DIG­GING FOR ALEXAN­DER

India Today - - GLASS HOUSE -

BJP prime min­is­te­rial can­di­date Naren­dra Modi has got help from an un­ex­pected quar­ter. Though he was laughed at for sug­gest­ing at his Hunkaar rally in Patna that Alexan­der had come to Bi­har, it turns out that it is a widely be­lieved myth in Bi­har. In a book, A Strange Kind of Par­adise, on trav­ellers through the years in In­dia, Sam Miller points to the Khambh Baba in Patna, a 6.5-me­tre tall sand­stone col­umn left there by Greek am­bas­sador He­liodorus. Lo­cally though, the pil­lar has been wor­shipped as an in­car­na­tion of Alexan­der the Great, who met a saint called Hi­ra­puri, and im­pressed by his abil­ity to go with­out food or wa­ter for six months, asked to stay with him. For his pains, the saint, the myth goes, was im­mor­talised in stone.

SHAILESH RAVAL

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