Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hercules and Balarama: The Symbolic and Historical Connections


Sometime around c.305 BC, the Greek geographer and explorer Megasthenes arrived at the court of the Indian emperor Chandragupta Maurya at Pataliputra (modern Patna). He was sent as an ambassador by Seleucus Nicator of the Seleucid dynasty, with whom Chandragupta Maurya had entered into a treaty and matrimonial alliance. During his stay in India, Megasthenes compiled the book Indica - a commentary on the geography, social traditions, and religious customs of India. Although, the original work of Megasthenes is no longer available, later Greek historians such as Arrian and Diodorus Siculus have referred to Indica in their works, from where we can gather snippets of some very important observations made by Megasthenes regarding the presence of Hercules in India.