Persian and Alexander


Persian Invastion

Cyrus (558 – 530 B.C)
• Cyrus the Great was the greatest conqueror of the Achaemenian Empire.
• He was the first conqueror who led an expedition and entered into India.
• He captured the Gandhara region.
• All Indian tribes to the west of the Indus river submitted to him and paid tribute.
• His son Cambyses had no time to pay attention towards India.

Darius I (522 – 486 B.C.)
• Darius I, the grandson of Cyrus, conquered the Indus valley in 518 B.C. and annexed the Punjab and Sindh.
• This region became the 20th Satrapy of his empire.
• It was the most fertile and populous province of the Achaemenian Empire.
• Darius sent a naval expedition under Skylas to explore the Indus.

Xerxes (465-456 B.C.)
• Xerxes utilized his Indian province to strengthen his position.
• He deployed Indian infantry and cavalry to Greece to fight his opponents. But they retreated after Xerxes faced a defeat in Greece.
• After this failure, the Achaemenians could not follow a forward policy in India.
• However, the Indian province was still under their control.
• Darius III enlisted Indian soldiers to fight against Alexander in 330 B.C.

Effects of the Persian Invasion
• The Persian invasion provided an impetus to the growth of Indo-Iranian commerce.
• It also prepared the ground for Alexander’s invasion.
• The use of the Kharoshti script, a form of Iranian writing became popular in north-western India and some of Asoka’s edicts were written in that script.
• The influence of Persian art can be seen on the art of the Mauryas, particularly the monolithic pillars of Asoka and the sculptures found on them. The very idea of issuing edicts by Asoka and the wording used in the edicts are traced to Iranian influence.

Alexander’s Invasion of India (327-325 B.C.)

Political Condition on the eve of Alexander’s Invasion
• On the eve of Alexander’s invasion, there were a number of small kingdoms in northwestern India.
• The leading kings were Ambhi of Taxila, the ruler of Abhisara and Porus who ruled the region between the rivers of Jhelum and Chenab.
• There were many republican states like Nysa.
• The northwestern India remained the most disunited part of India and the rulers were fighting with one another.
• They never came together against common enemy.

Causes of the Invasion
• Alexander ascended the throne of Macedonia after the death of his father Philip in 334 B.C.
• He conquered the whole of Persia by defeating Darius III in the battle of Arbela in 330 B.C.
• He also aimed at further conquest eastwards and wanted to recover the lost Persian Satrapy of India.
• The writings of Greek authors like Herodotus about the fabulous wealth of India attracted Alexander.
• Moreover, his interest in geographical enquiry and love of natural history urged him to undertake an invasion of India.
• He believed that on the eastern side of India there was the continuation of the sea, according the geographical knowledge of his period. So, he thought that by conquering India, he would also conquer the eastern boundary of the world.

Battle of Hydaspes
• In 327 B.C. Alexander crossed the Hindukush Mountains and spent nearly ten months in fighting with the tribes.
• He crossed the Indus in February 326 B.C. with the help of the bridge of boats.
• He was warmly received by Ambhi, the ruler of Taxila.
• From there Alexander sent a message to Porus to submit, but Porus refused and decided to fight against Alexander.
• Alexander marched from Taxila to the banks of the river Hydaspes (Jhelum).
• As there were heavy floods in the river, Alexander was not able to cross it.
• After a few days, he crossed the river and the famous battle of Hydaspes was fought on the plains of Karri.
• Although Porus had a strong army, he lost the battle.
• Alexander was impressed by the courage and heroism of this Indian prince, treated him generously and reinstated him on his throne.
• Alexander continued his march as far as the river Beas encountering opposition from the local tribes.
• He wanted to proceed still further eastwards towards the Gangetic valley, but he could not do so because his soldiers refused to fight.
• Hardships of prolonged warfare made them tired and they wanted to return home and Alexander could not persuade them and therefore decided to return.
• Alexander made arrangements to look after his conquered territories in India and divided the whole territory from the Indus to the Beas into three provinces and put them under his governors. H
• is retreat began in October 326 B.C. Many republican tribes attacked his army.
• On his way he reached Babylon where he fell seriously ill and died in 323 B.C.

Effects of Alexander’s invasion
• The immediate effect of Alexander’s invasion was that it encouraged political unification of north India under the Mauryas.
• The system of small independent states came to an end.
• Alexander’s invasion had also paved the way for direct contact between India and Greece.
• The routes opened by him and his naval explorations increased the existing facilities for trade between India and West Asia.
• His authority in the Indus valley was a short-lived one because of the expansion of Mauryan Empire under Chandragupta Maurya.


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