- Greek conquests in India
In ancient times, trade between
Indiaand Greeceflourished with silk, spicesand goldbeing traded. The Greeks invaded India several times, starting with the conquest of Alexander the Great.
Conquests of Alexander The Great (327-326 BCE)
327 BCE Alexander the Greatbegan his foray into Punjab. King Ambhi, ruler of Taxila, surrendered the city to Alexander. Many people had fled to a high fortress/rock called Aornos. Aornos was taken by Alexander by storm after a successful siege. Alexander fought an epic battle against the Indian monarch Porusin the Battle of Hydaspes(326). After victory, Alexander made an alliance with Porus and appointed him as satrap of his own kingdom. Alexander continued on to conquer all the headwaters of the Indus River.
East of Porus' kingdom, near the
Ganges River, was the powerful kingdom of Magadha. Exhausted and frightened by the prospect of facing another giant Indian army at the Ganges River, his army mutinied at the Hyphasis (modern Beas), refusing to march further East. Alexander, after the meeting with his officer, Coenus, was convinced that it was better to return.
Alexander was forced to turn south, conquering his way down the Indus to the Indian Ocean. He sent much of his army to
Carmania(modern southern Iran) with his general Craterus, and commissioned a fleet to explore the Persian Gulfshore under his admiral Nearchus, while he led the rest of his forces back to Persia by the southern route through the Gedrosia(modern Makran in southern Pakistan).
Alexander left behind Greek forces which established themselves in the city of
Taxila, now in Pakistan. Several generals, such as Eudemus and Peithon governed the newly established province until around 316 BCE. One of them, Sophytes(305-294 BCE), was an independent Greek prince in the Punjab. ChandraguptaMaurya, the founder of the Mauryan Empireapparently met with Alexander in Taxila:
:"Androcottus, when he was a stripling, saw Alexander himself, and we are told that he often said in later times that Alexander narrowly missed making himself master of the country, since its king was hated and despised on account of his baseness and low birth." Plutarch 62-3 [ [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0243&layout=&loc=62.1 Plutarch 62-3] ]
The Macedonians (described as
Yonaor Yavanain Indian sources) may also have participated, together with other groups, to the armed uprising of Chandragupta against the Nanda Dynasty. The Mudrarakshasaof Visakhadutta as well as the Jaina work Parisishtaparvan talk of Chandragupta's alliance with the Himalayan king Parvatka, often identified with Porus. [John Marshall "Taxila", p18, and al.] This Himalayan alliance gave Chandragupta a composite and powerful army made up of Yavanas (Greeks), Kambojas, Shakas (Scythians), Kiratas(Nepalese), Parasikas (Persians) and Bahlikas(Bactrians) who took Pataliputra (also called Kusumapura, "The City of Flowers"):
:"Kusumapura was besieged from every direction by the forces of Parvata and Chandragupta: Shakas, Yavanas, Kiratas, Kambojas, Parasikas, Bahlikas and others, assembled on the advice of Canakya"
Mudrarakshasa2 [Sanskrit original: "asti tava Shaka-Yavana-Kirata-Kamboja-Parasika-Bahlika parbhutibhih Chankyamatipragrahittaishcha Chandergupta Parvateshvara balairudidhibhiriva parchalitsalilaih samantaad uprudham Kusumpurama". From the French translation, in "Le Ministre et la marque de l'anneau", ISBN 2-7475-5135-0]
With the help of these frontier
martial tribes from Central Asia, Chandragupta was apparently able to defeat the Nanda/Nandin rulers of Magadhaso as to found the powerful Maurya empirein northern India.
eleucid Invasion (305 BCE)
Seleucus I Nicatorfounder of the Seleucid dynastyand one of Alexander's former generals. He invaded India(modern Punjab in northern India and Pakistan) in 305 BCE. [The Encyclopedia of Military History, R Dupuy and E Dupuy p76]
Details of Seleucus's conflict with
Chandragupta Mauryaare unknown but Chandragupta seems have had the best of it. Chandragupta and Seleucus finally concluded an alliance. Seleucus gave him his daughter in marriage, ceded the territories of Arachosia, and received from Chandraguta 500 war elephant which he used decisively at the Battle of Ipsus. [The Encyclopedia of Military History, R Dupuy and E Dupuy p76]
Seleucus also sent an ambassador named
Megasthenesto Chandragupta's court, who repeatedly visited Pataliputra(modern Patna in Bihar state), capital of Chandragupta. Megasthenes has written detailed descriptions of India and Chandragupta's reign.
Continued diplomatic exchanges and good relations are between the Seleucids and the Mauryan empirors are then documented throughout the duration of the Mauryan empire.
Indo-Greek rule (180 BCE-10 CE)
180 BCE, the Indo-Greeks, invaded parts of northwest and northern Indiaand ruled in the Punjab region. They are an extension of the Greco-Bactriandynasty of Greek kings (the Euthydemids) located in neighbouring Bactria.
The invasion of northern India followed the destruction of the
Mauryandynasty by the general Pusyamitra Sunga, who then founded the new Indian Sunga dynasty( 185 BCE- 78 BCE). The Indo-Greek king Menandermay have campaigned as far as the capital Pataliputrain eastern India (today Patna): "Those who came after Alexander went to the Gangesand Pataliputra" ( Strabo, XV.698). The Indian records also describes Greek attacks on Saketa, Panchala, Mathuraand Pataliputra(Gargi-Samhita, Yuga Puranachapter).
The Indo-Greeks ruled various parts of northwestern India until the end of the
1st century BCE, when they were conquered by the Scythians and Kushans.
Buddhism flourished under the Indo-Greeks, leading to the
Greco-Buddhistcultural syncretism. The arts of the Indian sub-continent were also quite affected by Hellenistic art during and after these interactions.
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