At that very moment he saw the thread. A single moment…and the great Alexander would have been finished. But the thread and the promise is far more valuable to the Eastern mind than victory or defeat: he pulled his spear back.
Alexander said, “What happened? You just had to kill me and you would have been the world conqueror.”
He said, “It is impossible. I have promised your wife that as long as I am alive she will not be a widow, I will protect her. So get up. I cannot kill you.”
Poras was defeated.
You can see the difference of attitudes: he was put into chains, handcuffed, chains on his feet, and dragged into the camp where Alexander was sitting on the throne. Now this is simply an inhuman way to behave with such a man who has saved your life. But even in chains Poras was a far greater individual than Alexander. His integrity, his individuality…you cannot enslave such a person. You can put him in chains but you cannot enslave him.
And Alexander asked, “How should I treat you?”
Poras said, “Don’t you know a simple thing? An emperor should be treated like an emperor.”
Alexander had nothing to say, he was just shocked. The authority, the voice, the power of the man alone among enemies, in chains…he still had the same attitude as he had in his palaces: “You should treat an emperor like an emperor.”
Alexander turned back. He did not enter further into India. No one can say exactly why he turned back – because he had won the battle; now the doors were open to the whole of India. He could have entered into other kingdoms. Poras’ kingdom was small, just on the border.
But I have a definite feeling that facing Poras he understood it: that his cunningness worked once but it might not work again and again. It was not a victory – at least to him it was clear; it may not have been clear to his armies. It was clear to him that he was facing a different kind of people.
A strange man! For just a thread he lost the whole kingdom; just for a word given to a strange woman who was just a trap, who was sent by Alexander himself.
For Alexander it was diplomacy, no question of means; the end was all in all. But to Poras it was a totally different matter. Even in his defeat I say he was victorious. And if people write history with some intelligence, then Poras should be the victor and Alexander the defeated one. But the world is strange: Poras is forgotten, and Alexander becomes the great conqueror of the world. And we know only about what happened to Poras here. We don’t know what Alexander had been doing all along the way from Athens to India.
India has certainly a different attitude, a different approach about everything. So I can understand.