Indo-Greeks & Menander

Exact Match
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Sungas & Kanvas | Indo-Greeks | Kharavela | South India | Indian Influence on the World | Literature

The Seleucid king of Mediterranean went on a campaign in which he defeated an obscure Indian king Subhagasena after crossing the Hindu Kush mountains, and acquired from him many elephants and much booty.

The defeat of Subhagasena in 206B.e. revealed that the north-west of India was unguarded. Demetrius, a Greek king, marched towards India. He conquered Arachosia and eastern Gedrosia (modern southern Afghanistan and the Makran areas). Demetrius II was more ambitious and crossed into the Punjab, gradually working his way down the Indus valley to the delta and to Cutch, thus establishing Indo-Greek power in north-western frontier India. This was the start of a long lineage of Indo-Greek rulers who ruled over the western parts of the sub-continent.

The best remembered of the Indo-Greek kings was undoubtedly Menander, who, as Milinda, attained fame in the Buddhist text Milinda-panho - the Questions of King Militida - a catechismal discussion on Buddhism, supposedly conducted by Menander and the Buddhist philosopher Nagasena, resulting in Menander's conversion to Buddhism. Menander stabilised Indo- Greek power, in addition to extending its frontiers in India. During the years that he ruled, 155-130 B.c., he is known to have held the Swat valley, and the Hazara district and the Punjab as far as the Ravi river.

His coins have been found as far as Kabul in the north and Mathura near Delhi. There is little doubt that he attempted to conquer territory in the Ganges valley, but he failed to retain it. He may well have attacked the Sungas in the Yamuna region, if not at Pataliputra itself. On his death his body was cremated and his popularity was such that the various cities of the north-west vied with each other for the ashes.

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