brutally like Basus of Bactria who was tortured by chopping off his nose and ears. He even killed his childhood friend Kalasthenese, the nephew of his own tutor Aristotle as well as his friend Clytus in anger. Upon discovering that Indian Brahmins assisted the Indian kings with war strategies, Alexander executed around 8000-10000 non-combatant Brahmins. Thereafter, Brahmins used to address him as “THE MIGHTY MURDERER”.
All these records do not imply Alexander to be noble enough to forgive Porus and gift him 2 more cities to administer.
At the end, I would quote Rabindranath Tagore as he rightly said, – “We Indians read foreigner’s history”.