- Alexander's Conflict with the Kambojas
Greek historians refer to three warlike peoples -viz. the
Astakenoi, the Aspasioi [Other classical names are Assaceni, Aseni, Aspiiand Hippasii etc.] and the Assakenoi [ Other classical names are Assacani, Asoi, Asii/ Osiietc.] [ Asoi is also a clanname amongst the modern Kambojpeople of Punjab, which seems to connect them with the Asoi/Assakenoi or the Asvhavakayna of the Swat/ Kunarvalleys.] , located in the northwest west of river Indus, whom Alexander had encountered during his campaign from Kapisi through Gandhara. The Aspasioi were cognate with the Assakenoi and were merely a western branch of them ["History of Punjab", Vol I, 1997, p 225, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University, Patiala, (Editors) Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh; "Cambridge History of India", p 352, fn 3; Indological Studies, 1950, p 2, Dr B. C. Law; "Political History of Ancient India", 1996, p 216, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee.] . Both Aspasioi and Assakenoi were a brave people and constituted a finest soldiery which had extorted the admiration of the foreigners ["India as Known to Panini", 1953, pp 424, 456, Dr V. S. Aggarwala; Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, Dr J. L. Kamboj, Dr Satyavrat Śastri.] . Alexander had personally directed his operations against these hardy mountaineers who offered him stubborn resistance in all of their mountainous strongholds. The Greek names Aspasioi and Assakenoi derive from Sanskrit"Ashva" (or Persian "Aspa"). They appear as Ashvayanasand Ashvakayanasin Panini's Ashtadhyayi[East and West, 1950, p 28, Istituto italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente, Editor, Prof Giuseppe Tucci, Co-editors Prof Mario Bussagli, Prof Lionello Lanciotti.] [ Ashtadhyayi Sutra VI.1.110 & Nadadigana 4.1.99 respectively] and Ashvakas in the Puranas. Since the Kambojaswere famous for their excellent breed of horses as also for their expert cavalry skills [ Ashva-yuddha-Kushalah…Mahabharata, 12,105.5. ] [Note: Horse in Sanskrit means Ashva, in PrakritAssa and in Persian means Aspa. Scholars say that classical name Assakenoi, Assacani, Asoi/Osii etc derives from Prakrit Assa/or Sanskrit Ashva. Similarly the classical Aspasioi, Aspasii, Hippasii, Assaceni, Aseni derives from Persian Aspa.] [In Paliliterature, Kamboja is also said to be home of horses, e.g: "Kambojo assa.nam ayata.nam"... (See: Samangalavilasini, Vol I, p 124).] , hence, in popular parlance, they were also known as Ashvakas ["Historie du bouddhisme Indien", p 110, Dr E. Lammotte.] [ East and West, 1950, pp 28, 157-58, Istituto italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente, Editor, Prof Giuseppe Tucci, Co-editors Prof Mario Bussagli, Prof Lionello Lanciotti.] ["Hindu Polity, A contitutional History of India in Hindu Times", 1978, p 140, Dr K. P. Jayswal.] [ For Ashvakas being sections of the Kambojas, see also: "Political History of Ancient India", 1996, p 133 fn 6, pp 216-20, (Also Commentary, op. cit., p 576, fn 22), Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee; Cf also: Essai sur les origines du mythe d'Alexandre: 336-270 av. J. C:, 1978, p 152, Paul Goukowsky; "Glimpses of Ancient Panjab", 1966, p 23, Punjab (India); "Panjab Past and Present", pp 9-10, Dr Buddha Parkash; "History of Punjabi", Vol I, 1997, p 225, (Editors) Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University Patiala; Raja Poros, 1990, Publication Buareau, Punjabi University, Patiala; "History of Poros", 1967, pp 12,39, Dr Buddha Prakash; "History of Indian Buddhism: From the Origins to the Saka Era", 1988, p 100 - "History; Ancient Kamboja, People and Country", 1981, pp 271-72, 278, Dr J. L. Kamboj; "These Kamboj People", 1979, pp 119, 192; "Kambojas, Through the Ages", 2005, pp 129, 218-19, S Kirpal Singh. Dr J. W. McCrindle says that the modern Afghanistan -- the Kaofu (Kambu) of Hiun Tsangwas ancient Kamboja, and the name Afghan evidently derives from the Ashavakan, the Assakenoi of Arrian ("Alexander's Invasion of India", p 38; Megasthenes and Arrian, p 180, J. W. McCrindle). Sir Thomas H. Holdich, in his classic book, "The Gates of India", (p 102-03), writes that the Aspasians (Aspasioi) represent the modern Kafirs. But the modern Kafirs, especially the Siah-Posh Kafirs ( Kamoz/ Camoje, Kamtoz) etc are considered to be modern representatives of the ancient Kambojas.] [G. Tucci associates them with the cemetries at the necropolises of Butkara II, Katelai I, Loebaur etc., in the Swat valley (See: "The Tombs of the 'Ashvakayan-Assakenoi', East and West", Vol XIV, 1963, Nos 1-2, pp 27-28).] . The Ashvayana and Ashvakayana clans had fought the Macedonians to a man. When worse came to worst, even the Ashvakayana Kamboj women had taken up arms and fought the invaders side by side with their husbands, thus preferring "a glorious death to a life of dishonor" [Diodorus in McCrindle, p 270; "History of Civilizations of Central Asia", 1999, p 76, Ahmad Hasan Dani, Vadim Mikhaĭlovich Masson, János Harmatta, Boris Abramovich Litvinovskiĭ, Clifford Edmund Bosworth, "Unesco - Asia, Central Political History of Ancient India", 1996, pp 250-51, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee; cf: "Ancient India", 2003, p 261, Dr V. D. Mahajan. ] .
Alexander crosses Hindu Kush
In the spring of 327 BCE, Alexander, crossed
Hindu Kushand was on the road to the Indus. He invited all the chieftains of the former Achaemenianstrappy of Gandhara, in the north of what is now north Pakistanand north-east Afghanistan, to come to him and submit to his authority. Ambhi(Greek: Omphis) ruler of Taxila, whose kingdom extended from the Indus to the Jhelum (Greek:Hydaspes) as well as some other chiefs like "Sangaeus" (Sanjaya?) of Peucalaotis (Pushkalavati), "Cophaeus" of the Kabulregion(?) and "Assagetes" (Asvajit?), chief of a part of west Gandhara, and "Sicicottos" (Sasigupta) [ Dr Buddha Prakash, however, thinks that Sangaeus (Sanjaya) represented perhaps the Shinwari tribe called Sangu, now living to the west of Khaiber Pass(See: History of Punjab, Vol I, 1997, p 233).] [Some scholars think that Sicicottos belonged to the Ashvaka clans. See: Invasion of Alexander, 2nd Ed, p 112, Dr J. W. McCrindle; Was Chandragupta Maurya a Punjabi? Article in Punjab History Conference, Second Session, October 28-30, 1966, Punjabi University Patiala, p 32-33, Dr H. R. Gupta; They taught lessons to kings, Gur Rattan Pal Singh; Article in "Sunday Tribune", January 10, 1999; Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, p 149, Kirpal Singh; (Cf Dr S. C. Seth's views in "Sasigupta and Chandragupta", Indian Historical Quarterly, 1963, p 361; cf: Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona, 1936, p 163, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute; cf: "The Indian Review", 1936, p 814, edited by G.A. Natesan).] of petty hill state, south of Hindukush, complied and offered cooperation ["Political History of Ancient India", 1996, p 250, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee.] . But the chieftains of the highlanders including the "Astekenoi", " Aspasioi" and " Assakenoi", known in Indian texts as Hastinayanas, Ashvayanas and Ashvakayanas refused to submit.
Alexander's campaign against the Kambojas
At Nikaia, near modern Jallabad, Alexander divided his army into two parts, one under Hepaistion and Perdikkas was ordered to proceed through
Kabulto Gandhara and second part of which Alexander personally took command, and which included the select force of shield-bearing guards, foot-companions, archers, Agrianians and horse-javelin-men, marched against the Kambojaclans—the Aspasioi of Kunar/ Alishangvalleys, the Guraeans [The Ashvayanas living on river Guraeus, which is Gauri of Mahabharata, modern river Panjkora, were also known as Gorys or Guraios, modern Ghori or Gori, a wide spread tribe, branches of which are still to be found on Panjkora and on both sides of the Kabul at the point of its confluence with Landai (See: History of Punjab, Vol I, 1997, p 227, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University, Patiala (Editors) Dr L. M. joshi, Dr Fauja Singh). The clan name Gore or Gaure is also found among the modern Kamboj people of Punjab and it is stated that the Punjab Kamboj Gaure/Gore came from the Kunar valley to Punjab at some point in time in the past (Ref: These Kamboja People, 1979, 122; Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, p 131, Kirpal Singh).] of the Guraeus ( Panjkora) valley and the Assakenoi of the Swat and Bunervalleys. These highlanders, designated as "parvatiya Ayudhajivinah" in Panini's Astadhyayi [ Ashtadhyayi 4.3.91; India as Known to Panini, 1953, pp 424, 436-39, 455-457, Dr V. S. Aggarwala.] , were rebellious, fiercely independent and freedom-loving clans who never easily yielded to any overlord [See: History of Punjab, Vol I, 1997, p 225, Dr Buddha Prakash; Raja Poros, 1990, p 9, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University Patiala.] . "It was indeed a hard work for Alexander to take their strongholds, of which Massagaand Aornus need special mention". [Worthington, p. 162, from an extract of A. K. Narain, 'Alexander the Great', "Greece and Rome" 12 1965, p 155–165.] . "And it is also a trbute to the vision and sagacity of Alexander that he realised that without reducing these highlanders, his march into India would neither be secure nor effective" [ Op cit, 1997, p 225, Dr Buddha Prakash] .
Battle against the Ashvayanas (Aspasioi)
*Ascending the Kunar valley, Alexander came into conflict with the Ashvayanas or Aspasioi. Their modern remnants are "Pachai" or "Asip" or "Isap" or
Yusufzaiin the Kabulvalley between river Kabul and Indus [ The Invasion Of India By Alexander the Great (as described by Arrian, Q. Curtius, Diodorus, Plutarch And Justin), Dr J. W. McCrindle; Op cit., p 225, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University, Patiala, (Editors) Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh; Evolution of Heroic Tradition in Ancient Punjab, 1971, p 72, Dr Buddha Prakash.] . They were brave people and had offered stubborn resistance to the invader. Alexander was seriously wounded in the right shoulder by a dart and his officers Ptolemy and Leonatos were also injured. Next morning however, Alexander succeeded in breaching one of the walls of their citadel. Finding them thus besieged, the Ashvayanas issued from the gate of citadel and made for the hills. Macedonians razed the city to the ground and proceeded against another clan of the Ashvayanas located in city of Andaka.
*The Ashvayanas of Andaka put up some resistance but soon capitulated against heavy odds.
*Leaving Andaka citadel under charge of Krateros, Alexander proceeded along river Kunar against the Guraeans, the main branch of the Ashvayanas. The defenders however set fire to their city and retired to the mountains. The Macedonians gave them hot pursuit. Ptolemy, with his contingent, first chased them on horseback, but when the ascent became steep to ascend, he proceeded on foot till his platoon was near the Ashvayanas. The Ashvayana chief turned back and struck Ptolemy on the breast with a long spear which pierced his cuirass but could not enter into his body. Like the stroke of lightning, Ptolemy smote Guraeus chief on the thigh and as the latter tumbled, Ptolemy cut off his arms. On the death of their chief, some of the Ashvayanas took to their heels, while others wheeled around to rescue his corpse and offered a grim resistance. By that time, Alexander also reached the spot and reinforced the embattled contingent of Ptolemy. A bitter struggle ensued thence afterwards. At last, the Ashvayanas vanished into the hills.
*Alexander crossed the mountains and reached a city named Arigaon in the province of Bajaur. Here the story of Guraeus was repeated. The Arigaonian Asvayanas burnt their place and fled to the hills. Alexander ordered the citadel of Arigaon to be developed into a strong military base for the Macedonians.
*Alexander's detectives found that the fleeing Ashvayanas had assembled on remote hill. Learning this, Alexander, accompanied by Ptolemy and Leonnatos, proceeded in that direction. Seeing the Macedonians approach, the Ashvayanas made a tactical mistake by descending into a plain ground on a small hill to give the enemy a decisive fight. The conflict between the two armies was sharp indeed. The Ashvayanas “the stoutest warriors of the neighborhood” (according to Arrian) [ See: Indian Caste, 1877, p 322, John Wilson.] were too confident of their numbers and thought disdainfully of the Macedonians. This complacency, coupled with cooping-up of large numbers in a small place severely told upon their mobility. The determined attacks by Alexander, Ptolemy and Leonnatos from three different directions finally broke their ranks. Hence after a display of grim contest, the Ashvayanas gave way. Macedonians captured 40,000 men and 230,000 oxen which, barring the element of exaggeration, shows that it was not really an army of trained soldiers but an agglomeration of whole tribes, including even a large number of non-combatants. It appears that they had assembled there either for purpose of safety or in course of their movements, with the result that they were not all trained for fighting. On the other hand, Alexander's army was fully trained and by that time also was well experienced in mountain warfare. Hence it was, in reality, an encounter of a disciplined army and a dense mass of tribal people than a fight between two hosts of requisite training and preparation.
*It appears that the Ashvayanas were good agriculturists and cattle breeders. This is clear from the big number of bullocks, 230,000 according to Arrian, of the size and shape superior to what the Macedonians had known, which Alexander captured from them and sent to
Macedonia for agriculture. This fact is in perfect agreement with Kautiliya's Arthashastrawhich attests that besides warfare, the Kambojas also practiced cattle-breeding and agriculture [Arthashastra 11.1.1-4.] .
Battle with Ashvakayanas (Assakenoi)
*After reducing the Ashvayanas, Alexander marched against the hardy Ashvakayanas, the Assakenoi of the
classicalwritings. Asasakenoi inhabited Swat valley and were strongly entrenched in Massaga, Ora, Bazira, and Aornos. Their modern remnants are Aspins of Chitraland Yashkuns of Gilgit[ The Invasion Of India By Alexander the Great (as described by Arrian, Q. Curtius, Diodorus, Plutarch And Justin), Dr J. W. McCrindle; Op cit., p 225, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University, Patiala, (Editors) Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh; Evolution of Heroic Tradition in Ancient Punjab, 1971, p 72, Dr Buddha Prakash.] . According to Arrian, they faced Alexander with an army of 30,000 cavalry, 30,000 infantry and 30 elephants [Evolution of Heroic Tradition in ancient Punjab, 1971, p 77, Dr Buddha Prakash; History of Punjab, Vol I, 1997, p 227, (Editors) Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh.] . Seven thousands helping soldiers joined from Abhisara [Abhisara was an off-shoot of Kamboja (See: Political History of Ancient India, 1996, p 133, 219/220, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee; A History of India, p 269-71, N. R. Ray, N. K. Sinha; Journal of Indian History, 1921, P 304, University of Allahabad, Department of Modern Indian History, University of Kerala.] . The Ashvakayanas had fought bravely and offered stubborn resistance to the invader in many of their strongholds like the cities of Massaga, Ora, Baziraand Aornos. The fort of Massaga could only be reduced after several days of bloody fighting in which Alexander himself was wounded seriously in the ankle by an arrow.
*At the very outset, Alexander made a tactical move to retreat his forces so to beguile the Ashvakayanas to move out of their fort of Massaga. About seven thousand Ashvakayanas force-charged the Macedonians helter-skelter, whereupon, Alexander suddenly wheeled around and attacked back. A hand-to-hand fight ensued. At last the tribesmen retired to the citadel losing 200 men. Alexander pursued them and brought his famed Phalanx against their fortifications. But the Ashvakaynas poured rain of arrows on Macedonians from the citadel, one injuring Alexander himself.
*Next day, Alexander pounded the fort-wall with his war engines (ballistas) and his soldiers tried to rush in through the breach, but defenders again set upon them with great severity and repelled all their attacks compelling Alexander to draw off his forces.
*Next morning, Macedonians returned to assault and started shooting from the Ballista machines and set up a huge wooden tower against the wall and shot from it at the tribesmen in the citadel. Curtius says that it took Macedoninas nine days to complete the tower. But still the defenders foiled their designs to force a passage inside. That day also went in vain.
*Next day, a bridge was thrown-in to reach the breach in the fort wall effected on second day, but, as the Macedonian troops thronged on it, it collapsed, hurtling them all down in terrible mess. Taking advantage of this, the defenders started pouring rain of arrows and stones and whatever articles they could snatch from top. Some of the Ashvakayanas issued from the posterns and fought the invaders in close quarters and forced Alexander's forces to retreat.
*On fifth day, (eleventh day according to Curtius), yet another effort was made to make a gang-way from a war engine to the wall. Again the tribesmen rejoined with full fury. But where prowess failed, change succeeded. As the Ashvakayana Chief (called Assakenos by Arrian) was supervising the war operations in the battlements, a missile from the Macedonian war ballist struck and felled him. The supreme command for the battle was taken over by
Cleophis(q.v.), the mother of the deceased leader, who also stood determined to defend her motherland to the last extremity. The example of mother Cleophis assuming the supreme command of the military also brought the entire women of the locality into the fighting [("Ancient India", 1971, p 99, Dr R. C. Majumdar; "History and Culture of Indian People, The Age of Imperial Unity, Foreign Invasion", p 46, Dr R. K Mukerjee.] . In this famous battle of Massaga which spread over several days, Macedonians suffered heavy losses. The tribesmen also, likewise, suffered heavy losses, and therefore, entered into a peace agreement with the invaders.
Arrian("Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon"') (92 c AD – 175 c AD), Assakenos, the war leader of the Assakenoi, fell on fifth day of fight and the Ashvakayanas sent a herald to Alexander for peace talks. The two sides came to an agreement ensuring the safe vacation of the tribesmen and providing that the mercenaries would join the Macedonians. On this, the defenders left the citadel and encamped on a hill facing the Macedonian camp. But, adds Arrian, “ they had no wish to fight against their own countrymen and resolved to arise by midnight and flee to their homes” . When Alexander was informed of this, he surrounded the hill the same night with all his troops and cut the tribesmen assembled there to pieces [The Invasion of Alexander the Great, pp 68-69, J. W. McCrindle.] .
Curtius("Quintus Curtius Rufus"), a Roman historian belonging to the later half of the first c AD, does not refer to any such train of events.
Diodorus ("Diodorus Siculus") (93 c BCE 30 c BCE), clearly gives the lies to Arrian. He does not mention any agreement whereby the tribesmen had consented to join Alexander and later changed their mind and planned to flee in the dead of night. But he "positively" states that when the tribesmen had evacuated the city, in accordance with terms of the agreement, and retired to a distance of 80 stadia, without harboring any thought of treachery, Alexander "“who was actuated by an implacable enemity”", and "“ had kept his
troopsunder arms ready for action”", suddenly pounced upon the tribesmen (who were unaware and unprepared) and "“made a great slaughter of their ranks”" [ Diodorus in McCrindle, op cit., p 269, Dr J. W. McCrindle; Op cit., p 228, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University, Patiala, Editor Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh.] . Baffled by this unbecoming behavior, which flouted all canons of propriety and dignified conduct, the tribesmenloudly protested that they were being attacked in violation of the sworn obligations and also reminded him by invoking the Greek gods in whose names Alexander had taken oaths to faithfully observe the terms of the agreement. But Alexander, throwing the gods and the oaths in their names, to the winds, retorted: "“His covenant merely bound him to let them depart from the city, and by no means a league of perpetual amity between them and the Macedonians”" [Op. cit, p 269, Dr J. W. McCrindle; Op cit., p 228, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University, Patiala, Editor Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh. Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, p 133, Kirpal Singh; These Kamboj People, 1979, pp 123-24; cf: History of Ancient India, 1967, pp 120-21, Rama Shankar Tripathi.] . Clearly, he implied that he was only to allow the tribesmen to move out of the citadeland was then free to attack them unaware and massacre them. “Hardly could knavery know higher limits” [Op Cit., 1997, p 228, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University, Patiala, Editors Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh; cf: Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, p 133, Kirpal Singh; These Kamboj People, 1979, p 124.] .
Plutarch("Mestrius Plutarchus") (46 c AD 127 c AD) gives altogether a different version of the happenings. He says that Alexander "“incurred serious losses and accordingly, concluded a treaty of peace with them but, afterwards, as they were going away, set upon them while the were on the road and killed them all" [Plutarch in McCrndle, Invasion of India by Alexander the Great, p 306.] . He, thereby, clearly suggests that the peace proposal was initiated by Alexander himself, when even after five days of hard fighting (nine days according to Curtius), he failed to take the Massaga citadel and had suffered heavy losses; and having beguiled the Ashvakayanas by treaty of peace, made them retire from the city, betrayed them and attacked them, all of a sudden from behind. Rightly, therefore, Plutarch denounces Alexander by saving that “this rests as foul blot on his martial fame” [ op cit, Dr J. W. McCrindle, p 306; Op cit., p 229, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University, Patiala, Editors Dr Fauja Singh, Dr L. M. Joshi ] .
"“In view of these clear remarks of Plutarch, the accounts of Arrian seem to be a tendentious effort to window-dress a despicable act of abject treachery and unexcusable perjury. Its unreliability is amply manifest from the simple fact that, according to him, only 25 men of the Macedonians side fell in the hard fighting of five days [ Arrian in McCrindle, op cit, p 69.] (nine days according to Curtius) which fact is amply contradicted by Plutarch‘s remarks that they had incurred heavy losses" [ Op cit, p 229, Editors Dr Fauja Singh, Dr L. M. Joshi.] .
Diodorus' accounts indicate that the Ashvaka (Kamboja) women had fought side by side with their menfolk, thus " 'preferring death to a life of dishonor' ". [Diodorus in McCrindle, p 270; History of Civilizations of Central Asia, 1999, p 76, Ahmad Hasan Dani, Vadim Mikhaĭlovich Masson, János Harmatta, Boris Abramovich Litvinovskiĭ, Clifford Edmund Bosworth, Unesco - Asia, Central.] This scenario shows that Cleophis had engaged herself in the fight, but it is too difficult to speculate as to what happened to her in the end-- whether she fell a
martyrin the battle-field or else fell into the enemy's hands is anybody's guess. [Studies in Indian History and Civilization, 1962, p 125, Dr Buddha Prakash.] According to Curtius and Arrian, Cleophis was captured along with her young grand daughter [Metz Epitome 39, 45; Classical accounts of India, pp 112-63; Arrian's Anabasis, Book 4b, Ch XXVI; The Pathans, p 50, Olaf Caroe, Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 284, Dr J. L. Kamboj; Cf: Who's Who In The Age Of Alexander The Great: Prosopography Of Alexander's Empire, 2006, p 59, Waldemar Heckel.] .
Final scenes from Massaga encounter
Diodorus gives a detailed account as to how the brave Ashvakayanas ( = Assakenoi) had conducted themselves when faced with the sudden treacherous onslaught from Alexander. Writes Diodorus: "Undismayed by the greatness of their danger, they (Ashvakayanas) drew their ranks together in the form of a ring within which they placed their women and children to guard them on all sides against their assailants. As they had now become desperate, and by their audacity and feats of valour, had made the conflict in which they closed, a hot work for the enemy,--great was the astonishment and alarm which the peril of the crisis had created. For, as the combatants were locked together fighting hand-to-hand, death and wounds were dealt round in every variety of form. While many were thus wounded, and not a few killed, the women, taking the arms of the fallen, fought side by side with their men. Accordingly, some of them who had supplied themselves with arms, did their best to cover their husbands with their shields, while the others, who were without arms, did much to impede the enemy by flinging themselves upon them and catching hold of their shields. The defenders, however, after fighting desperately along with their wives, were at last overpowered by superior numbers, and thus met a glorious death which they would have disdained to exchange for the life of dishonour" [See: Diodorus in McCrindle, p 269/270; "History of Punjab", Vol I, 1997, p 229, Publication Bureay, Punajbi University, Patiala, (Editors): Dr Fauja Singh, Dr L. M. Joshi; "History of Civilizations of Central Asia", 1999, p 76, Ahmad Hasan Dani, Vadim Mikhaĭlovich Masson, János Harmatta, Boris Abramovich Litvinovskiĭ, Clifford Edmund Bosworth, "Unesco - Asia, Central; Classical Accounts of India", Dr R. C. Majumdar, p 112-113; "Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country", 1981, p 283-286, Dr J. L. Kamboj; "The Kambojas Through the Ages", 2005, p 134, Kirpal Singh); "History of Ancient India", 1967, pp 120-21, Rama Shankar Tripathi..] .
Commenting on the heroic resistance and courage displayed by the Ashvakayanas (Kambojas), in the face of treacherous onslaught of Alexander, Dr Buddha Prakash remarks: "Hardly could any Thermopylae be more glorious !" ["History of Punjab", Vol I, 1997, p 229, Punajbi University, Patiala, (Editors): Dr Fauja Singh, Dr L. M. Joshi.] .
Curtiussays that "Alexander not only massacred the entire population of Massaga, but also vented his rage upon the buildings" " [Curtius in McCrindle, Op cit, p 192, Dr J. W. McCrindle; "History of Punjab", Vol I, 1997, p 229, Punajbi University, Patiala, (Editors): Dr Fauja Singh, Dr L. M. Joshi; Kambojas Through the Ages, 2005, p 134, Kirpal Singh.] .
On the credibility of Arrian
Scholaras like Dr W. W. Tarn, Dr Buddha Prakash, the unquestioned authorities on the subject, after thorough investigation and analysis of classical accounts, conclude that Arrian has cleverly thrown a veil over the losses suffered by Alexander and has delebrately presented the Macedonian casualty figures in much reduced numbers [See: "Cambridge History of India", Vol VI, p 409, Article contributed by Dr W. W. Tarn; "Alexander the Great", 2003, Dr W. W. Tarn; Raja Poros, 1990, pp 63, 93, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University Patiala, Dr Buddha Prakash; "Ancient Kambojas, People and the Country", 1991, pp 280-296, Dr J. L. Kamboj; cf: "These Kamboja People", 1979, p 124, "Kambojas Through the Ages", 2005, pp 133-34, Kirpal Singh.] . Arrian has also cast a veil over how the brave Ashvakayanas had conducted themselves when faced with sudden treacherous onslaught from Alexander at Massaga, but
Diodorus, his predecessor, gives a very vivid account of the train of events leading to the graphic carnage at Massaga, thus further spotlighting on Arrian's unreliability. Arrian has also tried to window-dress the despicable act of abject treachery and unexcusable perjury by Alexander's blatant violations of the peace treaty with the Ashvakayanas, thereby slaughtering the entire garrison of tribesmen as well as the innocent population of Massaga and razing the Massaga city to rubbles. And last but not the least, Arrian also tells lies when he asserts that the initiative for peace talks at Massaga came from the Ashvakayanas, but the statement of his predecessor, Plutarch, unequivocally proves that the peace initiative, rather, came from Alexander himself. The above facts are amply confirmed when Arrian's accounts are critically analysed in the light of statements of his predecessors like Plutarch, Diodorus and Curtius etc ["History of Punjab", Vol I, 1997, pp 228-229; Raja Poros, 1990, pp 63, 93, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University Patiala, Dr Buddha Prakash; "Ancient Kambojas, People and the Country", 1991, pp 280-296, Dr J. L. Kamboj; "These Kamboj People", 1979, pp 117-129; "The Kambojas Through the Ages", 2005, pp 127-140, Kirpal Singh.] [The Indian side is totally silent on Alexander's invasion of India/north-west. We have only the classical accounts available to us. It is very possible that Alexander's historians and chroniclers might have exaggerated the accounts in Alexander's favour. This becomes understandable when we see the fate of Kallisthenes, who was a relative and nephew of Aristotle. He had accompanied Alexander in latter's eastern expeditions. Kallisthenes was an independent-minded and outspoken person and had criticised Alexander on occasions, on some matters. This naturally annoyed Alexander whereby he ordered Kallisthenes to be imprisoned. Ptolemy's evidence reveals that he was tortured and finally hanged on orders from Alexander. Chares attests that Kallisthenes's death had occurred in India during Alexander's war compaigns of that country. Kallisthenes had written a book wherein he is believed to have called a spade a spade, whereby Alexander might have got annoyed and therefore ordered him to be crucified. Kallisthenes' book had been in demand, especially in those nations which bore the brunt of Alexander's brutalities and destructions. His original book has, unfortunately, been lost to us, but, based on his accounts, a book called "Pseudo-Kallisthenes" later appeared in third century BCE, which contains some revealing accounts, very different from those, Arrian and other Greek writers tell us. This shows that actual picture of Alexander's war details may have been quite different from what we learn from Arrian and other classical writers.] . There are even instances which tell us that Alexander personally resorted to misrepresentations and lies. "He had the knack for presenting even his defeats as victories". For example, in the battle between his troops under the command of Leonnatus and the Oreitae of the Makran coast, the former was badly defeated and suffered heavy losses, including the life of Apollophanes, but Alexander personally ordered it to be reported as a great victory, in which Leonnatus was portrayed as having lost only 15 men but killed 6000 of the enemy and for which Leonnatus was even decorated later at Susa. Commenting upon it, R. D. Milns observes: "Alexander, like Hitlerin 1945, could make himself believe the lies he was disseminating " [See: Alexander the Great, London 1968, p 235, R. D. Milns) .] . "It appears that these lies, particularly relating to figures of casualties, were deliberately fabricated to boost the morale of the army. Sometimes, falshood pays dividends whereas truth occasions losses" ["History of Punjab", Vol I, 1997, p 242, (Editors) Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University Patiala).] .
Battle of Ora and Bazira
*From Massaga, Alexander dispatched Attlos, Alketas and Demetrios to Ora, and Koinos to Bazira. The Ashvakayanas of Ora sallied out against Alketas but were beaten back behind the walls. King of Abhisara [Abhisara was an off-shoot of Kamboja (See: "Political History of Ancient India", 1996, p 133, 219/220, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee; "A History of India", p 269-71, N. R. Ray, N. K. Sinha; "Journal of Indian History", 1921, P 304, University of Allahabad. Department of Modern Indian History, University of Kerala.] sent a military contingent to help the beleaguered Ashvakayanas at Ora. Hearing this, Alexander personally rushed to Ora. He also recalled Koinos from Bazira to join him. And before their joint assault, the citadel gave way.
*When Ashvakayanas of Bazira learnt of the departure of Koinos from their city, they set out on the plain to attack the Macedoninas that remained at Bazira. Arrian says that a very sharp conflict followed at Bazira and 500 Ashvakayanas were slain and another 70 were captured. But, as is his usual wont, Arrina is annoyingly silent on the casualty figures of the Macedonians.
*After capturing Ora, Alexander moved with all his detachments towards Bazira and resorted to an indiscriminate slaughter of the tribesmen as well as committed arsenage there.
Battle of Aornos
*In the aftermath of general
slaughterand arsoncommitted by Alexander at Ora and Bazira, numerous Assakenians fled to a high fortress called Aornos, which is Varana of Panini. It has been identified with modern Una, PushtuUrna. But before making assault on Aornos, Alexander strengthened first his defences of Massaga, Ora and Bazira and fortified the city of Orbatis, modern Arbutt, on left bank of river Landei [Landei is a clan among the modern Kamboj of Punjab. It is believed that the Landei Kamboj came to Punjab from Swat region of Ancient Kamboja ("These Kamboj People", 1979, p 122; "Kambojas Through the Ages", 2005, p 131, Kirpal Singh.] near Naoshehra and reached the city of Embolima which adjoined Aornos. Having made Embolima his base, Alexander advanced towards the most formidable and highly strategic rocky fortress of Aornos which even Dionysos, an earlier Greek conqueror (as per Greek traditions) could not reduce. But Alexander was determined to surpass predecessor in his military achievements.
Ptolemywas able to subborn a local old man and his two sons to get clue to the narrow and difficult passage to Aornos which he immediately occupied and fortified with palisade and a trench. From there, Ptolemy gave the signal to Alexander to advance, but the Ashvakayanas obstructed and pushed him back, and then charged Ptolemy with full fury. Hard fighting ensued till night when the highlanders retired to the citadel.
*Next day, Alexander again tried to effect a junction with Ptolemy and after a hard fighting, he succeeded in joining him in the afternoon. Together, they made a joint assault on the fortress but again failed to reduce it.
*On third day, Alexander ordered every soldier of his army to cut a wood and pile it up in the form of a mound over a deep
ravineso as to make it level with the rocky fort. This work went for three days (seven days according to Curtius) and finally, the Macedonian forces occupied a hill, which was on the level of the Aornos rock.
*On sixth day (10th day per Curtius accounts), a signal was given for advance of whole army with Alexander taking the lead. In the words of Curtius "numerous persished by the dismal fate for they fell from shelving crags and were engulfed in the river flowing underneath--a piteous sight even for those who were not in danger" [ Curtius in McCrindle, "Invasion of India by Alexander the Great", p 190, J. W. McCrindle.] . From above, the defenders "rolled down massive stones upon them while they climbed, such as were struck fell headlong from their insecure and slippery positions". Numerous including General Charus and Alexander's namesake (Alexander), were killed. Hence, Alexander ordered a retreat having "resolved to abandon the enterprise" [ Curtuis in McCrindle: Invasion of India by Alexander the Great, p 199, J. W. McCrindle.] , while the defenders devoted two days and nights to festivity and music. On third night, the defenders retired from Aornos rock [Curtuis in McCrindle: "Invasion of India by Alexander the Great", p 200, J. W. McCrindle.] . Curtius assigns no reason for the retirement, but his accounts suggest that the defenders did so believing that they had worsted their enemy ["History of Punjab", Vol I, p 231-232, Dr Buddha Prakash.] . On this, Alexander ordered his men to capture the vacant fort, but Curtius says that "Alexander only conquered the position rather than the enemy, though he gave to this success the appearance of a great victory by offering sacrifices and worship to the gods" [ Curtius in McCrindle, p 200; "History of Punjab", Vol I, p 232, Dr Buddha Prakash.] . But Arrian's accounts say that the strategic hill-fort was captured after the fourth day of bloody fighting. The story of Massaga repeated itself here too. First, Alexander granted them amnesty and promised safe retreat and then captured the citadel and attacked them from behind and a similar carnage on the tribal-people followed here too [ Op cit., Vol I, p 231, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University, Patiala, (Editors) Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh; Arrian in McCrindle, "Invasion of India by Alexander the Great", pp 73-76, Dr J. W. McCrindle.] . Alexander made Sicicottos the governor of the Aornos fort [ibid.] .
Writing on Alexander's campaign against the Assakenoi, Victor Hanson comments: "After promising the surrounded Assacenis (Ashvakayanas) their lives upon capitulation, he executed all their soldiers who had surrendered. Their strongholds at Ora and Aornus were also similarly stormed.
Garrisons were probably all slaughtered” ["Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power", 2002, p 86, Victor Hanson.] .
Tragedy of Afrikes and invasion of Dyrta
Alexander got the news that one of the three sons of
Cleophis(and the brother of the deceased war leader, Assaeknos, of Massaga), was hovering in the mountains with an army of 20,000 and a fleet of 15 war elephants and was waiting for right opportunity for a showdown with the Macedonians. Didorus calls this Ashvakayana chieftain as "Afrikes" [ Diodorus in McCrindle, op cit., p 232; History of Punjab, Vol I, 1997, p 252, Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh; "Political History of Ancient India", 1996, p 217, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee.] while Curtius refers to him as "Erix" [ Curtius in McCrindle, op cit., p 200; "History of Punjab", Vol I, 1997, p 252, Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh.; Op cit., p 217, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee.] . Scholars state that the name "Afrikes" seems to contain reference to "Aprita" or "Afridi", thereby, linking the Afridis with the Ashvakayanas [ Op cit., 1997, p 232, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University Patiala, (Editors) Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh; "These Kamboj People", 1979, p 128; Raja Poros, 1990, p 38, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University Patiala.] . Alexander proceeded against Afrikes. However, at the critical juncture, a dispute arose among Afrikes' followers and some deserters assassinated him and presented his head to Alexander and joined his ranks [ Op cit, p 232, Publication Bureau, Punjabi University Patiala, Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh.] . After this tragic event, Alexander proceeded against the Ashvakayanas of Dyrta ("Sanskrit Darteya or Dharteya"), north of Mahaban, near the point of issue of Indus from the mountains. This section of the Ashvakayanas is known as "Dharteyas" to Panini ["India as Known to Panini", 1951, p 452, Dr V. S. Aggarwala: It is "Darteyas" of the Vedic Index, I. p 353.] and like other Ashvakayanas, have been styled as "Ayudhajivin Samgha" (Warlike republics) in the Ganapatha of Panini ["India as Known to Panini", 1951, p 449-52, p 424, Dr V. S. Aggarwala.] . But the "Dharteya" Ashvakayas deserted their habitats and disappeared into the mountains. Alexander ordered the area to be combed and himself proceeded towards the Indus. Nothing more is known about the fate of the Dharteyas [Modern Kamboj of Punjab have a clan name Dhat or Dhoat, which seems to be a time variant of Panini's Dharteya. Probably, the Dhat/Dhoat Kamboj of Punjab belonged to Dharteya section of Ashvakayans.] .
Aftermath of the war campaign
Arrian attests that Sicikottos, who had helped Alexander in this campaign against the Ashvaka
Kshatriyas, was made the governor of Aornos. Alexander's victory of Aornos was elusive since, as Curtuis clearly attests, Alexander only conquered the position rather than the enemy though “he gave to this success the appearance of a great victory by offering sacrifices and worship to gods” [ Curtius in McCrindle, "Invasion of India by Alexander the Great", p 200, J. W. McCrindle; Op cit., I, p 232, (Editors) Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh.] . It is very clear that Ashvakas were defeated but no crushed. Hardly a few months had passed when the brave and indomitable Ashvakayanas rose and revolted against the Macedonians and assassinated Nicanor, the Greek governor of Massaga; and also reduced Sicikottos to such straights that it left him no alternative but to report the matter to Alexander while he was still in north Punjab (at Glansai), asking his immediate assistance. Alexander sent Phillipos and Tyriaspes to quell the Ashvakayana rebellion. How far they succeeded we have no means to know, but since Tyriaspes himself had soon to be replaced with Alexander's father-in-law Oxyartes, which shows that everything was not going well for Alexander in the land of the Ashvakas[ "History of Punjab", Vol I, 1997, p 234, Editors Dr Fauja Singh, Dr L. M. Joshi.] .
Lack of confederacy led to debacle
It is obvious that, though individually these former Kamboja constituents had offered stubborn resistance to the enemy, they could not, however, offer any joint front to Alexander. It seems that the ancient epic custom of forming leagues or confederacies amongst the Kambojas [Both
Mahabharata(12.107.31) as well as Kautiliya's Arthashastra(XI.1.1-3) abaundantly attest that the "confederated Ganas or Samghas were virtually invincible" and specifically cautions a monarch that "The acquisition (conquest) of a Samgha (or Gana) is more desirable than an alliance of good will or military aid. Those (Samghas) which are united (in league) should be treated with the policy of subsidy and peace, for they are invincible. Those which are not united should be conquered by army and disunion" (Arthashastra, XI.1.1-4, Translation by Dr K. P. Jayswal in: "Hindu Polity, Part 1 & 2, 1978", p 115. Compare also Trans by Dr R. Shastri: [http://www.mssu.edu/projectsouthasia/history/primarydocs/Arthashastra/BookXI.htm] ).] had temporarily been abandoned after the disintegeration of Kamboja and Gandhara Mahajanapadas resulting from Achaemenidoccupation by Cyrusand Darius. The companions of Alexander do not record the names of Kamboja and Gandhara and rather locate numerous small political units in their territories ["Political History of Ancient India", 1996, p 577, fn 22, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury, Dr B. N. Mukerjee] . No doubt, Alexander easily conquered these unconfederated political units, most of which were Ganas or Samghas ( republics) of free people. Each constituent did offer a valiant fight to the enemy, but disunity and dissensions took their toll and therefore, one by one, all units fell prey to a better organised and unified enemy with superior numbers.
Books and magazines
*"History of Punjab", Vol I, 1997, Editors Dr Fauja Singh, Dr L. M. Joshi
*"Historie du bouddhisme Indien", Dr E. Lammotte
*"Alexander the Great", 2003 - Cambridge University Press, W. W. Tarn
*"Political History of Ancient India", 1996, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury
*"The Invasion of India by Alexander the Great as Described by Arrian", Q. Curtius, Diodorus, Plutarch And Justin, J. W. McCrindle
*Envy of the Gods: Alexander the Great's Ill-fated Journey Across Asia, John Prevas
*"Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power", Victor Hanson
*"Alexander: A History of the Origin and Growth of the Art of War from the Earliest Times to the Battle of Ipsus, 301 Bc, With a Detailed Account of the Campaigns", 1996- Da Capo Press, Theodore Ayrault Dodge
*"Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction", 2002 - Oxford University Press, USA, A. B. Bosworth and E. J. Baynham
*"The Wars of Alexander the Great", 2002- Osprey Publishing, Waldemar Heckel
*"Classical Accounts of India", J. W. McCrindle
*"History and Culture of Indian People", The Age of Imperial Unity, Dr R. C. Majumdar, Dr A. D. Pusalkar
*"The Kambojas Through the Ages", 2005, S Kirpal Singh
*"These Kamboja People", 1979, K. S. Dardi
*"Ancient India", 2003, Dr V. D. Mahajan
*"Problems of Ancient India", 2000, K. D. Sethna
*"The Pathan", 1967, Olaf Caroe
*"Historical Essays", Second Series, 3rd edition, Edward A. Freeman, M. A., HON. D. C. L. & LL.D., Regius Professor of Modern History in the University of Oxford, London Macmillan and Co. And New York,1892
*"Alexander the Great", 2003, Dr W. W. Tarn
*"Studies in Indian History and Civilization", Dr Buddha Parkash
*"Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country", 1981, Dr J. L. Kamboj
*"Hindu Polity, A constitutional History of India in Hindu Times", 1978, p 140, 121, Dr K. P. Jayswal
*"History of Poros", Dr Buddha Prakash
*"Glimpses of Ancient Punjab", 1965, Dr Buddha Prakash
*"Political and Social Movements in Ancient Punjab", 1964, Dr Buddha Prakash
*"Alexander the Great", London 1968, p 235, R. D. Milns
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