Kshatriya

ETHNONYMS: none


The Kshatriyas are a large block of Hindu castes, mainly located in the northern half of India. The Sanskrit term Kshatrā means "warrior, ruler," and identifies the second varna, ranking immediately below the Brahmans. No doubt, most of the many castes that claim to be Kshatriya are somehow descended from warriors who were in the service of princes and rulers or who were of royal families. Conversely, numerous rulers have legitimized their status, especially if usurpers, by claiming that their lineage was indeed Kshatriya. Most typical and best known of these groups are the Rajputs, who once formed the many princely houses of Rajasthan (former Rajputana) and neighboring areas. Of course, today most Kshatriyas are landowners or follow urban professions.

Although they rank high in the varna system, Kshatriyas may and commonly do eat meat (though never beef), and many also take alcoholic drinks; both of these characteristics set them apart from the Brahmans.

It is perhaps no mere coincidence that Mahavira and Gautama, the founders of Jainism and Buddhism respectively, were of this social category. It can be argued that their spiritual voyages in the sixth century B . C . were both prompted by reaction to the excessive ritualism that marked the Vedic sacrifice of the purohita (priests). Some centuries later there was a general understanding that Kshatriyas would abstain from wordly pleasures while they fought to protect the polity and the Brahmans' place in it. But in fact—if Rajput history can be taken as a guide—Kshatriya warriors when not actually on the battlefield surrounded themselves with luxurious palaces, multiple wives and concubines, fine horses and falcons, and all the pleasures of eating cooked meats.

See also Rajput

Bibliography

Fox, Richard G. (1971). Kin, Clan, Raja, and Rule: State-Hinterland Relations in Preindustriai India. Berkeley: University of California Press.


Tod, James (1829-32). Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, or the Central and Western Rajpoot States of India. Rev. ed., edited by William Crooke. 1920. London: Oxford University Press. Numerous reprints.

PAUL HOCKINGS

User Contributions:

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Feb 24, 2011 @ 1:13 pm
OMG. At first I didn't know what Kshatriya are. Now I'm a total Greek Geek.
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Apr 4, 2011 @ 12:12 pm
THANKS FOR THE HELP ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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May 30, 2011 @ 4:04 am
Hi my name is Georgia and i just want to say thank-you so much for the info i really needed it i have to do an presontation on kshatrya the caste system i really needed it so i just want to say thanks for all the help YES i do repeat the words lots but u know i really love this website and it has go info So THANKS again :)(:
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Jun 19, 2011 @ 12:12 pm
Very good Informatic site.
Good Job!

Is there are Rajput / Kshtriya cast in Euro. or in link ?
Jessica
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Nov 29, 2011 @ 3:15 pm
What did the Kshatriyans wear? what were their families like? And What were they most educated on? Thanks :)
Malika Burman
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Jul 4, 2012 @ 2:14 pm
There is an excellent history book documented Sahdev Vohra called "Punjab Then and Now" that describes first hand events on the subject. "50 years of Pakistan" is another book by same author, also a reliable resource.
kendyll
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Nov 7, 2012 @ 5:17 pm
What a great information site about the Kshatriyas! I had to use this information for my social studies class in sixth grade. I would definitely reccomend it to others looking for information about this Indian tribe.
Babulal
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Dec 16, 2012 @ 4:16 pm
I find difficulty in understanding the dichotomy of a warrior caste, whose profession presumably is fighting and maiming others, and finding themselves as royalty classed only below the Brahmins. No disrespect, but Please help me understand this apparent antithesis, which is puzzling in a society based on karma. Do not quote Mahabharata.

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