(Last Updated on : 13/10/2010)
Vinaya or Discipline in Ancient Indian Army implied a high standard in camp or during a march. Moreover, Vinaya also meant a high standard during a battle where the soldier had always to be ready to face a reverse. Selection of instructors was another hard task. He had to be possessed of wisdom, purity of purpose, bravery and loyal feeling. Great importance was attached to self possession and the study of the shastras. The leader had to possess a sharp intellect, strong memory, and keen mind, energetic, powerful, trained in all kinds of arts, free from vice and must be capable of paying in the same coin by way of awarding penalties or rewards, possessed of dignity. He was also supposed to be capable of taking remedial measures against dangers, possessed of foresight and ready to grab opportunities when afforded in respect of place, time and manly efforts. A leader must be clever enough to distinguish the causes calling for the stopping of treaty or war with an enemy or to avail himself of his enemy's weak points. He was expected to be free from passion, anger, greed, obstinacy, fickleness, haste and backbiting habits, talking to others with a smiling face, and observance of customs as taught by aged persons.
Different shastras have mentioned that a leader had to be enthusiastic up to the limitations given to him which include valour, determination of purpose, quickness and probity. Vinaya or discipline was considered as another important quality that must be possessed by a leader. Ashwatthama was one of the great warriors in the galaxy of Mahabharata heroes. In gravity he is equal to the oceans and in wrath to the poison of the snake. He is foremost of the car-warriors in battle, a firm bow-man, and above all fatigue. Training for war was considered very essential. Even in the epics there are pointed references about this aspect. In Mahabharata
also the Kaurava army was claimed to be well trained in fighting on horses, chariots and elephants. Training was imparted every morning all the year round except on holidays. The king was always required to be present and witness the exercises. It was also imperative that the king, dressed in full military array, inspected his army regularly. Huge significance was attached to physical development and competitions in armed and unarmed combat were a common feature. Military tournaments were held on a large scale. It was often that in a battle an unarmed person was killed by an armed one. He was given plentiful opportunities to obtain another weapon. If a warrior broke his bow he took to the sword and his opponent would do the same. Vajra met vajra, sword crossed sword, arrow met arrow and when all these had either been damaged or rendered unfit for use the warriors met each other in unarmed combat. Thus, discipline, proper guidance and training were considered the watch-words to achieve a high standard in warfare in ancient times.