King Paurava, also known as Porus, ruled the region between the rivers Jhelum and Chenab in North India. One day a messenger arrived in his court. He had a fair skin and spoke a foreign language. His message was simple: Submit to King Alexander or be ready for war.
Porus had heard of Alexander, King of Macedonia, near far away Greece. He was a great warrior who had conquered large parts of Egypt and even defeated the mighty Persian Empire. Paurava’s spies had warned the court of Alexander’s march towards their borders. Many kings along the way had meekly submitted to Alexander without a fight. But King Porus had other ideas.
“Tell your king that we will meet him in the battlefield,” he said with quiet confidence.
Alexander’s response was swift. He marched to the banks of the Jhelum. The river was full and swift due to heavy rains. There was only one spot in the river which was shallow enough for a crossing. Porus set up his camp at this spot.
Alexander was wary of taking on Porus from the front. While the Macedonian army had won many battles, they had never faced war elephants in a battle before. Porus had many such elephants in his army.
“We must take him by surprise,” Alexander said to his generals. “Find me another spot to cross the river.”
The generals came back with news of another spot up river. One night, under the cover of darkness, Alexander led a small section of his army to the other spot. He crossed over to the other side without opposition.
As soon as he got wind of Alexander’s move, Porus sent part of his army to fight off the attackers. But the Macedonian warriors defeated them and mounted an attack on Porus’ main army.
Meanwhile, the remaining part of Alexander’s army crossed over the river. Thus encircled, Porus, who stood 7 feet tall, sat atop his mighty elephant, and encouraged his soldiers to fight. The battle grew fierce and the Macedonians gained an upper hand.
But Porus refused to give up even as his men panicked. He continued to fight like a man possessed, facing spears thrown at him from all sides. He was struck with spears all over the body. Exhausted as he collapsed, his elephant bent its knee and brought Porus to the ground. It then gently pulled the spears from his body, even as Geeks surrounded the wounded king.
Porus was brought to Alexander. The Greek conqueror looked at Porus with amazement. He had not met any other warrior like Porus before.
“How do you wished to be treated?” Alexander asked Porus.
“Like a king,” said Porus.
“What do you mean?” asked Alexander.
“When I said, ‘Like a King’, everything was said,” Porus replied.
Alexander got up, walked up to Porus and shook his hand warmly.
At last the Macedonian world conqueror had found his match in the Indian king.
Based on ‘Plutarch’s Lives’