This is the story of two determined men. These were the men who changed the course of world history. One was a warrior— Alexander or Sikander, a young, determined leader out to conquer the world. He was swift and fast. He had a powerful army along with nerves of steel.
The other one was a teacher - Arya Chanakya, the Legend, a person who had perfected the art of politics. He had with him the wisdom of the ages. He was a revered scholar, a revolutionary philosopher and thinker, and a formidable strategist. He was a sharp and intelligent man. His name commanded respect. If he decided todo something, nothing could stop him.
These two men lived in two different parts of the world during the same era. They came from two successful civilizations. One was from the cradle of Western philosophy—Greece. The other was nurtured in the land of knowledge—Bharat. World history is not complete without the story of these two resolute men. Their lives are an inspiration for generations. The war against Alexander in Bharat was not just a military war; it was philosophical, it was about an idea and a way of life, which could be followed by others. These ideas do not die with time; they become perfect when they are tested over time.
Alexander's Early Life And Achievements
Alexander was born in Macedonia, Greece, in 356 BC, to King Philip II and Queen Olympias. Alexander showed impressive courage and promise from a young age. To tutor Alexander, his father called on Aristotle, who trained him in literature, science, medicine and philosophy. Alexander followed his father’s dream to conquer the lands beyond their kingdom. His armies defeated formidable foes and marched on under his leadership through Persia to make him king of the land. There was a belief about Alexander that he was a divine being who had come to rule the world.[ref]
Alexander's Entry In Bharatvarsha
Alexander's goal was to conquer Asia, which was a challenge. Thus far, he had not lost a single war. That was a mighty feat in itself. An undefeated army meant a confident ruthless army. Soon, he was at the borders of Bharatvarsha. He expected a heroic entry in the land. However, the terrain and region were completely new to him and his army. He was not aware of the prevalent circumstances and conditions of this new place. King Ambhi, ruler of the kingdom where modern Pakistan is situated, was the first king in the subcontinent who faced Alexander. Overwhelmed by Alexander’s force, Ambhi surrendered immediately.
Paurava And Alexander
The next king on his path was Paurava, or Parwateshwar, who then ruled the region of modern Punjab. Paurava or Porus was a man of tremendous self-respect. He did not want to surrender easily or to accept the rule of Alexander. He gave his best in thebattle against Alexander. Unfortunately, Porus was defeated. Alexander took stock of the battle as a lesson learnt. At times, when we meet a good competitor, we start respecting the enemy. Alexander had met one such king. The dignity and the moral superiority shown by Porus made Alexander respect him.
The vanquished Porus was captured and brought before Alexander by his soldiers on his orders. When Porus arrived, he stood tall and showed a kind of grace that Alexander had never seen before. Instead of ordering to kill or put him behind bars, Alexander asked Porus a question. ‘Now that you are a defeated king, how should I treat you?’ Alexander expected Porus to ask for pardon or to be released from Alexander’s camp. Porus’s reply shocked him. ‘You should treat me as a king treats another king,’ he said.
Rather than showing fear of being executed or killed, Porus wasdemanding and commanding respect. For Alexander, this was a completely new experience. He was not aware of Bharatvarsha’s version of dharma yudh, an ethical practice of war. This was only the beginning of Alexander’s journey in the region. He was yet to face one of the greatest challenges that he would come across.[ref]
Chanakya's Entry And The Warfare
Bharatvarsha as a nation was self-sufficient. Geographically, its location and climatic conditions are very favourable to its populace. It has regular seasons like summer and winter, and receives plenty of rainfall. The flora and fauna of the country at the time had numerous varieties of fruits and vegetables to offer. There was enough for everyone for basic survival. Teachers and spiritual gurus in the land always taught the citizens to bedetached from the world and to seek moksha and self-enlightenment. Our ideologies spread across our neighbouring lands through trade routes and other business opportunities. As is human nature, there were some who were greedy for more power and wealth.
Bharatvarsha was, at the time, divided into sixteen regional kingdoms. All of them were busy fighting one other. For centuries, there had been unending battles in the country.
Chanakya, then a teacher at Takshashila University, was aware of Alexander. In his wisdom, he had concluded that Alexander’s conquest of the land was a threat to our culture. We had always believed in the concept of ‘atithi devo bhava’ and had always welcomed visitors as gods. However, invaders were different. They did not come as visitors. They came to loot and destroy. Chanakya’s deep insights into human psychology made him realize that if Alexander were to conquer the region, its impact would be more than just having a new ruler for the land. He recognized the threat posed to the ancient knowledge and wisdom that Bharatvarsha had always preserved and held so close to its heart.[ref]
Dhana Nanda's Refusal
He decided to approach the most powerful of kingdoms in the country with his plans. He wanted all the kings to unite as one force and fight against Alexander. A united front against any external threat is a formidable opponent indeed. With that approach in mind, he appealed to Dhana Nanda, the most powerful king of those days, the ruler of Magadh, who also had the largest army. Dhana Nanda was in no mood to listen to Chanakya. Instead of supporting him, he dismissed his worries. His priorities were limited to Magadh and he was confident that when Alexander reached Magadh, he would defeat the invader. Chanakya tried to persuade him by explaining the larger picture to the
mighty king.‘If our head is hit, our hands come to its rescue and protect it. When there is dust in the eyes, the fingers will rub it out of the eyes.’ He tried to raise the issue of equality amongst the citizens of the land of Bharat, pointing out that Magadh was a part of Bharat. Dhana Nanda paid no heed to the master strategist. Instead, he insulted him and pushed him out of the court. This angered Chanakya a lot. Deeming it an unsuitable time to set Dhana Nanda right, he moved on to the main problem—Alexander.
There were many smaller kings and kingdoms at the time. So he started approaching these kings and told them about the problem staring them in the face. Just like Dhana Nanda, some other kings too did not support the master teacher. Some just heard him out without doing anything about it. Some others, though, extended their support. Just as individual drops of water make up an ocean, slowly and steadily, one by one, those supporting Chanakya’s plan started to grow in number and strength. Elephants were unique to the army. While Alexander’s army had good horses, they did not know how to tackle the stupendous might of war elephants. Thus, the combined strength of all the kings in the region became a larger, more powerful force to reckon with.[ref]
Chanakya had a number of students under his tutelage, both male and female. They were trained in various subjects required to run and defend a kingdom. Chandragupta Maurya was one of them.
Chanakya’s spies were trained in human psychology. When Chanakya realized that he wanted to gather information regarding the enemy, he sent forth his male spies. They entered the enemy camp and tried to understand their modus operandi. They were wonderstruck with Alexander. They cameback and reported their impressions to their leader, who simply dismissed their reports about the weapons, the strength of the soldiers and Alexander’s persona. Chanakya was not impressed with the information that they had brought. He explained to them that this information wasn’t new. When different spies brought back nothing new, he decided to try out the female spies, also known as the Vishkanyas.[ref]
The women came back with a strange insight about Alexander’s army. They reported that the army was homesick. When Chanakya asked them to explain how they had reached this conclusion, the Vishkanyas reported that when they entered the enemy camp under various pretences, the girls were never looked at with lust, as is usually expected. The soldiers had looked at them with a look a father might have for his children. The girls reminded them of their families left behind at home. The spies suggested that this was crucial information. [ref]
Chanakya Started Playing With The Minds Of Enemies
Chanakya understood that these soldiers who had been away from their homes, fighting, for so many years were missing their families. The master strategist then started playing with the minds of the soldiers. He sent out more Vishkanyas and made the enemy soldiers feel nostalgic remembering their own homes far away. Right enough, a distinct decrease in the zeal of the soldiers became noticeable.
When the time of battle came, Alexander forced his army to march ahead. His army was shocked to see the huge army and war elephants facing them. Alexander’s soldiers were hesitant to fight. They wanted to go back to Greece. Alexander was surprised by their reactions. They turned back after a point. Thus, one of the greatest warriors of all times, who had been ready to conquer the world, was thwarted by a different kind of warfare. This is what Chanakya’s art of war is all about. You may not have any power. However, if you have a powerful will, coupled with strategy, you can defeat anyone. That is what the power of thinking is all about—the most powerful weapon in the world. Chanakya played on the minds of Alexander and his troops to win the war.[ref]