King Porus

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King Porus or Raja Purshotam
King of Paurava and dominions extending to Hyphasis. Located in Punjab
Surrender of Porus to the Emperor Alexander.jpg
Surrender of Porus to King Alexander
Reign 340–317 BC
Successor Malayketu (Porus' brother's grandson)
House Paurava Puru Dynasty[1][2] Yaduvanshi
Born Punjab region
Died 317 BC
Punjab region
Religion Historical Vedic Religion

King Porus (the Latinisation of the Greek Πῶρος - Pôros, a representation of the Puru Vedic tribe) was the King of Paurava, an ancient kingdom located between the Jhelum and Chenab rivers (in Greek, the Hydaspes and the Acesines rivers) in modern-day Punjab, Pakistan, and later of dominions extending to the Beas (in Greek, the Hyphasis).[3] Porus fought Alexander the Great in the Battle of the Hydaspes River in 326 BC (at the site of modern-day Mong)[4] and was defeated. He then served Alexander as a client king.[5]

Dynastic background[edit]

Theories based on etymology[edit]

Alexander accepts the surrender of Porus

Porus is believed to have been a descendent of the Puru tribe mentioned in the Rig Veda, or at least to have belonged to the Puru dynasty. The Battle of the Ten Kings (dāśarājñá) is alluded to in Mandala 7 of the Rig Veda (hymns 18, 33 and 83.4-8), the ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns. It is a battle between Aryans (Vedic Indians) (an "internecine war", as the 1911 Britannica puts it, as opposed to the more frequent accounts of Aryans fighting Dasyus). It took place as Puru tribes, allied with other tribes of Punjab and guided by the royal sage Vishvamitra, oppose the Trtsu (Bharata) king Sudas in battle, but are defeated as was celebrated in a provocative hymn of Sudas' poet and priest Vasistha (RV 7.18).

One scholar, Buddha Prakash, Professor of History and of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, Director of the Institute of Indic Studies (1964); in his book Political and Social Movement in Ancient Punjab, states:

The Purus settled between the Asikni and the Parusni, whence they launched their onslaught on the Bharatas, and after the initial rebuff in the Dasarajna War, soon regrouped and resumed their march on the Yamuna and the Sarasvati and subsequently merged with the Bharatas, Some of their off-shoots lingered on in the Punjab and one of their scions played a notable part in the events of the time at Alexander's invitation. They probably survived in the Punjab under the name of Puri, which is a sub-caste of the Kshatriyas.[6]

Another scholar, Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi (1966) also seems to agree with this view[1] This view has other supporters in Hermann Kulke[2] and Naval Viyogi.[7]

Theories based on symbolism and location[edit]

Porus's elephant cavalry

Ishwari Prashad and some other notable scholars of Indian History Congress believe that Porus was Shoorsaini. They argue that Porus' vanguard soldiers carried a banner of Herakles whom Megasthenes - who travelled to India after Porus had been supplanted by Chandragupta- explicitly identified with the Shoorsainis of Mathura. This Herakles of Megasthenes and Arrian has been identified by some scholars as Lord Krishna and by others as his elder brother Baldeva, who were both the ancestors and patron deities of Shoorsainis.[8][9][10][11] Tod, Iswhari Prashad and others, following his lead, found further support of this conclusion in the fact that a section of Shoorsainis were supposed to have migrated westwards to Punjab and modern Afghanistan from Mathura and Dvārakā, after Krishna's demise and had established new kingdoms there.[12][13]

The capital of Porus is located between the rivers Jhellum and Chenab in Punjab. This location is also the home of the Punjabi Khatri or Kshatriyas in Sanskrit. A gotra or subcaste of Punjabi Khatris are called "Puri" after him. Most of Puris are Hindus or Sikhs and migrated to various parts of India after the partition in 1947. After hasty departure of Alexander from Punjab triggered by the reluctance of his troops to move forward in Punjab, King Porus was established as the sovereign for the West Punjab. Some historians blame conspiracy by Chanakya[citation needed] in poisoning Porus. His son reigned for a short period and was eventually succeeded by Chandragupta Maurya.

Porus (played by Bin Bunluerit) in 2004 film Alexander

In Popular Culture[edit]


  1. ^ a b The cause of the Ten-Kings battle was that the Ten tried to divert the river Parushni. This is a stretch of the modern Ravi which, however, changed its course several times. Diversion of the waters of the Indus system is still a cause for angry recriminations between India and Pakistan. The 'greasy-voiced' Purus, though enemies of Sudas, were not only Aryans but closely related to the Bharatas. Later tradition even makes the Bharatas a branch of the Purus. The same clan priests in the Rigveda impartially call down curses and blessings upon the Purus in diverse hymns, which shows that the differences between them and the Bharatas were not permanent. The quarrel was of another sort than that between Aryan and non-Aryan. The Purus remained in the Harappa region and expanded their rule over the Panjab in later times. It was they who put up the strongest fight against Alexander in 327 BC. The modern Panjabi surname Puri may possibly originate with the Puru tribe., Ancient India: A History of its Culture and Civilisation, By Kosambi, Damodar Dharmanand, pp 81-83
  2. ^ a b King Poros belonged to the tribe of the Pauravas, descended from the Puru tribe mentioned so often in the Rigveda. A History of India, By Hermann Kulke, Dietmar Rothermung, pp 57
  3. ^ Arrian Anabasis of Alexander, V.29.2
  4. ^ Nicaea (Punjab)
  5. ^ p. xl, Historical Dictionary of Ancient Greek Warfare, J, Woronoff & I. Spence
  6. ^ Political and Social Movement in Ancient Punjab, By Buddha Prakash, pp 77
  7. ^ It was they who put up the strongest fight against Alexander in 327 BC. The modern Punjabi surname Puri may possibly originate with the Puru tribe, The founders of Indus valley civilization and their later history, By Naval Viyogi, pp 155
  8. ^ Proceedings, pp 72, Indian History Congress, Published 1957
  9. ^ According to Arrian, Diodorus, and Strabo, Megasthenes described an Indian tribe called Sourasenoi, who especially worshipped Herakles in their land, and this land had two cities, Methora and Kleisobora, and a navigable river, the Jobares. As was common in the ancient period, the Greeks sometimes described foreign gods in terms of their own divinities, and there is a little doubt that the Sourasenoi refers to the Shurasenas, a branch of the Yadu dynasty to which Krishna belonged; Herakles to Krishna, or Hari-Krishna: Mehtora to Mathura, where Krishna was born; Kleisobora to Krishnapura, meaning "the city of Krishna"; and the Jobares to the Yamuna, the famous river in the Krishna story. Quintus Curtius also mentions that when Alexander the Great confronted Porus, Porus's soldiers were carrying an image of Herakles in their vanguard.Krishna: a sourcebook, pp 5, Edwin Francis Bryant, Oxford University Press US, 2007
  10. ^ Chandragupta Maurya: a gem of Indian history, pp 76, Purushottam Lal Bhargava, Edition: 2, illustrated, Published by D.K. Printworld, 1996
  11. ^ A Comprehensive History of India: The Mauryas & Satavahanas, pp 383, edited by K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, Kallidaikurichi Aiyah Nilakanta Sastri, Bharatiya Itihas Parishad, Published by Orient Longmans, 1992, Original from the University of California
  12. ^ "Actually , the legend reports a westward march of the Yadus (MBh. 1.13.49, 65) from Mathura, while the route from Mathura to Dvaraka southward through a desert. This part of the Krsna legend could be brought to earth by digging at Dvaraka, but also digging at Darwaz in Afghanistan, whose name means the same thing and which is the more probable destination of refugees from Mathura..." Introduction to the study of Indian history, pp 125, D D Kosambi, Publisher: [S.l.] : Popular Prakashan, 1999
  13. ^ "It seems, therefore, most reasonable to conclude that the name is simply the seat of Purrus or Porus, the name of a King or family of kings...There are no authentic records of tribes seated about Peshawar before the time of Mahmud, beyond established fact of their being of Indian origin; it not an improbable conjecture that they descended from the race of Yadu who were either expelled or voluntarily emigrated from Gujrat, 1100 years before Christ, and who afterwards found Kandhar and the hills of Cabul (Kabul) from whom, indeed, some would derive the Jaduns now residing in the hills of north of Yusafjai..." Gazetteer of the Dera Ghazi Khan District, p. 52, Publisher: Lahore, "Civil and Military Gazette" Press, 1898.


  • Arrian, The Campaigns of Alexander, book 5.
  • History of Porus, Patiala, Dr. Buddha Parkash.
  • Lendring, Jona. Alexander de Grote - De ondergang van het Perzische rijk (Alexander the Great. The demise of the Persian empire), Amsterdam: Athenaeum - Polak & Van Gennep, 2004. ISBN 90-253-3144-0
  • Holt, Frank L. Alexander the Great and the Mystery of the Elephant Medallions, California: University of California Press, 2003, 217pgs. ISBN 0-520-24483-4
  • History of India: (from the earliest times to the fall of the Mughal Empire), Dr. Ishwari Prashad
  • King Porus - A Legend of Old. Michael Madhusudan Dutt. Glorifying poem, describes a legendary victory of Porus over Alexander.

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