(Last Updated on : 28/01/2009)
occupies the second ladder of society. According to K. Dutt, the word rajanya is found in the purusasukta. This word Rajanya is synonymous to the word Kshatriya in the Sanskrit literature
. The term Kshatriya is derived from 'ksatra', 'rule dominion,' and the class. Therefore it seems to have included only the chiefs and the nobles. Protecting people, performing sacrifices and making gifts are said to be the specific duties of Kshatriyas as well. During the earlier Buddhist period, this ruling class was socially supreme. But during Manu's period, the supremacy seems to have passed to Brahmanas
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. In order to protect his subjects the king needed to be an expert warrior. The word 'kshatra' in Sanskrit means government, power and dominion.
The Aryans were the earliest warrior classes whose reference is found in the Rig Veda: 'praja arya jyotiragrah.' According to this the subjects were ruled by the divine right theory. The Kshatriya dharma
propagates that it is the duty of every Kshatriya to fight against injustice. It is their duty to protect the weak and their subjects. 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 the 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. As a result people often altered their occupations. But with the passage of time the scenario underwent change. The Varna
system was not initially hereditary. It was much later that the Varna system was made hereditary.
Kshatriyas were considered to be the descendents of either Sarya, 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', 'grihastha', 'vanaprastha
' and 'sannyasi.' Roots of this varna are also found in Jainism and Buddhism. Apart from these dynasties historical sources have also pointed to several non-orthodox Kshatriyas.
Owing to different reasons these were not considered as a part of the warrior class. Kingdoms, such as, Kamboja and Gandhara were Kshatriya. However, for not following the Vedas they came to be regarded as 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. The saga of the warrior class does not end here. Much later in the Indian history the Rajputs
were also depicted as Kshatriyas.
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 preeminent 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.