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Love Affair of another Helen with an Indian King

Updated on December 23, 2017
Marriage of Chandragupta and Helen
Marriage of Chandragupta and Helen

A Greek-Indian Love Affair

A few days back my father told me that earlier Hindi films also produced historical films. He particularly mentioned that there was a movie eulogizing the love of Chandragupta Maurya and the Greek princess Helen titled ‘ Samrat Chandragupta’ ( 1958)

Chandragupta Maurya is one of the most formidable rulers ofIndia. 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 and as per Greek historians, he had led the cavalry charge of the Greek army of Alexander the great, against the elephant corps of Porus in the battle of Hydespes in 326 BC.

Chandragupta and Helen

After the early death of Alexander atBabylonwithout an heir, his empire was split up and Seleucus Nikatar (victorious) began his rule all over Persia Iraq up toIndia. Earlier to that Chandragupta had espied Helen (not to be confused with the Helen of Troy) and he desired her. In fact he had fallen in love with her. But he was of humble origin and he resolved to rise up and claim the hand of Helen. But before that he had to deal with the Nanda Empire which was ruling all overNorth India.

Chandragupta over ran the Nanda empire and this alarmed the Greeks. Seleucus who had already troubles inBabylonresolved to come back and defeat Chandragupta. He thus 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 fromIndia. Through her hand maidens she learn’t that Chandragupta was a heathen who 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 Seleucus Greek army 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 and at that time Chandragupta asked for the hand of Helen.

Chandragupta Marries his Love, Helen

Seleucus was not inclined initially 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 give up all his territories up toIranto Chandragupta. These elephants gifted by Chandragupta were decisive in the battle of Ipsus in 305BC against his opponents. The relationship between Seleucus and Chandragupta was strengthened.

When Chandragupta reached thepalaceofHelenshe 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 a lot many girls came to the court of Chandragupta at Pataliputra (modernPatna) and settled down there. Many married the nobles at Chandragupta’s court.

Chandragupta took Helen fromIranto Pataliputra and their was much rejoicing among the populace. feasts and dances were held. The fairness and beauty of Helen enchanted Chandragupta and the court and Kautaliya gave his approval.In fact he had suggested this marriage earlier from the 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..

The Ending

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


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    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 3 years ago from Singapore

      A very interesting observation and piece of information. Thank you Shekhar

    • profile image

      shekhar 3 years ago

      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 profile image

      MG Singh 4 years ago from Singapore

      Yes Gautam, you are right, Helen did conceive but it was not Bindusara

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      Gautam 4 years ago

      Helen was not the mother of Bindusara but the Durdhara.

      Please read the below mentioned article.


    • MG Singh profile image

      MG Singh 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you Mahendra Singh. Will write to you seperately

    • profile image

      Mahendra Singh 4 years ago

      Give me your e-mail id... I wan to know much about Helen, who married with Chandragupta....

      my e-mail id is :

      Mahendra Singh