UPSC History Early empire (6 BCE to 1 CE) NCERT Extracts - Iranian and Macedonian Invasions

NCERT Extracts - Iranian and Macedonian Invasions

Category : UPSC


Iranian Invasion


  • During the first half the sixth century B.C., there were several small principalities in the north-west India such as those of the Kambojas, Gandharas and Madras.
  • The Iranian ruler Darius penetrated into north-west India in 516 B.C. and annexed Punjab and Sindh. This area constituted the twentieth province or satrapy of Iran.
  • The Indian satrapy included Sindh, the north-west frontier and the part of Punjab that lay to the west of the Indus. It was most fertile and populous part of the empire.
  • India continued to be a part of the Iranian empire till Alexander's invasion of India.


Result of the Contact

  • The Indo-Iranian contact lasted for about 200 years.
  • The Iranian scribes brought into India a form of writing which came to be known as the Kharosthi script. It was written from right to left like the Arabic.
  • Iranian influence on the Maurya sculpture is clearly perceptible. The monuments of Ashoka's time especially the bell shaped capital, owed something to the Iranian models.
  • Iranian influence may also be traced in the preamble of Ashoka's edicts as well as in certain  terms used in them. For instance, for the Iranian term dipi, the Ashokan scribe used the term lipi.
  • It seems that through the Iranians the Greeks came to know about the great wealth of India, which whetted their greed and eventually led to Alexander's invasion.


Alexander's Invasion


  • The Greeks and the Iranians fought for the supremacy of the world. Under the leadership of Alexander of Macedonia, the Greeks finally destroyed the Iranian empire.
  • Alexander conquered not only Asia Minor and Iraq but also Iran.
  • Herodotus, who is called father of history, and other Greek writers had painted India as, a fabulous land, which tempted Alexander to invade it.
  • Alexander also possessed a strong passion for geographical inquiry and natural history.
  • He had heard that the Caspian Sea continued on the eastern side of India.
  • Ambhi was the prince of Taxila.
  • The kingdom of Porus lay between the Jhelum and the Chenab.
  • Alexander marched towards India through the Khyber pass in 326 B.C.
  • Ambhi readily submitted to the invader, augmented his army and replenished his treasure.
  • Near Jhelum, Alexander met from Porus the first and the strongest resistance.
  • Alexander defeated Porus, he was impressed by his bravery and courage.
  • Then he advanced as far as the Beas River. He wanted to move still farther eastward but his army refused to accompany him.
  • The Greek soldiers had grown war-weary and diseased. The hot climate of India and ten years of continuous campaigning had made them terribly homesick.
  • They had also experienced a taste of Indian fighting qualities on the bank of Indus.
  • As the Greek historian Arrian tells us; "In the art of war the Indians were far superior to the other nations inhabiting the area at that time."
  • Especially the Greek soldiers were told of a formidable power on the Ganga.
  • Obviously it was the kingdom of Magadha ruled by the Nadas who maintained an army far outnumbering that of Alexander.
  • So despite the repeated appeals of Alexander to advance, the Greek soldiers did not budge an inch. Alexander lamented: "1 am trying to rouse the hearts that an disloyal and crushed with craven fears”.
  • The king who had never known defeat at the hands of his enemies had to accept defeat from his own men. He was forced to retreat.
  • He remained in India for 19 months (326-325 B.C.).
  • Most conquered states were restored to their rulers who submitted to his authority.


Effects of Alexander’s Invasion

  • Alexander's invasion provided the first occasion when ancient Europe came intco close contact with ancient India. The most important outcome of this invasion was the establishment of direct contact between India and Greece in different fields.
  • Alexander's campaign opened up four distinct routes by land and sea. It paved the way for Greek merchants and craftsmen.
  • The invasion led to the establishment of more Greek settlements in this area. The most important of them were the city of Alexandria in the Kabul region, Boukephalc on the Jhelum, and Alexandria in Sindh.
  • Alexander was deeply interested in the geography of the mysterious ocean which to saw for the first time at the mouth of the Indus.
  • Therefore he despatched his new fleet under his friend Nearchus to explore the coast and search for harbours from the mouth of the Indus to that of the Euphrates.
  • So Alexander's historians have left valuable geographical accounts.
  • They also have left clearly dated records of Alexander's campaign, which enable to build Indian chronology for subsequent events on a definite basis.
  • Alexander's historians also give us important information about social and economic conditions. They tell us about the sari system, the sale of girls in market places by poor parents, and the fine breed of oxen in north-west India.
  • His invasion paved the way for the expansion of the Maurya Empire in that ares
  • According to tradition, Chandragupta Maurya had seen the working of the army Alexander and acquired some knowledge which helped him in destroying the Nandas.

You need to login to perform this action.
You will be redirected in 3 sec spinner