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Jun 18

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Did Alexander really defeat Indian Porus?

There is a controversy on battle between Alexander (Macedonian) and Indian Porus, one of his last battles before he died . While history (legend) says that Alexander won the hard fought battle, some scholars and experts argue that Greeks turned the tale around to hide Alexander’s first defeat, which forced him to leave the plans to move further into Great India. It’s even more surprising to find out that Plutarch wrote Alexander’s biography over two hundred years after Alexander’s death using oral legends as his source.

Alexander’s quest to conquer the entire world started in 335 B.C . It’s 326 B.C spring time that he entered India “the land of milk and honey”, for invasion. He set to battle with Porus, the ruler of the kingdom Paurava situated between the rivers Hydaspes (modern Jhelum) and Acesines (Chenab). Its capital may have been at the site now known as Lahore, assisted by Porus arch rival Ambi of Taxila.

The legend : (According to History)

The Porus were outnumbered and outclassed by the Macedonian army. A wounded king Porus surrendered only after the destruction of his entire army.The Indian leader accepted his defeat. When Alexander asked him how he wanted to be treated, he gave the famous reply ‘as a king‘. An impressed Alexander reappointed Porus as satrap of his own kingdom. Porus received additional territories to the north of his kingdom which belongs to Ambi . Alexander moved down to conquer more Indian territories .When the armies reached the Beas, they were tired and homesick. So they refused to proceed any further.This rebel forced Alexander to giveup the quest and divided army into two parts to reach home. On his way back, Alexander died in 323 B.C.at an early age of 33 at Babylon near Baghdad.

The controversy :

In the 1960, an Indian scholar named Buddha Prakash argued, basing himself on the famous medieval epic named Shahnameh by the Persian poet Firdausi, that Alexander was defeated’ by Porus, that the two men became friends, and that this explained why Alexander left him so much territories. So did Alexander really venture successfully into India and turn back at the urging of his men? Or was it all spin? So what exactly happened to Alexander in India? Let’s see the two famous conspiracy theories put forth by some famous scholars :

Theory 1 : Alexander gave up to battle rest of India….

Alexander won on Porus with utmost difficulty. Porus is captured and brought to Alexander in chains. Alexander asks him how he wanted to be treated. Porus replied, “Like a king” – his arrogance and pride aroused Alexander’s admiration. Promptly, Alexander released Porus, agreed to be his friend, restored his lost kingdom to him, and added to it lands that were part of Ambi’s Taxila. Alexander made mistake by asking Porus “What it would take to win the rest of India?” in public with all his generals listening in, and Porus described the entire rest of the Gangetic valley with its multiple kingdoms, and the Magadhan empire downstream. Porus described these in terms of how much bigger they were than his own little kingdom. As a result, there was no more stomach among Alexander’s generals for continuing. They had almost lost to Porus. How could they successfully confront even larger forces? And so army revolted against continuing for this reason but not for “homesick” as told in history.

Theory 2: Alexander lost to Puru.

Puru imposed a separate peace on Ambi that included the surrender of some Taxilan land to Puru. So there’s Alexander, having suffered his first major defeat, set adrift down the Indus with a much reduced army. To get food and supplies, they have to negotiate or fight with the cities they pass. Alexander suffers a wound to the side. They reach the delta of the Indus and make a decision to split . Whichever half returned first, it would serve to spread a different story, a story of the victory and the magnanimity of Alexander the Great The two “small” kingdoms, Taxila and Puru, that were swallowed up by the expanding Magadhan empire. leaving true details of the encounter between these Indian kingdoms and Alexander would be lost to history for ever. Modern research revealed that the alleged sayings and letters those were assigned to Alexander are mostly fake.

What is most startling is that the Indian contemporaries of Alexander had often neglected the invasion of Alexander and had not mentioned it in their works. A shrewd politician, like Kautilya should not have missed out the invasion of Alexander had it been of a greater importance.  All these suggest that Alexander’s campaign failed to acquire any significance in the political context of India. Alexander fought a total of six battles in India, and interestingly enough the Greek and Roman chroniclers often failed to mention the actual outcome of those six encounters. Alexander even resorted to pure and simple cheating to win some places. But these unsuccessful military campaigns had reduced the strength of the Macedonian army.

With this reduced and broken force, Alexander faced Porus in the much hyped battle of Jhelum. King Abhisares, a lesser monarch had shown the audacity to defy Alexander’s warnings and despite this show of defiance, a world conqueror like Alexander did not attack the lesser and weak king. Why? This suggests that Abhisares was quite sure that Alexander lost all his strength.

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There is a controversy on battle between Alexander  (Macedonian) and Indian Porus ,one of his last battles before he died . while history (legend) says that Alexander won the hard fought battle , some scholars and experts argue that Greeks turned the tale around to hide the Alexander’s first defeat  which forced him to leave the plans to move further into Great India . It’s even more surprising to find out that Plutarch wrote Alexander’s biography over two hundred years after Alexander’s death using oral legends as his source.

Alexander’s quest to conquer the entire world started in 335 B.C . It’s 326 B.C spring time that he entered India “the land of milk and honey“,  for invasion . He set to battle with Porus, the ruler of the kingdom Paurava situated between the rivers Hydaspes (modern Jhelum) and Acesines (Chenab). Its capital may have been at the site now known as Lahore, assisted by Porus arch rival Ambi of Taxila.

The legend :
(According to History)

The Porus were outnumbered and outclassed by the Macedonian army. A wounded king Porus surrendered only after the destruction of his entire army.The Indian leader accepted his defeat.

When Alexander asked him how he wanted to be treated, he gave the famous reply ‘as a king‘. An impressed Alexander reappointed Porus as satrap of his own kingdom.Porus received additional territories to the north of his kingdom which belongs to Ambi .

Alexander moved down to conquer more Indian territories .When the armies reached the Beas, they were tired and homesick. So they refused to proceed any further.This rebel forced Alexander to giveup the quest and divided army into two parts to reach home. On his way back, Alexander died in 323 B.C.at an early age of 33 at Babylon near Baghdad.


The controversy :


In the 1960, an Indian scholar named Buddha Prakash argued, basing himself on the famous medieval epic named Shahnameh by the Persian poet Firdausi, that Alexander was defeated’ by Porus, that the two men became friends, and that this explained why Alexander left him so much territories.


So did Alexander really venture successfully into India and turn back at the urging of his men? Or was it all spin? So what exactly happened to Alexander in India? Let’s see the two famous conspiracy theories put forth by some famous scholars :


Theory 1 : Alexander give up to battle rest of India….


Alexander won on Porus with utmost difficulty. Porus is captured and brought to Alexander in chains. Alexander asks him how he wanted to be treated. Porus replied, “Like a king” – his arrogance and pride aroused Alexander’s admiration.
Promptly, Alexander released Porus, agreed to be his friend, restored his lost kingdom to him, and added to it lands that were part of Ambi’s Taxila.

Alexander made mistake by asking Porus “what it would take to win the rest of India?” in public with all his generals listening in, and Porus described the entire rest of the Gangetic valley with its multiple kingdoms, and the Magadhan empire downstream. Porus described these in terms of how much bigger they were than his own little kingdom.


As a result, there was no more stomach among Alexander’s generals for continuing. They had almost lost to Porus. How could they successfully confront even larger forces?
And so army revolted against continuing for this reason but not for “homesick” as told in history.

Theory 2 : Alexander lost to Porus :


Alexander lost to Puru. Puru imposed a separate peace on Ambi that included the surrender of some Taxilan land to Puru
.So there’s Alexander, having suffered his first major defeat, set adrift down the Indus with a much reduced army. To get food and supplies, they have to negotiate or fight with the cities they pass. Alexander suffers a wound to the side. They reach the delta of the Indus and make a decision to split . Whichever half returned first, it would serve to spread a different story, a story of the victory and the magnanimity of Alexander the Great.

The two “small” kingdoms, Taxila and Puru, that were swallowed up by the expanding Magadhan empire. leaving true details of the encounter between these Indian kingdoms and Alexander would be lost to history for ever.

Modern research revealed that the alleged sayings and letters those were assigned to Alexander are mostly fake. What is most startling is that the Indian contemporaries of Alexander had often neglected the invasion of Alexander and had not mentioned it in their works. A shrewd politician, like Kautilya should not have missed out the invasion of Alexander had it been of a greater importance.  All these suggest that Alexander’s campaign failed to acquire any significance in the political context of India.


Alexander fought a total of six battles in India, and interestingly enough the Greek and Roman chroniclers often failed to mention the actual outcome of those six encounters. Alexander even resorted to pure and simple cheating to win some places. But these unsuccessful military campaigns had reduced the strength of the Macedonian army. With this reduced and broken force, Alexander faced Porus in the much hyped battle of Jhelum. King Abhisares, a lesser monarch had shown the audacity to defy Alexander’s warnings and despite this show of defiance, a world conqueror like Alexander did not attack the lesser and weak king. Why? This suggests that Abhisares was quite sure that Alexander lost all his strength.

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25 comments

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  1. punit

    agreed with most of the comments above.
    indians were not less educated than romans.in fact they were more advance in certain fields.
    the thing is india was a slave country when the research on alexander was going on.
    we can say that it was like during world war !! hitler was an savage bcoz he killed several thousands but at the same time americans r angels although they slayed equal no. by just dropping two bombs.

  2. kalimirch

    Great article and great discussion!! Interesting comments by all without degrading the discussion into a dirt fight!!

  3. Arius

    So in the end, Alexander could have won and he could have lost. You can make an argument for both but it doesn’t mean one isn’t stronger than the other. But just because he had to turn back doesn’t mean he lost the battle. It could have easily just been that he lost to much in the battle that he was left weak and had to turn back. He still had other territories to control.

    I would also like to note that from a personal standpoint, I am not Greek nor Indian/Pakistan so I can care less from an emotion side of it to stick up for one side of it for bias purpose.

  4. rahul

    well a young king with good amount of power in his hand and a large army behind his horse, who had conquered half of the world within a short period of time, who owned the most ferocious army of that time all of sudden says that my men are crying for there wives and they cant live without them i have to leave my conquest for this reason simply doesn’t make any sense. there is smthing missing.

    and ALI greeks leaned mathematics from this land our culture have text(written text) much old then 10000 years old, do a little research and tell me what or where were greeks at that time. the vedic culture is oldest and most educated culture of all time from astrology to nuclear science every thing was here. NASA SAY” after testing the bones of harappan people we found 50 times of radioactivity more then Hiroshima n Nagasaki. can u imagine how strong must had been those blasts.

    more then 70000 year old civilization is found at the basin of river saraswati. yes 70,000.

    the gold city of dwarka which was considered as myth is no longer hidden.

    so plz dont consider the vedic culture illiterate. maharishi Markandeya have written about the concept of peace more then 5500 years back when rest of the world was busy shedding blood.

    sanskrit is cosidered the mother language of all the languages

    and aristotle the teacher of alexandre himself learned math in this land, Pythagoras theoram was already present in our text they leanred it from this land and taught the rest of the world.

  5. Steve

    Battle of Hydaspes was the battle which Alexander almost lost it, his horse was killed and again he was wounded the main reasons for quitting the conquest was the mutiny among his army because of longtime of military campaign almost 11years and again to face Nanda empire, he had lost many generals and men and revolts throughout his empire, the greeks historians will certainly mention about his lose if he was defeated by Puru, greek historians always mentions truth even if they are ashamed of like they mentions that alexander and achilles were gay, and alexander ruthless guy who used to kill his general and wrong things he had done. Although rutless he is often respect his enemy like he look after the family of Darius after he defeats him. So, after all it would be the easiest to appoint the defeated king as his sartaps to avoid revolts in his new kingdoms and it would be even easier for him to maintain his vast empire. So, Puru’s barvery would impressed & led Alexander give back his kingdom.

  6. Steve

    during that time indian were not less educated than the greeks or macedonians or egyptians etc. indian also already studied astronomy, mathematic etc. like other civilized kingdom at that time. and what happen to some 21th century developed super power countries at that time they might be still living in their caves. The only reason Porus was defeated was that the macedoian were heavy armoured and used advanced military tactics (the phalanx) and moreover it was commanded by Alexander. Althought Porus lose i’m proud of it because Porus was one of one to resist powerful foreign invaders while many other kingdoms surrender out of fear, even Alexander admired Porus’s bravery. I’m proud to be indian anyway

  7. steve

    alexander won the battle of hydaspes, he quit the campaign because of mutiny among his soldier, long expedition, he lost many men and generals.It would be easier for Alexander to appoint Porus as his governor in india to govern peacefully. Indian were not less educated then the greek (macedonian), indian scholars also studied mathematic, astrology etc. at that time.
    the reason for the victory of alexander was the military tactics, macedonian heavy armoured soldiers (the phalanx) while indian were light infantry with war elephants.

  8. PanchananDas_India

    To me, if there is no real evidence that Alexander had lost or own than why our education system taught whole of India that Puru lost to Alexander. It is English slavery or western slavery ? If Hollywood researchers have not came to any conclusion, than why Indian Government Indian scholars are so much eager to mention in our history books that Alexander had won. Now; Who is Alexander ? What is his contribution to Humanity, to Human Civilization ? To human happiness and human prosperity. Why we write great before his name. He was only a bloody blind killer and nothing else. In India we never write great before anyone. Not even the man of Gandhi’s stature; Goutam the Buddha’s stature. Than why before that killer. Is it not slavery to the western scholar. What they write, write right. So just stop all this nonsense for the time being. Let the truth revealed. And till that we all Indians should forget the battle of Jhelum. But don’t say any youngster a incomplete truth and a complete lie. The blind Government and the blind scholars should now open there eyes. Stop teaching Lies.

  9. Thinker

    Right!!!So Alexander lost from Porus.Then how is possible for a defeated army to continue his expedition through India?Common military sense says that if Porus was the victor,he would have chased Alexander until annihilation.On the other hand it is logical that Alexander would have treated Porus kindly,because he needed a stronger ally than the king of Taxila.Moreover if Alexander had lost,he wouldn’t have founded neither Alexandria Bucephalous nor a new satrapy.Because of these,archaeologists find nowdays greek antiquities at the lands of Pakistan.

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