The stark difference between Alexander and Chengiz Khan

Recently the noted lyricist Javed Akhtar posted two Tweets my wife today pointed me to:

“If you plunder from west to east you are great like Alexander. if you do the same from east to west you are a barbarian like Chengiz.”

Here is the link to the Tweet.

Although I don’t have issues with what intellectuals like him have to say about various cultural and historical opinions/facts the duality is really surprising. These are well-read people after all.

Both Alexander (whether great or not) and Chengiz Khan attacked other countries in order to increase their domains and, let us say, that the time was like that, that it was okay to plunder and takeover other countries and make its citizens your slaves. Shit happens during various historical periods (it still happens but we live in denial). This is not the issue.

But you cannot equate both these guys. Alexander had Aristotle as his teacher and he had specifically employed a historian to document his conquests and experiences. Remember the encounter he had with Porus when he attacked India? He received the brave Porus like a king and even though Porus had been defeated and captured he was not humiliated or brutally killed (I am not sure what happened to him after that famous exchange with Alexander as depicted in the Bollywood movies). Could you expect similar civility from Chengiz Khan? I’m not saying that since Chengiz Khan was a Muslim so he had to be an out and out asshole (he was not a Muslim, according to WikiPedia), but he was after all a barbarian with no affinity to intellectual thinking.

Alexander built relationships (not social media and networking relationships, obviously). He was not into burning down libraries and universities and razing cities. He formed many alliances and he only attacked when kings did not except his dominance which is fair enough considering those times.

Not being a history student I don’t know much about both these historical figures but it is silly to rue the fact that Alexander is called “great” and Chengiz Khan is termed as barbarian.

12 thoughts on “The stark difference between Alexander and Chengiz Khan

  1. Incognito

    >>>”…let us say, that the time was like that, that it was okay to plunder and takeover other countries and make its citizens your slaves.”…”which is fair enough considering those times.”

    Yeah.

    ‘Those times’ were like that.
    We live in ‘modern times’, where we invade other countries to install democracy, heh ?
    No not for oil.
    Not for power.
    Not for global dominance.

    ‘Those times’. Those silly primitive ‘barbarians’!

    Remember, in ‘those times’ there were no people to say “lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu…“. The primitive people of ‘those times’ never heard “vasudhaiva kutumbakam” spoken. It was all the fault of ‘those times’. Not of the people who went invading other countries and ensalving people!

    We the liberated people of today have much to be proud of compared to the primitives of ‘those times’!

    Yeah

  2. Amrit Post author

    Incognito: I fully understand what you’re trying to say here but I used the expression “those times” just to make sure I covered that angle too. Many of our communist and the so-called secularist historians often say that those times were just like that: people were attacking and murdering those who could be attacked and murdered. It was nothing personal, you see. Primarily that was the reason I used expressions like “considering those times”.

    You are right, things haven’t changed much. Stronger countries still plunder weaker countries and why talk about countries? In our own country it is the muscle power that rules the roost and not law and order and sense of justice. In that manner the way we speak and the way we dress up have changed but the barbaric tendencies are the same.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Incognito

    namaste

    back in time, purana talk about asuras who self-aggrandized excessively.
    Yet, those were also the times when people said sarvesham swastih bhavatu… sarvesham shantih bhavatu…

    The tendency to self-aggrandize, as well as to live dharmikally, have been displayed by people at all times, including in present age.

    Both Alexander, as well as Chyengiz, were adharmik aggrandizers.

    dhanyavaad

  4. Anshuman Mishra

    Please correct your information, Chengez Khan was not a muslim….Khan was the title that mongols used to carry, it became popular in the regions which they conquered and the tribes who claimed descendency from mongols. One of the tribe was Chugtai who was also known as the mughals.

  5. Amrit Post author

    @Anshuman: Where did I mention that Chengiz Khan was a Muslim? I guess you were in such a hurry to express your protest that you failed to read the proceeding line “he was not a Muslim, according to WikiPedia” 🙂

    1. Alok

      Checngiz Khan was not a muslim. The Mongol rulers adopted Islam much later and only in the south asia – it was a war (Jihad was used as weapon) and ruling strategy to prevent rebellion in the Arab world where Islam was spreading. The Mongols in other parts did not convert to Islam – they were spread from East Europe to Japan.

      You mentioned this in your article – I’m not saying that since Chengiz Khan was a Muslim so he had to be an out and out asshole (he was not a Muslim, according to WikiPedia), but he was after all a barbarian with no affinity to intellectual thinking.

  6. Aamil Keeyan Khan

    so a man who is not an intellectual managed to conquer more than half the world? Hahaha. That says more about your intellectual prowess than Chengez Khan’s. Also, History is written by the victors. Unless you were really there, do not assume.

  7. Anandbabaji

    Chengiz khan is praised for introduction of the postal system and alphabets in his country.He formulated a law book called yasa that gave equal rights to mongolian women

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