Rulers and Dictators

The Hindu King Who Stopped Alexander the Great

In 326 BC, Alexander the Greek warrior advanced into India after defeating the Persian Kings in a series of battles.There can be no two opinions about the generalship of Alexander, who was by all accounts a great soldier and king. But there are certain aspects of his battle at Hydespades against the Hindu king Porus that must be looked at afresh

Porus was the Indian ruler of the kingdom of Puru and his capital was where the present city of Lahore is situated. He had learnt of the advance of Alexander and also his intention of conquering the entire sub continent. He thus decided to oppose the Greek warrior.The Battle of hydespades on the banks of the river Jhelum was thus fought between the Greek army and king Porus.

Records of greek writers suggest that the Greeks had the better of the Indian Army.The chariots of Porus got stuck in the river bank sand and the swift moving greek cavalry was lethal. Porus son was killed and then Porus decided to charge with his elephant corps. Greek writers admit that the sight of the elephants was terrifying, but Seluces the Greek general of Alexander led the assault against the elephant corps which after the death of their mahouts just disintegrated. Porus was captured and there is a famous account of his encounter with the Greek warrior. The Greek king asked him how he would like to be treated.Porus replied ‘like a king’. So Alexander treated him like a king and gave him back his kingdom including additional lands as well.

But there is no denying the fact that this battle with Porus and his elephant corps had a devastating effect on the rank and file of the Greek army and they refused to go further. in effect it was the most terrifying battle the Greek army had fought so far. But there is a lingering doubt that whether Porus was really defeated at all. It is possible that his elephant force so demoralised the Greeks that they refused to march forward.

Some Indian scholars have argued that Alexander was in fact defeated’ by Porus and after the battle they both became friends. This opinion is based on the medieval epic Shahnameh by the Persian poet Firdausi. Scholars argue that this was the reason that Alexender left vast territiories to Porus. Western historians however discount this theory. But what ever the truth,the fact remains that Alexander went back and Porus though having suffered a tactical defeat was in real terms the victor. For this alone Porus needs to be remembered as a great Hindu warrior.