MG is an air warrior with a distinguished career and now a corporate advisor, writer, and intrepid traveler and novelist
A Greek-Indian Love Affair
Chandragupta Maurya is one of the most formidable rulers of India. He loved the daughter of Seleucus whom he has secretly seen with her handmaidens when he was riding past a rivulet. Seleucus was a great soldier. As per Greek historians, he had led the cavalry charge against the elephant corps of Porus in the battle of Hydespes in 326 BC. This battle was fought between Alexander the Great and Raja Porus. After the death of Alexander, the eastern part of the Greek empire was taken over by Seleucus who crowned himself emperor.
Chandragupta and Helen
Alexander died in Babylon without an heir. His empire was split up. The eastern part of the empire was claimed by Seleucus Nikatar (victorious). He began his rule all over Persia and Iraq up to India. Prior to that Chandragupta had espied Helen (not to be confused with the Helen of Troy) and he desired her. He had fallen in love with her. As he was of humble origin he resolved to rise and claim the hand of Helen. But before that, he had to deal with the Nanda Empire which was ruling all over north India.
Chandragupta overran the Nanda empire and this alarmed the Greeks. Seleucus who was facing trouble in Babylon resolved to come back and defeat Chandragupta. He marched against Chandragupta. In the meantime, Chandragupta expressed his love for Helen by messages which were carried by carrier pigeons. Helen it appears also began to love the ardent suitor from India. Through her handmaidens, she learned that Chandragupta was a heathen as he was a Hindu and did not believe in the Greek gods and religion. Yet she formed an image of Chandragupta and loved him.
The Defeat of Seleucus
In 305 BC, the Greek army led by Seleucus met Chandragupta in battle. By all accounts, the Greek historians who refer to Chandragupta as Sandrokottos confirm that he defeated Seleucus. After the defeat, Seleucus was non-plussed when Chandragupta offered a truce to him. The two kings met and signed a peace treaty. At that time Chandragupta asked for the hand of Helen.
Chandragupta Marries his Love, Helen
Seleucus was not inclined to allow his daughter to marry a heathen, but his daughter insisted and he agreed. He was also taken in by the generosity of Chandragupta who gifted him 500 elephants. But Seleucus had to cede all his territories up to Iran to Chandragupta. The elephants gifted by Chandragupta were decisive in the battle of Ipsus in 305BC against his opponents which the Greeks won. The relationship between Seleucus and Chandragupta was strengthened.
When Chandragupta reached the palace of Helen she was delighted to see the man who had been sending her unrequited messages of love. Bards of that period tell us that Helen was the epitome of beauty with a skin that was fairest of the fair. However, she insisted that her handmaidens also accompany her and Chandragupta readily agreed. Thus many girls came to the court of Chandragupta at Pataliputra (modern Patna) and settled down there. Many married the nobles at Chandragupta’s court.
Chandragupta took Helen from Iran to Pataliputra and there was much rejoicing among the populace. Feasts and dances were held. The fairness and beauty of Helen enchanted Chandragupta and the court. Kautilya the master strategist gave his approval. He had suggested this marriage earlier from a political angle. This was one of the most glorious love affairs of all time. Soon Helen conceived and gave birth to a child. No much is known about Helen further, except that she was a queen who loved Chandragupta..
As in fairy tales, Chandragupta and Helen lived happily till Helen died. Then Chandragupta converted to Jainism and abdicated his throne to Bindusar and went away to Karnataka where he died. What a great man to abdicate and go away!
The love of the Greek princess and the Indian king is a romantic tale that can be told and retold. Is it not a matter of pride for all of us that Chandragupta defeated the Greeks and claimed his love, a Greek princess as a prize? This is how legends are made.
This tale is not as famous as the tale of Helen and Prince Paris of Troy as related by Herodotus. In my view, this is more glorious but somehow it has remained in obscurity because no poet eulogized it.
MG Singh (author) from UAE on March 28, 2021:
Isabel, thank you for commenting. I honestly cannot comment which Helen was more beautiful the Trojan queen or the wife of Chandragupta.
Isabel on March 28, 2021:
What a wonderful tale, that I never knew. Chandragupta must have been a great warrior to have defeated the Greeks and it was nice Helen loved him. I just wonder which Helen was more beautiful, the Trojan Queen or the love of Chandragupta.
Flossy on January 07, 2015:
You write so hosnltey about this. Thanks for sharing!
MG Singh (author) from UAE on November 20, 2014:
A very interesting observation and piece of information. Thank you Shekhar
shekhar on November 19, 2014:
According to Plutarch, at the time of the Battle of the Hydaspes River, the Nanda Empire's army numbered 200,000 infantry, 80,000 cavalry, 8,000 chariots, and 7,000 war elephants, which discouraged Alexander's men and prevented their further progress into India:
“ "As for the Macedonians, however, their struggle with Porus blunted their courage and stayed their further advance into India. For having had all they could do to repulse an enemy who mustered only twenty thousand infantry and two thousand horse, they violently opposed Alexander when he insisted on crossing the river Ganges also, the width of which, as they learned, was thirty-two furlongs, its depth a hundred fathoms, while its banks on the further side were covered with multitudes of men-at‑arms and horsemen and elephants. For they were told that the kings of the Ganderites and Praesii were awaiting them with eighty thousand horsemen, two hundred thousand footmen, eight thousand chariots, and six thousand fighting elephants. And there was no boasting in these reports. For Androcottus, who reigned there not long afterwards, made a present to Seleucus of five hundred elephants, and with an army of six hundred thousand men overran and subdued all India." ”
—Plutarch, Parallel Lives, "Life of Alexander" 62.1-4
MG Singh (author) from UAE on November 05, 2013:
Yes Gautam, you are right, Helen did conceive but it was not Bindusara
Gautam on November 05, 2013:
Helen was not the mother of Bindusara but the Durdhara.
Please read the below mentioned article.
MG Singh (author) from UAE on September 24, 2013:
Thank you Mahendra Singh. Will write to you seperately
Mahendra Singh on September 23, 2013:
Give me your e-mail id... I wan to know much about Helen, who married with Chandragupta....
my e-mail id is : email@example.com