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What is a Kshatriya?

The Kshatriya caste has long been associated with power in India.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 July 2014
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Under the Hindu caste system, a Kshatriya is a ruler or warrior. This caste has traditionally been ranked second among the four castes of the system, and members of the Kshatriya caste have held power for centuries in India. Although the caste system has been drastically modified through legislation and social reform in India, it is not uncommon to see Kshatriyas in public office in India, since they have been associated with power and ruling for so long.

The origins of the caste system can be found in the holy texts of Hinduism, known as the vedas. According to the vedas, every citizen has a different varna, or caste. Originally, someone's varna would have been based upon actions in life, but the varnas eventually became hereditary, solidifying a rigid stratified system which endured for centuries. The caste system may have provided everyone a place in Indian society, but it did not allow for social mobility and flexibility, and many 20th century Indians considered it to be very discriminatory.

The word “Kshatriya” is derived from the words for “power” and “ruler.” Members of this caste have traditionally ruled over communities and Indian society. Ideally, a Kshatriya ruler would have been just and merciful, governing the community with inherent ruling qualities granted by his varna. It was also common for children born into the Kshatriya caste to be extensively educated in statecraft and history, to ensure that they would make sound rulers.

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In addition to holding power in the form of leadership, Kshatriyas were also warriors. Members of the caste were responsible for defending Indian society and upholding justice. The caste held an essential monopoly on military education and defense training for many generations. As members of a high ranking caste, Kshatriyas were expected to marry amongst themselves, in a practice known as endogamy. Marriages between castes were generally frowned upon.

Before the caste system was fully codified, the Kshatriyas were actually the highest caste. Allegedly, the Brahmins replaced them on the orders of Vishnu, who was punishing the Kshatriyas for their tyrannical rule. This may reflect a classic conflict between priests and soldiers, who have struggled for control of their societies for centuries. In modern India, other castes may hold office and join the military, as part of a series of general reforms which were meant to abolish discriminatory aspects of the caste system.

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Discuss this Article

anon944336
Post 49

What are the most common foods?

anon357443
Post 47

What do they do?

anon338138
Post 46

I belong to the proud vanniyakula kshatriya from tamilnadu, namely the pallavas, cholas, pandyas and cheras, the ruling community over years. After the Muslim invasion and foreigners, we lost our kingdom. We hold an undisturbed lineage through the centuries since we do not practice inter caste marriage, and even if we thought of doing so, our genes would not permit it. Our genes are preserved to save Hinduism and India. Even in modern India, we wanted to change ourselves and to excel in trading, but we can't achieve it. I think we don't have the genetic diversity, hence we are bold and genuine.

We do not convert to other religions since we know by birth we are superior to brahmin. I can definitely say kshatriyas in India protect Hinduism. All the rest will easily convert to imported religions.

anon331038
Post 45

The entire Hindu culture has now been hijacked by grass eating Brahmins and the Vaishyas who have declared eating meat as a sin in order to morally blackmail the Kshatriya and Shudra castes of India.

anon325863
Post 43

What do they do today?

anon316648
Post 41

What do Kshatriyas wear daily? Specifically?

anon315432
Post 39

Beef was a common food and all were eating beef until recently (by force) people were asked to stop eating beef and described beef as a food of the low castes.

anon283919
Post 35

I am South Indian Agnivanshi kshatriya, called Vannia kula Kshatriya. We hid our arms after the war in the Vanni /Shami tree.

We eat meat except beef. Some offer sacrificial goats to Gods/Goddesses. But we use priests or brahmins for all ceremonies from birth. We are to wear the golden thread /Golden Poonal at age 13 or one hour before marriage.

We worship war Gods/Goddesses as Kula deivam/Kula devata.

Some become vegetarian if so instructed by their guru.

Women are called Vannniaatchis. They hold power. Some are women priests for their Goddesses.

Last names are Padayachi, Naicker, Nayak, Nayakan, Vanniyar Gounder, Phalli, etc. Most streets in North Madras end with Naicker.

The reason we are Hindus but allowed to eat meat is we have to fight wars and we do not work as ordained priests or say vedas. We hire vedic priests to do the pooojas.

anon260526
Post 34

What do the women and men in the kshatriya caste wear?

anon252168
Post 31

Who are the verma by caste? Are they punjabi, thakur, kshatriya? Can anyone tell me, please?

anon246181
Post 28

Being a (Khadka) Kshatriya from Nepal, my grandfather was in the British Army. He had a sword 'khadga' which was passed by forefathers he being the elder son of our blood/clan.

I researched into our past and it looks like our ancestors were Rajputs from Ujjain. My relatives who are Kshatriya/chettris are very straightforward and kind-hearted people who despise people who play mind games or bully others. They are mostly non-vegetarian, say what they mean and avoid quarrels. But, when it comes to injustice or real trouble, they do not hesitate to cut the enemy's head or make him taste the dirt from ground.

It's not a privilege to be a kshatriya, it's a responsibility and duty to fulfill what is expected of us.

anon189365
Post 26

kshatriyas are far above from the modern leaders.

anon164952
Post 22

The word kshatriya is known for justice and ferocious. Normally now a days this is not found because of changed political rulings and number of other reasons. Therefore a kshatriya is also a common man in this changed world. They eaten both veg and non-veg from Veda time.

anon163790
Post 20

kshatriyas are born to lead and rule the people. they always stood against injustice, and they protected the nation from invaders. They sacrificed their lives for the motherland. They never give up, no matter what the situation is. I am proud to be a Kshatriya and an Indian.

anon147339
Post 19

Kshatriyas are very gentle people in the world, but when the see injustice, no one is as dangerous as them in removing the unjust powers.

anon86018
Post 17

they eat rice, all types of vegetables and non vegetables.

anon84820
Post 16

i thought that it was quite informational for a website based on giving information only meant to help start research.

anon84658
Post 15

Kshatriyas are the same people as others. We eat the same food a normal human eats, but we are thought from childhood not to surrender at any point of life, no matter whatever it takes.

If you want to check the power of Kshatriya's blood even tease a small boy and see the anger in his eyes. This is what Kshatriya's blood has!

anon65995
Post 11

Are marathi people of Betul kshatriyas?

anon65894
Post 10

this was a good web site but it needs more things about the Kshatriyas and not your guys' little comments. please, we need this for school not to talk.

Moderator's reply: Thank you for visiting wiseGEEK and for participating in the discussion. However, a 400-word article cannot cover all the aspects of such a broad subject. We always encourage our readers to use our articles as a jumping off point for more research on topics they find interesting.

anon62726
Post 8

The Kshatriyas were landowners and they were supposed to get food for their family.

anon62722
Post 6

how did the kshatriyas behave towards others?

anon62452
Post 5

How were the Kshatriyas treated?

anon60375
Post 4

They eat traditional indian food; Chapati made up of wheat flour,dishes made up of vegetables, meat(mostly chicken, no beef though), etc.

anon43017
Post 3

they eat grass for breakfast and chicken curry for tea.

anon32059
Post 2

I was about to ask that very question myself.

anon28241
Post 1

What are some of the foods Kshatriyas eat in India?

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