Let me begin this interesting topic that consists of unbelievable true facts that startle the minds of every Indian with a beautiful quote from an Arab proverb:
“The Persians are famed for their archers, the Turks for their horsemen, and
We have heard from the modern textbooks about
Warfare in ancient
This archer, standing on the chariot, would be a good six or more feet off the ground, giving him a significant advantage over enemy infantry. Some chariots held more men, the largest could hold seven men. Indian chariots were so large and heavy that they required four to six horses to pull them. Unlike Egyptian chariots, which moved quickly and fired arrows into the enemy ranks, Indian chariots often charged right into melee battle. They crushed enemy soldiers under their wheels, trampled them under the horses, all while the soldier(s) on the chariot fired arrows into them, or fought it out hand to hand.
No description of
The way in elephants were used in battle varied widely as well. One common tactic, used by Porus at the Hydaspes, was to place the elephants a distance apart, anywhere from 40 to 100 feet. These elephants would act like mobile fortresses, where the rest of the army could rally around. Another common tactic, probably the most dangerous and effective one, was to use the elephants to directly assault enemy lines. The elephants would be arranged in a wall formation, and be heavily armored in iron or steel from head to foot. Long steel swords, often coated with poison, would be attached to their tusks. The mahouts would then drive them forward in a coordinated charge, wreaking havoc in enemy ranks. Archers or lancers on top of the elephants would pick off enemy soldiers as well. One king even went as far as to train his elephants to swing heavy iron balls on chains with their trunks. The very sight of a wall of heavily armored elephants charging, whirling huge iron balls with their trunks, their tusks tipped with poisoned swords, the soldiers on the elephant wielding enormous lances, would often cause the enemy to break ranks and flee.
The cavalry of Indian armies is, for the most part, not noteworthy. The cavalry of the Middle Eastern and Arab armies were probably superior. There are exceptions though. The Rajput cavalry was extremely skilled, and man for man, was more than a match for the Mughal cavalry, as they proved several times. They were lightly armored, and moved extremely swiftly. Armed with a light curved sword and a small circular shield, they could charge and fight with incredible speed. Many carried bows and arrows, and were expert archers. The Rajput army was almost entirely composed of cavalry, and were powerful enough that they were able to keep the Muslim forces in check for many years. In the other armies of
The bulk of the Indian army, and most other armies in the world, were the infantry, or foot soldiers. The infantry were equipped with a huge variety of weapons, which differed hugely across
India was one of the first nations to implement tactics, divisions, and formations. Armies did not simply rush out onto the battlefield; there were commanders who carefully put their massive armies in intricate formations. Some formations were: Chakra (wheel) Vyuha, Suchi (needle) Vyuha, Chayana (hawk) Vyuha and Mala (garland), and Garuda (eagle). Another one I read about recently was the lotus formation, where the archers would be on the inside, and the infantry and cavalry would be arranged like a lotus flower, protecting them.
Their armor differed greatly as well. Some kingdoms, especially in south
The Army of The Mauryan Empire
The Mauryan empire was the first empire that managed to unite all of
The army was broken into many units. The smallest unit was called a patti, and had 1 chariot, 1 elephant, 3 cavalry and 5 infantry. The elephant and chariot would typically be in the center with the cavalry and infantry surrounding them. Three patti made up a Sena mukha, and three Sena Mukha made up a Gulma. Other divisions were the Gana, Vahini, Pratana, Camu and Ani kini, each of which was three times as big as the one preceding it. The Aksauhini was composed of ten Ani kini, and was the largest unit in an army.
The Mauryan army had multiple Aksauhini's. The standing army had three-quarter million troops, one of the largest armies in the world at the time.
A variety of formations were used in the Mauryan army. Formations were known as vyuha, each one had a center, two flanks and two wings. There were thirty main vyuha used, divided into four main categories. One example of a vyuha would be the Padma vyuha or lotus formation.
It would be easy to visualise the 'padma vyuha' if it is imagined as a six pointed star. The Deputy Commanders-in-Chief would be placed at each outer point of the petals and at the inner end, where each end of lotus petal joins with the other, to form an inner-circle resembling the corolla of the lotus, the Commanders-in-Chief would be stationed. The space between any two 'petals' is the only access to reach the centre of the 'lotus' where the Supreme Commander was placed. If a contingent of enemy soldiers moved between any two petals for this purpose, the petals would close in and crush the invader like the powerful tentacles of a crab.
The Garuda Vyuha or Eagle formation was another commonly used formation.
The Garuda Vyuha had a 'beak' where the best elite Kshatriya soldiers would be placed in tight wedge formation. The 'head,' behind the beak had a small contigent of reserves, also of good quality. Often, war elephants would be placed in the beak and head. Two broad 'wings' would sweep out behind the head, with the swiftest troops - the chariots and cavalry at the outside. Behind the wings, the body, would consist of reserves.
Some other formations:
Suchi vyuha - Needle formation
Chayana vyuha - Hawk formation
Mala vyuha - Garland formation
Karuncha vyuha - Heron formation
Makara vyuha - Fish formation
Padma vyuha - Lotus formation
Kurma vyuha - Turtle formation
Trishula vyuha - Trident formation
Chakra vyuha - Wheel or Discus formation
Garuda vyuha - Eagle formation
The Mauryan army was composed of people all over the subcontinent. In addition, Chandragupta Maurya did not discriminate against different castes, as he was of low caste himself (reputedly he was the son of a peacock tamer ). As a result, there were soldiers in his army from all castes, making the army very diverse.
The core of the army was composed of Uttarapathian warriors, from central and western