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  • 21 Dec 2022 GS Paper 1 History

    Day 37

    Question 1: Discuss the Indo-Iranian relation followed by the Iranian invasion in the first half of the 6th century B.C. (150 Words)

    Question 2: The records of Alexander's campaign enable us to build historical chronology in India and historical facts. Discuss an account of Alexander's invasion of India. What were its effects? (150 Words)

    Answer 1


    • Introduce the Iranian invasion in ancient India.
    • Discuss the Indo-Iranian relation followed by the Iranian invasion.
    • Conclude suitably


    The Iranians invaded India in the 6th century B.C, when King Darius I ruled over Iran. He invaded, through Hindukush Pass, India and occupied the territories in the North-Western Frontier Province, Sind and Punjab in 516 B.C. These parts remained with the Iranian Empire till Alexander’s invasion of India.


    • In north-east India smaller principalities and republics gradually merged with the Magadhan empire unlike in north-west India where several small principalities like Kambojas, Gandharas and Madras fought one another. The area was also wealthy, most fertile and populous and could be easily entered through the passes in the Hindukush.
    • The Achaemenian rulers of Iran, Darius penetrated into north- west India in 516 B.C. and annexed Punjab, west of the Indus, and Sindh and constituted it as twentieth province or satrapy of Iran.
    • The Indian satrapy included Sindh, the north-west frontier and the part of Punjab that lay to the west of the Indus. It appears that India continued to be a part of the Iranian empire till Alexander's invasion of India.

    Results of the Contact:

    • Political: It exposed the weakness of the Indian Defense in that region and paved way for the conquest of Alexander.
      • The Satrap system of administration introduced by Persians in Indian provinces, served as model to later dynasties especially the Sakas and Kushanas.
    • Trade: The India traders and merchants now reached distant places in the vast Persian Empire to dispose of their goods.
      • The Indo-Iranian contact lasted for about 200 years. It gave an impetus to Indo-Iranian trade and commerce.
      • Iranian coins are also found in the north-west frontier region which points to the existence of trade with Iran.
    • Settlement of Foreigners on Indian Soil: Foreigners, like Greek the Persians, Turks etc. settled down in the North –Western parts of India and with the passage of time they completely absorbed among the Indians.
    • Impact on Art and Culture: Ashoka, followed the Iranian custom of preaching ideals by inscribing them on the stone pillars. The Indians also learnt the art of polishing.
      • The cultural results were more important. The Iranian scribes brought into India a form of writing which came to be known as the Kharoshthi script.
        • Some Ashokan inscriptions in north-west India were written in the third century B.C. in this script, which continued to be used in the country till the third century A.D.
      • Iranian influence on the Maurya sculpture is clearly perceptible.
        • The monuments of Ashoka's time, especially the bell- shaped capitals, owed something to the Iranian models.
        • Iranian influence may also be traced in the preamble of Ashoka's edicts as well as in certain terms used in them.
          • For instance, for the Iranian term dipi, the Ashokan scribe used the term lipi.


    The Iranian invasion led to certain lasting impacts. Also, it appears that through the Iranians, the Greeks learnt about the great wealth of India, which whetted their greed and led to Alexander’s invasion of India.

    Answer 2


    • Introduce the Alexander's invasion of India.
    • Discuss how Alexander's campaign enable us to build historical chronology in India. Also discuss the effects of Alexander's invasion of India.
    • Conclude suitably.


    In the fourth century B.C. the Greeks and the Iranians fought for the supremacy of the world. Under the leadership of Alexander of Macedonia, the Greeks finally destroyed the Iranian empire. Alexander conquered Asia Minor and Iraq but also Iran and marched to India. Herodotus, who is called father of history, and other Greek writers had painted India as a fabulous land, which tempted Alexander to invade it.


    Indian chronology:

    • After the conquest of Iran, Alexander moved on to Kabul, from where he marched to India through the Khyber Pass in 326 B.C.
    • Alexander fought an epic battle against the Indian monarch Porus in the Battle of Hydaspes (326 BCE).
      • He made an alliance with Porus and appointed him the Satrap of his own Kingdom.
    • As the Greek historian Arrian tells us: "In the art of war the Indians were far superior to the other nations inhabiting the area at that time."
    • Megasthenes and other Greek writers have written a lot about the contemporary Indian society. Their descriptions have proved valuable in this respect.
    • It was the kingdom of Magadha ruled by the Nandas who maintained an army far outnumbering that of Alexander. He was forced to retreat, and his dream of an eastern empire remained unfulfilled.
    • Alexander was deeply interested in the geography of ocean which he saw for the first time at the mouth of the Indus. He dispatched his new fleet to explore the coast and search for harbours from the mouth of the Indus to that of the Euphrates.
      • So, Alexander's historians have left valuable geographical accounts. They also have left clearly dated records of Alexander's campaign, which enable us to build Indian chronology for sub- sequent events on a definite basis.
    • Alexander's historians also give us important information about social and economic conditions.
      • They tell us about the sati system, the sale of girls in market, polygamy and slaves and the fine breed of oxen in north-west India. The art of carpentry was the most flourishing craft in India, and carpenters-built chariots, boats and ships.

    Effects of Alexander's Invasion:

    • Economic and political contact: Alexander's invasion provided the first occasion when ancient Europe came into close contact with ancient India - establishment of direct contact between India and Greece in different fields.
      • Alexander's campaign opened up four distinct routes by land and sea. It paved the way for Greek merchants and craftsmen and increased the existing facilities for trade.
    • Development of cities and civilization: The invasion of Alexander led to the establishment of more Greek settlements in the north-west area. The most important of them were the city of Alexandria in the Kabul region, Boukephala the Jhelum, and Alexandria in Sindh.
      • Although these areas were conquered by the Mauryas, the Greeks continued to live under both Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka.
    • It helped in the Founding of the Mauryan Dynasty: By destroying the power of petty states in north-west India, Alexander's invasion paved the way for the expansion of the Maurya empire in that area.
      • Chandragupta Maurya had worked in the military machine of Alexander and had acquired some knowledge which helped him in destroying the power of the Nandas.
    • Art and Culture: The Indians learnt from the Greeks the art of making beautiful idols and coins.
      • The Gandhara School of Art is a direct consequence of the Greek art.
      • The Indians also learnt a lot from the Greek astronomers.
      • On the other hand, the Indians greatly influenced the philosophy, and several Greeks embraced the Hindu faith.


    Alexander’s invasion deeply impacted India from various angles of from various angles socio-political and economic grounds. It brings various castes and social practices in India by incorporating various people into the Indian way of life.

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