Greek and Persian Invasion of India: Alexander Invasion of India, Effect and Impact

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Greek and Persian Invasion of India are important topics in ancient Indian history. The Greek and Persian Invasion can also be termed the Iranian & Macedonian Invasion of India. Cyrus invaded India’s North-Western border in 550 BCE, beginning the Persian Invasion of India. Alexander’s invasion of North-West India in 327 BC is when the Greek Invasion of India began. India, a wealthy and prosperous country with a remarkable civilization, attracted people or tribes from different ancient civilizations.

Through this article, we will discuss the Persian Invasion of India, its effect, and more. The Greek Invasion of India will include Alexander’s invasion and its impact on India.

Persian Invasion of India

India and ancient Persia (Iran) have been in contact for a while. The Aryan and the Jataka stories refer to interactions between India and Persia. In 550 BCE, Cyrus, the originator of the Achaemenid Empire in ancient Iran, conquered India’s northern front. The tiny provinces of India at the time, including Gandhara, Madra, Kamboja, and Magadha, were continuously at war with one another.

  • This region lacked a strong kingdom like Magadha’s to unite the feuding tribes into a unified state.
  • Furthermore, the region’s neighbours were interested in it since it was fertile and abundant in natural resources. The Hindu Kush’s passes might easily access it.
  • In 516 BC, the Persian tyrant Darius invaded northwest India and seized Sindh and Punjab to the west of the Indus.
  • With twenty-eight satrapies, this region was made into Iran’s twentieth province or satrapy. Sindh, the northwest boundary, and the region of Punjab that was west of the Indus were all included in the “Indian satrapy.”
  • Due to multiple battles with the Greeks, Xerxes, the son of Darius, could not advance to conquer the remaining of India.

Effects of the Persian Invasion of India

The effects of the Persian Invasion of India included:

  • Due to the 200-year duration of Indo-Persian contact, trade between India and Iran (Persia) flourished rapidly.
  • The Persian invasion of India exposed the security gaps in India and made room for Alexander to triumph.
  • The Persians introduced the Kharoshti script to northwest India. Like Aramaic, the writing is done from right to left.
  • It was discovered that Ashoka only used Kharosthi to write his inscriptions in these areas.
  • The Persian monarch Darius inspired the rock inscriptions that Ashoka utilized in the third century BCE. The preamble of Ashoka’s edicts and the bell-shaped capitals are examples of the Persian/Iranian influence on Ashoka’s structures.

Greek Invasion of India

Before the Common Era, when the Greeks invaded India, there was a thriving trade between India and Greece, particularly in silk, spices, and gold. The Greeks invaded India multiple times after Alexander the Great’s victory in 327–326 BC. Alexander left behind Greek soldiers in Taxila (modern-day Pakistan), where they ruled the area until 316 BC. The Seleucid dynasty was established in 304 B.C.E. when Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander’s generals, invaded what is now Pakistan and Punjab.

Alexander’s Invasion of India

One of the great conquerors of antiquity is thought to have been Alexander, Philip of Macedonia’s son. He became king in 335 BC at the age of twenty. Alexander assembled a sizable army and started his expeditions in 334 BC, driven by the desire to rule the entire world.

  • The opulence of India captivated Alexander.
  • There were other minor kings in northwest India before Alexander’s conquest, including Ambhi of Taxila and Porus of the Jhelum region (Hydaspes).
  • Ambhi consented to Alexander’s rule, but Porus put up a valiant but fruitless battle. Alexander and Porus fought in the Battle of Hydaspes.
  • The kingdoms between Ravi and Chenab were afterwards annexed by Alexander’s army once they reached the Chenab river.
  • But after that, his troops rebelled and refused to cross the Beas river. They were worn out after years of combat.
  • Alexander had to retreat in 326 BC. 323 BC saw Alexander’s passing at Babylon.
  • After he died, in 321 BC, the Greek Empire broke apart.
  • Alexander assigned four of his generals to four different regions in northwest India. Alexander’s final general in India was Eudamas.

Impact of Alexander’s Invasion of India

Alexander’s invasion of India was a minor development in Indian history, and as such, it had a little lasting impact on that civilization. However, the incursion did have indirect effects on India, including the following:

  • Chandragupta found it relatively simple to control the many governments and warlike tribes of Punjab due to Alexander’s invasion of India.
  • It aided in advancing Indian unification. Alexander paved the way for establishing a powerful empire by crushing the warlike tribes and minor states.
  • Four new avenues were established by Alexander’s invasion, allowing India to establish direct contact with the European nations.
  • These routes’ discoveries boosted trade as well.
  • The invasion of Alexander contributed to the development of Indian history. Greek authors like Megasthenes and others have written extensively about modern Indian society.
  • The Greeks taught the Indians how to create magnificent idols and currency. Greek art had a direct impact on the Gandhara School of Art.
  • On the other hand, several Greeks converted to Hinduism, and the Indians significantly influenced philosophy.

Iranian & Macedonian Invasion UPSC

The Iranian & Macedonian Invasion are also known as the Greek and Persian Invasion of India. The topic comes under the ancient history segment of the UPSC Syllabus and is relevant mostly for the UPSC Mains. Candidates must focus on Greek and Persian Invasions of India to understand the country’s conditions at that point in time.

Some UPSC Prelims Previous Years Questions pertaining to the topic are:

Question: The battle of the Hydaspes was fought between Alexander and King Porus in 326 BC. Hydapses means which river?

  1. Jhelum
  2. Indus
  3. Beas
  4. Ravi

Answer: Option A

Question: Who ruled the region between the Jhelum and Chenab rivers at the time of Alexander’s Invasion of India?

  1. Ambi
  2. Porus
  3. Dahir
  4. Bimbisara

Answer: Option B

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