Iranian Invasion Of India – Background
The Iranian Invasion Of India marked the beginning of foreign invasions on India. The Iranians were from the Achaemenid Empire. As a matter of fact, it was the Iranian Invasion Of India that paved way for the Macedonian invasion under Alexander the great. Accordingly Alexander’s invasion paved way for further invasions under – Bactrians, Shakas, Parthians and Kushans. According to the Behistun Inscription, the Iranians penetrated into India in stages.
- In north-east India, smaller principalities and republics gradually merged with the Magadhan empire, in accordance with the rise of some powerful dynasties namely – Haryankas, Nandas, Shishunagas and the great Mauryas.
- North-west India (present day Pakistan and south Afghanistan), however, presented a different picture in the sixth century BC. Several small principalities, such as those of the Kambojas, Gandharas, and Madras fought one another.
- This area did not have any powerful kingdom like that of Magadha to weld the warring communities into one organized kingdom.
- As the area was fertile and rich in natural resources, it attracted the attention of its neighbors.
- In addition, it could be easily penetrated through the passes in the Hindu Kush.
- The Achaemenian rulers of Iran, who expanded their empire at the same time as the Magadhan princes, took advantage of the political disunity on the north-west frontier.
Darius And Xerxes
- The Iranian ruler Darius penetrated north-west India in 516 BC and annexed the Punjab, west of the Indus, and Sindh.
- This area was converted into the twentieth province or Satrapy of Iran, which had a total number of twenty-eight satrapies.
- The Indian satrapy included Sindh, the north-west frontier, and the part of Punjab that lay to the west of the Indus. It was the most fertile and populous part of the empire.
- It paid a tribute of 360 talents of gold, which accounted for one- third of the total revenue Iran received from its Asian provinces. The Indian subjects were also enrolled in the Iranian army.
- Xerxes, Darius’s successor, employed Indians in the long war against the Greeks.
- It appears that India continued to be a part of the Iranian empire till its invasion by Alexander.
- According to Herodotus, Punjab and Sindh satrapy (province) was the twentieth in the Persian empire. It was considered to be the richest and the most popular province of the Persian empire.
- Its annual tribute amounted to 360 Euboic talents of gold-dust.
- The Kharosthi script was used on the north-western frontier since then up till about 4th century AD.
- On the eve of Alexander’s invasion, the hold of Persian emperors on their Indian provinces had become weak.
Impact Of Iranian Invasion Of India
- The Iranian Invasion Of India had far reaching political, economic as well as social consequences on India.
- The Indo-Iranian contact due to Iranian Invasion Of India lasted for about 200 years.
- It gave an impetus to Indo-Iranian trade and commerce.
- The cultural results were more significant. Iranian scribes brought into India a form of writing that came to be known as the Kharoshthi script. It was written from right to left like the Arabic.
- Some Ashokan inscriptions in north-west India were written in the third century BC in this script, which continued to be used in India till the third century AD.
- Iranian coins are also found in the north-west frontier region which points to the exchange of goods with Iran.
- It is, however, wrong to think that the punch-marked coins came into use in India as a result of contact with Iran. However, Iranian influence on 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 to 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.
- 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.
- Introduction into India the Aramaic form of writing, which later developed into the Kharoshthi alphabet.
- Promotion of Indo-Iranian trade Geographical exploration of the Indus and the Arabian Sea, leading to opening of a new water route.
- Fusion of Iranian/Persian features in the Mauryan art. Impact of Buddhism on the Zoroastrian religion of ancient Persia.
- A large number of foreigners, the Greek the Persians, Turks etc. settled down in the North –Western parts of India.
Alexander’s Invasion Of India