Alexander the great in India

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When Alexander, invincible before all enemies save death, passed away at Babylon in the summer of the year B.C. 323, and his generals assembled in council to divide his empire, they were compelled perforce to decide that the distant Indian provinces should remain in the hands of the officers to whom they had been entrusted by the king. But the decision of the fate of India no longer rested with Greek generals in council at Babylon, for the natives of the country took the decision into their own hands. In the cold season following the death of Alexander the natives rose, killed the officers who represented Macedonian authority, and, while thinking to achieve independence, merely effected a change of masters.

Chandragupta MauryaTheir leader was a man of humble origin, by name Chandragupta Maurya, who assembled and organized from the predatory tribes of the north-western frontier of India a powerful force with which he expelled the foreigners. Having conquered the Punjab and neighbouring countries, Chandragupta turned his arms against Dhana Nanda, King of Magadha, whom he dethroned and slew. The usurper seated himself upon the vacant throne of Pataliputra, and ruled the realm with an iron hand.

Magadha was at that time the premier kingdom of India, and the irresistible combination of its forces with those previously recruited in the upper provinces enabled Chandragupta to extend his rule over the greater part of India from sea to sea. Seleucus, sumamed Nikator, or the Conqueror, by reason of his many victories, had established himself as Satrap of Babylon after the second division of Alexander's empire made at Paradeisos in B.C. 321. Six years later he was driven out by his rival Antigonus, and compelled to flee to Egypt. After three years' exile he recovered Babylon, and devoted himself to the consolidation and extension of his power.

He attacked and subjugated the Bactrians, and directed his victorious army against India in the hope of regaining the provinces which had been for a brief space held by his late master. But the vast hosts of teeming India led by Chandragupta were more than a match for the power of the Macedonian, who was compelled to renounce his ambition of surpassing Alexander by affecting the conquest of India, and to withdraw from the country. Terms of peace were arranged which comprised a matrimonial alliance between the two royal houses, and the cession to Chandragupta of all the Indian provinces of Alexander's empire, including the regions now known as Afghanistan, as far as the Parapa nisus or Hindu Kush mountain. On his part, Chandragupta gave five hundred elephants to Seleucus.

In the year b. c. 306 Seleucus assumed the regal title, as also did the other generals of Alexander in their respective provinces. Henceforth Seleucus is known to history as King of Syria.

About this time, or a little later, the Syrian monarch dispatched Megasthenes as his ambassador to the court of Chandragupta, at PS,taliputra on the Ganges, the modem Patna and Bankipore. Megasthenes resided there for a considerable time, and, fortunately for posterity, took the trouble to record what he saw, A large part of his book has survived in fragments, which are almost the sole authority for what is known of India in the days of Chandragupta. The ambassador found the government of the Indian king strong and well organized, established in a magnificent fortified city, worthy to be the capital of a great kingdom. The royal camp at the capital was estimated to contain 400,000 souls, and an efficient standing army numbering 60,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, 8,000 elephants, and a multitude of chariots, was maintained at the king's expense. On active service the army is said to have attained the huge total of 600,000 men.

With this overwhelming and well-equipped force Chandragupta crushed all rivals, and became the first Emperor of India. After twenty-four years of strong government he died, and transmitted the empire which he had won to his son Bindusara, who reigned for twenty-five years. The only recorded event of his reign is the dispatch to his court of an ambassador named Deimaehos by the King of Syria. In the year b. c. Seleucus Nikator, who was in the seventy-eighth year of his age, was murdered, and was succeeded on the Syrian

The Invasion of India hy Alexander the Great (Constable, 1896) and ancient India as described by Megasthenes and Arrian (Trubner, 1877. The passage in Justin is the most important. Justin abridged the work of Trogus Pompeius, who lived in the time of Augustus. The ultimate authority of all these writers is chiefly Megasthenes, whom Arrian describes as a man 'of approved character.' Strabo, who was disgusted by the travellers' tales with which the ambassador embellished his work, formed a less favourable opinion of Megasthenes, whom he unjustly stigmatized as a liar. For all matters which came under his personal observation Megasthenes seems perfectly trustworthy.