“Love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness: the truth more first than sun, more last than star” ~ E.E. Cummings
Love at first sight
Different people has different views. Some say it is possible while some argue it is not. However, centuries of arts, literature as well as mythology has been contributed greatly to this idea and to our surprise, even history. Although, we are quite well known with the historic love at first sight tragic story in the form of Cleopatra-Mark Anthony, nothing much has been said about one of the happiest historical love at first sight tale – The glorious love affair of Chandra Gupta Maurya and Helen, the Greek princess and daughter of Seleucus Nicatar, the ruler of Western India and Persia (earlier the general of Alexander)
It all began when Chandra Gupta aka Sandrocottus in Greek History while riding through the rivulet Jhelum had secretly seen Helen playing with her hand maidens. Mesmerized with the rare Greek beauty and her charm, Chandra Gupta fell in love with her almost instantly. Being from humble background, he however thought of claiming the hands of Helen by marrying her.
Maurya, who was already married to queen Dhundhara confessed this desire to marry Helen to his counsellor and advisor, Chanakya. The learned man counselled that the only way to seek her was by declaring war against Seleucus, who after the death of Alexander seized opportunity and took over the eastern part of the Greek empire (Persia and Western India) and became emperor. However, this was only possible by conquering North India which was under the Nanda Empire.
Soon, Maurya triumphed in the North which alarmed Seleucus about the rise of Chandra Gupta Maurya in North India. Meanwhile, Chandra Gupta Maurya had expressed his love to Helen by sending messages through carrier pigeons. Helen too was smitten by this ardent suitor from India. Perfect start, isn’t it? Well, the Greatest Emperor who had the might of capturing places even had the gift of conquering hearts that too intensely! It is then, Helen got to know through her hand maiden that the lover is a Hindu and heathen – who doesn’t acknowledge the Greek religion or their Gods. Still, she had formed an image of the Hindu emperor in her mind and loved him immensely. True love !
Later, it was during 305 BC when Seleucus’s army met with Chandra Gupta Maurya’s in a battle where Seleucus was defeated. As per Chankaya’s advice, Chandra Gupta Maurya then invited the defeated emperor for a meeting. Seleucus was suspicious; still he marched for the meeting and here, the victorious offer the Greek King a truce and alliance for Helen’s hand. To allay the feelings of hurt Seleucus, the Indian emperor handed him war elephants as a token of gift and in the Greek King ceded large areas of Afghanistan and other territories to the Indian Emperor.
Later, when Chandra Gupta entered the palace of the Greek King, Helen was equally delighted to see the man in real with whom she was deeply in love already. Initially, Seleucus was not ready to give his daughter‘s hand to a heathen but when Helen insisted he agreed and the two married only to live happily ever after. Chandra Gupta Maurya, India’s greatest emperor thus not only had the ability to unite India, but east and west through his unique bond of love.
The Emperor with his newly wedded life then came to Patliaputra his capital from Persia and their marriage was celebrated with great joy and happiness. Historian confirms that Helen was a great lover of India and even learned Sanskrit and Indian classical music. Just like a fairy tale end of the a classic story, the two lived happily after…
Chandra Gupta later converted his religion into Jainism and handed over his throne to Helen and his son Bindusar (Father of the Great EmperorAshoka) and moved away to Karnataka where he eventually died at the age of 42.
By Deepti Verma