What is a Kshatriya?

Not Just A Warrior

Hindu society used to be governed upon the principles of the four fold Varna system, not to be confused with the degraded caste (class) system left behind by the British.  Before it was invaded, society was split into four groups according to ones mode of nature and individual journey.  These groups were Brahmins, Kshatriya, Vaisyas and Sudras, designed to work together as if they were the head, arms, torso and legs of the body.  This meritocratic system actually had more rules at the top unlike the class system which later became the degraded caste system of India.  The Varna system helped Hinduism maintain the standard of living for Hindus well into the Kal Yug and is perhaps the reason that Hinduism has been able to sustain a 1,000 years of violent invasions.  The Kshatriya play a huge role in that story.      


Some translate the term into 'Warrior' but Kshatriya were much more than warriors, they had to follow a strict training from childhood in order to make sure their naturally born good qualities of heroism, generosity and leadership didn't turn with ego into the exact opposites.  Parashuram, the Axe-Wielding Brahmin-Kshatriya also another great reminder for great Kshatriya Kings not to get too big for their boots.   Kshatriya are related to the Sun and it's energy, the first ever Kshatriya being the Sun God.    

Parashuram, the Axe-Wielding Brahmin Kshatriya
Parashuram, the Axe-Wielding Brahmin Kshatriya

Why is Kshatriya Dharma so Important?

Revival of Hindu Kshatriya Code Required!

Ghandian Philosophy 


This man caused an immense amount of suffering to the Hindu's of India by trying to apply principles of non violence at all times to Hindu's only.  Non violence applied universally can cause continual attacks on what is seen as 'easy prey'.  Since Ghandi and his family empire have been ruling over India, it has been broken up into three pieces.  Hindu's have faced genocides at the hands of muslims in both Bangladesh and Pakistan and even in India they receive less rights than the very minorities that ruled over and persecuted them for their faith in Dharma,  


Non Violence - But only for Hindu's


Ghandi believed in 'absolute non-violence, where one wouldn't even raise their hand when being attacked without any provocation.  Sure this may be practical in your own peaceful home, but in the real world it's simply not possible to live by those rules.  We see that lack of any self defence as self hatred and it has just sent a message out to would be aggressors.  'Relative non-violence' on the other hand calls for defence when required.  Let us not forget the entire Bhagvad Gita is covering Lord Krishna's conversation with Kshatriya, Arjuna, urging him to go into battle.  Arjuna provides many reasons not to go into battles with his kingdom and instead chose a life of renunciation.  The Supreme Godhead, as his Charioteer provides an answer for each one.  The truth is, Dharma must always fight to defend adharma, and adharma will always fight to attack dharma.     


Neo Hinduism


Modern Western Hinduism is built on the backs of Ghandi, Swami Vivekanand, Aurobindo and the Hare Krishna's who have clearly left an imprint of Abrahamic Monotheism onto their Hindu teachings.  For one they seem to position Hinduism as a Patriarchal society with only one God, where women were just housewives.  When our senses and scripture clearly pain a different story of many Gods, often accompanied by a perfectly paired Goddess.  Women did used to attend schools for Brahmins and Kyshatriya also and were very much the Shakti (Power) behind Hindu society.    


Guru's Incorrectly Teaching Advaita


Non Dual philosophy is incredible, helping human beings to reach a level of thinking outside the realms of material or dual thought.  But how practical is it in real life? Hindu's are often taught 'Ekam Sat' (we are one) whilst forgetting that Mya or the material world is always dual in it's nature,  If we are all one, who were we fighting in both the Ramayana and Mahabharata? ourselves? The Rigveda and Bhagvad Gita highlights that there is indeed an enemy to dharma and hence why Kshatriya's are required in the first place.  



Frail Man in Bed Sheet
Frail Man in Bed Sheet

Kshatriya Code

So what were the basic requirements?

  • Heroism
  • Charisma
  • Determination
  • Resourcefulness
  • Steadiness in battle
  • Charity
  • Sense of leadership
  • To become a Kshatriya one must both train and practice.  You didn't have be to born a kshatriya, but being born into a Kshatriya family meant you had a pre disposition to the Kshatriya way of life
  • Sworn to protect Brahmins - as they provided spiritual guidance & education not only to Kshatriya families, but to all parts of Dharmic society.  They didn't just protect Brahmins, they treated them as spiritual guides that were above them.  This even though a Brahmin would be seen as much poorer in material wealth then a Kshatriya King.  
  • Provide Law & Order in society
  • Sworn to protect Cows
  • Cannot take the option of ahimsa or non violence as it's not a negotiating tactic that is effective during war
  • Violence must be used to defend Dharma
  • Duty to go to Glorious Death in a Righteous War
  • Even Kshatriyas knew not to let their ego's grow too large in front of Parashuram, the axe-wielding Brahmin-Kshatriya featuring in both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata
  • Enter Politics, Law, Government to uphold a Dharmic society 
  • Maintain Truth & Justice for all people
  • Be brave, understanding that he will be reincarnated to fight once again

Worldwide Kshatriya?

How far did Kshatriya Code Travel?

Very far it seems, perhaps even all over the World.  Have you often noticed that warrior tribes all around the World have some things in common, from the traditional Scottish Warriors to the Rastafarians of Jamaica.  From the Rajputh's and Sikhs of India to the Samurai of Japan. 


All keep long hair and facial hair, all still wear what would be considered a skirt or dress in the modern world, perhaps worn for Warrior mobility.  What we find super interesting is the example in Japan, it's becoming more widely known but an Indian script known as Siddham (known as Bonji in Japanese) contained on Samurai body Armour can be traced back to Ancient, International Buddhist School of learning at Nalanda University, India.  



Bushido Code


Rectitude or Justice

Bushido refers not only to martial rectitude, but to personal rectitude: Rectitude or Justice, is the strongest virtue of Bushido. A well-known samurai defines it this way: ‘Rectitude is one’s power to decide upon a course of conduct in accordance with reason, without wavering; to die when to die is right, to strike when to strike is right.’ Another speaks of it in the following terms: ‘Rectitude is the bone that gives firmness and stature. Without bones the head cannot rest on top of the spine, nor hands move nor feet stand. So without Rectitude neither talent nor learning can make the human frame into a samurai.’


Courage

Bushido distinguishes between bravery and courage: Courage is worthy of being counted among virtues only if it’s exercised in the cause of Righteousness and Rectitude. In his Analects, Confucius says: ‘Perceiving what is right and doing it not reveals a lack of Courage.’ In short, ‘Courage is doing what is right.’


Benevolence or Mercy

A human invested with the power to command and the power to kill was expected to demonstrate equally extraordinary powers of benevolence and mercy: Love, magnanimity, affection for others, sympathy and pity, are traits of Benevolence, the highest attribute of the human soul. Both Confucius and Mencius often said the highest requirement of a ruler of men is Benevolence.


Politeness

Discerning the difference between obsequiousness and politeness can be difficult for casual visitors to Japan, but for a true man, courtesy is rooted in benevolence: Courtesy and good manners have been noticed by every foreign tourist as distinctive Japanese traits. But Politeness should be the expression of a benevolent regard for the feelings of others; it’s a poor virtue if it’s motivated only by a fear of offending good taste. In its highest form Politeness approaches love.


Honesty and Sincerity

True samurai, according to author Nitobe, disdained money, believing that “men must grudge money, for riches hinder wisdom.” Thus children of high-ranking samurai were raised to believe that talking about money showed poor taste, and that ignorance of the value of different coins showed good breeding: Bushido encouraged thrift, not for economical reasons so much as for the exercise of abstinence. Luxury was thought the greatest menace to manhood, and severe simplicity was required of the warrior class … the counting machine and abacus were abhorred.


Honour

Though Bushido deals with the profession of soldiering, it is equally concerned with non-martial behaviour: The sense of Honour, a vivid consciousness of personal dignity and worth, characterised the samurai. He was born and bred to value the duties and privileges of his profession. Fear of disgrace hung like a sword over the head of every samurai … To take offence at slight provocation was ridiculed as ‘short-tempered.’ As the popular adage put it: ‘True patience means bearing the unbearable.’


Loyalty

Economic reality has dealt a blow to organisational loyalty around the world. Nonetheless, true men remain loyal to those to whom they are indebted: Loyalty to a superior was the most distinctive virtue of the feudal era. Personal fidelity exists among all sorts of men: a gang of pickpockets swears allegiance to its leader. But only in the code of chivalrous Honour does Loyalty assume paramount importance.


Character and Self-Control

Bushido teaches that men should behave according to an absolute moral standard, one that transcends logic. What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong. The difference between good and bad and between right and wrong are givens, not arguments subject to discussion or justification, and a man should know the difference. Finally, it is a man’s obligation to teach his children moral standards through the model of his own behaviour: The first objective of samurai education was to build up Character. The subtler faculties of prudence, intelligence, and dialectics were less important. Intellectual superiority was esteemed, but a samurai was essentially a man of action. No historian would argue that Hideyoshi personified the Eight Virtues of Bushido throughout his life. Like many great men, deep faults paralleled his towering gifts. Yet by choosing compassion over confrontation, and benevolence over belligerence, he demonstrated ageless qualities of manliness. Today his lessons could not be more timely.   

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Kshatriya In Modernity

What does it mean to be a Kshatriya in Modern times

Well since Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism) is eternal, the Kshatriya code pretty much applies to the modern world.  However as there are no Kshatriya Training Schools around anymore, some would argue that therefore we are all Sudra.  However the Kyshatriya is also an important archetype,  one that's still very much needed for people to look up to.  But we put some helpful items below that give it a modern context:


  • Act on behalf of Dharma, once you able to consciously & responsibly do so 
  • Lead by example, don't ask others to make sacrifices instead make them yourself and let others see
  • Be the first to charge into battle, the first to put yourself forward
  • Understand what Hinduism is so you can properly defend it
  • Don't just be a Hindu, be proud to be Hindu
  • Try and avoid Beef with anyone!, pun intended