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Persian And Greek Invasions

A large part of north western Indian subcontinent (modern day eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan) was ruled by the Persian Achaemenid Empire in ca. 520 BCE and remained so for other two centuries thereafter. Persian Achaemenid Empire was amongst the first Persian Empires. India and Persia had close relationship since ancient times. Persian King Darius tried to conquer the India during the sixth century BC. However, he was able to conquer only a small territory of North West Frontier Province and a very small portion of Sind and Punjab. Again by the fourth century, Indian chiefs had thrown away the foreign officers. However, Persians left far reaching effects on Indian history.

Influence of first Persian invasion in India

After the first invasion of Persians, Indian kings felt the necessity of united strong empire to keep away these foreign invaders. The Persian easy invasion in India and Indian empires’ defeat to defend their frontiers showed the political weakness of Indian empires. Permanent settlement of foreigners like Persians, Greeks and Turks, on Indian ground might be one of the main reasons for the easy invasions of foreigners. Persian invasion had a very strong impact on the Indian sculptors and architects.

The engravings of animals and birds on Asoka’s pillar definitely show the effect of Persian on Indian art. Since after the first Persian invasion, Indians and Persians began to trade very smoothly. Many scholars believe that Khraoshth script, written from right to left hand, was borrowed from Persian people. Indian and Persian scholars and philosophers exchanged their views. This interchange of Indo-Persian culture brought effective changes in the people outlook. Peoples from both sides became sympathetic for each other and became broad minded.

Alexander Invasion and its effects

Alexander was the son of king Philip of Macedonia (Greece). By 326 BC Alexander invaded India. His army consisted of around thirty thousand people. He first subdued Sistan and then attacked Afghanistan. He was succeeded in subduing Bactria and other neighboring territories. After that, he had crossed the Hindukush within ten days. Alexander made full proof plan to realize his dream of conquering India. Not mindful of the climates and other obstacles, Alexander prepared himself for subduing the territories that laid on his route to India.

He then divided his army into two. One part of army was instructed to construct the bridge over Indus for a safe passage of his forces under the command of Hephaestion and Perdiccas while the other section was led by Alexander himself against the Frontier tribes for war purposes.

About the beginning of 326 BC, when Alexander reached Taxila, he was welcomed by Ambhi with costly and beautiful presents. However, Alexander returned those gifts adding his own. This way Alexander won the loyalty as well as contingent of 5000 soldiers from the ruler. In the similar way, the Abhisana king and the other neighboring kings surrendered to Alexander as they knew that resistance would be of no use. When Alexander reached the Jhelum (Hydaspes), he met the Porus. Seeing his army with 50000 foot, 1000 chariots, 3000 horses and 130 elephants, Alexander commented “I see at last a danger that matches my courage.”

After Alexander defeated the Porus with his clever and cunning war strategy, he moved towards east and crossed the Chenab River. There he defeated the Glausais and younger Porus. Alexander dream was to defeat the Magadha but his exhausted army refused to move further. He made his best efforts to rouse the morale of his army but was of no avail. At last, Alexander hesitantly gave orders to move back. At the age of 33 years, Alexander died of serious illness.

The main cause of the defeat of Indian chiefs was the lack of unity among themselves. In addition, the Greek army was more disciplined and more trained as compared to undisciplined, untrained Indian soldiers. The Alexander invasion left various states like Punjab very weak. It helped the Mauryas to conquer such states. The Alexander invasion didn’t make any permanent effect on Indian culture. Many scholars believe that the reason for this is the premature death of Alexander and his short stay in India.

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