Persian and Greek invasion: Persian invasion; Alexander, the Great and his legacy.

Persian and Greek invasion: Persian invasion; Alexander, the Great and his legacy.

India has a varied culture and traditions, many of them have been influenced by the foreign culture. India being a prosperous and rich country with great civilisation, it attracted the empires from long and many civilisations like Persian and Macedonian have invaded India for riches and few settled back while others left country with gold and diamonds. In all the great invasions of Ancient India Persian and Greek are the major ones.

Iranian (Persian) & Macedonian (Greek) Invasion


Persian Invasion (550 BC)-


  • Contemporary to reign of Bimbisara, Persian attacked N-W front of India & Magadha continued to rise in N-E & Central-north in India
  • In N-W front of India, several small provinces like Kamboja, Gandhara & Madra did not have a political unity & continuously fought with each other
  • Archaemadian ruler of IranCyprus took advantage of this political disunity & invaded west front of India.
  • All Indian tribes west of Indus River submitted to him including Gandhar
  • Darius 1, Grandson of Cyprus conquered Indus valley as a whole & annexed Punjab & Sindh (N W India)
  • Xerxes, Successor of Darius, employed Indian infantry & cavalry in war against Greece but got defeated & hence could not move forward in India. However, control of Persians over India slackened only after Alexander’s invasion on India


Effects of Persian Invasion


  • Impetus to Indo Iranian commerce & trade, which finally became the ground for Alexander’s invasion
  • Use of Kharoshti script bought by Iranian gain popularity in N-W India & some inscription of Ashoka (250 BC) are written in this language (derived from Aramaic script, written from right to left)
  • Influence of Persian art in India, Particularly monolithic pillars , & sculptures found on them along with inscriptions



Alexander’s Invasion (327 BC)


After 2 centuries of Persian invasion, Alexander from Macedonia invaded India. Alexander conquered minor Asia along with Iraq & Iran and from Iran he marched into India

  • Alexander conquered whole of Persia by defeating Darius 3 in battle of Arabela (330 BC).
  • Herodotus, Father of history, wrote that fabulous wealth of India attracted Alexander & moreover his interest in Geographical enquiry & love of natural history urged him to invade India
  • Alexander believed that on eastern side of India lies continuation of the sea & hence by conquering India, he would conquer eastern boundary of the world
  • After conquest of Iran, he marched into India through Khyber pass 327 BC & crossed Indus in 326 BC.
  • Ambhi, the ruler of taxila readily submitted to him but Porus whose kingdom lay between Jhelum & Chenab refused to submit to Alexander




Battle of Hydaspes (Jhelum)


  • Although Porus had a vast army & fought bravely, but he lost to Alexander
  • Alexander, impressed by the bravery of Indian prince reinstated him to his throne and made him his ally.
  • Then he advanced as far as river Beas, he wanted to move further but war weary, diseased, Hot weather of India & 10 year of continuous fighting led to the refusal of Greek soldiers to move further (Refusal also came because of the enormous power of Nandas of Magadha).
  • Hence, Alexander divided his conquered territories into 3 Parts & placed them under 3 Greek governors.



Effect of Alexander’s Invasion


  • 1stcontact b/w Europe & India paved the way for increased trade & commerce
  • Encouraged political unification of India under Mauryas



Alexander the Great : Some Key Points


Alexander’s campaigns greatly increased contacts and trade between the East and West, and vast areas to the east were significantly exposed to Greek civilization and influence. Successor states remained dominant for the next 300 years during the Hellenistic period.


Over the course of his conquests, Alexander founded some 20 cities that bore his name, and these cities became centers of culture and diversity. The most famous of these cities is Egypt’s Mediterranean port of Alexandria.


Hellenization refers to the spread of Greek language, culture, and population into the former Persian empire after Alexander’s conquest.



Alexander’s death was sudden and his empire disintegrated into a 40-year period of war and chaos in 321 BCE. The Hellenistic world eventually settled into four stable power blocks: the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, the Seleucid Empire in the east, the Kingdom of Pergamon in Asia Minor, and Macedon.


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