Beyond being large and powerful, elephants of the Maurya provide a large, stable platform for archers.
During their campaigns in the east, to the heart of the Achaemenid Empire then the edge of the Indian subcontinent, the Macedonian armies were confronted with war elephants on two occasions. Greek accounts of the victory at the Battle of the Hydaspes (in 326 BCE) insist on the presence of elephants in the army of King Porus, who opposed Alexander. Most likely unknown to the Mediterranean world, elephantry units were common in the armies of the Indian kingdoms. It is estimated that during the same period, the Magadha rulers—from whom the Maurya emperors usurped the state and its armies—had nearly 3,000 war elephants. Carrying a mahout and soldiers with projectile weapons, they served not just for charges, but also as a command platform and to terrify the enemy cavalry. As elephants took a long time to train and required extensive resources, the number of animals a ruler owned symbolized their power.