(Last Updated on : 23/06/2011)
Kshatriya, the term is derived from the Sanskrit word 'Ksatra' which means "roof, umbrella, dominion, power, government". Kshatriya occupies the second highest position in Indian Hindu society. Under the Hindu caste system kshatrias are ruler and warrior.
The Kshatriya caste members have held power for centuries in India. Although the caste system has been drastically demolished through legislation and social reform in India, it is not uncommon to see Kshatriyas in public office in India, since they have been associated with power and ruling for so long.
History of Kshatriya
According to the earliest Vedas
the Kshatriyas rank the highest in position. But they were given punishment by the sixth incarnation of Vishnu named Parasurama for their tyranny and the caste had fallen to the second position at the end of the Vedic era.
Immediately after the Brahmins
it is the turn of the Kshatriyas or the warrior class. They were the ruling class and often by collaborating with the Brahmins they reigned over their kingdom. In ancient India the rulers were bound by Holy Scriptures to govern their kingdoms with justice. A Hindu ruler was the protector of his subjects
were the earliest warrior classes whose reference is found in the Rig Veda
: 'praja arya jyotiragrah. '. The Kshatriya dharma propagates that it is the duty of every Kshatriya to fight against injustice. Their origin can be traced back to the Vedic Civilization. However, there is more than one theory that explains their evolution. The first version has its roots in the Hindu Mythology. According to this while Lord Brahma
was creating the universe it was decided that a special kind of human race would have to be created to save and protect the humans. Thus the Kshatriyas came into existence.
Another theory in Rig Veda states that the Kshatriyas are made up of God's arms. According to the doctrine the Lord's four body parts make up the 4 classes of the society. According to Manu
, the Vedic theologist, it was due to different occupations that the people were divided. Those who practiced martial arts became Kshatriyas. In earlier times the rigidity in the caste system was not much prevalent.
Mythological references related to Kshatriya
Kshatriyas were considered to be the descendents of Lord Surya
, Lord Agni
or Chandra. For instance Lord Rama
was Suryavanshi or the descendent of Sun Dynasty while Lord Krishna
belonged to the Lunar Dynasty or Chandravansh. No matter to which family they belonged the lives of this warrior class were divided into 4 stages -'brahmacharya
' and 'sannyasi
Owing to different reasons these were not considered as a part of the warrior class. Kingdoms, such as, Kamboja
were Kshatriya. However, for not following the Vedas they became Sudras. On the other hand, certain kingdoms, like, Sakas, Darads, Pahlavas
, Dravidas and others lost their status as Kshatriya because of their neglect of the Brahmins. Much later in the Indian history the Rajput society
was also depicted as Kshatriyas.
Speciality of Kshatriya
The Rajputs were known to make deft political chanelizes to consolidate their kingdom or to defeat an enemy. They are also known to follow certain codes of war to fight. They are legendarily said to have untiring persistence to attain their goal as in the case of Maharana Pratap Singh
. The Rajputs are considered to be most revered and persistent Kshatriyas. Legendary Rajputs are Rana kumbha, Rana sanga, Raja Bhoja, Rana Mokal, Prithiviraj Chauhan, Rana Hamir, Hadi ke Rani.
The Kshatriyas were specialized in guerrilla warfare. History said that the Maratha warrior and emperor Shivaji
Bhonsale had his own army specialized in guerrilla warfare.
In this caste a male child is considered as a symbol of masculinity where a female child needs to be gentle and well behaved.
There were certain rules that the Kshatriya required to follow. He was not allowed to marry outside his class; joint family system was to be followed strictly and several other traditions were pre-eminent in the society.
The Kshatriyas were unsparing in their attack on whatever obstructed the growth of the nation and were never afraid to call a spade a spade. They respect people with courage and intelligence. Almost all the aggressive virtues were imbibed in them. The spirit of soaring idealism, bold creation, fearless resistance and courageous attack made them perfect rulers.