Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

King Paurava the great

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I set out of Lahore early. Northbound on the Grand Trunk Road, I took the slow passage through Gujranwala and Wazirabad, rather than the faster bypasses and stopped at the old ‘Chenab Road Bridge’ as the metal plaque says. A hundred metres upstream was the impressive Alexandra Bridge commissioned in January 1876 to carry the first Metre Gauge railway line across the Chenab. Inaugurated by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII), it was named after his royal consort. But some railway man called A. A. Qureshi knew only one similar sounding name and that appended with the title ‘The Great.’ And so it came to pass that this good Qureshi had a sign put up to give out the history of the bridge. The second sentence tells us, without punctuation, that the structure was named ‘after Mr Alexandra the Great the then Chief Engineer of North Western Railway.’


I sent up a happy prayer for Qureshi and for that conscientious officer of the future who will have the peeling sign repainted and ordered in three columns to make it easier to read and possible to photograph so that it may enter the realm of history. The contribution of Pakistani railway engineers to the history of British royalty must never be forgotten. For me it was an appropriate diversion for I was on my way to revisit the field of that epic battle fought on the field outside nondescript Mong in May 326 BCE between Raja Paurava of the Punjabis and Alexander from distant Macedonia. (This is the learned pronunciation. The average man would have referred to the king as Pora, which was rendered Porus on Greek tongues.)

At seven in the morning Gujrat was still barely awake as I took the road to Phalia. A bustling town, sitting high atop a mound, it is believed by some to be the site of Bucephala, the town Alexander established and named after his much-loved horse Bucephalus. This of course isn’t original local research, but what they have been fed by visiting archaeologists. The first part of the name having been forgotten, the last part, they tell you, has been corrupted to Phalia. Brave attempt, and could have been true for the town’s antiquity is confirmed by the finds of Greek coins of the period immediately following Alexander’s. But Phalia still begs a thorough archaeological survey and the tomb of a horse is yet to be discovered to prove that it is indeed that ancient place named after an unruly horse that was famously tamed by a ten year-old prince in distant Epirus in a far off time.


There are, meanwhile, kernels of doubt. Arrian, who wrote the authoritative The Campaigns of Alexander in the early years of the 2nd century CE in saying Bucephala was on the ‘spot where [Alexander] crossed the [Jhelum],’ implies that the town was built before the crossing. Also the historian’s assertion that the horse died of old age and not from wounds suffered in battle would indicate that it died before the crossing of the river. Plutarch, writing barely sixty years before Arrian, tells us of Bucephala being on the east bank of the Jhelum – which is where Phalia is. Strabo, in the 1st century BCE, also placed Bucephala on the west bank of the river and might have been the source for Arrian. Consequently, whenever I am told Phalia is that ancient city named after the horse, I smile and talk about the weather.

Ten kilometres northeast of Phalia is another place that recalls possible Greek influence. Marked Helan on Survey of Pakistan maps, the name is pronounced with a nasal ending. The town is today known for the 16th century tomb of Mirza Sheikh Ali Beg, one of Emperor Akbar’s noblemen who was killed here in a skirmish with the doughty Gakkhars. I arrived just before the terrible wind and rainstorm broke, and as I was pottering about the tomb, two elderly men joined me.

Having established that I was just an ignorant bumpkin of a passing traveller they proceeded to educate me.

‘Do you know that the town was established by and named after Helen of Troy, one of Alexander’s wives?’ asked one.

First Mr Alexandra the Great was a railway engineer; now Helen of Troy was a wife of the Macedonian prince! Boy, my education was really getting along. I asked them if either of these two persons had, perchance, served on the North Western Railway. They looked at me pitifully and added that Helen, being a woman could not have worked and Alexander had lived before they had railways.

The ornate sarcophagus of Ali Beg’s tomb came under discussion. On it the name of the nobleman was given in flowing calligraphy, yet the two did not know who was buried therein. They wondered, very gravely (no pun), if the tomb could also date from Alexander’s time. But then the calligraphy and Quranic verses on the cenotaph prompted them to overturn their own idea. They nevertheless decided that the tomb was very old, very old indeed.

‘How about Akbar’s time?’ I suggested.

‘Akbar was yesterday!’ the spokesman for the pair said scornfully.

Sometimes coins were found, they told me and after the rain let up we walked into the village to check if we could see some. Parking us at the teashop my guides dispatched a youngster to see about the coins. He returned about twenty minutes later with one 1907 Government of India one-anna issue to show for his labours. The real ones, the spokesman said, were always sold off to collectors. No gold coins had ever been found, only silver and copper. Some of those had writing that ‘no one could read.’ Others were marked with strange figures. But all their descriptions were so vague that it remained impossible to know what they were talking about.

I thanked them for making my visit such an enriching one and walked back to the car. Through Dinga, past the Chillianwala monument, I headed for the village of Mong. A kilometre or two from the Jhelum River, this village also sits on a mound that rises no less than thirty metres above the surrounding plain. While the eastern flank of the mound is gradual and covered with modern habitation, the western and northern flanks, facing the Jhelum River, are sharply defined. Here can one see ample signs of past occupation rising through layer upon layer: animal bones, perhaps human as well, pottery, ashes and then the houses on top. It is undoubtedly an ancient town, believed by many to be the Nikaea – Victorious, that Alexander established to celebrate his victory over Paurava.

At the teashop I asked for the local historian and soon I was talking to a rather disagreeable piece of work. I offered him tea, which he accepted after an argument. But that did nothing for his mood. He did not know if Mong was Nikaea, but he did know that the battle was fought just by the town. He spoke proudly of Alexander’s triumph over Raja Paurava sounding quite like the usual rave about all battles of Islam against the Rest.

‘It was a great win,’ I observed.

‘Oh, it was indeed.’

‘Are there fathers in Mong who celebrate that victory by naming their sons Sikander?’ I asked.

‘Of course there are! What manner of absurd question is that?’ I could just discern his chest expanding with pride.

‘But are there fathers here who name their sons after the great Paurava?’

The man, indignation personified, looked at me as if I had uttered the most condemnable blasphemy.

‘Porus was no Muslim!’ he said contemptuously. ‘He was a Hindu! The man almost spat out the last word. I was not surprised that my repeated reference to that great king by his real name did not impress the man sufficiently for him to follow suit. I very nearly blurted out that once the rest of us too were Hindus – all of us who have since conversion invented illegitimate Arab fathers for ourselves. Thanks heavens for discretion, however.

‘But then neither was Alexander,’ I pointed out instead.

‘Alexander is named in the Quran, and that is reason enough to name sons after him.’

This was interesting. In Iran where Alexander defeated that cowardly Darius who did not once stand and fight but fled from one ignominy to another, the Macedonian is a villain. For the Iranians Darius, who was not even from the line of Persian kings but a usurper placed on the throne by the intriguing vizier Bagoas, is the great hero. Alexander, the foreigner, is the violator of all that was Persian and thus sacred. The myths overlook Darius’ shameful cowardice and lionise him as the defender of Persia. They also overlook Alexander’s gallant behaviour towards the defeated king’s mother, wives and daughters and villianise him.

But in Pakistan, Alexander becomes almost an Islamic hero worshipped for overthrowing the infidel Paurava. The Punjabi kings’ admirable gallantry in combat and his magnificent conduct in defeat does not raise Punjabi admiration for this great king for he was not a Muslim and therefore not for them to honour. It matters little to these people that he lived almost a thousand year before the advent of the religion they profess to hold so dear to their hearts.

As for the name of Alexander being contained in the Quran, that too is no more than fable. The name Zulqurnain – the Two-Horned, is what we translate to signify Alexander. Now this king, according to the Quran, was a great conqueror who brought under his control all the countries from the rising to the setting sun. In the course of these adventures he also came upon a barbarous people, the Gog and Magog, against whom he built a wall. The Two-Horned king could have been Alexander who wore the ram’s horns with his diadem. And it could also be Cyrus the Great, the Achaemenian conqueror who lived two hundred years before Alexander, whose conquests were no less than the Macedonian’s and who also wore a double-horned helmet. If greatness be measured by the longevity of one’s kingdom, Cyrus was indeed the greater for his kingdom survived him by two hundred years. Alexander’s, on the other hand, did not make it beyond his premature death.

I did not tell my ignorant guide that I had come to celebrate my hero Paurava. I did not tell him that it was this king and this king alone that won Alexander’s unstinting admiration in all those years of campaigning in the east. Neither Darius, nor Oxyartes, the father of Roxane, the mother of Alexander’s posthumous son, nor any king of the Scythians or of the Pukhtuns, nor of the Sindhis won such unyielding respect from Alexander as Paurava, king of the Punjabis of Chaj Doab, did.

Just outside the town of Mong, where the freshly harvested wheat fields still looked like gold, Paurava had stood at the head of his army against the horde that Alexander mustered. Some eighty thousand fighting men against each other, the one side fighting to defend the sanctity of the land of their forefathers; the other in search of glory and riches. Thence did I go to celebrate my hero exactly two thousand three hundred and twenty-six years after his heroic stand against the Macedonian. It was a day in the month of May when the foreigners, having stolen a night passage across the storm-swollen River Vitasta – Hydaspes to them and Jhelum for us, clashed with the Punjabis.

One wonders if at the moment of his stolen passage Alexander’s mind went back a few years. In September 331 BCE, the Macedonians were arrayed against the Persians under the cowardly Darius on the plain outside Gaugamela (Tell Gomel midway between Mosul and Arbil in northern Iraq). In view of the overwhelming disparity favouring the Persians, one of Alexander’s generals suggested a night attack. With unusual brusqueness Alexander returned, ‘I do not steal victories.’

Young as he was, Alexander did not lack the ability to judge human character: he had full measure of Darius from earlier encounters and knew he was faced with a poltroon. On the Jhelum, he had heard stories of the man he was soon to meet in mortal combat. And these were no mean yarns.

Reading Arrian’s pages is like watching a film. The din of the onset, the neighing of horses, the trumpeting of elephants, the wheeling cavalry, the stolid phalanxes of Greek heavy infantry, the thundering chariots, the twang of the Punjabi longbow and the swish of clouds of arrows, the clash of steel upon steel, the cries of the wounded and dying filled my mind in the field outside Mong. From break of day until well into the afternoon the engagement continued. The tide of battle turned against the Punjabis only when their tired elephants could no longer sustain their charges. With the battlefield hallowed with the blood of twenty-three thousand of their dead brothers, the Punjabis began to withdraw.

‘Throughout the action Porus proved himself a man indeed, not only as a commander but as a solider of the truest courage. …. his behaviour was very different from that of the Persian King Darius: unlike Darius, he did not lead the scramble to save his own skin … [but] fought bravely on.’ No greater tribute could be paid to Paurava than these words of Arrian.

Deserted by all his units, Paurava, bleeding heavily from a grievous wound in his right shoulder – the only part of his torso unprotected by armour in order to permit him to freely draw his bow, at last turned his elephant around and began to withdraw. Then did Alexander send Ambhi the king of Taxila (who had submitted earlier and was part of the Macedonian retinue) galloping after him with a message. But Paurava and Ambhi had long been at loggerheads and the proud warrior hurled his lance at the approaching messenger who quickly withdrew. Then it was, Arrian tells us, Meroes a much respected friend of Paurava’s who came to plead that the king present himself to Alexander.

Paurava, ‘much distressed by thirst’ asked for a drink. Then, revived, he mounted his friend’s chariot and permitted himself to be driven to Alexander’s camp. As the Macedonian saw the Punjabi approaching, he rode out with a party of soldiers to meet his opponent. Alexander reined in his horse, writes Arrian, and ‘looked at his adversary with admiration: he was a magnificent figure of a man, five cubits high and of great personal beauty.’ The cubit being variable in various parts of Greece, this figure would yet mean that Paurava was over seven feet tall – perhaps almost eight and a half. Alexander of middling stature would have had to look up into those dark eyes and the sweat-streaked face. It was then that the dramatic and well-known exchange took place between two great kings:

‘What,’ asked Alexander, ‘do you wish that I should do with you?’

‘Treat me as a king ought,’ replied the Punjabi.

‘For my part your request shall be granted. But is there not something you would wish for yourself?  Ask it.’

‘Everything is contained in this one request,’ said Paurava the Punjabi whom we are ashamed to claim as our own.

Alexander was so moved by the dignity in defeat of this king that he declared friendship. Subsequently, he did not only return Paurava’s kingdom to him but also helped him annex the country between the Chenab and the Ravi Rivers. As for Paurava, he was the only king of the Sindhu Valley who remained steadfast in his loyalty to Alexander even after the latter had left the country – indeed even after he had died in Babylon.

Across the stubble on the rain-drenched ground – very much like Paurava would have found it for the battle was fought after a heavy shower of rain, I walked wondering where Paurava would have dismounted from the chariot of Meroes and where Alexander would have stood somewhat in awe of the towering battle-stained giant. Perhaps on the very spot where I now stood. Repeated readings of Arrian played out the scene in all its grandeur in my mind’s eye. I could almost hear the dialogue: Greek into Persian into Punjabi and back the same way through the interpreters. I could see the gigantic Paurava, his massive corselet-covered chest still heaving from the exertion of his blood-letting, standing tall and Alexander arch an admiring eyebrow as he glanced at his generals upon hearing the king’s response.

I also saw Alexander reach out and clasp the brown blood-soaked hand in his own. Then, as the import of the king’s words sank in fully, I saw him raise himself on his toes and embrace his vanquished adversary, his blond head reaching as high as the Punjabi’s breast. Here was a man worthy of admiration and friendship. Here was the only king whose grace and majesty were to find their way into the official histories. Alexander might have eulogised Paurava’s conduct in one or more of the frequent letters to his mother Olympias and his tutor Aristotle. Perhaps the king’s conduct came repeatedly under discussion among Alexander and his generals in those pre-prandial drinking bouts. Eumenes, the royal secretary, would have made elaborate note of his king’s observations on the defeated adversary. It was these letters, diaries and discussions, now lost, that formed, among other material, the basis for the works of Strabo, Plutarch and Arrian.

They tell me a monument has been raised to Paurava, or at least to the battle. I could not find it, nor was there anyone at hand to tell me where to look. (I have since been to this monument on the west bank of the Jhelum. It lies between the village of Jalalpur and the hill of Mangal Deo.) But less than six kilometres to the east of this battlefield, there was a monument. Not to Paurava and his magnificence in adversity, but to the fallen of another battle. Outside the village of Chillianwala, hard by the road, the red sandstone obelisk marks the site of the British field ambulance that served the wounded of the Battle of Chillianwala in January 1849.

There the Sikhs had rallied for the last contest as the British closed in. It was a sanguinary struggle and the plaque on the monument acknowledges the inordinately high number of deaths – especially among British officers. Few people visit this monument, and fewer still understand that the Sikhs fighting for Punjab were standing on ground barely two or three kilometres from where Paurava would have marshalled his forces two millenniums before them.

The Chillianwala monument does not acknowledge the valour of the Sikhs. But then the monument was raised by the British to honour their own. Surely Paurava would have raised a monument too, but that would have crumbled long ago. Paurava, however, would have acknowledged Alexander’s superiority in battle. This I can say with impunity for I know from the work of Apollonius of Tyana, a 1st century CE Greek visitor to Taxila, that Paurava did indeed do so.

The king, Apollonius records, had copper-plate murals put up in two temples in Taxila. Both plates depicted scenes from his encounter with Alexander. Both showed him the vanquished and Alexander the victor. Both were installed as an acknowledgement of the Punjabi raja’s friendship with Alexander some time after word arrived from Babylon that the great conqueror had died. Alexander was no more, his Greek garrison in Taxila had deserted along with its officers and Paurava was free to re-write history. He could have painted himself the destroyer of Alexander. That he did not and that he chose to tell the truth, even though unsavoury, is a measure of his greatness.


More than his valour in combat and his dignity in defeat, it was this character and greatness of Raja Paurava’s spirit that had brought me to the battlefield of Mong to celebrate my hero. Yet for us who abhor our own pre-Islamic history, he is just a shadow on the periphery of Alexander’s radiance. Nothing could be more unfortunate and unjust. It is now time to commemorate the greatest ever king of Punjab.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 12:30 AM,

26 Comments:

At May 28, 2013 at 1:08 PM, Blogger Nayyar Julian said...

We are biased against Raja Porus for no reasons. The man should be judged on merits. And on merit he stands much taller than Alexander.

 
At May 28, 2013 at 1:19 PM, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

The trouble is we look at our ancient history with the eye glasses of religion. That is why Raja Paurava was a villain until my documentary went on air. I tell you, I am witness to the change that came thereafter. It was very gratifying.

 
At May 28, 2013 at 1:24 PM, Blogger Nayyar Julian said...

But there was no religion then. Why should we drag religion. And no religion advocates distortion of the facts. I would say this is due to lack of knowledge. I hope if people know, they will decide on merit.

 
At May 28, 2013 at 1:47 PM, Anonymous nauman said...

Only the pen and love of Salman Rashid could draft such a moving piece. A befitting eulogy for a brave king of the punjabis

 
At May 28, 2013 at 2:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You sure know how to use anecdotes, history and scenes in your stories. I can see them all in this piece. Great blog.

 
At May 28, 2013 at 2:13 PM, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Nauman and Anonymous. Thank you very much. the piece appeared in Herald (May 1999) and is part of my anthology Sea Monsters and the sun God.
Nayyar, religion has always been a part of man's psyche. Raja Paurava could have been Hindu or Buddhist. But we today in a Muslim majority country look at him with our religion-tinted glasses. Hence, he the villain.

 
At May 28, 2013 at 9:42 PM, Anonymous Saima Ashraf said...

The way you dig out the history, I am jealous of you:)

 
At May 28, 2013 at 10:00 PM, Anonymous Saima Ashraf said...

dekha? he says ''good Qureshi''. Qureshis are good. pawain manno te pawain na manno

 
At May 30, 2013 at 7:27 AM, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Saima, there's this word called sarcasm, hain? Sarcasm!

 
At May 30, 2013 at 1:11 PM, Anonymous Saima Ashraf said...

:) yeah

 
At May 31, 2013 at 8:30 AM, Anonymous Attiq Anwar said...

I have read it not for the first time. The point about Punjabis being proud of Provous was also taken up by Abysses in his book Indus Saga by Ahtazaz.

 
At May 31, 2013 at 2:40 PM, Blogger Ayyub Kulla said...

Being resident of Mong, I can testify that the Interlocution between the two commanders of battle at Mong and surroundings is well memorized by all residents of Mong as will bear out my village mate SAJ Shirazi. Rest of the chronicle supported by the history books is well written by Salman Rashid Sahib. The present dwellers of the village consisting of Arain, Khokhar and Jat tribes came well after the battle as they claim their ancestry to Arabs from Areaha accompanying Muhammad bin Qasim, Qutab Shah accompanying Mahmood of Ghazni, etc respectively.
There is absolute need of an Archaeological Survey of this historical place to divulge much awaited historical wealth on the subject. Punjab has conferred to history just few leaders; Porus, Gru Nanak , Ranjeet Singh, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Time will decide their true place in the history of mankind.

 
At May 31, 2013 at 3:12 PM, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Ayub Kulla, The claim of being Arab is PURELY spurious. It is RUBBISH. Modern DNA profiling can and has trashed this spurious claim by Awans and Arains. All these fools who still cling to this rubbish should get themselves genetically tested and, as we say in Punjabi, Sara kuch chatha khul jai ga.
I assure you this knowledge of the historic conversation between two kings was not common until my documentary was broadcast in 2001. I had been there several times earlier since 1997. Alexander was always the hero and the great Paurava a villain for being a Hindu.

 
At May 31, 2013 at 6:05 PM, Anonymous Nayyar Hashmey said...

This vivid description takes us to those ancient times when a great man fought a great battle against an equally great man. As you very rightly say, this man the great Punjabi king should have been our hero but for his religion, he is more an outsider for the very sons for whom he fought many many millennia ago. But what to lament of the semi educated, many times poorly literate men of our countryside, there are so many highly qualified, well read people who would own the foreign men more than the men of the soil who fought for the motherland.

In this regard I recall a move last year by certain citizens of Lahore who wanted to rename Lahore’s Shadman Chowk as Bhagat Singh. Much to my amazement and frustration, a man as well read as Shamshad Ahmad Khan, (Pakistan’s former Secretary, Foreign Affairs) for whom I have lot of regard and respect, opposed this move. Why, may be because Bhagat Singh did not carry a Muslim name.

Our youth today don’t even know that Bhagat Singh was as much a shaheed of this land as any other Muslim Pakistani could have been, but we don’t own a great patriot merely because he was not a Muslim (although at one time our great Quaid also fought his case in the court).

So, I think we ought to introduce some chapters in our history books whereby Pakistan’s history before 1947 should also be taught. This post 1947 history negating our real history has brought us to the present stage where there is no Pakistani in Pakistan, we are all either Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs or the Parsees etc or we are Deobandis, Brelvis, Shias, this kafir and that Kafir. There is more religion (and that too, in the name only) and less of us being Pakistanis.

Once our kids start learning our real history, then and only then will they know there was a son of Punjab who fought for the soil as devoutly as a true son of the soil would have fought.

Finally when I offer my salute to the great soul of our Raja Paurava of Punjab, who is your hero, my hero and as a matter of fact should have been of all of us, I thank you also for such a beautiful story of a great man whose valor and gallantry all of us should have been proud of.
(BTW I missed that documentary you mentioned. Is it available somewhere on the web, if yes, the link plz!)
Nayyar
http://wondersofpakistan.com

 
At June 1, 2013 at 9:45 AM, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

History began for Pakistan on 14 August 1947. Or was it in some month in the year 711? We cannot commemorate Bhagat Singh, a patriot. But in Jalandhar (India) there is a large property Desh Bhagat Hall in one room of which there are a couple of hundred pictures of the heroes of the 1857 uprising and later. Muslims are included as well. So, shame on us. By the way, my grandfather's home still stands in Bhagat Singh Chowk, Railway Road, Jalandhar.

 
At November 16, 2013 at 5:09 AM, Blogger Ayyub Kulla said...

1) Having gone through your article in Tribune: http://tribune.com.pk/story/317619/arab-origins/
One can't get convinced. The harsh words, Sir, you used about the ancestry of Arain to Arab and Khokhar to Qutab Shah do not go along with many books written in the history i.e. Tareekh Frishta, Tohfa Tul Ikram and Aina-e-Haqeekat Numa. These are not written by recent history converters. Even a study by the Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences on blood types of the major ethnicities in the Punjab showed that O is the most common blood group (among all ethnicities), except among the Arain where B is most common, the difference being statistically significant. Whilst not proof of non-local ancestry, it does illustrate a difference between the Arain and the other castes living in Punjab. The DNA research relates it to greater Jordon. (God knows better the actual Truth)
2) We were taught in Primary School this Conversation before you started visiting Mong area in early 1997, hence No Dispute on it as you wrote it.[‘What,’ asked Alexander, ‘do you wish that I should do with you?’ Purus is son of soil, we must acknowledge.
‘Treat me as a king ought,’ replied the Punjabi.]

 
At January 15, 2014 at 11:08 AM, Blogger Nida Ahmed said...

Salman Uncle, we are guided by our prejudices. As you mentioned earlier in the post neither Alexander nor Paurava were Muslims. While the Persian takes prides in their history and Indian takes in theirs, we stood here tangled by our own "constructed" identity crisis.
As addressed often by my father Jawed Ahmed, we are slaves. We have no national pride. We like clinging to others such as Arabs or British rulers or even Mughals who were originally Persians. Our history didn't begin with Mohammad Bin Qasim's invasion of Sind it began with Moen-jo-Daro.

 
At January 15, 2014 at 10:31 PM, Blogger rabia said...

Interesting post - just a small correction - the Battle of Chillianwala was part of the Second Anglo Sikh War and fought in January 1849.

 
At January 16, 2014 at 3:49 PM, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

'Small correction?' To what? What is it that I wrote wrong?

 
At May 1, 2014 at 7:15 AM, Blogger ramram said...

Very well written article. Any ideas on the Pillars erected by Alexander (the Great) (not during British construction activities of course.)

 
At May 1, 2014 at 7:16 AM, Blogger ramram said...

Very well written article. Any ideas on the Pillars erected by Alexander (the Great) (not during British construction activities of course.)

 
At May 1, 2014 at 2:51 PM, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

the pillars and other constructions of Alexander were made on the banks of the Beas River. Somewhere between Amritsar and Jalandhar. But nothing remained of them.

 
At September 24, 2014 at 7:08 PM, Blogger omarali50 said...

rabia's comment refers to the date of the battle of Chillianwala. it is written as January 1839 in the article and was actually January 1849 (a fact which i know is well known to you, its just that the typo needs to be corrected).
btw, after the Sikh defeat at the battle of Gujrat a month later, Mian Mohammed wrote his famous verse "Mian Mohammada ik Sardar baajoon, assi jittiyan baazian haarian ney" (Mian Mohammed, for lack of one Sardar, we have lost wars we could have won..the one sardar being the great Maharaja Ranjit Singh)....which does show you that there was a certain Punjabi identity at that point that transcended religion, Mian Mohammed being a good Muslim but having no confusion about which side was HIS side in the battle between the Khalsa and the British East India Company...

 
At September 25, 2014 at 6:04 AM, Blogger omarali50 said...

OK, I should have checked before I commented. In my earlier post I said the poet was mian Mohammed... But it was Shah Mohammed. And the battle he wrote about was Ferozepur, not Gujrat

 
At September 25, 2014 at 4:04 PM, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Omar Ali, thank you for pointing out that glaring typo. It is now being corrected.

 
At June 21, 2016 at 3:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salmaji have you seen "Chanakya" serial in Hindi. It shows Paurava as a Hindu King. Your views on other matters depicted in that serial would be great knowledge.

 

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The Apricot Road to Yarkand


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Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

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