Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/89

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[85] CHAPTER VI. The Greeks in India, 327 to 161 B.C. External Sources of the History of India. — The ex- ternal history of India commences with the Greek invasion in 327 b.c. Some indirect trade between India and the Mediter- ranean seems to have existed from very ancient times. Homer was acquainted with tin, and other articles of Indian merchandise, ' by their Sanskrit names ; and a long list has been made of Indian products mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. The first Greek historian who speaks clearly of India is Hekataios of Miletos (549-486 b.c); the knowledge of Herodotos (450 b.c) ended at the Indus; and Ktesias, the physician (401 b.c), brought back from his residence in Persia only a few facts about the products of India, its dyes and fabrics, monkeys and parrots. India to the east of the Indus was first made known to Europe by the historians and men of science who accompanied Alexan- der the Great, King of Macedon, in 327 b.c Alexander's Expedition. — Alexander the Great entered India early in 327 b.c; crossed the Indus above Attock, and advanced, without a struggle, over the intervening territory of the Taxiles to the Jehlam (Hydaspes). He found the Punjab divided into petty kingdoms jealous of each other, and many of them inclined to join an invader rather than to oppose him. One of these local monarchs, Porus, disputed the passage of the Jehlam with a force which, substituting chariots for guns, about equalled the army of Ranjft Singh, the ruler of the Punjab in the present century. Plutarch gives a vivid description of the battle from Alexander's own letters. Having drawn up his troops at a bend of the Jehlam, about 14 miles west of the modern field of Chilianwala, the Greek king crossed under shelter of a tempestuous night. The chariots hurried out by Porus stuck in the muddy bank of the river. In the engagement which fol- lowed, the elephants of the Indian prince refused to face the Greeks, and, wheeling round, trampled Porus' own army under foot. His son fell early in the onset ; Porus himself fled wounded ;