Skanda-Alexander

Proceedings of the All-India Oriental Conference 1937
- 955 -
SKANDA: THE ALEXANDER ROMANCE IN INDIA
N. Gopala Pillai, M. A.
The marvellous exploits of Alexander the Great startled and thrilled the world. East and West
vied with each other in paying him divine honours during his life and after his death. Myths and
legends woven around him, embroidered with all the glowing colours of imagination spread through
the Continents. The lands he conquered and those beyond them told his tales in diverse tongues.
Greek and Latin, Syriac and Arabic,1 Ethiopic, Hebrew, Samaritan, Armenian, Persian, English and
French, German and Italian, and even Scandinavian languages of Europe, Asia, and Africa enshrined
in prose and verse the immortal romance of the Macedonian Prince. Those were the days when
religion held sway over the minds of men. His tolerance of faiths other than his own, his cosmopolitan
outlook in matters religious, inspired as it was by a deep vein of mysticism helped him2 “wherever he
went to treat with respect the local religion.” His attitude towards the religion of the Persians, his
greatest adversaries, the destruction of their sacred books at Persepolis is one of the rare exceptions to
the rule of his general tolerance. The Arabs worshipped him as Iskandar3 Dhu’lquarnein (two horned
Alexander) and even Islam4 adopted Iskandar among her prophets, and carried his forgotten fame
back into India. He was the first Aryan monarch to become a God.5
When these various nations with whom he came into contact have preserved various accounts
of his life and conquests, have elevated him to the position of a Superman and God, it is strange, if it
be a fact, that Ancient Indian Literature alone is oblivious of him. Great scholars and historians have
noted this phenomenon of apparent silence.6 But they are not surprised. Indians are a peculiar race.
India ignores and forgets.7 “It is a conspiracy of silence.” “India remained unchanged. The wounds of...
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