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Kshatriya (Sanskrit: क्षत्रिय, kṣatriya from Sanskrit: क्षत्र, kṣatra) or Kashtriya, meaning warrior, is one of the four varnas (social orders) in Hinduism. Traditionally Kshatriya/Chattaris constitute the military and ruling elite of the Vedic-Hindu social system outlined by the Vedas and the Laws of Manu.


[edit] Etymology

Sanskrit akṣatra, ruling; one of the ruling order member of the Kṣatriya caste[1] is the derivation for Old Persian xšaθra ("realm, power"), xšaθrya ("royal"), and xšāyaθiya ("emperor") are related to it, as are the New Persian words šāh ("emperor") and šahr ("city", "realm").[citation needed] Thai: กษัตริย์ (kasat), "king" or "monarch," and similar-sounding Malay kesatria or satria, "knight" or "warrior"[3], are also derived from it. The term may also denote aristocratic status.

[edit] History

Initially in ancient Vedic society, this position was achieved on the merits of a person's aptitude, conduct, and nature.[citation needed] The earliest Vedic literature listed by organization of function, not of caste, the Kshatriya (holders of kṣatra, or authority) as first in rank, and the Brahmins second (priests and teachers of law), before the Vaisya (Cattle-herders, merchant-traders, farmers and some artisan castes),[2] and the Sudra (labourers, some farming castes and other artisan castes).Manusmriti assigns cattle rearing as an occupation of Vaisya; however there are references in available literature that Kshatriyas also owned and reared the cattle and cattle-wealth was the mainstay of their households. Emperors of Kosala and Prince of Kasi are some of many examples.[2]

Movements of individuals and groups from one class to another, both upward and downward, were not uncommon; a rise in status even to the rank of Kshatriya was a recognized reward for outstanding service to the rulers of the day.[3][dubious ] Over the years it became hereditary.[citation needed] In modern times, the Kshatriya varna includes a broad class of caste groups, differing considerably in status and function but united by their claims to ruler-ship, the pursuit of war, or the possession of land.[citation needed]

The legend that the Kshatriyas, with the exception of the Ikshvakus, were destroyed by Parasurama, the sixth reincarnation of Vishnu, as a punishment for their tyranny is thought by some scholars to reflect a long struggle for supremacy between priests and rulers that ended in victory for the former. By the end of the Vedic era, the Brahmins were supreme, and the Kshatriya had fallen to second place. Texts such as the Manusmṛti (a book of Hindu law) and most other dharmashastras (works of jurisprudence) report a Brahman victory, but epic texts often offer a different account, and it is likely that in social reality rulers have usually ranked first. The persistent representation of deities (especially Vishnu, Krishna, and Rama) as rulers underscores the point, as does the elaborate series of ritual roles and privileges pertaining to kings through most of Hindu history.[4][dubious ]

[edit] Vedic origin

Most of the Gurjars (or Gujjars) believe to have descended from Suryavanshi Kshatriyas (Sun Dynasty) and connect themselves with Shri Ram Chandra.[5] Historically, the Gurjars were Sun-worshipers and are described as devoted to the Sun-god (God Surya). Their copper-plate grants bear an emblem of the Sun and on their seals, too, this symbol is depicted.[6] Also the Gurjar title of honor is Mihir which means Sun.[7][8]

[edit] Social status

An 1876 engraving of Khokar Rajputs of Punjab from the Illustrated London News.

story of Ekalavya.

The situation has changed in modern times and Kshatriyas do not have much to gain or lose in status by their Kshatriya lineage. One area where the Kshatriya heritage has been prominent is the Indian Army.[9]

Kshatriya regiments make up a large[citation needed] portion of the Indian and Nepali Armed forces. Notable among them are Punjab Regiment,[10] 9th, 16th and 17th Battalions of Madras Regiment (Nair), Maratha Light Infantry (Maratha), Rajputana Rifles (Mainly of Rajasthani Rajputs, Gurjars[10] and Jats), Jat Regiment, Dogra Regiment, The Garhwal Rifles, Kumaon Regiment and Rajput Regiment.

[edit] Demographics

According to the 1891 Census of India, Martial Races made up more than 10% of the population of British India.[citation needed] This percentage might have decreased over the years. An example is that of the Nairs in Kerala who were decimated during the Mysore invasion of Kerala. Nairs constituted more than 30% of the population of Kerala during the 1854 census,[11] but decreased to 14.41% in 1968 and further decreased to 12.88% in 2000.[12][13][14] Frequent warfare was the main cause for demographic decline during early years, but low fertility is the main problem nowadays. (In Kerala, the Malayala Kshatriyas have a fertility of 1.47 children per woman, while the Muslims have 2.97 children per woman).[15]

[edit] Specialties

Praiseful references of might and administration of the Gurjars can be found in Arab records as well as Indian inscriptions.Kupadvanj inscription of 910A.D. mentions them as Roaring Gurjar.[16]Arab records say that the Gurjar king maintained numerous forces and no other Indian prince had so fine a cavalry.Arab invaders referred Gurjars as their greatest foe.[17]

[edit] Kshatriya dharma

The Kshatriya dharma is described in the Mahabharata, thus ""Have you never heard the Kshatriya Dharma: Stand straight and never bow down, for this alone is manliness. Rather break at the knots than bend!"[18]

[edit] Symbols associated with Kshatriya

The flag of Mahl Kshatriyas.

In rituals, the Nyagrodha (Ficus Indica or India Fig/Banyan tree) danda, or staff, is assigned to the Kshatriya class, and along with a mantra, intended to impart physical vitality or 'ojas'.[19]

[edit] Kshatriya lineage

Siddhartha Gautama or Gautama Buddha was born into a Hindu Kshatriya family

The major branches of Kshatriya varna are: Suryavanshi (solar line), claiming direct descent from Ramachandra, and descent from Surya; Chandravanshi (lunar line), claiming descent from Yadu, as Yadu was himself born in a Chandravanshi dynasty,[20] and descent from Chandra; Agnivanshi, claiming descent from Agni; and Nagavanshi, claiming descent from the Nāgas.

[edit] Suryavanshi

The Suryavanshi or Solar dynasty lineage claims descent from Surya. Suryavanshis also claim descent from Rama, who was himself born into a Suryavanshi dynasty. Kshatriya of Punjab, or Khatri as they are known in the Punjabi dialect hail from this dynasty. Out of the 36 major clans of Rajastani Rajputs, ten belong to the Suryavanshi lineage.[21]

[edit] Chandravanshi

The Chandravanshi or Lunar dynasty lineage claims descent from Chandra. Chandravanshis also claim descent from Yadu, who was himself born into a Chandravanshi dynasty.[20]

[edit] Agnivanshi

The Agnivanshi lineage claims descent from Agni. Clans like Bhadauria, Chauhan, Parihar, Panwar & Solanki are of Agnivanshi lineage.[21][22][23]

[edit] Nāgvanshi

The Nāgvanshi or Serpent dynasty is a sub-clan of Suryavanshi kshatriyas. They adopted Naga as their symbol and worshipped Lord Shiva in various forms. Nāgvanshis include most of the Nair[24][25] and Bunt clans as well as some Rajput (Saharan Rajputs,[26] Bais Rajputs, Naga Rajputs, Takshak Rajputs.[27] etc.) and Jat clans. The Nāgvanshi (or Nāgbanshi) are known for ruling Chhotanagpur.[28][29] Most important among the Jat clans which are of Nāga origin includes Bachak Jats,[citation needed] Kaliramna Jats,[citation needed] and Katewa Jats.[30][31] Outside India, the Balinese Kshatriyas[32][33][34] claim descent from Nāgvanshis. In South West India, the Naga Sendraka rulers of Nayarkhanda (Nagarkhanda) were feudatories to the Chalukyas.[35] The Sindas of Bastar were also of Nagavanshi origin.[36]

[edit] Others

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Turner, Sir Ralph Lilley; Dorothy Rivers Turner (January 2006) [1962]. A comparative dictionary of the Indo-Aryan languages. (Accompanied by three supplementary volumes: indexes, compiled by Dorothy Rivers Turner: 1969. – Phonetic analysis: 1971. – Addenda et corrigenda: 1985. ed.). London: Oxford University Press,. pp. 189–190. http://dsal.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/philologic/contextualize.pl?p.4.soas.198140. Retrieved October 23, 2011. "kṣatríya 3649" 
  2. ^ a b Arun Kumar (2002). Encyclopaedia of Teaching of Agriculture. Anmol Publications PVT. LTD.. pp. 411–. ISBN 9788126113163. http://books.google.com/books?id=fhWZNMlzHewC&pg=PA411. Retrieved 4 July 2011. 
  3. ^ "Kshatriya." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 5 June 2008
  4. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  5. ^ Kamal Prashad Sharma; Surinder Mohan Sethi (1997). Costumes and ornaments of Chamba. ISBN 9788173870675. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=TQwKtSFn9FMC&pg=PA57&lpg. 
  6. ^ Lālatā Prasāda Pāṇḍeya (1971). Sun-worship in ancient India. Motilal Banarasidass. p. 245. 
  7. ^ Bombay (India : State) (1901). Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, Volume 9, Part 1. Govt. Central Press. p. 479. 
  8. ^ Chandrasekharendra Saraswati (Jagatguru Sankaracharya of Kamakoti); Śaṅkarācārya, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (2001). Śri Śaṅkara Bhagavatpādācārya's Saundaryalaharī. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. p. 339. 
  9. ^ http://www.jstor.org/pss/2943173
  10. ^ a b Gautam Sinha, Valour and sacrifice: famous regiments of the Indian Army. Allied Publishers. 1990. p. 137. 
  11. ^ 1854 Census of Travancore, 1846 Census of Malabar
  12. ^ The Hindu (Chennai, India). http://pay.hindu.com/ebook%20-%20ebfl20061229part1.pdf. 
  13. ^ The 1968 Socio-Economic Survey by the Government of Kerala
  14. ^ Report on the Census of Travancore - Google Books
  15. ^ SpringerLink - Population Research and Policy Review, Volume 22, Numbers 5-6
  16. ^ Bombay (India : State) (1901). Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, Volume 9, Part 1. Govt. Central Press. p. 481. "With the roaring Gujar an ephithet in the Kupadvanj Rashtrakutta grant of AD 910..." 
  17. ^ John Keay (2001). India: a history. Grove Press. p. 95. ISBN 0-8021-3797-0, ISBN 978-0-8021-3797-5. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=3aeQqmcXBhoC&pg=PA195&dq. 
  18. ^ Mahabharata, as retold by William Buck, University of California Press Berkeley Los Angeles London 1973
  19. ^ Reflections on Resemblance, Ritual, and Religion; Brian K. Smith
  20. ^ a b Sinha, Purnendu Narayana (1901). "THE LUNAR DYNASTY (SKANDHA 9)". A study of the Bhagavata Purana; or, Esoteric Hinduism. Freeman (Benares). p. 229. http://www.archive.org/stream/astudyofthebhaga00sinhuoft#page/n229/mode/2up. 
  21. ^ a b Rajasthan, Part 2 By D. K. Samanta, S. K. Mandal, N. N. Vyas, Anthropological survey of India p.786
  22. ^ Rajasthan & Gujarat handbook: the ... - Google Books
  23. ^ Memoirs on the History, Folk-Lore ... - Google Books
  24. ^ Downfall of Hindu India By Chintaman Vinayak Vaidya. Page:278 "and Nāir (Nāgara) Kshatriyas sent out a religious invasion under Sankara which subjugated the whole of India. The history of Kerala goes hack to the"
  25. ^ The origin of Saivism and its history in the Tamil land By K. R. Subramanian, K. R. Subramanian (M.A.) p.21
  26. ^ Punjab district gazetteers: reprint of Phulkian states (Patiala, Jind, and ... By Punjab (India). Gazetteers Organisation (Punjab Govt. Press, 1909.) Page 243
  27. ^ The American journal of archaeology ... - Google Books
  28. ^ The Nāgvanshis of Chotanagpur By Sudha Kumari Sinha
  29. ^ Encyclopaedia of Indian tribes By C. Sahu p.123
  30. ^ Rama Shankar Tripathi (1987). History of ancient India. p. 344. ISBN 8120800184. 
  31. ^ Naval Viyogi (2002). Nagas, the ancient rulers of India: their origin and history. The History of indigenous people of India, Volume 2 (Illustrated ed.). Originals. p. 67. ISBN 8175362871. 
  32. ^ Warta Hindu dharma, Issues 140-150 p.021
  33. ^ Kamus agama Hindu By I Wayan Musna p.32
  34. ^ Widya Dharma Agama Hindu SMP kls 9 By I Wayan Midastra, I Ketut Maruta p.8
  35. ^ The origin of Saivism and its ... - Google Books
  36. ^ The origin of Saivism and its ... - Google Books
  37. ^ Ancient Indian History and Civilization By Sailendrda Nath Sen Page 205 & 207: "... the Vellalars were the aristocratic classe and were held in high esteem..."
  38. ^ The Harappan civilization and its writing: a model for the decipherment of the Indus Script... By Walter Ashlin Fairservis 52/53 pages: " The relationship of vellalan (Tamil) and vellalar (Malayalam) to terms for ancient chiefs velir, etc., provide us with a term for the system of chiefs as a whole, vellalar"
  39. ^ Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland, Volume 19 By Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (1887) page 582: "The reason why Manu styled the Drâvidian Vellâlar as degraded Kshatriyas was doubtless owing to the fact that the first Brahman settlers found them almost in exclusive possession of land..."; [1]
  40. ^ The Tamils Eighteen Hundred Years Ago - by V. Kanakasabhai - Tamil (Indic people) - 1904 - 240 pages; page 113: "The Chera, Chola and Pandyan kings and most of the petty chiefs of Tamilakam belonged to the tribe of Vellâlas."
  41. ^ Tamil studies: essays on the history of the Tamil people, language, religion ... By Muttusvami Srinivasa Aiyangar page 63: "No traces of the Tamil kings are to be found at present in this country, and it is highly probable that they should have merged with the Vellala caste..."[2]
  42. ^ Magumdar, Raichaudhry. Notes of IGNOUDelhi University, Allahabad University, Banaras Hindu University, JNU, Jamia Milia Islamia (Irfan Habib)
  43. ^ Encyclopaedia of North-East India: Manipur By Hamlet Bareh p.274-277
  44. ^ Sociology of Indian tea industry: a study of inter-ethnic relationships By Khemraj Sharma (Education officer.) p.54
  45. ^ Fatalism and development: Nepal's struggle for modernization By Dor Bahadur Bista p.59

[edit] Further reading

  • History and Culture of Indian People, The Vedic Age, p 313-314
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