Indo Greek in India – The Successors of Alexander the Great around India – 200 BC – 10 AD

It was around 330 BC when for the first time a Greek Ruler, Alexander the Great, along with his army conquered Persia. He came all the way to India, defeated Porus and captured Punjab. Unfortunately, his army felt homesick, and they were under shock because of the war elephants and so they did not continue their campaign and returned back.

The second attempt to capture Indian territories was made by Seleucus I Nicator in 306 BC -303 BC. At this time India was under the prosperous and powerful rule of Chandragupta Maurya, and  thus, the result was that instead, Seleucus I had to pass away few of his territories namely Parapanisadai (around Kabul), Aria (around Heart) and Arachosia (around Kandahar) to Chandragupta Maurya. Seleucus also married one of his daughters to Chandragupta. In return Chandragupta gave 500 war elephants to Seleucus which was decisive in the Battle of Ipsus in 302 BC.

Map of Indo Greek Empire under the reign of Menander I

Map of Indo Greek Empire under the reign of Menander I

Existence of Indo Greeks in Bactria

Ever since the time Alexander left India there was a considerable amount of Greek Population living in Kapisa, Panchanada, Pushkalavati, Taxila and Sakala. The area has seen a number of ruler (around 30 rulers in 200 years). But few, who were able to significantly expand the Indo-Greek (Yavana) kingdom were Demetrius I, Apollodotus and Menander.

Demetrius I (206 BC – 185 BC): He was the son of Euthydemus I of Bactria. He came into power around 208 BC. He is said that he was a impressive personality. He was able to impress the Macedonian Emperor Antichus III so much the emperor married one of his daughter to Demetrius. Demetrius ruled in Arachosia and the Kabul Valley. He expanded his empire perhaps to Gandhara. Unfortuately, Demetrius died of some unknown reasons and he couldn’t consolidate the territory of Gandhara. Demetrius never lost a bettle and was therefore given a title of Invincible posthumously.

Coin of Demetrius I

Coin of Demetrius I

Apollodotus I (180 BC – 160 BC): He came to rule around 174 BC and ruled for nine years. During his reign Indo-Greeks consolidated their position in Gandhara and Western Punjab. Apollodotus is considered to be a General in the army of Demetrius. He was a Buddhist, and was succeeded by his father Eucratides I.

Menander I (155 BC – 130 BC): He a major ruler of Indo-Greeks. He succeeded Eucratides I. During his time there were many Buddhist monuments constructed in Arachosia, Paropamisade, Gandhara and Punjab.

Coins of Menander I - Kindom of Bactria

Coins of Menander I – Kindom of Bactria

Both Eastern and Western Punjab were annexed into Indo-Greek kingdom by 130 BC. Menander was a General under Eucratides. He was succeeded by Zoilos I an Agathokleia.

The Indo-Greeks faced a number of invasive attacks from the South-Western parts of the kingdom from Indo-Scythian, as a result the kingdom weakened and came to an end by the year 10 AD. The last two rulers were Strato II and Strato III. Finally, Rajuvula an Indo-Scythian invader invaded the area.

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