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IN the fourth century BC there is a sudden rift in the mists which envelop the ancient history of India. The regions disclosed are the Kabul Valley, the foothills through which the Five Rivers come down into the plains of the Punjab, the plains themselves, and the lower course of the Indus. The country, as we see it, is held partly by a number of independent tribes, governed by their own headmen and owning the authority of no king. But this primitive aristocratic type of community is holding its own with difficulty against another type of government, the monarchic. In parts of the country principalities have been formed under despotic rajas, and between the different elements a struggle with varying vicissitudes is going on. The rajas are fighting to extend their authority over the free tribes and the free tribes are fighting to repel the rajas. The rajas are also fighting amongst themselves, and mutual jealousies lead to politic alliances according to the necessities of the moment; we divine in this little world a conflict and shifting of antagonistic groups such as we can follow on a larger scale in the history of Europe. It is into this world that the Western invader plunges in 326 BC.

About ten miles north-west from where Rawalpindi now stands stood, in the fourth century BC, the city of Takshashila (Taxila), long eminent among the cities of India as a great seat of learning. In the year 327 it was the capital of a raja, whose principality lay between the Indus and its tributary the Jhelum (the ancient Vitasta, the Hydaspes of the Greeks). Like Rawalpindi today, Takshashila guarded the chief gate of India from the north-west : it was the first great Indian city at which merchants who had come down the Kabul Valley and crossed the Indus about Attock arrived, three days’ journey beyond the river. Its ruler was the first among the kings of the Punjab to hear any tidings which might come down from the highlands of Afghanistan of events happening behind those tremendous mountain walls. For many generations now the Punjab must have had some knowledge of what went on in the dominions of the King of Kings. For the Persian Empire founded two centuries before by Cyrus had been a huger realm than had ever, so far as we know, existed in the world under the hand of one man, and the power and glory of the man who ruled it, the splendor of Ecbatana and Persepolis, must have been carried by fame over the neighboring lands.

The rajas of Takshashila must therefore have long lent an ear to the rumbling of wars and rebellions which came across the western mountains. They may indeed have known next to nothing of what went on at the further extremities of the Persian Empire; for the same realm which at its utmost extension eastward touched the Indus reached at its other end the Aegean and Black Seas; and the great monarchic Empires of the east are conglomerations too loosely organized for the troubles of one province to be necessarily felt in the more distant ones. The Indian princes may therefore have been ignorant of the fact that the Persian king at the other end of his realm had come into contact with a singular people settled in a quantity of little republics over the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula, along the coasts of Asia Minor, and in the intermediate islands, the people whom the Persians called collectively Yavanas (Ionians). We do not know whether it even produced any considerable shock on the banks of the Indus, when a century and a half before 334 BC the Persian king had led his armies to disaster in the land of the Yavanas, although those armies included Indian tribesmen torn by Persian officers from the frontier hills, whose bones were destined to find their last resting-place on the field of Plataea thousands of miles away. Of the long struggle which went on for generations after that between the Yavana republics, especially the one called Athens, and the western satraps of the Great King perhaps no rumor was brought down the Kabul valley to Takshashila.

From Kandahar to Kabul

But in 334 BC and the following years the struggle between Persia and the Yavanas took a turn which must have made talk even in the palaces and bazaars of the Punjab. The Indian princes learnt that a Yavana king had arisen in the utmost West strong enough to drive the Great King from his throne. It may be that the western provinces, Asia Minor and Egypt, were torn away in 334, 333 and 332 BC by the invader without yet bringing the Indian princes to realize that so huge a fact in the world as the Persian Empire was about to vanish. But there can have been no mistaking the magnitude of the catastrophe, when Darius III was flying northward for his life, when Alexander had occupied the central seats of government and set Persepolis on fire (330 BC). If this man from the West was going to claim the whole heritage of the Achemenian kings, that would make him the neighbor of the princes of India. It must have been a concern to the raja of Takshashila and his fellow-kings to learn in what direction the victorious Yavana host would move next. And in fact the tidings came before long that it was moving nearer. When the winter of 330 fell, it was encamped in Seistan, and with the spring moved to the uplands which today constitute the southern part of Afghanistan. Here the awe-struck inhabitants, Pashtus probably, ancestors of the modern Afghans, saw the European strangers set about a work which indicated a resolve to make themselves at home for all time in these lands won by their spear. They saw them begin to construct a city after the manner of the Yavanas at a point commanding the roads; and when the rest of the host had gone onward, there a body of Europeans remained, established behind the fresh-built walls. If we may judge by analogies, some thousands of the native people were induced by force or persuasion to settle side by side with them in the new city. It was only one of the chain of cities which marked the track of conquering Hellenism. Like many of the others, this too was given the name of the conqueror. In the speech of the Greeks it was known as Alexandria-among­the-Arachosians. Today we call it Kandahar.

A mountain barrier still separated the Yavana host at Kandahar in the summer of 329 from the Kabul valley, that is to say, from the river system of the Indus. And it would seem that, when the passes filled with the first winter snows, the Yavanas had not yet crossed it. But the army led by Alexander was one which defied ordinary obstacles. In winter, under circumstances that made regular provisioning impossible, by extraordinary endurance it pushed through the hills and descended into the Kabul valley. The princes of the Punjab might feel that the outlandish host stood indeed at the door.

But Alexander, having reached the Kabul valley in the winter of 329-8, did not make an immediate advance upon India. Beyond the mountain range which forms the northern side of the valley, the Hindu Kush, lay the extreme provinces of the old Persian Empire towards the north-east—Bactria (whose name still survives in the city of Balkh) and the country now called Bukhara. Not only were these provinces still unsubdued, but the Persian cause was upheld there by a prince of the old blood royal. Alexander must beat down that opposition, before he could think of invading India. He waited therefore for the rest of the winter in the Kabul valley, till the spring should unblock the passes of the Hindu Kush. And again here the inhabitants saw the Europeans make preparations for permanent settlement. At the foot of the Hindu Kush, whence three roads to Bactria radiates, on the site probably of the still existing village of Charikar, rose another Alexandria, Alexandria-under-the-Caucasus. In support of the Yavana colony to be left in this town, other little settlements were established at points a day’s journey off in what were henceforth to be Greek towns; Cartana, noted for the rectangular precision with which its walls were traced out (modern Begram, according to Cunningham) and Cadrusi (Koratas?) are names given us. In this case we have an express statement that 7000 of the people of the land were to be incorporated as citizens of the new towns with those of Alexander’s mercenaries who cared to settle in this region 2800 miles away from their old home. Another new city, or old city transformed with a new Greek name, Nicaea, occupied apparently some site between Alexandria and the Kabul river.

As soon as the snow was melted enough to make the Khawak Pass practicable, the Yavana army trailed up the Panjsbir valley, leaving little bodies of Europeans behind it to hold the Kabul valley under a Persian satrap and a Macedonian episkopos. The main body of the army once more contended with the hardships of a passage over the high ridges and disappeared to the northwards. During the following twelve months (May 328 to May 327) such news of it as reached India showed that the Yavana king still prevailed against all enemies. As far as the Syr Dania (Jaxartes) the peoples of Eastern Iran were broken before him. In the early spring of 327 he was again moving to the south.

The raja of Takshashila must have realized at this juncture that a momentous choice lay before him. It may be that the idea of a common Indian nationality, in whose cause he and his brother kings might stand together against the stranger, did not even occur to him : India was too large and too disunited for the mind to embrace it as a unity. But he might well tremble for his own power, if this new resistless deluge came bursting into the land. On the other hand it might perhaps be turned to his account. His policy was largely governed by his antagonism to the rival prince of the Paurava house (Porus), who ruled on the other side of the Hydaspes (Jhelum). The Paurava was indeed a neighbor to be dreaded. He is described to us as a man of gigantic and powerful build, a warrior-chief, such as in an unsettled world extends his power by aggressive ambition and proud courage. He had conceived the idea of building up for himself a great kingdom, and he was the man to realize it. He had already made an attempt to crush the free tribes to the east, pushing his advance even beyond the Hydraotes (Ravi), in alliance with the raja of the Abhisara country (corresponding roughly with the Punch and Naoshera districts in Kashmir) and with many of the free tribes whom he had drawn into vassalage swelling his army, although the resistance he there encountered from the Kshatriyas had made him temporarily give back. His hand had perhaps also reached westward across the Hydaspes into the country which the raja of Takshashila considered his own. It might well seem to the raja of Takshashila that, threatened on the one side by the Paurava and on the other side by the European invader, his safest course lay in allying himself with the European, riding on the crest of the wave that would sweep his rival to destruction.

And yet the European host which had emerged out of the unknown West to shatter the Persian Empire may have appeared too unfamiliar and incalculable a power to make the decision easy. But, if the raja hesitated, his son Ambhi (Omphis) had a clear opinion as to what the situation required. He pressed his father to place his principality at the Yavana king’s disposal. While Alexander was still in Bukhara, Ambhi began to negotiate on his own account. Envoys from Takshashila made their way over the ridges of the Hindu Kush. They were charged with the message that Ambhi was ready to march by Alexander’s side against any Indians who might refuse to submit. Thus the European, at his first arrival at the Gates of India, found India divided against itself. It was the hand of an Indian prince, which unbarred the door to the invader.

The summer of 327 BC was almost come before the hillmen of the Hindu Kush saw the Yavana army re-appear on the ridges, cross probably by the Kushan Pass, and stream down to the new Alexandria. The satrap who had been left here was found to have done badly, and Alexander appointed another in his place, Tyriespes, a Persian like his predecessor. The population of the city was enlarged by drawing in more of the people of the land and settling down there more war-worn European veterans. The work of making a city of Greek type had really only been begun, and a Macedonian of high rank, Nicanor, was now appointed to see it carried through.

The army moved on from Alexandria to Nicaea, where Alexander sacrificed to the Greek goddess Athena. From Nicaea he sent on a herald to the raja of Takshashila and the native princes west of the Indus to meet him in the Kabul Valley. We know of one Indian chief, Shashigupta (Sisikottos), already in the conqueror’s train. His had been probably some little hill-state on the slopes of the Hindu Kush, whence he had gone two years since, to help the Iranians in Bactria against Alexander. When their cause was lost, he had gone over to the European. Messengers now summoned the other chieftains of the lower Kabul Valley to meet their overlord. At Takshashila too messengers appeared with the summons. And the raja, acting on the policy which his son had espoused so decisively, rose up to obey.

From Kabul to the Indus

Encamped in the Kabul Valley at some place not named the raja of Takshashila saw the host destined for the invasion of his motherland. It numbered, at the lowest estimate, from twenty­five to thirty thousand men—a strangely compounded army, which can only be called European with qualification. Its strength indeed consisted in the Macedonian regiments, stout yeomen and peasants carrying the long spear of the heavy-armed foot-soldier, and troops of splendidly disciplined cavalry drawn from the aristocracy of the country, the ‘Companions’ of the national King. European too were the thousands of soldiers from the Greek cities, serving as mercenaries, on foot or mounted, and the contingents of semi-barbarous hillmen from the Balkans, Agrianes and Thracians, serving as light troops—slingers, javelineers, and bowmen—invaluable for mountain warfare. But mingled with the Europeans were men of many nations. Here were troops of horsemen, representing the chivalry of Iran, which had followed Alexander from Bactria and beyond, Pashtus and men of the Hindu Kush with their highland-bred horses, Central-Asiatics who could ride and shoot at the same time; and among the camp-followers one could find groups representing the older civilizations of the world, Phoenicians inheriting an immemorial tradition of shipcraft and trade, bronzed Egyptians able to confront the Indians with an antiquity still longer than their own.

There was nothing to arrest this army between the point they had now reached and the Indus. The local chieftains had indicated their submission. All along the north side of the Kabul however lay the hills, whose inhabitants in their rock citadels, in the valleys of the Kunar, the Panjkora, and the Swat, were unschooled to recognize an overlord, and as prepared to give trouble to anyone who tried to incorporate them in an imperial system as their Pathan successors of a later day. But it was not Alexander’s way to leave unsubdued regions beside his road. His army therefore broke up into two divisions. One, commanded by Hephaestion, the king’s friend, and Perdiccas, the proudest of the Macedonian nobles, moved to the Indus by the most direct route. This would probably mean a route along the south bank of the Kabul, whether’ through the actual Khyber Pass or not; the other, led by the king himself, turned up into the hills. The two divisions were to rejoin each other upon the Indus; Hephaestion and Perdiccas, arriving there first, it was calculated, would have made all preparations for the passage of the great river.

The Europeans who had followed Alexander so far into Asia now entered the region in which the armies of the English operate today. At that season of the year the hill-country must have been bitterly cold, and probably to some extent under snow. It was the same hill-country whose contours and tracks and points of vantage were studiedonce by British commanders; the tough highlander of the Balkans or of Crete climbed and skirmished with bow and javelin in 327 BC where the Scottish highlander was to climb and skirmish with rifle and bayonet two thousand two hundred years later. And yet it is impossible to follow the track of Alexander over these hills with any precision. We hear of little mountain towns stormed, of others abandoned by their inhabitants. But their sites cannot be identified. One must however note that at this point Alexander, in an ethnographical sense, entered India; for these hills, whose population at the present day is either Afghan or Kafir, seem then to have been possessed by Indian tribes. The Ashvakas, as their name apparently was in their native speech, were the first Indian people to receive the brunt of the invasion. The fighting seems to have been of exceptional ferocity. At one place, where Alexander was wounded, the whole population was put to the sword. At another place we hear of a huge massacre, and 40,000 men taken captive. At a third place a body of Indians from the Punjab had come to help the local chieftain for hire. When the town capitulated, it was agreed that these mercenaries should transfer their services to Alexander. They encamped on a little hill apart. There, as they talked together, it seemed to them a horrible thing that they should march with the Yavanas against their own people. They determined to slip away, when night fell, and make across the hills for home. But when night fell, they found the hill beset on all sides with the soldiers of Alexander; for some one had betrayed their design. The Macedonians suffered none of them to live till mornings.

Tribes beyond the N.W. Frontier

The town with which this incident is connected the Greeks call Massaga. We know only that it was situated east of the Guraeus river and apparently not far from the stream. The resistance which the easternmost branch of the hill-people, those called by the Greeks Assakenoi, offered to the invader seems to have been concentrated at this place. All these tribes, as far as the Indus, recognized as overlord a chief whom the Greeks call Assakenos. His organization for defence included an alliance with the king of the Abhisara country beyond the Indus, who sent contingents to his support. Assakenos had himself taken command at Massaga, and fell there, struck by a missile from one of the European siege­machines. His mother and daughter were left in the enemies’ hands; but it was not among Alexander’s faults to fail in chivalry to the women whom war put at his mercy.

The loot in cattle in these regions was enormous, and we are told that a herd of the finest animals was actually given by Alexander into the charge of drovers who were to drive them all the way from the Hindu Kush to Macedonia. A town called by the Greeks Arigaeon, which apparently commanded the road between the Kunar and the Panjkora Valleys, was selected for decolonization—a number of war-worn Europeans and a number of the native people were to form the population, as in similar cases before.

One curious incident relieves the story of bloodshed. Somewhere among these hills—probably on the lower spurs of the three-peaked Koh-i-Mor—dwelt a people who told the Yavanas, or so the invaders understood them, that they were descendants of the western people who had come into those parts with their god Dionysus; for Dionysus, the Greeks believed, had gone conquering across Asia, at the head of his revelers, in the old heroic days. The Greeks always experienced a keen joy of recognition, when they could connect foreign things with the figures of their own legends, and they were delighted with the suggestion. The assonance of names lent itself immediately to confirm the theory as usefully as it does to confirm the adventurous speculations of modern archaeologists. In the legend the name Nysa was specially connected with Dionysus—it was the name of his nurse or of the place where he was born or of his holy hill—and the name of this little town in the Hindu Kush, as it was pronounced to Alexander, had a similar sound. Again the legend said that Dionysus had been born from the thigh (meros) of Zeus, and a neighboring summit, the Greeks discovered, was called Meru. What could be clearer? And when they saw the sacred plants of the god, the vine and ivy, running wild over the mountain, as they knew them at home, no doubt could be left. Modern travelers have come upon certain fair Kafir tribes in this region, whose religious processions with music and dancing have a Bacchanalian look, and the Nysaeans discovered by Alexander, they suggest, may have been the ancestors of these Kafirs; their processions may have led the Greeks to connect them with Dionysus. This is possible, but in the Greek books we hear nothing of the Nysaeans going in procession. It is the Macedonian soldiers themselves, who wreathe their heads with ivy and range the hills in ecstasy, calling on the god by his sacred names, as their people had done from old time on the woody spurs of the Balkans. Hostilities, at any rate, with these interesting kinsmen could not be thought of, and the Nysaeans were themselves prepared to act in character; three hundred of them on their mountain horses joined the army of the Yavana king and followed him to battle in the plains of the Punjab.

Occupation of the Lower Kabul Valley

Whilst Alexander was fighting in the valleys to the north of the Kabul, the other division of the Macedonian army under Hephaestion and Perdiccas, accompanied by the raja of Takshashilla, made its way along the Kabul to the Indus. It may have been through the Khyber Pass that, one day in the cold weather season at the end of 327 or beginning of 326 BC, the glitter of strange spears, long lines of mailed men, were seen emerging into the plain about Peshawar—the advance guard of the European invasion of India. A few days’ march farther, and they came to the Indus. Arrived there, the Europeans set about collecting material for the bridge which was to transport their fellows into the interior of the land. But their hold on the country west of the Indus was not yet secure. The region in which the division of Hephaestion and Perdiccas was now encamped formed part of the realm of a raja, named by the Greeks Astes, whose capital was the town of Pushkalavati (Charsadda) to the north of the Kabul river. The raja at this moment declared himself an enemy of the foreigners. He was not strong enough to hold the open field against Hephaestion and Perdiccas, and shut himself desperately in some walled town. For a month he held it against the besiegers, and then the greater strength of the Europeans beat him down, and destroyed him. The principality was given to one who had been his enemy and become a hanger-on of the raja of Takshashila, a certain Sangaya. He was a man upon whose loyalty the Yavanas could count.

In the hills to the north, after a few months’ fighting, the tribes generally had submitted to Alexander and the strong places were in his possession. He constituted the lower Kabul Valley and the recently conquered hills a special satrapy, distinct from the satrapy of the Paropanisadae, which Tyriespes ruled from Alexandria-under-the-Caucasus. The new satrapy, whose official name we do not know, but which can be most conveniently described as India-west-of-the-Indus, got for its governor a Nicanor, probably the same man who had been left a few months before to superintend the building of Alexandria. The king himself came down to Pushkalavati at the lower end of the Guraeus (now usually called the Swat) valley, which was not in a position, after the defeat of its raja, to offer any resistance. He set a Macedonian garrison in the town under an officer named Philip.

But the effective occupation of the lower Kabul valley by the Yavanas required still more to be done. The division of Hephaestion had meantime fortified and garrisoned a place the Greeks call Orobatis, and Alexander, accompanied by two Indian chieftains, Cophaeus and Assagetes, moved about to take possession of various small towns between Pushkalavati and the Indus. But one great labor remained. The reduction of a certain mountain citadel, which crowned Alexander’s work during that winter, always seemed to the Greeks the great glory of the campaign. The Greek books described the siege and storming at greater length than any other episode in this region. The story was started that Heracles had attempted to storm that very rock and failed. Unfortunately, it has so far been impossible to fit the Greek description of Aornus to any rocky height noted in the country todays.

Aornus, we are told, was not far from the modern Amb; it was a great isolated mass of rock, 6670 feet high, flat on the top with precipitous sides, which on the south went down straight to the river Indus. On the summit were woods and water springs and fields whose cultivation could keep a thousand men employed. It seems plain that an object of this kind can hardly have escaped modern geographers in search of it. The inference is that some particulars in the Greek account are due to imagination. But when once we begin to trim it so as to suit the actual topography, it depends on a more or less arbitrary selection which particulars we eliminate and which we retain. There is at any rate no reason to doubt that the final conquest of this mountain region did involve the reduction of some exceptionally strong rock-citadel, in which fugitives of the defeated tribes made a last stand. The citadel, when taken, was held for Alexander by a garrison under the Indian Shashigupta. The capture of Aornus had to be followed by another short expedition further up into the hills, in pursuit of the flying defenders of the fortress: They were led by the brother of the Assakenian chief killed in Massaga and had with them a herd of fifteen war-elephants. To the Greeks the idea of getting hold of these animals, so strange and wonderful to them, of whose value in battle they had probably formed an even exaggerated notion, made their pursuit the more eager. The hills were deserted before them, and Alexander pushed on as far as a town which the Greek books call Dyrta. It was found empty of inhabitants. Alexander learnt that the fugitive prince was dead by the evidence of his severed head, brought by some hillmen one day into camp. He had fallen a victim to some hostile tribe or to his own followers. Two bodies of light troops were detached to scour the hills yet further, and Alexander himself turned back with the rest of his division to the Indus.

The Crossing of the Indus

Some natives of the region were caught by the Macedonians on their way. They reported that the fugitives from Aornus and the people of the hills had escaped into the country of Abhisara, whose raja was watching the progress of the Yavanas with a doubtful mind. As for the elephants, they had turned them loose in the country bordering the Indus, more swampy in those days than it is now. An elephant hunt accordingly followed; Alexander had already, with his quick interest in new things and his Macedonian sporting propensities, collected about him Indians whose special business was elephant-hunting, and by their means the scattered herd was driven in, and attached to the Macedonian army. The point at which Alexander's division struck the Indus on its descent from the hills was some way above the point where Hephaestion and Perdiccas had by this time constructed the bridge. Between the two, the right bank of the river was largely overgrown with forest, which, if in one way it impeded the advance of Alexander’s division, in another way helped the transport by furnishing timber for boats. Part of Alexander’s force floated down the river, and when he arrived at Hephaestion’s bridge the number of new boats was swelled by those brought down from up-stream. The two divisions of the Yavana host now re-united for passage into the heart of India. The place at which the bridge had been made has been fixed by the most recent opinion at Ohind, about miles above Attock. The Greeks felt that they were crossing the threshold of a new world. Sacrifices to the Greek gods, games and horse-races in their honor on the river bank at Ohind, marked their sense that they were about to begin a new enterprise of formidable magnitude. Alexander was approaching the bourne of the old Persian Empire, and it was evident that he meant to press still onward towards the sunrise. The Greek diviners announced that the omens were favorable. In the early dawn one day in the spring of 326 BC, the host began to defile over the bridge, the mingled line of many races streaming all day into the Indian world. And the composition of the army became now more singularly mixed by the contingents of native Indian troops sent by the raja of Takshashila, squadrons of Indian horse and thirty elephants, endless trains moreover of oxen and sheep for sacrifice and food, and silver brought in masses from his treasuries.

The raja of Takshacila was now none other than Ambhi himself; for the old raja had not lived to see the Yavanas enter his city. The first act of the new raja had been to send a message of homage to Alexander; he would not assume his ancestral kingdom except pending the Great King’s pleasure. He would take his kingdom only from Alexander’s hand. As Alexander moved on Takshashila from the bridge, Ambhi went out to meet him in state at the head of the forces of his principality. For a moment, when the Greeks saw an Indian army deployed across their path, they suspected treachery. The raja saw that there was trouble in the ranks and galloped forward with a few attendants. He assured Alexander through an interpreter that everything he had was his overlord's. Alexander on his part ratified his assumption of the princedom.

The gates of Takshashila were thrown open to the Europeans and the Indian crowd watched, no doubt with a crowd’s curiosity, the strange figures and dresses which thronged their streets. But in one quarter the Greeks met with an indifference which took them aback. At Takshashila, so far as we know, the Greeks first noticed Indian ascetics. The report reached Alexander himself of a strange set of men who were to be seen naked somewhere near the city, ‘practising endurance’, men commanding a great reverence among the people. It was no use his sending for them, since they would certainly refuse to come : those who wished to learn their secret must go to them. Alexander, however, on his side, felt he could not go to them consistently with his dignity; so he chose an envoy, a Greek officer named Onesicritus, who had been a disciple of the Cynic philosopher Diogenes, a figure obviously akin to the Indian ascetics. Onesicritus, in the book he afterwards wrote, gave an account of his interesting mission, and we may still read it in Strabo’s version. He found fifteen ascetics some ten miles from the city, sitting naked and motionless in a sun so burning that one could not even walk over the stones with bare feet. Onesicritus could only communicate with them through a series of three interpreters, but he made them understand that the Yavana king would like to learn their wisdom. The ascetic to whom he first addressed himself answered bluntly that no one coming in the bravery of European clothes—cavalry cloak and broad-brimmed hat and top-boots, such as the Macedonians wore—could learn their wisdom. To do that, he must strip naked and learn to sit on the hot stones beside them. Another answered more mildly that it was really very creditable for such a man as Alexander to desire to know something of the deeper wisdom, but one must remember that to attempt to convey their teaching through three interpreters, common men incapable of understanding more than the more words, would be like trying to make water flow clear through mud. They seem however to have made an attempt, and then they asked Onesicritus whether among the Yavanas there was any teaching of this kind, and he told them about Pythagoras and Socrates and his old master Diogenes. The ascetics seemed pleased; but expressed regret that the wise men of the Greeks had clung to such superfluities as clothes. One of these ascetics was ultimately persuaded by the raja of Takshashila to accompany Alexander and return to clothes and a worldly life. His companions considered it an apostasy, and followed him with reproaches. The name of this Indian, who remained a notable figure in Alexander’s entourage, was one which Plutarch reproduces as ‘Sphines’, but the Greeks, catching among the Indian words of greeting which he exchanged with his fellow-countrymen, the word kalyana, ‘lucky’, came to call him Kalanos.

At Takshashila Alexander held what would be called in modern India a durbar. There were more Greek sacrifices and games. Ambhi and a crowd of smaller chiefs from the country already dominated by the Macedonian arms brought presents, and were granted extensions of territory at the expense of such of their neighbors as had not submitted to the European King of Kings. And Alexander bestowed presents also with a large hand. In the train of the European army, wagons had come over the mountains bringing from the storehouses of the old Persian kings vessels of gold and silver, Babylonian and Persian embroideries, and many of these now found a home in the palace of Takshashila. The Macedonian captains were inclined to grumble at the munificence with which Alexander treated his Indian vassal kings. But Alexander had come to feel himself, one gathers, a man raised above distinctions of race, an Emperor of the world, beneath whom all mankind was to be leveled and made one.

East of the Hydaspes (Jhelum) the Paurava king had been watching the immense peril come near. He learnt of the alliance between his old enemy of Takshacila and the Yavana conqueror. He learnt that other princes of the land were tendering submission to the new power—his own kinsman, for instance, another Paurava, whose territory lay still further to the east, beyond the Acesines (Chenab). In that moment of fear, the spirit of the great Paurava rose unshaken in the resolve to settle his relations with the invader by the arbitrament of arms. It would be a mistake to regard him as one who fought in the nationalist cause. The Paurava does not seem to have been moved by any thought of Indian solidarity against the European any more than the raja of Takshashila. It was not India that he was going to fight for; it was his own honor and his own kingdom. His honor would not allow him to surrender anything without a fair fight, and all his old ambitions of constructing a great kingdom at the expense of neighboring chiefs and the free tribes would vanish into air, if he gave way to a power which had made agreement with his rivals. And yet, if the Paurava was not a champion of nationalism, India may well reckon the proud and brave prince among her national heroes. Unhappily India has long forgotten his name. We know of him only through the Greek books which call him Porus. It would have seemed a strange fate to him, had any astrologer been able to predict it—to pass quickly out of the memory of his own people, and to be a familiar name for centuries in lands of which he had no conception, away to the West!

To meet the Europeans, the Paurava could draw upon the resources of his own principality lying between the Hydaspes and the Acesines, full of populous villages. And if his immediate neighbors to east and west were hostile, the raja of Abhisara was inclined to make common cause with him. That prince had already, as we have seen, given shelter to the fugitives from the Swat Valley, and now messengers went to and fro between him and the Paurava. He thought it politic however to play a double game, and sent his brother to the durbar at Takshashila to convey presents to Alexander and the announcement of his submission. And meanwhile he prepared to send forces to join the Indian army mustering on the Hydaspes.

The Advance to the Hydaspes

It was probably some wind of these intrigues which accelerated Alexander’s attack. The Paurava, for his part, had sent the Yavana conqueror an open defiance. To the envoys who summoned him to meet Alexander at Takshashila he had answered that he would meet Alexander on his own frontiers, in arms. He soon learnt that in spite of the heats of summer which now lay on the land, in spite of the near approach of the rains, the European army had broken up from Takshashila and was in full march for the passage of the Hydaspes. Alexander had left a Macedonian garrison in Takshashila, and a Macedonian satrap, Philip the son of Machatas, in the realm of Ambhi. Probably somewhere near the place where is now the town of Jhelum the army of the Paurava gathered on the banks of the Hydaspes in the spring of 326. Its numbers are variously givens. They were perhaps not very far, more or less, from those of Alexander’s army, though all our accounts agree in one point—that Alexander had a numerical superiority in cavalry.

The first body of Yavanas to appear on the river was, one gathers, the advance guard sent on by Alexander, bringing in sections the boats which had been used on the Indus. These were fitted together again on the Hydaspes, and a little fleet could soon be descried in moorings across the river. The king with the main army was on the road. The Paurava seems to have thrown one body of troops into the country opposite under his nephew Spitaces, to contest Alexander’s advance in some narrow place of the hills, through which the road from Takshashila runs. It was, of course, a mere preliminary skirmish, and a manoeuvre of the Macedonian horse threw back the Indians in some confusion. Presently the great host of the Yavanas was seen drawn up on the other side. The eyes watching from the left bank could make out the royal tent and the uniform of the body-guards and even the figure of the marvelous man himself moving to and fro among his captains. They could see too a body of 5000 Indians, their countrymen, sent by Ambhi to fight by the side of the Macedonians. Nothing divided the Indian army from the conquerors of the world but the breadth of the Hydaspes. That however was a serious obstacle. The river at this season was rising as the snows began to melt in the Himalayas. Along the left bank the Paurava kept a sharp watch on all possible landing-places. His elephants especially would deter the Europeans, by their terror as well as by their solid bulk, from landing. To land in the face of such opposition might well seem an impossibility, even for Yavanas. But for the Paurava it meant the necessity of unremitting vigilance; it meant the continuous minute scrutiny of every movement on the opposite bank. He was now to show whether he had the general’s genius for divining the purposes of the enemy from chance indications.

The difficulty was that movement in the opposite camp seemed perpetual. Over and over again there were concentrations at this point or that, as if an immediate attack were to be made, and then, when the nerves of the defenders were strung up to the highest pitch of expectancy, nothing happened. Was the dreadful foe really brought to a standstill by an obstacle such as he had never yet encountered? Or were these abortive movements purposed feints to throw the defenders off their guard? For the foreigners at any rate it must make things worse when rain storms came on—tropical deluges such as they could never have experienced before, with only such shelter as a camp allows—and the swollen river swelled yet higher. Some indications seemed to show that this state of suspense might be protracted for months, that the Yavanas had given up the thought of attempting to cross in the present state of the river, and were going to wait for the winter when it would become fordable. It was certain from the reports of spies that great stores of provisions were being brought up, as if for a long halt. Then alarms at night began. In the intervals of the rain the noise of cavalry mustering could be heard on the further bank, the shoutings of words of command, the songs which the Yavanas sang in battle to their own gods; and at the sound of it, on the left bank the great elephants would swing through the darkness to their stations, and the lines of Indians stand ready with sword and bow. And still nothing happened. The night alarm became almost a piece of routine.

One daybreak, after a night of storm and violent rain, outposts came galloping in with the tidings that boats crowded with horses and armed men had been sighted rounding the end of a wooded island some twenty miles away from the Indian camp. A body of Yavanas had succeeded in reaching an undefended part of the left bank. The first outposts who reported sighting the boats were soon followed by others who had seen the enemy getting firm foot upon the land.

From the Greek books we know more than the Paurava could know of the movements which had taken place in the European army on that terrific night. While the rain poured in torrents and the lightnings struck men down here and there in the European columns, the king with a strong division—Macedonian horse and foot, horsemen from Balkh and Bukhara, light-armed Balkan mountaineers and archers—moved to a point about seventeen miles from the European camp, where the fleet of river-boats was in readiness. As it drew near day, the storm abated, and in the first light the laden boats pushed off. In any circumstances, to embark upon an unknown river, swollen in flood, would have been sufficiently venturesome. A single bark carried the king and several of his great captains, men who in after days were destined themselves to rule great tracts of the earth and to plot against each other’s lives—Perdiccas, the future Regent, Ptolemy, one day to be king of Egypt, Lysimachus, to be king of Thrace and carry the Macedonian arms into what is now Roumania, Seleucus, who would inherit Alexander’s Asiatic empire. With so much history was one boat big, which in the early light of that gray morning swayed upon the blind eddies of an Indian river. It was one of the moments when Alexander threw himself upon luck, as represented by the chance play of natural forces. The point from which the boats put out had the advantage—it was chosen for that reason—of being hidden from the watchers on the opposite bank by a wooded island in midstream. It was not till the boats approached land that they came in sight, and sent the outposts galloping back to the Paurava. It was instantly clear that everything was a question of time : could the Indians reach the place where the Europeans had landed before the Europeans were ready to receive them? And here the luck of natural accidents came in. The Europeans soon discovered that the recent rain had cut off the place where they were from the proper shore by a swollen channel; they had landed on what was now practically an island. All depended on whether the channel was fordable. If it was not, the Europeans were caught in a trap. The question remained doubtful, as at point after point attempts were made, and the water proved too deep. Then a point was found where it was just possible for a man to cross, going into the strong current above his breast, and there men and horses struggled through. Onesicritus recorded words which, he said, burst from the king in the stress of that moment. They show a curious point of contact between the European then and the European now. For today India sees in the European someone living and moving and acting in its midst, whilst the public opinion which governs him, for which he really cares, is the opinion of a society thousands of miles away. At that moment, Onesicritus said, Alexander suddenly exclaimed, as the thought struck him that he was going through all this for the sake of a fame, which meant that people would talk and write about him at Athens! 

When the Paurava received tidings of the landing of the Yavanas, he could not yet tell from which direction the main attack would come. For the enemy’s camp could be descried as usual just opposite—the royal tent, bodies of European soldiery, of horsemen from the Kandahar highlands and the Hindu Kush, and the Indian troops of the hostile rajas. The Paurava must not relax his guard on the adjacent landing-places, whatever force he might detach to deal with the body of Yavanas who had got across. As a matter of fact, Alexander had left a force, including two Macedonian phalanxes, in the camp under Craterus, with orders to attempt the passage as soon as they should see the Indians thrown into confusion by his own attack, and another body of troops with Meleager at a point half way between the camp and the place of embarkation. The division which crossed the river with Alexander numbered about 11,000 men. The Paurava remained stationary with the bulk of his army, but in order to meet with all possible speed the Europeans who had landed, he detached a force of 2000 mounted men and 120 chariots under the command of his son. The young prince found a body of Europeans already drawn up on the shore. As he came nearer, detachments of horse broke from the enemy’s lines and swept towards him. But instead of the shock of the encounter, a hail of arrows descended upon the Indian cavalry; for the men who came against them carried bows and could shoot in full career. They were not Yavanas, but the men from the steppes of Central Asia, who by custom fought in this elusive fashion. Behind them, however, Alexander was keeping his European squadrons in reserve, till he knew whether he had the main force of the Paurava before him or only a detachment. Then the Indians received the charge of the Macedonian horse, squadron after squadron, and at their head flashed the person of the terrible king. The Indian horsemen were overpowered, and could only throw their lives away in the unequal battle. Four hundred are said to have fallen; the young prince was among the slain. All the 120 chariots, running headlong into the mud, were captured.

The Battle of the Hydaspes

The return of the shattered squadrons to camp told the Paurava that no river separated Alexander and himself any more, that the hour of supreme crisis was come. He determined to move practically the whole of his force against the division with the king. Only a small body of troops (four or five hundred foot soldiers and thirty-five elephants) were left to hold the river-bank against the division with Craterus. The Indian army arrived in time to draw up in battle order before the Europeans engaged them.

Some of the pictorial features of the battle which followed we can gather from our Greek texts. But their account is too confused, in part perhaps through the mistakes of copyists, to allow us to reconstruct it as a military operation. Not knowing whether it was above or below the Indian camp that Alexander had landed, we do not know whether the right or the left of the Indian line rested upon the river; and yet that would be an essential point in understanding what happened. We know at any rate that the strength of the Indians was in the two hundred elephants—an arm to which the Europeans had no parallel and which was apt to terrify the foreign horses—whilst the superiority of the Europeans was in cavalry.

A picture of the Indian line of battle is given us. The elephants were drawn up along the front like bastions in a wall. The enemy would be obliged, either to attack the unfamiliar monsters directly, or go in between them to get at the masses of Indian foot behind. The line of foot projected on each side beyond the elephants, and, beyond the foot, cavalry was stationed to guard either flank, with chariots in front of them. An image of some god, Krishna or Indra, was held aloft before the ranks. In the midst of his army the Indian prince had his seat upon an elephant of exceptional size, his own magnificent frame encased in a hauberk of cunning workmanship, which left nothing but his right shoulder bare—visible to all and surveying all. The Indian army waited, a great stationary mass, whilst the monotonous yet exciting rhythm of the drums and the trumpeting of the elephants filled the air, to see how the more mobile European force opposed to it would develop the attack. As in the former fight that morning, it was a cloud of 1000 mounted archers from Central Asia, which first rolled out upon the Indian left and covered the cavalry there with flights of arrows. Their arrows might have been answered more effectually from the Indian ranks, were it not that the rain-rotten slush underfoot made it impossible for the Indian archers to get a firm rest for their long bows. To repel this attack the Indian cavalry on the left wing began to execute some wheeling movement, but while it was still incomplete the Macedonian horse-guards, led by Alexander himself, bore down upon them. The battle, so much we can say, was decided by the cavalry. Alexander’s onset was supported by another body of European horse under the Macedonian Coenus. What exactly the manoeuvre of Coenus was is obscure; the phrases in our authorities are of doubtful interpretation, and what is offered in printed texts is sometimes the conjectural emendation of a modern editor. The Indian cavalry was unable to hold its own against the Macedonian horse, practised in a hundred fights over half Asia. The irretrievable defeat of the Indian cavalry threw the infantry into confusion, and the crush in the centre made the elephants a terror to their own side. When the European infantry came into action, all resistance had become hopeless, and what followed was not fighting, but butchery. Between the broken squadrons of horse plunging amongst them and the rushes of the maddened elephants, the Indian army was reduced to a bewildered mob. A part of the mob surged backwards in a wild attempt to regain the camp from which they had set out, and a certain number succeeded in getting through the cruel ring of the enemy's cavalry. But by now the division of Craterus had crossed the river, and these exhausted fugitives therefore only found new bodies of Macedonians, fresh and unbreathed, barring their way. They were mown down without a possibility of escape or resistance. Among the thousands who, the Greek books affirm, perished on that day—‘were the two sons of Porus, Spitaces the nomarch of that district, all the great captains of Porus’.

The prince himself from the back of his huge elephant had seen his army turned to confusion around him. The Greek historians, to whom India must owe it, if she knows anything today about this her heroic son, observe that, unlike the Persian monarch in a similar case, he did not turn to flight. So long as any body of men in that seething mass preserved any appearance of order, the Paurava kept his elephant where the darts were flying. One gashed his bare right shoulder. When all hope was over, the royal elephant turned and made its way from the place of carnage. The Paurava had not gone far when a man came galloping after him. Coming within earshot, he shouted to the prince to have his elephant halted : he brought a message from the Yavana king. The Paurava recognized the hated face of the raja of Takshashila. Then he turned round in his seat, and, with what strength his wounded arm could gather, threw a javelin. Ambhi evaded it and galloped back to his overlord. Presently the Paurava was overtaken again by other horsemen, calling to him to stop and receive Alexander’s message. Among them he saw a certain Meroes, whom he believed to be still his friend. Loss of blood had brought on intolerable thirst. It came to the Paurava that he had done all that honor required, that he might yield to destiny. The elephant was halted and he alighted. The envoys of Alexander gave him to drink. Then he bade them conduct him to the king.

As the little party neared the Macedonian lines, the Paurava saw the conqueror of the world come galloping out to meet him. It was an instance of two strong men, from diverse ends of the earth, coming face to face. Alexander, whose romantic vein was easily touched, was all admiration, the Greek books say, for an antagonist so splendid in person, so brave and proud. There is no Indian historian to tell us what the Paurava felt, when he looked on Alexander. But we gather that from their meeting the Paurava gave this unparalleled man his full loyalty, as vassal and friend. Their conversation at this their first meeting is recorded. The Paurava was made to understand that Alexander desired him to indicate himself the treatment he would wish to receive. “Act as a king”, the Indian said. But the interpreter explained that Alexander was not satisfied; he wanted something more precise. “When I said: As a king”, the Paurava replied, “everything was contained in that”.

The principality of the Paurava was now in the hands of Alexander to order as seemed good to him. The Paurava was re-instated in his former dignity. He was only required to regard himself as the member of a world-realm under Alexander. In all groupings of mankind,—in the family, the nation, the empire—the constituent units have to sacrifice something of their independence in order to share in the greatness and strength of the group. And in such a realm as Alexander now conceived, a realm including already so many races and nations, in which European and Asiatic should stand on one footing, it might well seem to a proud Indian prince that he and his people could accept their place without shame. He entered it as the peer of the Macedonian chiefs, who might claim to be the conquerors, and of the princes and nobles of Iran, who had given their allegiance to the new King of Kings. That his new position meant amity with the raja of Takshashila was probably the thing which the Paurava found most bitter. But that Alexander sweetened, so far as he could, by giving him a great enlargement of dominion towards the east.

Here too Alexander, pursuing his fixed policy, was determined to strengthen the bonds which knit his empire together by planting cities of European men. On what had been the field of battle, they began to trace out the walls of a Nicaea, a ‘City of Victory’, and on the opposite bank of the river, whence Alexander had put out in the gray of that eventful morning, the site of a city was marked, to be called Bucephala, after the king's stalwart old horse Bucephalus, who had come so far to lay his bones.

Political Conditions in the Punjab

Here again the Indians saw the Yavanas honor their gods in their own peculiar fashion—the sacrifices of thanksgiving for victory, the obsequies of the slain, the horse-racing and the running, wrestling and boxing of naked men. To the Sun especially Alexander made offerings on this occasion, whose grace, he deemed, had opened for him the way to the Orient. Then the army turned once more to the business of war. The state of things, as we saw, which the Europeans found in the Punjab was one of extreme division, free tribes everywhere maintaining their separate independence against princes like Ambhi and the Paurava. The first effect of the Macedonian conquest, as it has been of other conquests, was internal unification. It seemed good policy to recognize a certain number of native princes and make their authority really effective over large spheres. Even to the west of the Acesines (Chenab), the next river after the Hydaspes (Jhelum), there was a people with thirty-seven towns of over 5000 inhabitants—the Greeks give their name as Glausai or Glauganikai—which had held their independence against the Paurava. But it was a different matter, when the summons was brought by the conquerors of the Paurava, when they saw the wave of European and Central-Asian cavalry sweeping over their fields, columns of Macedonian footmen and Thracian archers marching against them. They surrendered, and the principality of the Paurava was extended over their land.

There was no power in the north-west of India, after the battle on the Hydaspes, which could meet the Europeans in the open field, as the Paurava had done. The only chance lay in the fact that the intrusive power, although a far-reaching one—a camp on the move—could not be everywhere at once, and, if it could not be met, it could often be defied at a distance. The rapid conquest had been anything but secure. Even before Alexander had left Takshashila a rebellion in the Kandahar region, which had been joined by the chief of a neighboring part of India, had been suppressed, and now, whilst Alexander was encamped among the rivers of the Punjab, the hill tribes of the Swat Valley threw off fear and renounced allegiance. We may perhaps gather from a sentence in a Greek text that the satrap Nicanor was killed. The Indian Shasiigupta, who held the fortress of Aornus for Alexander, sent urgent messages to the Punjab. Macedonian forces came up in time to beat down the revolt, from the neighboring satrapy on the west under the Iranian Tyriespes, and from the realm of Ambhi under Philips. But even if this revolt was suppressed, it was an indication of disruptive forces below the surface.

The raja of Abhisara, who had been too late to help the Paurava, thought well to renew his assurances of loyalty to Alexander. A body of envoys from Kashmir, headed by the raja’s brother, arrived in camp with presents which included forty elephants. They would also seem to have brought back to Alexander his envoy Nicocles, whom the raja had retained by him, so long as the issue of the conflict with Porus was doubtful. Alexander, however, could now be satisfied with nothing short of the raja’s own presence, and gave the envoys to understand that it would be as well for him to come, or Alexander might come to look for him.

When the satrap of Parthia, a Persian, had brought down a body of Thracian reinforcements from Iran, Alexander moved across the Acesines (Chenab), probably in the neighborhood of Sialkot, having now nothing but physical difficulties to contend with. The passage of the river brought him near the frontiers of the other Paurava. This chieftain’s envoys had been for some time past carrying Alexander his homage; but his calculations had been completely upset when he saw the hated kinsman, whom he had pictured humbled before him by the power of the foreigners, retained at Alexander’s side as an honored friend. It made his own position a dangerous one and he fled before the approach of the Europeans. The king pressed onwards to the next river, the Hydraotes (Ravi), leaving, of course, strong posts at various points behind him, to secure his communications. From the banks of the Hydraotes he detached a body of troops under Hephaestion to occupy the territory of the fugitive Paurava, and annex all the land between the Acesines and the Hydraotes to the realm of Porus his friend. Any free tribes within that region were to be taught to recognize their new prince’s authority. Hephaestion was also to begin the walls of a city upon the Acesines—possibly' an older native town commanding the road over the river, now to be rebuilt and fortified on Hellenic principles. Alexander himself passed on eastwards over the Hydraotes.

The Capture of Sangala

The European army kept near the foothills of the Himalayas, marching through the country north of Amritsar. The region was one of those held by free tribes, one which the Paurava, in the days before the coming of the Europeans, had vainly tried to subdue. The first tribe to whom the Europeans came, east of the Hydraotes, the Adhrishtas, submitted; but the powerful Kshatriyas, who had repelled the Paurava and the raja of Abhisara combined, were not disposed to bow to the Yavanas without a struggles. The fortified town called by the Greeks Sangala was chosen as the centre of resistance. The Kshatriyas who held it soon found that the invaders drew the siege tight around it in deadly fashion. But it was eventually not foreigners only whom they saw from their walls. Their old Paurava enemy arrived in the Macedonian camp with a force of elephants and five thousand Indian soldiers. He arrived in time to see the Macedonian storm the city. Seventeen thousand of the defenders, we are told, fell by the sword, whilst the captives surpassed the enormous figure of 70,000. The inhabitants of other towns of the Kshatriyas fled in a mass, although Alexander sent his clever Greek secretary, Eumenes of Cardia, to assure them of his clemency if they submitted. Many succeeded in getting out of the country, but some 500 were overtaken by the Europeans and killed. Sangala was razed to the ground, and the country made over to the Paurava.

Somewhere near the Kshatriya country, it would seem, lay the principality of the raja Saubhuti, worthy to be set beside the Paurava, as he is described to us, for goodliness of person and stature and for the vigor of his administration. In later days he struck coins with his name in Greek as Sophytes. It was now apparently that he first saw the Yavanas as the invaders of his territory and had the prudence to make friends with them. He entertained the Macedonian king with splendor; the strength and tenacity of his great hunting dogs, of which he gave an exhibition, was what impressed the Europeans more than anything else.

Still eastwards the European host marched and came to the fifth river, the Hyphasis (modem Beas). The Sutlej remained (some 80 miles by the road from Gurdaspur to Rupar) as the only considerable river of the Indus system after that to cross; and then another river-system would be reached, that which empties itself through the Ganges into the Eastern Sea. Already the ears of Alexander were filled with accounts of the great kingdom of Magadha on the Ganges, of its populousness and splendor and power. His chief informant apparently was a raja of the neighborhood, Bhagala, who had submitted to the invader. Was it an enterprise which a man in his senses could undertake, to attempt the subjugation of such a country with an army already nearly three thousand miles from its home? Some modern historians maintain that Alexander had too sound a sense of possibilities to have thought of it. But the ancient historians affirm that he saw himself in anticipation arriving victorious at the utmost bound of the earth on the Eastern Sea. We may believe that his astounding success had indeed made nothing seem impossible to him, that his judgment of things was no longer completely sane: we may also believe that, although he knew some great and powerful nations still remained to be subdued, before he could round off his conquest of the eastern world, he did not know the full extent of the East—that Further India, for instance, and China lay altogether outside his knowledge. It is not unlikely that he may seriously have thought it practicable to make himself king of the whole inhabited earth. But on the banks of the Hyphasis (Beas), somewhere near the modern Gurdaspur, an imperious check awaited him. The army, which had followed him thus far, suddenly struck: all the personal magnetism, all the stirring and indignant appeals of the king could not induce the stout Macedonian countrymen to go a step further. For three days he shut himself in his tent, and the battle of wills remained in grim deadlock. At last the king recognized the bitter necessity of giving up his ambitions half-fulfilled. To save his face probably, he offered sacrifice again to the Greek gods, as preliminary to crossing the river and then discovered that the omens were unfavorable. After that he gave the word for the retreat. But first, in his romantic imaginative vein, he made the army build twelve gigantic altars, like towers, upon the banks of the Hyphasis, to show to future times how far into the East Alexander had come. One account says that later on the Mauryan kings used to offer sacrifice in the Yavana manner upon those altars. All trace of them has long since disappeared.

So India, about the end of July 326 BC, saw the wave of European invasion, which had washed thus far, begin to ebb, back to the Hydraotes, back to the Acesines, where a certain number of the Greek veterans were ordered to fix themselves for good in the city which Hephaestion had been building, back to the Hydaspes. The thoughts of Alexander were now turning in another direction. If the most easterly waters of the Indus river-system were for the time being to bound his empire, he would at any rate pass along his frontier, pursue the course of the Indus to the Ocean and return by the sea-board to Babylon. He had to organize the conquered portion of India on a basis that would endure when the European army had departed. And he forecast a different Punjab from the one he had found. Instead of a multiplicity of rival princes and independent tribes, all the country from the Hydaspes to the Hyphasis was to form one kingdom under the Paurava. Another large principality was created for Ambhi west of the Hydaspes. Similarly in Kashmir, the raja of Abhisara, whose embassies and presents had at last convinced Alexander of his loyalty, was given extended authority, and his neighboring raja of Braga (Hazara), called by the Greeks Arsaces, was ordered to regard him as overlord. But if the free tribes, as independent powers, were suppressed, Alexander would leave a new element in the country, which might to some extent counterpoise the power of the kings—the new cities of European men, or Europeans and Indians mingled, plants of Hellenism in a strange soil. The rudimentary walls of Bucephala and Nicaea on the Hydaspes Alexander found on his return damaged by the rains, and the army had to build them stronger before it moved in the new direction down the river.

The autumn at the new cities was spent in preparing a fleet to transport a part of the army and the horses by water. The conduct of this was entrusted to the Cretan Nearchus. The rest of the army, now swelled by reinforcements from the West, was to accompany them on either bank. Philip, the satrap of the province between the Hydaspes and the Hindu Kush, was ordered to follow three days’ journey behind with the force under his command. The scene at setting out is described to us in some detail. It was probably a day in November 326 BC. At daybreak the king, standing in the sight of all on the prow of his vessel, poured from a golden bowl libations to the Rivers—the Hydaspes, the Acesines, and the Indus—to Heracles his ancestor, to the Egyptian god Amun, and the deities, Greek or foreign, whom he was wont to invoke. Then a trumpet sounded for the start. The fleet presented a picture of impressive order, the grouping and intervals being precisely regulated. But the extraordinary mixture of nationalities and garb must have satisfied the eye with variety and colour, while to the ear the noise of the rowing and the shouts in a hundred different tongues made a bewildering volume of sound. Amongst the crews of the boats the Egyptians, the Phoenicians, and the Cypriots were prominent. Beside the Macedonian and Greek troops, the Indians ran in crowds along the banks, speeding the fleet with songs, in their barbaric way, says the Greek author. “No nation”, he explains, “is fonder of singing and dancing than the Indian”.

Defeat of the Malavas

This novel armada glided down the Hydaspes, past jungles and villages, and in ten days from the start reached the confluence of the Hydaspes and the Acesines. Two divisions under Hephaestion and Craterus respectively marched along the two banks, and the satrap Philip, who had overtaken the fleet at its first halting, had been sent across to the Acesines to march down this river to the confluence. Some of the peoples along the banks—such as the Sibae, whose garb of shaggy skins and clubs made the Europeans take them for descendants of the companions of their own Heracles—offered submission. The resistance of others was easily suppressed. But further downstream a strong confederation of free tribes was awaiting the Europeans with a high courage. These were a tribe, called Malavas (in Greek Malloi), between the lower HydraOtes and, the Acesines, and the Kshudrakas (in Greek Oxydrakai) higher up the Hydraotes, between that river and the Hyphasis. The rapids at the meeting of the Hydaspes and the Acesines gave some trouble to the fleet, and two boats foundered. On the frontiers of the Malavas the whole European force—the fleet and the three divisions of Craterus, Hephaestion, and Philip re-assembled. The fleet was now sent on under Nearchus three days in advance with orders to wait for the land-force at the next confluence, that of the Acesines and the Hydraotes. The land-force was broken up anew into different divisions for the attack on the Malavas. With a suddenness which disconcerted their plans the Indian tribesmen found Alexander in their midst. The first of their cities to be attacked was on the edge of a tract of sandy desert, from which one morning early a force of mounted Macedonians, with the king at its head, broke upon it, having ridden all night across the waste. And here first was enacted what was repeated in city after city of the confederacy—the attack, the capture, the massacre. Many of the inhabitants of these places escaped to the jungles or across the Hydraotes : many were captured by the Macedonians in their flight and slaughtered. It was at the storming of one of these towns that the king exposed his person in a way which nearly cost his life. We may probably infer that the morale of the European army, fighting across the interminable spaces of this strange land, had begun to decline, that such desperate expedients on the part of the great leader were necessary. Alexander, reaching the top of the citadel wall among the first, stood there for one moment in his shining armour, a mark for the defenders’ darts, and then leapt down almost alone on the inner side. There he stood with his back to the wall, beating off the crowd of his assailants, while the Macedonian nobleman Pencestes held over him the sacred shield which had been taken from the temple of Athena at Ilium and was believed to have been carried in the Trojan War. By the time that his army, frantic, had broken into the citadel, Alexander was lying with a severe wound in his breast. The Macedonians believed that their king was killed and gave way to a fury of blood-lust, sparing neither woman nor child in the city. But Alexander recovered, and, as soon as he could be moved, was carried by boat down the Hydraotes, near which river the town stood, to the main camp at the confluence of the Hydraotes and the Acesines

The terror of the European host had now broken the spirits of the Malavas, and their surviving headmen, as well as the headmen of the Kshudrakas, came to the camp, tendering their submission. According to the Greek historian, they urged that their crime was after all the love of freedom, but that, Alexander being apparently more than man, they were ready to obey any governor he might appoint and pay tribute. They sent a thousand of their best men as hostages. When the armament continued its progress downstream, Alexander left the Malavas and Kshudrakas attached to the satrapy of Philip; but the thousand hostages he sent back to their homes.

Still down the unending stream the Europeans floated or marched, through the territories of other tribes whose names our books record in the form the Greek tongue gave them—Abastanes, Xathri, Ossadii—who submitted in prudence or by compulsion. At length they came to the last confluence, where the Acesines, carrying in it the waters of the other three rivers, united in those days with the Indus and a single vast stream rolled down towards the ocean. Here again the armament halted, sometime in the cold season at the beginning of 325 BC. The great shifting of the river beds in this region makes it impossible to know the site today. The point seemed one for planting another Hellenistic city. Alexander foresaw it in the age to come a great place of traffic, rich and splendid. This point too seemed to be a fit southern limit for the satrapy of Philip, reaching northwards as it did to the foothills of the Himalayas above Takshashila. A change was also made in the governorship of the province of the Hindu Kush (Paropanisadae). Tyriespes was replaced by another great Iranian lord, Alexander’s father-in-law, Oxyartes, who arrived in camp about this time.

The country along the Indus below the confluence presented the Europeans with some conditions they had not met with in the parts of India hitherto traversed. The Brahmans here had a more effective ascendancy. The Greek observer saw men eating together in great companies, and thought of the public meals of the Spartans. In its political organization this region was unlike the country of free tribes, through which the Europeans had been passing. Here once more they found principalities ruled by rajas, whose mutual enmity gave the foreigners an opening. Alexander first sailed down the river to the ‘Royal seat’ (basileion) of the Sogdi, and here founded another Alexandria, marking out docks again for the commerce which he foresaw under Greek initiative in the new age. The site is unidentified and the name Sogdi furnishes a basis for nothing more than unverifiable guessing. Already, it would appear, Alexander designated Sind from the Indus confluence to the ocean as a satrapy of the Empire, and appointed a certain Pithon, son of Agenor, to be its governor.

The greatest prince of the country between the confluence and the delta was one whom the Greeks called Musicanus (Mousikanos) possibly a title denoting ‘the chief of the Mushikas’. As in the case of the Paurava and his fellow chiefs, the dread of the foreigner was apt to be less than the dread of the strong neighbor. A native chief whom our texts call Sambus or Sabus (Shambhu?), at feud with Musicanus, hastened to make friends with the invaders and was nominated by Alexander satrap of some hill district lying back from the river. Musicanus seems to have contemplated resistance; he sent no envoys to the European king. But he was not prepared for the rapidity of Alexander’s movements, who was again upon his enemies before they were aware. Submission seemed the only way; the Europeans were admitted to the goodly city, which was the raja’s capital, and a European garrison was put in its citadel. Subject however to the supremacy of Alexander, Musicanus was left his former state and authority, as the Paurava had been, and Ambhi and the raja of Abhisara. Another chief of the district, Oxycanus or ‘Porticanus’, attempted resistance, but found that the walls in which he trusted were frail defence against the battering engines of the European. The people of the land, our Greek author says, were paralyzed by the belief in Alexander’s super-human power.

But still, as before, it proved difficult to extend friendship to one of these jealous rajas without alienating his old rivals. Musicanus left upon his throne made it seem to Sambus that he had given himself to the foreigner for nothing. He now therefore renounced his allegiance. His capital Sindimana (site unidentified) opened its gates however at Alexander’s approach, and the little revolt was crushed.

But the Europeans in this region had more implacable enemies than the native princes. The power behind the throne was the Brahman community, and here for the first time we come upon an opposition inspired by the conception of a national religion, the only germ to be found in ancient times of the idea of Indian nationality. It was the ‘philosophers’ (i.e. the Brahmans) who denounced the princes, if they submitted to the foreigner, and goaded the free tribes into revolt. A ‘city of Brahmans’ had to be stormed, whilst the operations against Sambus were going on. Musicanus now was induced to throw off allegiance. But it was the day of the Yavana’s power. The newly-appointed governor of Sind, Pithon, swept down upon him, and brought him a prisoner to the king. He was treated as rebels were treated by the custom of the old Persian kings, on whose seat Alexander sat. His body was hanged on a gibbet in his own land. The Europeans knew, however, who were their worst enemies, and their hand fell heavily upon the Brahmans. They were put to death wholesale; their bodies too were hung up for the kites and vultures by the roads—to the unspeakable horror, we may believe, of the people of the land.


On the lower Indus the coming of the Europeans was anticipated with terror. At the point where the Indus in those days divided into its two branches was situate the great city of Pattala. The author followed by Diodorus stated that it was ruled, like Sparta, by two kings and a council of elders. If that is so, it must have been one of these kings who journeyed up stream to pay homage to Alexander, presumably the same person whom one authority calls Moeris. But it was only to gain time. As soon as he came back to Pattala, he and a large part of the population abandoned the place and fled.

Before Alexander came to Pattala, the great European host which had invaded India had begun to break up. From the country of Musicanus about a third of the infantry, portions of the other arms, and all the elephants which had been acquired in India, were put under Craterus, to march home by way of Kandahar and Seistan. With the remainder Alexander continued his course downstream. It was about the middle of July 325 when the Europeans reached Pattala. They found everything deserted. The fugitive population however was overtaken by Alexander’s emissaries and persuaded for the most part to return. Pattala, commanding the two outlets of the Indus to the ocean, was another place for which Alexander forecast a great commercial future, and new walls were soon rising round its citadel under Hephaestion’s direction. Pithon the satrap had been left higher up stream to draft the European soldiers who were to form the nucleus of the population in the new cities of his province, and to stamp out any embers of revolt which might be still shouldering. Alexander himself with the handiest ships set off to explore the western arm of the river. It was only after some more or less unfortunate attempts at navigation on their own account that the Europeans discovered some natives of the deserted country, who steered the vessels down to the ocean. It was probably at a point near the medieval Debal that this branch of the river then reached it. There the tide was a new and alarming phenomenon to men who knew only the Mediterranean. On two little islands, one in the mouth of the river and one lying outside in the Indian Ocean, the Yavana king made offerings to the gods who had been prescribed to him by the Egyptian oracle of Amun in the African desert. Then he sailed a little way into the open sea, and shed into the Indian Ocean the blood of bulls sacrificed to the Greek god Poseidon.

Alexander returned to Pattala, to find Pithon arrived there, his task accomplished; and Hephaestion now set about the construction of quays and docks against the city’s future greatness. The king explored the eastern branch of the river which ran out probably near the modern Lakhpat. Everywhere his quick eye seized the points subservient to the realization of that image which fired his imagination—the Indus a great highway of the world's traffic with a chain of flourishing semi-Greek mercantile cities. On the shores of a lake through which he passed (the Rann of Cutch?) he designed more quays and docks; on the coast, he mapped out places for wells. Then he again returned to Pattala and sent bodies of men down the river to begin the work.

The plan which Alexander had formed for his return to the West involved his own marching through the sands of the Makran, the southern border of the Empire, and the passage of the fleet along the coast from the mouth of the Indus to the Persian Gulf. The latter enterprise was to be directed by the Cretan Nearchus, who had been responsible for the navigation of the river.

Some time apparently in September 325 India saw the Yavana columns move out of Pattala on the homeward road. It was some three years and a half since the brilliant figure of the warrior king had issued from the highlands of Kandahar to enter the confines of the Indian world : for the last year and a half he had flashed, a more than human wonder, before the eyes of the peoples of the Punjab and Sind; now his meteoric appearance in India was coming to its end, and obscurity falls once more on Indian history. Alexander started with the land-force, except such troops as were left with the satraps in the Indian provinces, for the river Hab. The naval armament remained at Pattala with Nearchus, till the latter part of October, when the monsoon would change. Alexander again, when he approached the Hab, found the country empty; the tribesmen, a people of Dravidian stock, Arava, whom the Greeks called Arabitae, had deserted their villages in terror. The Europeans crossed the river (now the frontier of India and Baluchistan) into the country of the Oritae, who still, being Dravidians, belonged ethnologically to India. here some opposition, ineffectual enough, was made to the passage of the foreigners. One of the large villages of the Oritae, Rhambacia, was occupied and destined for another Greek Alexandria. Its new population was compounded largely of people from the Pashtu country (Arachosians).

The Return through Gedrosia

When Alexander passed on into the country of the Gedrosians (crossing from the basin of the Purali into that of the Phur) he left a European satrap, Apollophanes, to rule the territory of the Oritae, and one of his chief captains Leonnatus remained temporarily with a force in the district to drive home upon the Oritae that they were now the subjects of a great Empire, and to carry out the scheme of Greek colonization. Leonnatus had some stiff fighting—one battle in which the loss on the native side is said to have been 6000 killed, whilst on the European side the loss, though numerically insignificant, included the satrap Apollophanes.

Alexander, having crossed into Gedrosia, kept down as near the coast as possible, in order to dig wells and establish depots for food which might serve the fleet. It was a burning and arid land, rich only in aromatic shrubs, and the barrier of the Malan range seems to have forced the European army into a still more appalling region inland. They would have reached it by way of the Hingol valley, in which the Hinglaj shrine is now the last great place of Hindu pilgrimage towards the West.

In entering that waterless inferno, from which he emerged, sixty days after leaving the country of the Oritae, with decimated forces, Alexander passes out of the field of Indian history. And yet there is one scene which took place that year in Persia of interest to the Indian historian. The ascetic from Takshashila, whom the Greeks called Kalanos, continued to be a notable figure amongst the men of war and philosophers surrounding the king. Suddenly in Persia he announced his resolution to live no longer. Nothing that Alexander could say availed to move him. Then by the king’s command a pyre was erected for the sage and he was conducted to it with pomp. He was borne on a litter, garlanded in the Indian way and chanting in a tongue which the Yavanas could not understand. He was chanting hymns, some Indians explained, in praise of the gods. In sight of all the army he ascended the pyre and adopted the due posture. The pyre had been covered with gold and silver vessels and precious stuffs, and these the Indian first distributed to his friends. Then, as the torch was applied, the Yavana trumpets sounded all together, and the army shouted as they were wont to shout going into battle, and the Indian elephants uttered their peculiar cry. As the flames mounted and wrapped the figure of the sage, the onlookers saw it still motionless. This was the way in which Kalanos chose to take leave of the Yavanas.

Nearchus, according to Alexander’s original plan, was to have taken station at the eastern mouth of the Indus and set sail at the end of October (325) when the monsoon changed. But before Alexander left, it may have appeared that such a station would be exposed to an attack from the mass of Indian fugitives who had taken refuge in the jungles east of Sind. Alexander at any rate transferred the fleet to the western mouth, to wait for the favorable wind. But even here, as soon as Alexander was gone, revolts broke out, making the position of the Europeans untenable, and Nearchus was obliged to start, sooner than had been intended, during the last few days of September.

The account which Nearchus left of his voyage lay before Strabo and Arrian, as well as the subsidiary, more anecdotal, account of Onescritus, who acted as pilot. Through later writers we still possess an abstract of the book of Nearchus. To fit the names in it to modern sites is, of course, an interesting geographical puzzle, which will never perhaps be made out with certainty. The place from which the fleet started, ‘Wooden Town’, the changes in the coast line have made indiscoverable. The haven to which the Greeks came after some days’ sail, and which they named ‘Alexander’s Haven’, perhaps corresponded in position with Karachi. Here the Greeks waited twenty-five days for the wind to change. They built a stone wall round their camp on shore to protect it from the Arava tribesmen, and spent their enforced leisure in fishing up oysters and mussels from the sea. At the month of the Hab river (Arabic) they again came to a good harbor (Pliny's statement that Nearchus built a town there is probably a misunderstanding). Beyond the Hab river they coasted along the country of the Oritae, where Leonnatus either just before or soon after fought his decisive battle with the tribesmen. Nearchus does not seem to have detected the mouth of the Purali, where Hephaestion had just traced the walls of an Alexandria, but at Cocala, probably somewhere near, fresh stores had been deposited for the fleet by Alexander's order, and there was an exchange of men between Nearchus and Leonnatus. At the mouth of the river Tomerus (Hingol) the Greeks found some 600 half-naked inhabitants living in stuffy huts who made show of hostility, but were easily put to flight by the mail-clad Europeans. Here they remained five days to repair the ships, and then sailed on past the promontory of Malana (modern Has Malan) the limit of the Oritae and of India.

The Greek Satrapies

Alexander had come and gone. Was the European irruption a violent episode which left India unchanged? And, if so, was that due to an essential unchangeableness in India under impact from without? One may notice first that nothing was farther from Alexander’s own thought than that his invasion of India was a mere raid. He left the Punjab and Sind solidly attached, he believed, to his world-empire. Let us glance once more at the conditions there in the year 324 BC. The country fell into three divisions. There was first the satrapy of Philip the son of Machatas. It is impossible to make out with certainty what its confines were. Philip first appears (unless he is identical with the commandant of the garrison in Pushkalavati) as satrap in Takshashila, and we gather that there was then combined under his authority the principality of Ambhi and what had been the satrapy of Nicanor in the lower Kabul Valley, as far as the passes over the Hindu Kush into Bactria. He accompanies Alexander’s expedition down the Hydaspes (Jhelum) and is made satrap of a province extending as far south as the confluence of the Indus and Acesines (Chenab). We do not however know whether this new appointment was in addition to, or in lieu of, his previous satrapy. If the former, his extensive satrapy continued to embrace the principality of Ambhi, and we do not know how the double rule of Macedonian satrap and native prince was adjusted. A second division was the satrapy of Pithon the son of Agenor, covering Sind from the Indus confluence to the ocean and extending westward to the Hab. A third was the large principality of the Paurava prince, extending from the Hydaspes (Jhelum) to the Hyphasis (Beas). Here there was no division of authority between prince and satrap, but the Indian acted in both capacities himself. A fourth satrapy lay outside India, but within the river system of the Indus—that of the Paropanisidae (the Hindu Kush) with Alexandria-under-the-Caucasus for its capital. This was the satrapy held by Oxyartes, Alexander’s father-in-law. There was finally a fifth district in somewhat looser connection with the Empire, Abhisara in Kashmir, whose ruler, as we have seen, had been enabled by Macedonian influence to establish his authority over the smaller rajas in his neighborhood.

The European rule was supported by an army of occupation. Its numbers are not told us, but it included Macedonians and Greek mercenaries. Besides these Philip had at his disposal a considerable body of Thracians. The commander of this corps was a Macedonian destined to play a conspicuous part in the near future, Eudamus the son of Crateuas, a native of the region south of the Ostrovo Lake, and brother of one of the Seven who constituted the king’s special body-guard.

The army of occupation was, no doubt, in large part distributed through the new cities, which were intended in Alexander’s design, not only to give the European root in the country, but to quicken India through Greek intelligence and enterprise to new developments of commercial activity and material splendor. There these little bodies of Europeans remained, when Alexander was gone, enclosed within their fresh-built walls, subject, it would seem, to the Macedonian satraps but not to the native princes, urged by the king’s command to build docks and quays and reproduce the life of Greek cities upon the rivers of India.

We know, of course, that Alexander’s dream came to nothing. The European in India faded away. But it is a mistake when we judge the dream by its actual result. For the experiment was never really tried; it was frustrated at its inception by an event which no one could have foreseen,—Alexander’s premature death, without an adequate heir, less than two years after he quitted India. The realization of the dream all depended upon the Empire’s holding together for a century or two. Had Alexander lived to a normal age, there is no reason why it should not have done so. As it was, the rapidly constructed fabric, its cement still soft, fell quickly to pieces. If a military occupation of eight years or so left no permanent trace upon the north-west of India, we can hardly infer from that the essential unreceptiveness of India for Hellenism. Had the occupation been prolonged for a series of generations, the result might have been very different. The idea, ineradicable from modern journalism, that ‘the East’ (whatever that vague term may denote) is by its nature impervious to the rationalistic culture of ancient Greece and modern Europe is not supported by the facts, either by what happened in ancient Syria, or what happened in the Muhammadan kingdoms of the Middle Ages, or by what is happening today in India, China, and Japan. When the rest of the East, after the passage of phalanx and legion, ‘plunged in thought again’, it was thought profoundly modified by the Greek schoolmaster who followed in the soldier’s train. In India Hellenic rationalism would have come into contact with more elaborate homegrown systems of imaginative thought or intuition than the nearer East afforded. What would have happened we cannot say; but that the contact would have left either unaffected is highly improbable.

The European invasion of India was an event of too great magnitude not to have far-reaching consequences. As other over­flowings of foreign conquests have done, it swept away internal barriers which prevented the unification of the lands concerned. The confederacies of free tribes, which had maintained their proud isolation from other political systems, were left utterly broken. Smaller principalities were swallowed up in a realm such as that given by Alexander to the Paurava. This, no doubt, made it a simpler matter for the Maurya king a few years later to take these countries into his great Indian empire.

The contact of India with the Greek world did not cease with the disruption of Alexander’s empire. What can be traced of later political connections between Indian and Hellenistic kings will be exhibited in another chapter. Any influences which can ultimately be shown to have reached India from the Greek West, whether through the medium of Seleucid or Bactrian kings or of the Roman Empire, which took up the inheritance of Hellenism in Asia, may be regarded as consequences of the work of Alexander. If they were not consequences of the work which Alexander did in India, they were, in any case, consequences of the work which he did when he established Hellenism in Iran, Syria, Asia Minor, and Egypt. India indeed and the Greek world only touched each other on their fringes, and there was never a chance for elements of the Hellenistic tradition to strike root in India, as a part of Hellenism struck root in the Nearer East and was still vital in the Muhammadan, largely Hellenistic, culture of the Middle Ages. There are, however, the two unquestionable cases of transmission, which will be noted in subsequent chapters—the artistic types conveyed by the school of Gandhara, and the Greek astronomy which superseded the primitive native system in the latter part of the fourth century AD.

When Alexander died, it was plain that the imperial system in India was as yet anything but secure. It was not only a case of the people of the land proving restive; the Europeans themselves did not form a harmonious community. Although thousands of Greeks had fought, as mercenaries or allies, side by side with the Macedonians in the conquest of Asia, and to the Asiatics, no doubt, appeared indistinguishably as Yavanas, neither kindred people loved the other. It was specially Greek veterans whom Alexander had settled in his new eastern cities. In Bactria and Sogdiana we know that they had been settled very much against their will and tried at the first opportunity to make their way home. Their settlement in the remote colonies was sometimes a punishment for disaffection. We may conclude that the Greeks who had been planted in the Punjab did not find their surroundings congenial. Within a few months apparently of Alexander’s departure, the Greek mercenaries under Philip rose in mutiny. Philip received a mortal wound. Instantly his Macedonian guards avenged his death upon the Greeks. Then orders came from Alexander that till a satrap was appointed to succeed Philip, the province should be administered by the raja of Takshashila and Eudamus, the commander of the Thracians. This provisional arrangement was apparently still in force, when the news reached India in the summer of 323 BC that the great king was dead. Suddenly in Babylon his designs for conquest and organization had come to an end.