Aristotle, the teacher and guide of Alexander the Great, had told him that in India lived great mystical, intellectual and spiritual super beings called Yogis. He told Alexander if he ever got the opportunity, to go and meet a Yogi, and if possible to even bring one back to Greece for Aristotle to meet.
Upon enquiry, whilst in India, Alexander learnt about the great and wise Sanyasi, Yogi Dandamis, of Taxila who dwelled deep in a forest.
Alexander sent numerous summons to Dandamis, which he promptly ignored. Alexander who could strike fear in the hearts and minds of great armies and kings was intrigued. He became desperate to meet this being who assigned no importance to Alexander.
Alexander next sent messengers with lavish gifts and an invitation to Dandamis for a discourse and discussion on philosophy. Dandamis, politely declined both the gifts and the invitation.
Though angry Alexander, a pupil of the great philosopher and teacher Aristotle, knew very well that, great beings could rarely be lured or coerced.
Finally Alexander sent a messenger, his helmsman, Onesicritus a disciple of the Hellenic school of Diogenes to invite Dandamis. When Onesicritus met Dandamis, he lavished praise and gifts on him.
When Dandamis declined his invitation and gifts, Onesicritus threatened Dandamis. He said that Alexander had ordered the beheading of Dandamis should the orders of the emperor be disobeyed.
Dandamis remained unperturbed, stating, he had no fear of death. Onesicritus couldn’t muster the courage to kill Dandamis, and, instead, paid his respects to Dandamis and went back to report the incident to Alexander.
Livid at being rejected by a naked forest-dweller, Alexander decided to go toDandamis himself. With his Marshal and a large entourage, Alexander made his way deep into the forest. Even though he experienced the powerful aura of Dandamis, Alexander grew furious when the sage did not get up to welcome him.
“How dared you refuse my gifts?” Alexander demanded.
“They were smeared in blood.” replied Dandamis.
The chilling truth, and fearless conviction in Dandamis’ voice, rattled Alexander. Alexander could not let his men overhear the embarrassing exchange, so he ordered them to move some distance away.
Then, when he was alone with Dandamis, Alexander dismounted from his horse, walked towards the sitting sage and menacingly stood over him.
“Do you know who I am?” Alexander roared.
“I don’t think even you know, who you are.” replied Dandamis.
Alexander felt deeply insulted. He drew his sword and swung it at Dandamis, stopping just before it struck Dandamis’ neck.
“I am Alexander, the world conqueror,” he shouted.
“You are sitting on my land. Submit or I’ll kill you … ”
“Your land?” Dandamis chuckled as he cut him off. “The land belongs to no one, O King!”
“Before you, there were others who claimed it as theirs,” he continued. “After you, there’ll be others who will say it’s theirs.
All creation belongs to the Creator alone, Alexander. And no one has any right to destroy what they haven’t created. You have blood on your hands, O Emperor! You may have a temporary claim on the land, but you have permanent scars on your soul.”
Clearing his throat, a flustered and uncomfortable Alexander lowered his sword and adjusted his posture.
“The whole world is mine, Dandamis,” Alexander exclaimed. “History will remember me as the mightiest king! My men will die for me!”
“What good is your ambition or their remembrance, O King? You drown yourself in alcohol every evening so you may forget about your crimes and sins. These men who surround you, they are tired of you. You will see it, they’ll give up on you one day, in fact very soon.”
“Besides,” Dandamis continued, “what will you do with the world? All you need is two yards. Two yards long and two yards deep. Ultimately that’s all that will belong to you.”
Alexander sheathed his sword and sat at the feet of Dandamis for a long while. After a rather long discourse, a humbled Alexander bowed his head before Dandamis and left.
This is a popular story told in India.