The Imperial Misadventures
When you are asked: “What do you know about ancient Indian Civilzation?” You will start with great Maurya Empire and stumble upto Aryan Invasion. Some might give reference of “Indus Valley Civilization”. But is it true that the history of India is just a list of Military defeats. Is it a fact that had it not been for the British, we still ended up residing in the stone age? Then how could our ancestors ended up so advanced culturally, compared to their foreign counterparts. There is no denying of the legends of the Navaratna, Nalanda, Vikramashila, Vedas, Puranas etc. Or the truth is something else that was hidden and distorted with a specific propaganda. Western historian said that there was no “proper” history in pre-islamic India. But there is the existence of numerous Indian texts which describes that their is a tradition of Bharatbarsha Milatary: they seem to be accustomed to thrashing down the world conquerors from the ancient time, be it Assyria, Persia, Greek, Huns or any other. The invaders are known to have faced their worst nightmares right at the borders of Bharatbarsha, and whoever was lucky enough to dig a little deep, they did not face any more war, what they experienced was a complete butchery. Lets have a look what our own history tells about ourselves.
After India’s fall to British, one of the major objectives of European Historians and Philosophers was to solely establish the superiority of Christianity over Hinduism. Just because the colonial British were not able to digest the fact that world conquerors failed miserably at the borders of Bharatbarsha, they were simply relegated to mythology, or omitted from history. Had they won the round, it would have benefited their propaganda – Bharatbarsha, a country trivialized by anyone an everyone. An account of their failed attacks are listed below. If Greek accounts or sources went against the Colonial agenda, they, carefully, hedged their writing with terms like ‘half legendary account’ with ‘possibly’ , ‘supposed’ , ‘may represent’ with a few ‘doubtful’ also thrown in – for free. When it comes to Indian triumphs, Semiramis becomes half legendary. Yet in another book, the same Semiramis is hailed as ‘the great conquerors of antiquity.’ In a matter of a few pages, they used to dismiss Indian history in a half-Hegelian manner.
The Western Connection
1301 B.C. – There was the famous Chariot battle between Egyptian and Hittites which ended not so well for the powerful Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II. He had to make a peace treaty with the Hittites. One of the powerful allies of the Hittites was Rimisharrinaa. This name has a striking resemblance with the hindu name ‘Ramsharan’. It is also a fact that Hittites has a lot of similarity with Hindus. (Probably they were the Indians in the Middle East(?)). The Hittites (like Mittanis) did not impose their religion on the conquered peoples (Why does this sound familiar?). No royal tomb has ever been found for Hittites kings. In Vedic cultures, there are no royal tombs – like the Pyramids, or the Catacombs, or Mausoleums. Hindus cremate their dead royals. They do not build memorials or mausoleums. The civilization of the Hittites rose up suddenly, and it did fall down also without any prominent reason. Nobody knows where they came from and where did they go. The mind-blowing similarities of Hittites with Hindu Culture indicates that it may very well is possible, that, the Hittites were in fact nothing other than a Hindu colonization in the Middle East in ancient times.
One Mistake – Huge Cost
One of most formidable and astonishing powers in ancient world was the Assyrian empire, which continued to exist for a timeline stretched as far as two millennia. Today, it may sound unbelievable for any nation to exist during such a long period of time. But that is only because of the reason that our history excessively magnifies the Greek and Roman empires. It mostly ignores the achievements the empires like Assyria, Chinese or Ancient Bharat. The empire of Assyria rose up in such one region, which holds the honor to give birth to not one, but many civilizations; Mesopotamia, Babylon, Sumer – to name a few of them. Over time, the small kingdom of Assyrians surrounding a city of ‘Ashur’ in northern Iraq (as per modern day) got powerful enough to cover an area until the Mediterranean coast. During their such a long journey, they got subdued once by a coalition of Babylon and Mittanis. But, instead of giving up, they fought back again and conquered both of their rivals instead. The feat was repeated a second time, against Arameans. Afterwards, it was only a series of victories for Assyrians; until they became arrogant enough to march against the silent yet powerful nation – Bharat.
~805 B.C. -Assyrians kings grew so powerful that they assumed the title ‘King of the Universe’ . The title quite suited them, since there was no power left in western Asia to challenge their supremacy. Queen Semiramis (or Sammu-ramat) was a true heir to their legacy. She got promoted to almost a legendary figure globally and her name can be found in records of no less than 80 different writers. Even there is no short of monuments scattered throughout western Asia which fail to contain her name, either in a positive or a negative shade. Not only Semiramis, in general, the Assyrians were equally frightening in battlefield and excellent in engineering and governance. They did not seem to have an end of their bloodlust either. Once they found themselves unchallenged in neighboring area, they focused towards far east, where they had heard about a much wealthy and prosperous nation, whose fame was no less than that of their own. Queen Semiramis was very able warrior as well as an extraordinary commander. In spite of unbeaten supremacy of Assyrians for more than a century in western Asia and northern Africa, she did know that, expedition against Bharat is going to be an entirely different story altogether. Thanks to her spies, she was well aware of strength of Bharat army. She ordered mass-recruitment of youths in her army in each and every provinces she used to rule. In addition to specialized military training, she also ensured supply of adequate high-quality armors and weapons. She went on to power up her naval fleets too. It took three whole years for Assyrians for the grand preparation, which was being carried out across different parts of the empire. Some sources also claim that she came up with a contigency plan to counter elephant regiment of Bharat. That is, she ordered manufacturing of wooden dummies, which, along with a rider and a camel, would appear like a real elephant. According to Diodorus, Semiramis appeared on the shore of river Sindhu (Indus) with an army as big as Three and Half Million soldiers. Bharat King, Stabrobates (actual name may be Supratika or Satyabrata), pre-empted the information of Assyrian advancement. Being an avid follower of Bharat tradition of war, he sent a messenger and asked for peace, which Semiramis ignored. When that gigantic army of Assyrians arrived at the shore of Indus, they found out that even a bigger legion was waiting for them, with absolutely no sign of fear. The first round of that war was between naval fleets from both sides. Assyrians got an upper hand there. Seeing the power of Assyrian navy, Bharat army retreated back from the water in order to switch the line of conflict in land instead. Assyrians quickly built up a bridge which was wide enough to allow that mammoth army to cross the river (sounds astonishing). In the land area, while Assyrians continued pressing, Bharat army sent their cavalry forward but it could not make much effect. Still, Bharat king did not order to bring back the cavalry instantly, he needed to buy time to gather sufficient information about weakness of Assyrians. Assyrians thought that they were on verge of another victory. But, reality was different. The Bharat king, Stabrobates (Supratika or Satyabrata) was waiting until the enemy comes close enough. Then, at the right moment, he brought out the most terrifying division of Bharat miiltary – the elephant regiment. This time, the deadlock broke. Assyrians had no answer to prevent themselves from being hammered down. While Elephants were able to wreck havoc within Assyrian formation, Bharat infantry charged in. Assyrians started to get trampled, tore apart, stabbed. ripped up, tossed in air or cut in half. In one word, it was a butcherhouse they had walked in. Semiramis herself was gravely wounded. To avoid a death, she ordered a retreat. Only a little portion of her army managed to reach to the other shore of river Indus. Once she herself got into a safe zone, she ordered to destroy the bridge, to prevent Bharat army to continue chasing. Although she managed to go back to Assyria, she lost more than two-third of her army.
End of Persian Dream
History of ancient Bharat will never be completed without mentioning about one neighboring power – Persia. Bharat has a long relationship with Persia in terms of both trade and conflicts. Persian empire started to show itself in world map from somewhere around mid-sixth century B.C. Position of Persian empire was quite unique, since it used to share border with three legendary civilizations – Bharat, Babylon and Egypt. Quickly after a centralized control is secured, Persian kingdom went on to push its borders across all directions. Though they were quite successful in their conquests westwards, eastern campaign did not turn out that good or fruitful.
530 B.C. – The first emperor of Persian Achaemenid dynasty, Cyrus was an ambitious expansionist. He managed to end the incumbent Median empire, primarily by implanting ‘deep assets’ (as in spying network) within Median ranks. Post that, he went on to his campaign against Lydian empire. Persian soldiers came up with a brilliant tactic of building earthworks to capture greek cities there. Once the western border is secured, he turned towards Asia Minor. Akkadians and Assyrians submitted against Persian attacks without offering significant fight. Neo-Babylonian empire tried their best, but at the end, they too failed. Now, since entire western Asia had come under Cyrus’ grip, he shifted his direction eastwards. The Behistun inscription tells us that Cyrus tried to invade and conquer states on the other side of Hindukush. We get reference about one queen who defeated Cyrus in this particular campaign. Greek accounts mention the queen as ‘Tomyris’ . This Hellenic form seems to be only available specifics about her name. As usual, from greek accent, it is quite impossible to extract what her original name was (remember, Chandragupta is referred as ‘Sandrakottes’ in Hellenic form; or Supratika is referred as ‘Sabrobates’ ). However, behavior of queen Tomyris looks very much aligned to Bharat culture. When Cyrus set up military camp on the banks of Amu Darya, Tomyris offered him a formal honorable fight between two armies at specified space and specified time, to avoid collateral damage. Details of more of this kind of wars (where both parties agree to cause no harm to non-military living or nonliving beings), can be found in nowhere else other than ancient Bharat texts. Greek records mention that in spite of agreeing to the offer, Cyrus later resorted to cunning strategy of intoxicating enemy soldiers, which specifically enraged queen Tomyris. She deduced that this act of Cyrus was ‘unethical’. This attribute of Tomyris’ character, which highlights her drawing a distinct line between ‘ethical’ and ‘unethical’ warfare, strengthens the possibility of her being rooted in Bharat culture only. Her army, which she herself led to the battle against Cyrus, is said to comprise of Bharat soldiers primarily. Core of Tomyris’ army consisted of armored elephants, which is another speciality of Bharat military. According to Herodotus, the battle was the fiercest he had ever seen or heard of. In that fight between two mammoth armies, it was Persians who were not so lucky. Entire Persian army got destroyed in that battle. Cyrus himself was killed and beheaded. According to Ctesias, Cyrus suffered a fatal injury in hands of one Bharat soldier which was the cause of his death. Not even a messenger lived to pass on the message back to Persia. Information about Cyrus’ death remained unknown to Persians for a long time. Thus, undefeated campaign of greatest king of Persia came to an end at the borders of Bharat.
~518 B.C. – After Cyrus’ schocking death at Bharat border, Persians came back again after a decade with reinforced army and a new plan. This time, under the leadership of Darius I, they were able to penetrate further. Greek writers mention about regions around the shores of river Indus (Sindhu) which went under Darius’ rule. However, Greeks never mention anything about further east. That indicates Darius never actually tried to push even. While Persian inscriptions and narrations proudly go on re-iterating the feat of conquering Indus valley with granular details, they remain surprisingly silent about why Darius did not move eastwards further. Instead Darius chose to switch his army’s direction exactly to the west, and that too as a permanent arrangement. From Greek accounts, we get to know that he has ordered a naval exploration project through river Indus. Interestingly, ancient Bharat was under the rule of powerful Nanda dynasty then. Probably, presence of a fearsome force at the other end was the only reason which discouraged Darius from moving ahead.
Usually Persian struggles against Bharat don’t come under limelight that much. It begins and ends with Darius’ brief success at the borders of Bharat. Other events, along with a most important era of history, go absolutely unnoticed. While Persian records do not talk much about Bharat campaigns, we can get some portrayal from the Greeks instead. According to greek records, the queen who defeated Cyrus, belonged to the tribe of Massagatae. But, greeks were not able to come to a conclusion about the exact location of the conflict. Herodotus told it as residing on eastern side of Caspian sea. Ptolemy further narrowed down the location to near modern day Kashmir. Other sources too, more or less agree upon the statement that Cyrus fought the last battle of his life in Bharat lands, against an army originated from native population only. Nearchus, admiral of Alexander’s fleet, mentioned in his logbook too that Cyrus’ invasion in Bharat was a failure. That unexpected disaster worked like a long-term factor of deterrence for Persians to think twice before attacking Bharat again. Darius-I stopped at the shores of Sindhu (Indus). Xerxes and later emperors went for a long war against Greeks, but there is no reference of them laying a single finger on ancient Bharat, for a second time. Around 3rd century B.C., Persian empire was conquered by greeks, who subsequently got defeated against ancient Bharat.
False Glorification about Greeks
Early 3rd century B.C. saw the rise of one high-aspirant conqueror from the region of Macedonia (or Greece as in modern day) – Alexander. We must admit, his achievements are impressive. Just within twenty years, his army stormed into the Balkan region and Asia Minor. Ancient civilizations like Assyria or Babylon stood no chance against him. Formidable Egypt too fell quite quickly, without much resistance. Alexander’s greatest achievement is considered when he got the upper-hand over the empire of Persia, against all odds. In that absolutely uneven war in favor of Persia, greek army emerged out victorious. But, quills of greek narrators seem to lose its fluent movement when the time comes to describe about Alexander’s attempt to invade ancient Bharat. The descriptions about Alexander’s past campaign were on a continuous and detailed manner. Whereas, endeavors in Bharat are not that elaborated, even it feels like some parts were even skipped. Greek texts claim that Alexander managed to defeat one Bharat king, namely Porus (or Puru), then gave him back his kingdom and decided to go back to Greece. But, other sources tell a different turn of events. They mention that although greeks were able to beat a couple of border tribes after significant bloodshed, Alexander faced his first defeat ever against king Puru (some sources refer him as Purushottam). The battle was decisive and so terrifying for greeks that Alexander abandoned his dream of conquering world. Even after Alexander’s death, greeks were not able to recover. Though after approximately one century, remnants of greeks managed to raise an army and entered into Bharat, they could not maintain their hold. Eventually, they were wiped out of political and cultural landscape forever.
~327 B.C. – A Mild Shock – Alexander’s happy days came to an end as soon as he started to set foot across the boundaries of ancient Bharat. To his surprise, a significant number of border states of Bharat, in spite of lacking a formal military, refused to submit before Alexander and join his ranks. One such state was ‘Ashwayana’ , which mostly was referred as ‘Aspasioi’ in greek texts. From Panini’s Astadhyayi, we can get to know that majority of these people was farmers and non-combatant. However, Alexander himself led his army against Ashwayanas. That small border state, which is never mentioned in mainstream history, offered such a ferocious resistance that greeks could never imagine. At the very first phase of the war, Alexander suffered a serious injury on his shoulder, along with his two leading generals – Ptolemy and Leonatos. To deal with a superior force, the mostly-civilian Ashwayanas adopted a ‘scorched earth’ strategy. Formidable greek army could not avert heavy losses in the ensuing war. Sadly, lack of military experience resulted in Ashwayanas to commit a grave mistake. During their last stand, they came out of their citadel and tried to keep the fight at plain lands. This just one mistake allowed greeks to claim victory. It is really an unforeseen incident where civilians decided to put up a fight against a professional army, even when they had the option to make truce.
~327 B.C. – Alexander was not so great – Next one who decided to teach the greeks a lesson was the state of ‘Ashwakayana’ -s, or ‘Assakenoi’ as per greek texts. Unlike the ‘Ashwayana’ -s, they did maintain their own army. Alexander learnt from his earlier experience and he had been expecting a tougher resistance from the defenders. He was not wrong. The war started with greeks making a tactical retreat to lure the defenders out from their citadel of Massaga. He wanted to repeat the same events as how he managed to defeat ‘Ashwayana’ -s. But, ‘Ashwakayana’ -s quickly realized their mistake and after having small loss, they went back to their fort again. Greeks started pressing with their phalanx regiment. But, this famous branch of greek army could not stand much longer against heavy shower of arrows from their opponent. Seeing the failure of phalanx division, Alexander tried to bulldoze his way and called up the ballistas, which too failed. Following days saw greeks coming up with innovative strategies from building up towers to constructing bridges. But stubborn warriors of that border state of ancient Bharat forced greeks to retreat every time. In midst of heat of war, the leader of ‘Ashwakayana’ -s died. Even after that, his aged mother took up the mantle and local women too join the resistance. Even after a battle for more than a week, greek army failed to penetrate the walls of a mere border tribe. Feeling that it is impossible to defeat ‘Asswakayana’ -s in a straight battle, Alexander called for peace. Following event that took place draws a distinct line between Bharat culture and rest of the world. Ancient kingdoms of Bharat used to adhere to some specific code of war. One of them prohibits the warriors to hurt an enemy who has surrendered or agreed to make peace. But greeks (or any other empire in world) did not have any such moral. Alexander himself broke the peace treaty and attacked ‘Ashwakayana’ -s at midnight. The Bharat warriors were unarmed and unprepared for such a treachery. The could not put up any more fight. Same turn of events took place more than once by Alexander. Even greek or roman narrators too, had to show objection such kind of lack of morality.
326 B.C. – Battle of Hydaspes – One mistake of ‘Ashwayana’ -s and ‘Ashwakayana’-s were that, even though they almost made greeks run for their lives, they failed to make it their day. The primary reason for that is, they forgot to stand united. Each and every chieftan decided to take on an organised and unified army alone, instead of calling for a confederacy. The way greeks struggled against each one of them, indicates that history would be different, had there been a coalition. But, those battles already put a question mark on invincibility of greek army, which status they managed to live up to till then. Nevertheless, those battle experiences seemed like just a prelude of what greeks were about to face next, in the banks of river ‘Jhelum’ . Unlike before, this time, there was one fully prepared Bharat army on the other corner, under the leadership of king Puru (or Purushottam). Greek records claim victory of Alexander. But they fail to explain why Alexander did not annex the territory. Not only that, post this battle, greek army decided to go back instead of penetrating further. To justify this strange behavior, historians usually come up with a story of home-sickness of greek soldiers. But even actual greek accounts note out that all these traits, from giving back enemy’s territory to leaving them unharmed, are quite uncharacteristic for someone as Alexander. The incidents of mass-massacre in cities of ‘Ashwakayana’ -s reveal that Alexander never actually cared about any morality even, leave aside the question of being charitable. Greek record-keepers tried very hard to save Alexander’s face by hook or by crook. But from their own writing, we can get a clear idea how terrified greeks had become after their first ever encounter with a Bharat army. King Puru deployed archery regiment wielding 2-meter long bows, whose one end needed to be bolted in ground to generate extreme momentum. Massive arrows unleashed from these bows were able to penetrate any kind of greek armor and transfix more than one soldier at once. Another major fear factor were the elephants Bharat army used to send in forward line. So, how the war went for those over-hyped greeks? Let us translate it from their own writing. First, volleys of heavy arrows triggered from gigantic bows trimmed first lines of greek phalanx division. While they were still trying to find a way to counter those never-experienced projectiles, first wave of war elephants bulldozed right into middle of greek formation (to give an analogy of that impact, imagine battle tanks charging into infantry line). Neither Alexander nor his generals could have even a wild nightmare of getting overpowered so easily. It was still not the end, without giving greeks any chance to recover, an even larger second wave of elephants stormed right into the gap created. Almost half of greek infantry were trampled or hit by arrows. Once the greek formation broke, Bharat infantry carried out the third wave of attack. With his own army being scattered and clueless, a defenseless Alexander lost his royal horse and was forced to dismount. Nicaea, one of his leading commanders was killed. Alexander himself was lucky enough to keep his head in its proper place. Against the raging war-elephant, greek cavalry proved to be of no use. There is no single instance which can prove or justify any dramatic turn of events to award greeks with a victory, after all these. As retrieved from different sources, Alexander was forced to pay off king Ambhi (his ally) and king Puru (his enemy). While modern historians carefully omit this part, it looks like, the amount was bargained in exchange of a safe exit for Greeks.
~325 B.C. – 323 B.C. – After the humiliating defeat against King Puru, confidence of greek army was already was at its lowest. They had heard about kingdoms in further east in Bharat who could dwarf king Puru in terms of army strength. It was out of question that they would not stand a chance to survive. They had no other option than going back. But the retreat too, did not went as smooth as they thought. Instead of taking the same route through which they came, greeks turned southward. Probably the reason is that Alexander’s ally, king Ambhi too turned against him and denied them any passage through his kingdom. Greeks, by recalling their horrifying experience in battle of Hydaspes, did not take the risk of waging war against another Bharat king. They preferred a journey through river to avoid conflict as much as possible. Incidents about greek intrusion and the genocides they carried out had been spreading like wildfire. And tale about how they got battered encouraged other smaller states too to draw out their weapons against greeks. Its a pity that the same force which had dreamt of conquering the world, now had to fight for making their escape route, that too against just border states. In a campaign at Sangala in Punjab, the Bharat attack was so ferocious it completely destroyed greek cavalry, forcing Alexander to attack on foot. In their campaign against Malawas in modern day Multan, though greeks narrowly managed to escape another defeat, Alexander got severely injured in his ribs and he was unable to stand even. The ‘Ashwakayana’ -s did not forget the betrayal of Alexander and they too were waiting for such an opportune moment to strike back. All these states, each of whom greeks managed to piss off earlier, stood up at the same time. Alexander was too lucky to survive to reach to his safe house in Babylon after losing majority of his army.
After Alexander failed in his first major battle in ancient Bharat, he did not live much longer. He died on his way back towards Greece. His general, Seleucus assumed the greek empire. On the other hand, one significant political change was on its way in Bharat heartland. One civil war was ignited to claim the throne of most powerful state then – the Magadha. Defeating the incumbent Nanda dynasty, Chandragupta Maurya became King of Magadha. He instantly initiated his campaign of bringing entire Bharat under a centralized administration. To manage a vast empire, he re-organized the administrative infrastructure. Mauryan administrative system was so robust that the same core is being followed even today. Importance and uniqueness of Mauryan era lies in the fact that how quickly after the foundation, it managed to cover entire northern Bharat and became the dominating power in the region. Usually, it requires two or three generations of time to overthrow incumbent rulers, then to put an end to revolts and chaos, and finally to establish stronghold over the conquered regions. But Chandragupta Maurya not only fought with Magadha Kings twice in his lifetime, also after ascending the throne, he was able to expand the borders until Hindukush. Half the credit of achieving this impossible task goes to the legendary personality – Chanakya, who was the prime advisor of Chandragupta Maurya. During greek attacks, the Bharat territory consisted of bunches of powerful kingdoms, fighting with each other; and all of a sudden Maurya empire appeared out of nowhere. It is still the largest empire that ever existed in Bharat (as per known history). Though the Maurya-s usually get out-shined by another empire of latter era (Gupta empire), it is a undeniable fact that Mauryans could successfully carry out the initiative of Grand Unification of Bharat. Apart from that, the economic and administrative restructuring Maurya Kings introduced, was very fruitful for ancient Bharat to deal with an endless series of successive foreign invasion.
305 B.C. – Ultimate Test of Power between Bharat and Greece – With rise of Maurya empire, matters got worse for Greeks, since now they had to face a unified Bharat army. Alexander’s army got beaten so badly by king Puru (or Purushottam) that they lost their stomach to continue the war. Contemporary Magadha was at least 10 times stronger than king Puru in terms of military strength. And then, under the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, not only Magadha, entire northern Bharat got unified, which brings us to the conclusion that the Bharat army strength was increased by almost hundred times than that of king Puru. After securing the empire within Bharat mainland, Chandragupta Maurya started pushing inside greek territory. While there exists no accounts of the actual battle fought between unified armies of Bharat and Greece, historical consensus is that Chandragupta Maurya emerged victorious against Greek forces. Probably that is the reason why greek record-keepers never mentioned any details about it. Even without having any specifics, looking at post-war events that took place, we can get an idea about how both powers fared against each other. The primary battle outcome is that Chandragupta Maurya managed to annex a large amount of greek territory up to eastern part of today’s Iran. Greek army never attempted to take back the lost regions, their dominance ended permanently there. As per the terms of peace, it was not enough for Seleucus to give up his own territories to the Bharat monarch. Seleucus was also forced to marry off his daughter with Chandragupta Maurya. Clearly, the devastation greeks faced in hands of Chandragupta Maurya was of such a magnitude, that even king Puru’s game-changing victory over Alexander looks like a mere skirmish against it.
Starting from the reign of Ashoka, Maurya kings had gradually been inclining towards a more pacifist foreign policy, notably giving a preference towards non-violence. While non-violence usually gets an upper-hand in philosophical debates, there is absolutely no doubt that it is of no use in maintaining sovereignty of a nation, specially when that nation is surrounded by hostile and aggressive neighbours. That newly adopted doctrine of non-violence had made a fatal impact on Military network of ancient Bharat. Until the early-Mauryan era, foreign invasions used to be squashed right at the gateway of Hidukush, and that too without the need of any grand alliance between Bharat kingdoms. But, once the impractical concept of non-violence started to prevail in royal administration, the cracks in border defense also were becoming prominent day by day. Without the active support from the royal court, spying network began to lose their edge, army positions were compromised in border, and the nation which once was able to thrash legendary conquerors, fell prey to comparatively much lesser threats.
200 B.C. – 180 B.C. – The Unsung Heroes – After the defeat at the hand of Chandragupta Maurya, though the greek army went back to Macedonia, greek colonies still continued to exist in middle-East. Greek culture influenced this region so much that gradually an entirely new empire rose there, popularly known as Bactrian Greek kingdom. Unlike this name indicates, politically they did not have any connection with original Greeks. While the Mauryas were on their decline in ancient Bharat, Bactrian Greeks seized the opportunity and initiated their invasion in India. Thanks to the policy of non-violence, Mauryas could not strike back in time. Bactrian greeks were moving quite fast within the Bharat territory and were headed towards Magadha. They got active support from the Buddhists which made their task much easier. Bactrian Greeks planned an infiltration under the disguise of Buddhist monks. The general of Maurya army, Pushyamitra Shunga, caught this act and he initiated a contingency plan. Not only he was able to destroy the safe houses of invaders, he caught both the infiltrators and traitors red-handed. Still, the Maurya king, refused to take any legal action against those Buddhists. Seeing no other way, Pushyamitra Shunga killed the King in a duel and assumed the throne. His first task was to devise a plan to beat back the invaders. Being a war veteran himself, he knew that, to deal with the foreign invasion, which already grew muh stronger, it was a necessity to form a centralized defensive force.He tightened his hold over the remnants of once-formidable Maurya empire. Greek records claim that Bactrian Greeks were able to conquer Pataliputra, the political center of Bharat; but the Bharat narrations do not support this statement. Also, no evidence or link is found till today to prove that those invaders were able to get an upper-hand over Pushyamitra Shunga. Usually, historians agree upon that fact that once Shunga rulers took over the throne of Magadha and switched back to an aggressive military doctrine, Bactrian Greek invasion was stopped. Their effort to capture Magadha failed and they were defeated undoubtedly. This was the first defeat of Bactrian Greeks after their entry into Bharat. This important but untold history can be found in ‘Malabikagnitram‘ , which was composed by Kalidasa.
~ 180 B.C – Just when Magadha was witnessing the rise of Shunga empire, another neighbouring power also was on its rise – Kalinga. Kalinga had a long time rivalry with Magadha. King Kharavela of Kalinga wanted to utilize the opportunity of internal disturbance of Magadha and mobilized his army to attack Magadha from the South. On his campaign against Magadha, King Kharavela of Kalinga was reported that one Bactrian Greek King, also attacked Magadha from the west. For King Kharavela, had he joined the invaders, it would have been quite easy to defeat powerful Magadha. But ancient Bharat military generals not only possessed fighting and commanding skills, they used to excel in planning of deep-rooted political goals also. King Kharavela understood that though an alliance with invaders will result him a temporary gain of Magadha territory, but that means invaders would have also got a chance to set up a strong base in Bharat which might create socio-political imbalance on a long term. Hence, he withdrew his attack on Magadha and redirected them against the foreign forces instead. Bactrian greeks could never make even a wild guess about the delicate political dynamics within Bharat powers and they were caught off-guard. There was no other way for the invaders other than retreat.
~180 B.C. – ~160.B.C. – We never get any mentioning about how and why Bactrian-Greeks vanished from Bharat mainland. Historians also keep mum about their constant disasters against Bharat kings after the battle of Pataliputra. Shunga rulers did not stop after successfully defending their territory, they went ahead and aimed to chase back invaders from entire Bharat. Back-to-back attacks forced Bactrian-Greeks to retreat. It is a proven fact that they lost entire Ganges basin pretty quickly. Possibly ancient Bharat witnessed rise of several other smaller and regional powers (like Arjunayanas or Yaudheyas, as mentioned in numismatic evidences) which too made an offensive stance against foreign army that time. Some inscriptions suggest that Bactrian-Greeks were chased back until the other bank of river Indus.
Greek invasion in ancient Bharat usually holds a special significance to colonial historians. They have tried every possible way to establish a notion of triumph of organized west over chaotic east. That explains why they focus on little victories of Alexander over smaller border states and then jumps to the conclusion that Alexander conquered ancient Bharat, purposefully ignoring multitudes of Bharat kingdoms reigning throughout the land that time. The theory about Alexander deciding to give back enemy’s territory and his army revolting afterwards, seem too impossible to believe. No single instance of mutiny is referred when greeks faced the legendary persians. Even when greeks were struggling against ‘Ashwayana’ or ‘Ashwakayana’ -s, the army still had their loyalty intact. But what changed in the battle of Hydaspes that they revolted? Second question that comes up is, why Alexander chose an entirely new way home; a homesick army should take a path which is safe and familiar. Even though colonial historians remain silent about this, it can safely be considered that greeks were not feeling so secure about going back using normal route. That is why they opted to make their way through smaller border states. Perhaps the danger awaiting on the old route was too much for greeks to handle. All the traits feel pretty much unusual for a victor, it does seem like greeks faced a straight defeat in battle of Hydaspes. Moreover, contemporary Bharat texts almost never mention anything about any foreign conqueror wrecking havoc. Neither do we find any lasting impact of greeks within Bharat. Overall, we can conclude that, Alexander’s invasion was very feeble compared to the political landscape of Asian continent that time. Greeks even failed to hold onto the border states which they managed to conquer. Quickly after Alexander’s death, they got merged with Maurya empire. The bactrian greeks could accomplish a military victory at least. But still, they too failed to mark any permanent footprint on ancient Bharat.
A Domino Effect and the Immovable Nation
Around the time when Bactrian-Greeks were struggling against Bharat Kings, another major turn of events took place across central Asia. A confederation of Chinese Han empire and Xiongnu has defeated the Yuezhis and pushed them out of their original place. Yuezhis started to move westward and came into conflict with other warlords. They, in turn, created a domino effect and as a result, troops and warriors from entire central Asia started to flood into the gateway of Bharat. First one among them are commonly referred as Indo-Scythians or “Saka” -s. Although the term ‘Indo-Scythians‘ does not refer any specific ethnic group. Indo-Scythians were followed by Yuezis, and then the Xiongnu-s themselves. This aggressive advancement of a huge population, who usually belong to most ruthless among warrior tribes across the globe, had created a chaos throughout two continents (Asia and Europe). But Bharat still managed to stand still and hold her ground. After Bactrian-Greeks were repelled back from Bharat, their power was greatly diminished and they were destroyed by Indo-Scythians. Those Indo-Scythians started their invasion inside Bharat approximately around 60 B.C. At that time, Shunga empire in northern Bharat was on their decline. Absence of any strong indigenous force was felt heavily throughout north-western Bharat. Almost immediately after Bactrian Greeks were dealt with, Indo-Scythian invasion started. Comparatively smaller Kingdoms could not check the invasion and again, north-western Bharat temporarily fell under a foreign force. After conquering the smaller kingdoms there, Indo-Scythians were divided into three different branches, who went South, South-East and East respectively.
~57 B.C. – While Southern and Eastern branches of Indo-Scythians were able to penetrate further, the South-Eastern troops met with an immovable obstacle against the empire of King Vikramadiya. Please note that, in Bharat history, we get reference of at least 16 different kings who assumed the title ‘Vikramaditya’ . Here we are talking about Vikramaditya from Paramara dynasty. Exact events of king Vikramaditya’s rule cannot be extracted properly, but it seems that he at least secured a victory over Indo-Scythians near modern day Multan. King Vikramaditya is probably one of most highlighted rulers in Bharat history. Legends about him have reached to such an extent that it is almost impossible to differentiate between facts and fantacies. Several inscriptions and texts discovered recently suggest that, he was one of rare kings of Bharat history, who was able to project power outside geographical boundary of the subcontinent, even up to as far as the Arabia. However, that is a different topic, we get strong and solid evidence that he managed to end the Indo-Scythian invasaion which was headed towards conquering Ujjwayinee.
~100 A.D. – ~130 A.D. – Southern branches of Indo-Scythians (commonly known as western satraps) managed to get an hold over the conquered territories. The reached their peak of power under the rule of Nahapana. During his rule, the invaders managed to snatch away territories from Malawas and Satabahanas. They were followers of Buddhism and were on their way of expanding their Kingdom. Slowly but steadily, they were also promoting their own culture over Bharat ones in conquered regions. It took quite a long time for any indigenous King to grow strong enough to deal with the threat possessed by Indo-Scythians. Finally the mostly celebrated ruler of the Satabahanas, Gautamiputra Satkarni waged war against them and gained victory. After this defeat, they were driven away from southern Bharat. Gautamiputra Satkarni permanently marked this victory by re-strucking Nahapana’s coins with his own symbol on it.
Just like Bactrian Greeks, Indo-Scythians also had been dropping from their zenith very quickly once Bharat Kings began to claim back their territories. Due to pressing from Bharat kingdoms, they were almost wiped out from central and southern Bharat. At the same time, next wave of foreign invasion appeared from the North. Those invaders are commonly referred as ‘Kushan’ -s, who actually belonged to the Yuezhi clan. Indo-Scythians were sandwiched between Kushan-s from north and Bharat kings from south. They could not hold their own and submitted almost without a fight. This surrender of Indo-scythians offered a clear pathway to Kushan-s. Kushan-s stormed through northern Bharat without much resistance. Kingdom of Malwa tried as much as they could but it went in vain. Kushan-s too were patrons of Buddhism. Usually Chinese texts and other sources try to portray Kushans as some dynasty who have brought golden age to Bharat. It indeed is true that Kushans became economically strong once they got hold of the silk road, but they were no different than other invaders. Kushans used to conduct frequent raids in nearby localities to raise fund to fill-up their treasury. They were known to kill almost 9,00,000 parthians after capturing the region. After defeating the kingdom of Malwa, one particular act what Kushan-s did, was to start an entirely new dating system, replacing the already existing ‘Vikram Sambat’ . This information signifies that Kushan-s too were not tolerant enough to let any native culture to co-exist.
~127 A.D. – ~150 A.D. – Kaniska is the most hailed king of the Kushans. He extended his empire thorughout Norther Bharat to a great extent. In some Tibetan texts, it is claimed that Kushans gained control over Pataliputra. But, real-life evidences say otherwise. In case eastern Bharat had gone under Kushan control, there would have been much more numerous numismatic evidence in that area (like Mathura or Gandhar). Additionally, as per Bharat texts, one Buddhist philosopher, Ashwaghosa was carried off from Pataliputra by Kushan king Kaniska. That means, Pataliputra remained outside of Kushan empire even when their empire was at maximum extent. Though we do not get reference of any battle between Kushan-s and Magadha, it is evident that Kushan-s stopped right at the border of Magadha.
~170 A.D. – ~199 A.D. – Rivalry between Indo-Scythians and Satabahanas did not stop after Gautamiputra Satkarni’s victory and it continued throughout the century. Over time, again Indo-Scythians got the upper-hand and they were pushing the boundary further. Possibly by this time, Indo-Scythians became vassals of Kushan-s. The benefit were bothways. On one hand, Indo-Scythians had quite little worry in their northern border and they could concentrate against Satavahanas. On the other hand, Kushan-s too, got hold of larger territory. It is unclear whether any military alliance existed between the two. But both of those foreign parties suffered severe blow when Satavahanas gained a final and determining victory under the command of Yajna Sri Satkarni. Satavahanas managed to capture territories up to modern day Gujrat. After this catastrophic defeat, presence of Indo-Scythians were removed from entire southern Bharat.
The Hindukush has a very critical geographical importance on Bharat civilization. Bharat mainland enjoys natural defense in north and south by the Himalayas and the Ocean, respectively. Each and every foreign invasion till date (except the British) have made their way through the valleys of Hindukush. In simpler words, the Hindukush acts as a gateway towards Bharat. Whenever it remained guarded, invaders used to face their doom then and there. Otherwise, they would get the opportunity to spread across the Ganges basin like termites. That explains the reason why world conquering forces like Semiramis or Alexander failed to make any impact on Bharat but central Asian warlords managed to break through. Though the indigenous forces were able to successfully beat back those central Asian invaders, need for another unified Government was becoming eminent day by day. Around mid of third century, another Bharat dynasty started to pave its way towards a glorious future. That dynasty, which is now famous as the ‘Gupta’ -s, marks the most glorious era of Bharat history. Gupta kings were also well aware about this fact that, to become a rich and prosperous nation, the first task was to reinforce that gateway. They also knew that a strong military was a must-have for that objective. During the Gupta era, Bharat military had gone through several innovations and restructuring. Cavalry used to get much importance and heavy armored cavalry was introduced for the first time. Elephants started to lose their premium status. All these revamps proved to be fruitful in their military conquests. Within a very short time, the Gupta-s managed to expand their grip up to Hindukush. The Gupta-s had carried out two most important jobs – they wiped out remnants of two foreign forces – Indo-Scythians and the Kushans. Almost four centuries after the fall of mighty Maurya empire, Bharat civilization got rid of the curse of foreign intruders. The Gupta empire not only brought entire northern Bharat under their control, the border were pushed as far as the Oxus in the west.
~340 A.D. – ~350 A.D. – After Kaniska’s death, Kushans were continuously at their decline. Probably rise of Gupta empire was also a major cause of it. A powerful and indomitable neighbor is not something of desirable political choice for any empire, but unfortunately, Kushans had no choice. After the fall of their ally, the Indo-Scythians, against Satavahanas, Kushan empire was always at the brink of war against Bharat forces. Guptas too, was making slow but steady advancement. Once Samudragupta ascended the throne and initiated his undefeated campaign, Kushans were forced to retreat from Ganges basin. Samudragupta did not stop his victory lap until Kushans lost their last foothold in Punjab (modern day).
~360 A.D. – ~368 A.D. – Samudragupta was not only a military genius, he was a great diplomat as well. On the north-western border, Kidarites surrendered and accepted his suzerainty. Thus, he managed to reinforce Bharat gateway and secured Bharat mainland after almost five hundred years of trouble caused by foreign forces. Next, he moved towards the next one in line – the Sassanian empire. Though the Sassanids were not exactly on war terms with Bharat, Samudragupta made the first move and launched an attack. Though details is not retrieved yet about the trade of blows between these two powerhouses, some of Bharat narration indicates that Guptas emerged victorious not once, but twice.
~370 A.D. – ~380 A.D. – Though the Satavahanas were able to bring down the power of Indo-Scythians to a great extent, they were still a threat. They way Indo-Scythians made a non-aggression treaty with the Yuezhis (Kushan), it had given rise to a possibility that similar turn of events would have been repeated in future. To prevent the central Asian clans to build up a formidable setup and form an alliance, eradication of them was no more something to be deferred. After establishing his control over major part of northern Bharat, king Samudragupta changed his direction towards the Indo-Scythian settlement in central Bharat. Probably the battle was short, outcome was precise and in favor of the sons of soil. In the “Ashoka Pillar” at modern day Prayagraj (Ashoka Pillar -s are a series of columns dispersed throughout the Indian subcontinent, erected or at least inscribed with edicts by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka during his reign), it is inscribed that the Indo-Scythian king offered his daughters for marriage as terms of surrender. Thus, one of most important and rich cities of Bharat, Mathura got rid of foreign rulers after a really long time.
~410 A.D. – ~430 A.D. – The End of Indo-Scythians – Samudragupta never lost a war in his lifetime. His son, Chandragupta-II (not to be confused with Chandragupta Maurya, he was a different king) also continued the legacy. Chandragupta-II resumed the campaign against Indo-Scythians, who still was holding their own in western Bharat. He determined to uproot the invaders once and for all. Hence, he moved the army base into central Bharat and set up a military stronghold there. His long-term campaign against Indo-Scythians consisted of a series of battles and was a mixture of brute-force and strategy. Indo-Scythians were bolted in western Bharat for more than three centuries and it was not an easy task to beat them there. Hence Chandragupta-II relied on pressing tactic – a slow but steady approach. Though minute details are not known about his campaign, there is no confusion about his victory. A couple of narrations tell that Chandragupta-II himself led a covert operation to kill the Indo-Scythian ruler, which was the final blow. After this campaign, Indo-Scythian rule in Bharat came to an end.
Powerful rule of Samudragupta or Chandragupta-II managed to put a temporary stop to foreign attacks. One of the major reasons behind the rise of Gupta empire was a reinforced and upgraded military. Although the neighboring Persia was continuously under scorching heat of invasions, Bharat was comparatively much stabler politically. But, over time, Gupta empire started its way towards decline too. With the gradually diminishing power of Gupta-s, next bunch of foreign invaders loomed large at the feet of Hindukush. This time, the army which was knocking at the doorstep, were popularly known as ‘Hun’ -s (or Hephthalites as in roman texts written by Procopius of Caesarea). If we can recall the events of domino effect in central Asia which caused the Indo-Scythians and Yuezhis to rush towards Bharat, it was actually started when powerful Yuezhis were defeated by Xiongnu on northern China region. Ethnicity of Hun-s has been traced back to those Xiongnu-s. They hunted down all other states throughout entire central Asia and then turned their gaze towards Europe, Caliphate, Persia and Bharat. They were probably most brutal and most barbaric group in the known history of entire world. Though some historians try to establish an opinion that the attackers of Europe belonged to some other Ethnicity than the aggressors at Persian and Bharat border, it is now a widely accepted fact that Hun-s actually refer to a political and cultural groups primarily, rather than any specific ethnic group.
455 A.D. – 458 A.D. – The King who stopped a Juggernaut – Hun-s were infamous to lay waste on wherever they went. Any military victory of Hun-s was immediately followed by plundering and destruction, thus displaying their demonic sadism. They identified Persia as their next target during late-fourth century. Numerous references of more than one battles between them indicate that Persian empire was forced to give up parts of its territory to come to a non-aggression treaty. Hun-s reached the top of their military prowess around mid-fifth century and maintained that status for almost a few decades. During this period, they are known to have ignite terror throughout Asia and Europe. They dared to take on Roman empire head-on. It took them only a couple of years to beat down one of most powerful European empire to its knees, Costantinople was lost. Even after that, they continued their aggression against rest of Roman Empire. Western Rome was shaken from its core, Huns-s were able to mark their footprint until today’s Paris. Hun-s stopped their advancement in Europe only after getting the assurance of a lumpsum amount of annual tribute. In Asia, they started their offensive against Bharat at the same time. Since Gupta empire was on its decline at that time, north-western Bharat again saw rise of smaller independent Kingdoms. But, they were not powerful enough to stand in front of one of most terrifying army in world history. But still, ancient Bharat never had a scarcity of lion-hearts. This time too, one King stood firm against a force which already had put shame on two of most glorious empires (Persian and Roman). That king (then only a Prince though), Skandagupta was able to inflict a decissive and crushing defeat to Hun-s. Both Bhitari and Junagarh inscriptions carries the glorious legacy of Bharat. Probably, this was the first time the unstoppable Hun-s experienced the taste of defeat. They never dared to come back during Skandagupta’s lifetime.
~515 A.D. – Defeat by Bharat king Skandagupta was an unexpected blow to Hun-s. Though their eastern campaign stopped for a brief period of time, they concentrated on western Asia again. Islamic caliphate was trembling under their attacks. Situation at Persia was no better either. After death of Skandagupta, again there was a vacuum of power in Bharat and Hun-s resumed their attacks. This time, even the Gupta empire fell in front of them. They have destroyed buildings, arts, localities and what not!!! When the Hunic terror was about to spread over rest of Bharat, again another heroic personality rose from kingdom of Malwa – Prakashadharma. According to a recent archaeological discovery from excavation at Mandsaur, we get the reference that Hun-s were defeated very badly by king Prakashadharma. Also, there is another inscription known as ‘Rishtal stone slab inscription’ which supports this incident. Hun-s retreated back from central and eastern Bharat and confined within north-western region only. Hun leader, Toramana is said to have died shortly after this battle.
520 A.D. – Within a decade, Hun-s built up a new army for another invasion. This time, they reached up to the city of Pataliputra. It was for the first time ever in known history where any foreign force became capable of laying hands on this city. Great city of Pataliputra reduced to a small village. This time, Hun invasion was led by Mihirgula, whose cruelity and barbarism can only be compared with that of Attila. Hun-s were giving their everything in an attempt to conquer the land of Bharat, which seemed to be the only civilization continuing to hold their own against Hunic onslaught. Yes, it may sound surprising, but it is a fact that neither Romans, Persians, Turks or Caliphate had enough fight left within themselves to look straight towards Hun-s. On the contrary, Bharat kingdoms were still offering stiff resistance. So, to complete the unfinished business, Hun-s returned back to end this decade-long battle. But, little did they know about thousands of years of military legacy of ancient Bharat. They were right in their analysis that there were no single Bharat power to endure the attack, but the Hun-s did not take into account any possibility of coalition. Malwa king Yoshadharman took the initiative to build up an counter-offensive with help of other smaller kingdoms, including the remnants of Gupta-s (king Narasimhagupta Baladitya) too. A fierce battle was fought at Sondani. Hun-s were completely destroyed and finally surrendered. Being true to military ethics of Bharat, king Yoshadharman did not kill an enemy who had given up and dropped their weapons. Hun-s understood that it was not possible for them to conquer Bharat and went back from Bharat mainlands. It may sound unbelievable but true, that the force which conquered almost half of Europe, met their doom at Bharat.
The political unrest in central Asia spread towards all directions and it had a lasting impact for as long as half-a-millennia. Entire Eurasia experienced a rapid change. Remnants of most of ancient civilizations were wiped out by those warlords. Powerful empires and their trade routes suffered a huge loss due to instability throughout the region. Economic crisis resulted in deserted cities and trade centers. Western Asia which once was honored by magnificent civilizations like Assyria, Mitannis, Hittites or Babylonians, got flooded with barbaric invaders. There were only two nations which managed to survive the mayhem without much impact. One of them was the islamic caliphate in arabian peninsula. They were successful in islamizing the central asian tribes and thus, became allies of them instead. The other nation was obviously ancient Bharat, which is the only nation known to successfully have countered that inter-continental disorder. Later, the islamic caliphate, along with their newfound allies, started their military conquest. It created even worse effect than Xiongnu expansion. Following years saw a millennia-long brawl between rampaging army of caliphate and adamant resistance of Bharat, where, at the end, it was yet another glory to celebrate in favor of the most ancient civilization. Chronology of those events has been mentioned in the article.
The antiquities of Asia – Diodorus Siculus, Diodorus, Edwin Murphy
Women Warriors – David E. Jones
War Elephants – John M. Kistler
King Porus, A Legend of Old – Madhusudan Dutta
History of Porus – Buddha Prakash
Ancient India – Ramesh Chandra Majumder
Ancient Indian History and Civilization – Sailendra Nath Sen
Malabikagnimitram – Kalidasa
Raghubamsham – Kalidasa
Rise and Fall of Imperial Guptas – Ashwini Agarwal
Alberuni’s India – Edward C. Sachau (Routledge / Trench, Trübner & Co. pp. 5–6. ISBN 978-1-136-38385-4)
Ancient India – V.D, Mahajan (S. Chand Publishing. ISBN 9789352531325)
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Aulikara Vamsha ke Itihas par Naya Prakash (in Hindi) in M.D. Khare ed. Malwa through the Ages, Bhopal: Directorate of Archaeology & Museums, Government of Madhya Pradesh – V.S. Wakankar
Alexander the Great and Kambojas – Jesse Russell, Ronald Cohn
Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus Vol 1 – Marcus Justinus
Alexander vs Porus : Beyond the Fog of War – Charles Le Brun
Perspectives in Indian History: From the Origins to AD 1857 – M. Janakiraman
Indica – Arrian
The Liberty of History (Book II) – Diodorus Siculus
Alexander against Border States