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The Pauravas were an ancient Indian dynasty in the northwest Indian subcontinent (present-day India and Pakistan) to which King Porus may have belonged.

Porus and the Pauravas[edit]

Ancient Indian tribes between the Indus River and the Ganges River

The origins of the Pauravas are still disputed. Modern scholars have theorized that they are related to the Puru tribe, and that Alexander's adversary King Porus was a Paurava due to the closeness of the names. However, Porus is not mentioned in Indian literature and history, and the Pauravas referred to in Indian literature are a much older kingdom.[1] At the time of Alexander's invasion, the Pauravas were apparently situated on or near the Jhelum River, with territory extending to the Chenab River. This was not only the extant of Porus's kingdom, but also became the eastern limit of the Macedonian Empire.[2]

The Indus River was incorporated into the Achaemenid Empire by Cyrus the Great in 535 BCE. In 518 BCE, Darius the Great invaded India and conquered the Jhelum River region, designating it the Hindush satrapy. Records suggest that the Indus was under Achaemenid control at least until 338 BCE, which is less than ten years before the campaigns of Alexander. This would make Porus a king or chieftain of the recently independent Pauravas at the time of their confrontation with Alexander. The extent of Achaemenid territories is also affirmed by Strabo in his "Geography" (Book XV), describing the Persian holdings along the Indus:

The geographical position of the tribes is as follows: along the Indus are the Paropamisadae, above whom lies the Paropamisus mountain: then, towards the south, the Arachoti: then next, towards the south, the Gedroseni, with the other tribes that occupy the seaboard; and the Indus lies, latitudinally, alongside all these places; and of these places, in part, some that lie along the Indus are held by Indians, although they formerly belonged to the Persians. — The Geography of Strabo, Book XV, Chapter 2, 9[3]

According to historian Ishwari Prasad, Porus might have been a Yaduvanshi Shurasena. He argued that Porus's vanguard soldiers carried a banner of Heracles whom Megasthenes — who travelled to India after Porus had been supplanted by Chandragupta — explicitly identified with the Shurasenas of Mathura. This Megasthenes' Herakles has been identified by some scholars as Krishna and by others as his elder brother Baladeva, who were both the ancestors and patron deities of Shoorsainis.[4][5][6][7] Prashad, and others who followed his lead, found further support of this conclusion in the fact that a section of the Shurasenas were supposed to have migrated westwards to Punjab and modern Afghanistan from Mathura and Dvārakā and established new kingdoms there.[8][9]

Alexander and Porus fought each other at the Battle of the Hydaspes. Alexander was initially set on venturing further into India, but the battle against Porus curbed his aspirations. His army mutinied when faced with opposing the Nanda Empire and their subordinate Gangaridai. According to the Greek historian Plutarch, the previous, costly conflict against Porus's much smaller army contributed significantly to their unease.

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 Hydaspes 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.

— Plutarch, Plutarch's Lives, Plutarch, Alexander, 62

Alexander died on his way back from India.[2] The instability that ensued after Alexander's death resulted in a power struggle and dramatic changes in governance. Porus was soon assassinated by the Macedonia general Eudemus. By 316 BCE, the Macedonian lands were conquered by Chandragupta Maurya, a young adventurer. After engaging in and winning the Seleucid–Mauryan war for supremacy over the Indus Valley, Chandragupta gained control of modern-day Punjab and Afghanistan. This was the foundation of the Maurya Empire, which would become the largest empire in the Indian subcontinent.[10]

Post-Mauryan Empire[edit]

It appears that the Pauravas were annexed by the militant Yaudheya Republic.[11] Following the disintegration of the Mauryan Empire, many regional entities emerged. The Taleshwar copper plates, found in Almora, stated that Brahmapura Kingdom rulers belonged to the royal lineage of the Pauravas.[11] The reinstated Paurava dynasty of Brahmapur was founded by Vishnuverman and flourished in the 7th century AD. It is stated that these kings were brahminical in habit and practices.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nonica Datta, ed. (2003). Indian History: Ancient and medieval. Encyclopaedia Britannica / Popular Prakashan. p. 222. ISBN 978-81-7991-067-2. Not known in Indian sources, the name Porus has been conjecturally interpreted as standing for Paurava, that is, the ruler of the Purus, a clan known in that region from ancient Vedic times.
  2. ^ a b Graham Phillips (31 March 2012). Alexander The Great. Ebury Publishing. pp. 129–131. ISBN 978-0-7535-3582-0.
  3. ^ "Strabo Geography, Book XV, Chapter 2, 9".
  4. ^ Proceedings, pp 72, Indian History Congress, published 1957
  5. ^ "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
  6. ^ Chandragupta Maurya: a Gem of Indian History, pp 76, Purushottam Lal Bhargava, Edition: 2, illustrated, Published by D.K. Printworld, 1996
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ "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
  9. ^ Gazetteer of the Dera Ghazi Khan District, Lahore, "Civil and Military Gazette" Press, 1898, p. 52, 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...
  10. ^ Arthur A. MacDonell (28 March 2014). A History of Sanskrit Literature (Illustrated). p. 331. ISBN 978-1-304-98862-1.
  11. ^ a b Saklani, Dinesh Prasad (1998). Ancient Communities of the Himalaya. Indus Publishing. ISBN 9788173870903.
  12. ^ A Comprehensive Study of UTTARAKHAND. 18 September 2019. ISBN 9781646506057.