Most people are aware of the story of how Paris of Troy eloped with Helen, the wife of the Greek King Menelaus. But there is another lesser known story of another Helen who was also a Greek princess and the Indian warrior king Chandragupta Maurya.
Chandragupta Maurya ruled North India from 320-298 BC. He is considered one of the greatest kings of India. It is reported that he loved and married Helen the daughter of Selecus Nikatar who was a general of Alexander the great. At the famous battle of Hydespes in 326 BC, it was Selecus who led the cavalry charge against the elephant forces of the Hindu king Porus and played no mean part in the capture of Porus.
Chandragupta and Helen
Alexander’s death led to near chaos as there was no successor. Selecus seized his opportunity and became the ruler of Persia, Iran and Western India. Selecus had a daughter named Helen who was a Greek girl of great beauty.
It appears that Chandragupta had seen the princess earlier and had a secret desire to marry her though he was already married to Dhurdhara. Helen in Indian history is known by many names like Carnellia and Roseanne. She was a very beautiful Greek princess who liked India. It is reported that she had studied Sanskrit and Indian classical music.
Chandragupta killed the King of North India Dhanand and became the ruler of North India. Selecus when he heard of the rise of Chandragupta hurried back from Babylon and confronted Chandragupta.
The Defeat of Selecus
In 305 BC Selecus at the head of a massive army confronted Chandragupta. Accounts of this battle are sketchy but what ever records are available show that Chandragupta defeated Selecus.
Chandragupta Marries his Love, Helen
The advisor of Chandragupta, Chanakya was aware of the love of Chandragupta for Helen. Accordingly he suggested to Chandragupta to offer a truce to Selecus and ask for his daughter in marriage. Selecus was surprised after the defeat to be invited by Chandragupta for a meeting. He was suspicious, but as the head of a vanquished army he met Chandragupta. At that meeting Chandragupta offered a truce and an alliance in return for the hand of Helen.
Reports of that period suggest that Chandragupta gifted to Selecus an entire corps of elephants and Selecus ceded Kandahar and other areas to Chandragupta. Selecus used this elephant corps to good effect in his battles in Persia.
Chandragupta reached the royal palace and Helen it appears was overjoyed to marry Chandragupta. She accompanied Chandragupta to Pataliputra (present day Patna) which was the capital of Chandragupta and their marriage was celebrated with great pomp and show as per Vedic rights. The union between the 2 lasted only 4/5 years as Chandragupta died at the age of 42. But this love story of the Greek princess and the Indian warrior is common in India and an example of true love.