By Bal Ram Singh, PhD
Brahmacharya is the underlying training of humanity. Today the world is at a crossroad of environmental, social, political, and health issues that have not been seen for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Humanity is suffering, and is approaching the brink of devastation with no light foreseen at the end of the proverbial tunnel.
In a recent book (Arise Bharata, a call for India’s rebirth, 2018), Dr. David Frawley, a very well-known scholar on India, exhorted a need for intellectually kshatriyas to salvage humanity. Why kshatriyas? Why not brahmins, vaisyas, or shudras?
In Frawley’s words, “The Hindu Kshatriya tradition is not one of aggression but of protection, not of forcing conversion to a religion but upholding the Dharma. It is a tradition of holding to truth and creating a culture in which freedom to pursue truth, not only in the outer world, but in the religious realm, is preserved. Is this not what the global age really requires? It is time for that Kshatriya to arise again.”
The answer to this question of why Kshatriya is in the origin of humanity itself. In Mahabharata, the longest epic in the history of the humanity, it is said:
Na Vishesho asti Varnanam Sarvabramhamidam Jagat,
Bramhana Purva Shristam hi Karmabhirvarnatam Gatam
It translates as follows: At the beginning of creation, there was no special division of varnas. Being created by Brahma, everyone acted like a brahmin.
My good sociologist friend, Professor VD Mishra of Lucknow University once explained to me that later on, when the society was not progressing well, meaning in expanding social implications of the brahmacharya, the superior among brahmins were designated as kshatriyas. However, their training via their natural inclination still needed to be carried out as part of the brahmacharya.
The Taittiriya Samhita says ‘यजुर्वेदं क्षत्रियस्याहुर्योनिम्’ (184.108.40.206) suggesting that the Yajurveda is the origin of the kshatriyas. In our Vedas, the ऋक् (Rik, meaning worth of praise) has been associated with brahmanas, यजुस्(Yajus, meaning sacrificial) with kshatriyas, and सामन् (Saman, to mean acquisition or wealth) with vaishyas [there are other views too; for example, Taittiriya Brahmana 220.127.116.11 says that brahman created the three varnas from the three Vedas – vaishyas from Rigveda, kshatriyas from Yajurveda, and brahmanas from Samaveda.) The Yajurveda has been called an action-oriented, ritual-intensive Veda; Rigveda is more aligned to prayer, Samaveda is aligned to worship, and Atharva Veda forms a bridge between the physical and the spiritual. (https://www.prekshaa.in/tradition-kshaatra-india-%E2%80%93-awareness-kshaatra-yajurveda)
Action of a Kshatriya in accordance with seven natural inclinations, including an aura (Tej), is the hallmark, according to Bhagawat Gita
Showryam Tejo Dhritirdakshyam Yuddhe Chapyapalayanam
Daanam Ishvarbhavashcha Kshastra Karma Swabhavajam
The seven characteristics of a kshatriya are shourya (valor), tej (aura), dhriti (patience), dakshyam (skill), yuddha (fearless in battle), daanam (generous), and Ishvarbhav (treating everyone the same with love and kindness).
Kshatriyas follow the Dharma to obtain kshatriya aura. Kshatriaya aura is an essential part of being a kshatriya, and thus its source in Dharma. It is interesting that Ishvar bhava is part of the kshatriya svabhava for their karma, and svabhava is the key part to be learnt by every varna during their brahmacharya training through tapah (struggles, penance, perseverance) swadhyaya (study of self during those struggles), then only one recognizes svabhava (nature).
And, if that bhava is the Ishvar bhava, it will treat all the fairly and to enforce fairness, one will be generous in sharing (daanam) all one has with all there are, and will fearlessly battle (yuddha) with patience (dhriti) using skills (dakshyam) that usually results in the aura (tej) leading to the valor (shourya) that refers to wide acceptance of someone’s demonstrated strength and bravery.
Because of some of these characteristics, some kshatriyas were also made kings (rajas). However, it has been well recognized that kings were subject to the rajasi intellect, and thus were always under the guidance of advisors who were either kshatriyas or brahmins, both with sattvic intellect.
In Gita, rajasi intellect is defined as:
Yaya Dharmamadharmam cha Karyam Chakaryameva cha,
Ayathavatprajanati Bhddhih sa Paartha Rajasi.
This shloka refers to Bhagwan Krishna’s explanation of rajasi intellect to Paartha (Arjuna), and translates as follows: the intellect that can not distinguish dharma from adharma, and what ought to be done from what not, is rajasi.
Today many kshatriya clans call themselves rajputs, sometimes at the expense of kshatriya values. Their rajput character, meaning loyalty to the kingdom, historically led to the enslavement of India, as many of them collaborated with Arab and British invaders. In contemporary times, they represent more of a fractious group than a community committed to fairness and justice.
As an example of their fractiousness Rajput or RANA (Rajput Association of North America) started with 10 Whatsapp groups in 2020 that increased to 16 in 2021, and now stands at 24 in 2023. Interestingly, members are largely the same in all groups, only Admins change, thus showing the ego trips they carry into their culture and actions.
Balram Singh is a Professor and the President of the Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, researching Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedic education, and Vedic social and political traditions. He is also an adjunct faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are not necessarily those of The South Asian Times