Sanskrit kśatra, "rule, authority") is one of the
four varna (social orders) of the
Hindu society. The
kśatriya is used in the context of
Vedic society wherein members
organised themselves into four classes: brahmin , KSHATRIYA, vaishya
and shudra . Traditionally, the kshatriya constituted the ruling and
military elite. Their role was to protect society by fighting in
wartime and governing in peacetime.
* 1 Origins
* 1.1 Early Rigvedic tribal chiefdom
* 1.2 Later
* 2 Symbols
* 3 Lineage
* 4 See also
* 5 References
* 6 Further reading
EARLY RIGVEDIC TRIBAL CHIEFDOM
The administrative machinery in the Rig
Vedic period functioned with
a tribal chief called Rajan whose position was not hereditary. The
king was elected in a tribal assembly, which included women, called
Samiti. The Rajan protected the tribe and cattle; was assisted by a
priest; and did not maintain a standing army, though in the later
period the rulership appears to have risen as a class. The concept of
fourfold varna system was non-existent.
LATER VEDIC PERIOD
Purusha Sukta to the
Rigveda describes the mythical history
of the four varna. Some scholars consider the
Purusha Sukta to be a
late interpolation into the
Rigveda based on the neological character
of the composition, as compared to the more archaic style of the vedic
literature. Since not all Indians was fully regulated under the varna
in the vedic society, the
Purusha Sukta was supposedly composed in
order to secure vedic sanction for the heredity caste scheme. An
alternate explanation is that the word 'Shudra' does not occur
anywhere else in the Rig-veda except the Purusha Sukta, leading some
scholars to believe the
Purusha Sukta was a composition of the later
Rig-vedic period itself to denote, legitimise and sanctify an
oppressive and exploitative class structure that had already come into
Purusha Sukta uses the term rajanya, not kshatriya, it
is considered the first instance in the
Vedic texts that now remained
where four social classes are mentioned for the first time together.
Usage of the term Rajanya possibly indicates the 'kinsmen of the
rajan' (i.e., kinsmen of the ruler) had emerged as a distinct social
group then, such that by the end of the vedic period, the term
rajanya was replaced by kshatriya; where rajanya stresses kinship with
the rajan and kshatriya denotes power over a specific domain. The
term rajanya unlike the word kshatriya essentially denoted the status
within a lineage. Whereas kshatra, means "ruling; one of the ruling
Gautama Buddha was born into a kshatriya family.
Jaiswal points out the term
Brahman rarely occurs in the Rig-veda
with the exception of the
Purusha Sukta and may not have been used for
the priestly class. Based on the authority of Panini, Patanjali,
Katyayana and the Mahabharata, Jayaswal believes that Rajanya was the
name of a political people and that the Rajanyas were, therefore, a
democracy (with an elected ruler). Some examples were the
Vrsni Rajanyas who followed the system of elected rulers. Ram Sharan
Sharma details how the central chief was elected by various clan
chiefs or lineage chiefs with increasing polarisation between the
rajanya (aristocracy helping the ruler) and the vis (peasants) leading
to a distinction between the chiefs as a separate class (raja,
rajanya, kshatra, kshatriya) on one hand and vis (clan peasantry) on
the other hand.
The term kshatriya comes from kshatra and implies temporal authority
and power which was based less on being a successful leader in battle
and more on the tangible power of laying claim to sovereignty over a
territory, and symbolising ownership over clan lands. This later gave
rise to the idea of kingship.
In the period of the Brahmanas (800 BCE to 700 BCE) there was
ambiguity in the position of the varna. In the Panchavimsha Brahmana
(13,4,7), the Rajanya are placed first, followed by
Vaishya. In Shatapatha
Brahmana 22.214.171.124, the
Kshatriya are placed
second. In Shatapatha
Brahmana 126.96.36.199 the order is—Brahmana,
Vaishya, Rajanya, Shudra. The order of the brahmanical
tradition—Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra—became fixed from
the time of dharmasutras (450 BCE to 100 BCE). The kshatriya were
often considered pre-eminent in Buddhist circles. Even among Hindu
societies they were sometimes at rivalry with the Brahmins, but they
generally acknowledged the superiority of the priestly class.
In rituals, the nyagrodha (
Ficus indica or India fig or banyan tree)
danda, or staff, is assigned to the kshatriya class, along with a
mantra, intended to impart physical vitality or 'ojas'.
Vedas do not mention kshatriya (or verma) of any vansha
(lineage). The lineages of the
Purana tradition are:
Suryavanshi (solar line); and
Chandravanshi (lunar line).
There are other lineages, such as the
Agnivanshi , in which an
eponymous ancestor rises out of
Agni (fire), and Nagavanshi
(snake-born), claiming descent from the Nāgas . The Nagavanshi, not
attested in the Itihasa-
Purana tradition, were Naga tribes whose
origin can be found in scriptures. There existed
such as the Chotanagpur Maharaja, originally said to be of Munda
origin. The clan holds snakes to be sacred and had marital relations
Rajput for many centuries.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to KSHATRIYA .
Indian caste system
Indian caste system
* Forward castes
* ^ Bujor Avari (2007). India: The Ancient Past: A History of the
Indian Sub-Continent from c. 7000 BC to AD 1200, p. 74
* ^ Sharma, Ram Sharan (2005). India's ancient past. the University
of Michigan: Oxford University Press. pp. 110–112. ISBN
* ^ David Kean (2007). Caste-based Discrimination in International
Human Rights Law, p. 26. Ashgate Publishing Ltd.
* ^ Jayantanuja Bandyopadhyaya (2007). Class and Religion in
Ancient India, pp. 37–47. Anthem Press.
* ^ A B C D E Kumkum Roy (2011). Insights and Interventions: Essays
in Honour of Uma Chakravarti, p. 148. Primus Books.
* ^ Turner, Sir Ralph Lilley ; Dorothy Rivers Turner (January 2006)
. 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. Retrieved
23 October 2011.
* ^ Radhakrishna Choudhary (1964). The Vrātyas in Ancient India,
Volume 38 of Chowkhamba
Sanskrit studies, p. 125.
* ^ Ram Sharan Sharma (1991). Aspects of Political Ideas and
Institutions in Ancient India, p. 172. Motilal Banarsidass
* ^ Reddy (2005). General Studies History 4 Upsc. Tata McGraw-Hill
Education,. pp. 78,79,33,80,27,123. ISBN 9780070604476 .
* ^ Upinder Singh (2008). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval
India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century, p. 202. Pearson
* ^ A B Jeanne Auboyer (1965). Daily Life in Ancient India. Phoenix
Press. pp. 26–27. ISBN 1-84212-591-5 .
* ^ Brian K. Smith. Reflections on Resemblance, Ritual, and
Religion, Motilal Banarsidass Publishe, 1998
* ^ A B C D Indian History: Ancient and medieval, p. 22. Volume 1
of Indian History, Encyclopædia Britannica (India) Pvt. Ltd, 2003.
* ^ Omacanda Hāṇḍā. Naga Cults and Traditions in the Western
Himalaya, p. 251.
* Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. History and
Culture of Indian People, The
Vedic Age. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1996.
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