CHENNAI: Why did Alexander the Great, who wanted to conquer the whole world, take a U-turn after reaching the Beas river at the foot of Shivaliks in North India? What made him drop his ambition and leave along with his army? According to author Christopher Doyle, the answer to this is a well-kept secret in the Mahabharatha — a secret which Alexander knew would earn him the status of a god. And this, according to Doyle, is not a pie in the sky speculation, but backed by scientific theories, which he has been researching for the past two years.
“I have been to Dasuya, the place where Alexander is supposed to have turned away. When you stand there and look eastwards, you can see the vast expanse of Indo-gangetic plains. A conqueror, who has covered 18,000 miles and come there would never turn back unless he has found what he wanted,” says Doyle, who was in the city recently to promote his book The Mahabharata Quest: The Alexander Secret, which is first in The Mahabharata Quest series.
There are theories which suggest that Alexander gave up the journey because his army men were desperate to leave. But according to Doyle, the army men had suggested the same earlier, after the troops had conquered Persia in 330 BC — a mission they had set out for. But Alexander, the good orator he was, convinced his army to march further towards the Indus, all probably as part of the mission to find the secret, says Doyle. And did he find it? “Alexander claimed that he was the son of Zeus, and 400 years later, he was even worshipped as god. So probably, by the time he had reached the Beas river, he had known what the secret was,” says Doyle, whose book dwells on this secret.
While these theories aren’t definite, Doyle says, there is always a question of ‘What if?’ and just because there is not enough solid evidence, they cannot be dismissed. “There are examples of how we have dismissed speculations in the past. Everyone believed that Ashoka the Great was a myth for hundreds of years, until 1837 when James Prinsep translated ancient inscriptions and proved him to be a real king. Also, for many years, it was believed that ancient civilisations were only in the west and middle east, like the Pharaohs and Babylonians, until the accidental discovery of the Indus Valley Civilisation in the early 20th century,” says Doyle, who considers books like Graham Hancock’s Fingerprints of Gods, Ureals Machine and Akshay Majumdar’s The Hindu History as his inspiration.
Doyle believes that as long as what one considers myths have scientific explanation to it, it should not be dismissed. “In my book, I have taken a well known myth from the Mahabharatha and interpreted the slokas using Science. Unlike the conspiracy theory of Brahmastra being a nuclear weapon — a theory to which there is no proof even in the most comprehensive versions — I have stuck to actual science. In my first book The Mahabharata Secret, I used laws of physics, in the second, I have used some cutting edge scientific discoveries in the last six to seven years. I did consult with scientific experts who said the explanation seemed plausible,” says Doyle, who besides his corporate life, also performs as part of a classic rock band.