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In 333 BC Phillip II of Macedonia was assassinated and Alexander became king. He campaigned in Greece and the Balkans and after securing his kingdom’s borders he launched an invasion of the Persian Empire. Alexander portrayed himself as avenging the two earlier invasions of Greece by the Persians <ref>Plutarch. Life of Alexander, 5, 17</ref>. In a series of devastating campaigns, he seized the Persian Empire and ended the Achaemenid Dynasty. Alexander then campaigned to extend his control over the former Persian satrapies in modern Uzbekistan and Afghanistan (328-327 BC). The Achaemenids had also established some satrapies in modern Pakistan and Alexander wanted to add these to his Empire. The Macedonian monarch was first drawn to the Indian sub-continent by the desire to complete the conquest of the Persian Empire. However, it seemed that at some date that he decided to invade India, which he like other Greeks, believed was the end of the world <ref> Plutarch, 6. 4</ref>. At this time, India referred to the territory occupied by the modern state of that name and also the present-day nation of Pakistan. It was one of the most populous and urbanized parts of the Ancient World and had a culture every bit as rich as that of Ancient Greece. There were a series of large of sophisticated states in the subcontinent. Much of Northern India was controlled by the powerful Nanda Empire, while in what is now Bengal, the Gangaridai Empire, reputedly could field a force of 3,000 war-elephants.
[[File: Ashoka's visit to the Ramagrama stupa Sanchi Stupa 1 Southern gateway. |200px|thumb|left| The Emperor Asoka from a frieze in India]]
==Alexander’s Invasion of India==
The invasion of India was a logical step following the Macedonian’s king’s campaigns in Bactria. There had been a major rebellion launched against Alexander by a local warlord <ref>Arrian. Campaigns of Alexander, 12, 56</ref>. After the conqueror suppressed this revolt he turned his attention to war-like tribes in Afghanistan, who had aided the rebellious Bactrians. Alexander attacked tribal confederations in the Hindu Kush valleys of Afghanistan and Pakistan <ref>McCrindle, J. W. The Invasion of India by Alexander the Great as Described by Arrian, Q Curtius, Diodorus, Plutarch, and Justin. Westminster: Archibald Constable & Co, 1893), p 67</ref>. He conquered these tribes, with great loss of life and ravaged their lands and then marched his forces down the Indus River and he entered the powerful kingdom of King Paurava (or Porus to the Greeks). This king had a very large army and many war-elephants, and he took up a defensive position on the River Hydaspes in what is now modern Punjab. The river was swollen by heavy Monsoon rains, but Alexander was able to cross the river and surprise the Indians in the rear. There then followed a terrible battle, which Alexander won, but it came at a terrible human cost. Alexander made Paurava a subordinate ruler and he absorbed much of Punjab into his realms <ref>McCrindle, p 118</ref>. The great conqueror was determined to press on to the Indian heartland, the Gangetic plains, However, the Macedonian king, was forced to overcome war-like tribes in his rear and he captured the almost impregnable mountain fortress of Aornos (326 BC). After securing his rear and flanks, the king decided to invade Northern Indian. His soldiers were becoming restless, they had not seen their homes in years and were fearful of the powerful Nanda and Gangaridai armies, with their many war-elephants. His army mutinied at the Hyphasis River (the modern Beas River) and demanded that Alexander turn back and abandon the campaign. The king attempted to persuade them to continue but he failed and after a stand-off, he relented <ref>Plutarch, 7, 6</ref>. He retreated back into modern Pakistan and began to campaign against the powerful Malian tribe, who lived near modern Multan in Pakistan. After a siege, he subdued the Malians but received a near-fatal wound during the fighting. This wound is believed by many to have led to his death. Despite his severe wound Alexander conquered a large number of tribes and reached the Indian Ocean coast of modern Pakistan. He then returned to Persia via the Great Gedoresian Desert, during which he lost much of his army to thirst and hunger. He divided his conquests into four satrapies and he left behind a considerable army under Peithon <ref>McCrindle, p 115</ref>. After Alexander the Great’s death, his generals fought a series of civil wars, as they tried to carve out independent states out of his Empire<ref> Bosworth, Albert Brian. Conquest and Empire: the reign of Alexander the Great (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1993), p 398</ref>. The Greek armies in India returned to the west to take part in these wars sometime in 316 BC. Chandragupta Maurya of Magadha founded the Maurya Empire, after he overthrew the Nanda Empire in 321 BC. The course of events after this are not certain, because of the fragmented nature of the sources. It appears that Chandragupta invaded the Macedonian territories in the Punjab and Sind. At this time Seleucus was the most powerful general in the eastern territories of the Alexandrine Empire, sought to reconquer the satrapies lost to the founder of the Mauryan dynasty. There followed the Seleucid–Mauryan War fought between 305 and 303 BC. Details of the war are not known but it appears that Chandragupta emerged as the victor. Seleucus ceded most if not all of the Alexandrine conquests in India to the Mauryan Empire and in return he received 500 war elephants<ref> A. B. Bosworth, The Legacy of Alexander, Oxford University Press,. These elephants were used by Seleucus in his great victory at Ipsus (301 BC). Later there were extensive diplomatic and trading contacts established between the Hellenistic and Indian world.