Alexander the Great and India: History With an Alternate Ending; flash fiction by cam
This story is just that, fiction. I’m not writing an account of what I wish had happened or what I think should have happened. This is simply a description of an alternate outcome of one of the most momentous decisions in all of history. What if……
The Taming of Bucephalus by Alexander
“Dad,” said ten year old Johnny, “tell me about Alexander again, please.” The proud father smiled and positioned himself so that his son and wife could hear the story above the noise of the busy airport terminal.
They had been planning this trip to India for many months, researching where they would visit and studying the history of the land so they would understand what they were seeing.
“Okay, son. It’s an inspiring story isn’t it?” Then the man launched into the fascinating tale of Alexander the Great and his conquest of India.
Alexander vs Darius of Persia
Alexander watched his army ride west. He had conquered Persia with those very men and now they were marching homeward to Macedonia. But Alexander would not join them for that journey.
The young General turned and faced eastward where thousands of Persian cavalrymen waited with their war horses. He had replaced much of his army with the defeated Persian riders who were more than happy to be fighting for such a mighty warrior as this son of Philip of Macedon.
Though these men had been defeated by him, they had fought fiercely. Alexander knew that under his leadership they would defeat any army that stood before them. At his command, the most effective military force in history moved westward, away from the the river Hydaspes and into the land of India.
Alexandre et Bucéphale-Paris, Petit Palais
Alexander prepared to mount his horse, Bucephalus, who had fully recuperated from a life threatening chest wound, the result of a Persian Javelin. He stroked the brilliant white blaze on the black horse’s face and said,
"Brave and loyal Bucephalus, you have carried me to victory across Greece and Asia. Now you shall do the same in India."
The army under Alexander, made up of men from diverse countries, faced many mighty armies along the way and lost a host fine warriors, but the greatest opponent was still ahead. The forces of the mighty Maurya people, led by Chandragupta were sweeping across India, and the two were destined to meet. It was a meeting which Alexander welcomed. When he was finished, he would spread Greek culture and language, which he had learned from Aristotle, in India as he had everywhere else in his expanding empire.
Alexander sat alone one night on a hill overlooking the Mauryan army. They would do battle the following day. Speaking to Bucephalus, Alexander said,
“My dear friend and fellow warrior in battle, how differently might things have turned out had you not survived your grave injury at the river Hydaspes. Would I have gone on and fought without you? I think I may have been easily persuaded by my men to do otherwise in that case. Your survival, Bucephalus, will result in the subjugation of all India under Macedonian rule.”
The family boarded their plane and a few hours later were circling the capital of India.
“Hey Dad, I guess the name of the city gives away whether Alexander conquered India or not, huh?” said Johnny.
“It certainly does son. Imagine how different things would be today if Alexander had chosen not to invade."
Johnny watched as the plane circled the city of Bucephalus. Two statues dominated the landscape, towering hundreds of feet over the streets and homes. Alexander sat astride the rearing Bucephalus with Jesus following close behind on foot.
"Wow," said Johnny, "Look at all the crosses."
Jesus Statue in India
The Truth of the Matter
Alexander the Great never actually invaded India. This was one of the most important, fateful decisions in history. So much would be different today for millions of people, if he had actually done what this story describes.
Bucephalus, Alexander’s war horse, died at the battle of Hydaspes in 326 BC.
Alexander bought the horse with his own money at age 13. The horse was seemingly untamable, but young Alexander subdued the horse by speaking soothingly to it and patiently training it until it would allow him to ride. There was the strongest of bonds between Alexander and Bucephalus.
After the battle of Hydaspes, at the urging of his men, Alexander turned away from India and returned to Macedonia. The emotional impact of losing his beloved horse may have been why Alexander was so easily swayed.
It was the work of Alexander the Great which prepared the way for Christianity to sweep across Europe and much of Asia. The common Greek language which took root as a result, was the language in which the New Testament was originally penned.
By the time of Alexander, India was already thoroughly a Hindu culture. If Alexander had conquered that land, would Christianity have swept across that country as it did the later Roman Empire? It’s hard to tell.
Christianity made its debut in India in AD 52 when the Apostle Thomas began his evangelistic ministry there, baptizing a few converts. Rather than preaching in the Greek language to Greek speaking audiences, Thomas had to deal with the language barrier between Greek and the Middle Indo-Aryan languages.