The Phantom

The Phantom

29-02-2020

15:05

Chapter 1: The Laws of War This chapter will focus on The Warrior Code of Ancient India. Image of an Ancient Indian Warrior as depicted by the Gandhara School of Art.

Wars were a normal feature in the primitive communities. But with the growth of civilization & with society getting more settled, war came to be looked upon as a serious business which should be governed by ethical & moral codes. Painting depicting an event of Ramayana.

The main aspect of this was that the ancient law givers, the reputed authors of dharmasastras codified the then existing customs for betterment of society.

These authors thought that the higher road to peace lay in the consumation of social order guided by a code of laws which are moral and ethical in nature. Image of manuscript illustration of the Battle of Kurukshetra

So, accordingly, the Brahmins had to perform 6 duties: @) Learning ; 2) Instructing ; 3) Sacrificing ; 4) Causing performance of sacrifice 5) Receiving gifts, and 6) Giving away gifts

A Kshatriya has to observe 1), 3) and 6) of the above list & to follow in addition two special duties: a) Pursuit of arms (Sastrajiva) ; b) Defence of the country ( Bhutarakshanam, protection of all living beings)

In addition, the warrior code prohibited wanton destruction, cutting down of trees or killing civilian population. It also mentioned taking care of old and infirm, children and not to raise hand against women.

The bulk of Indian populace in the6th century BCE and later were agriculturists, who were exempted from military duties & were often found freely working, in the fields, even in sight of a battle raging close by.

Megasthenes says in 'Indica':- " Whereas among other nations, it is usual in the contests of war, to ravage the soil & reduce it to an uncultivated waste, among the Indians on contrary, by whom husbandmen are regarded as a class that is sacred & inviolable,

the tillers of the soil, even when a battle is raging nearby, are undisturbed by any sense of danger, for the combatants on either side, in a conflict, make a carnage of each other, but allow those engaged in husbandry to remain unmolested.

Besides, they neither ravage an enemy's land with fire, nor cut down its trees."

Coming back to the general duties of a Kshatriya, the period of study for him started at age 6 and continued up to next 16 years, i.e up to 22 years of age. However, this was not the rule of thumb.

Practically, the age of 16 was considered to get the Kshatriya ' Knighthood' & to entitle him to enter the field of battle. For e.g Abhimanyu, at the age of 16 participated in the Mahabharata war.

A Kshatriya Prince is to start with a knowledge of Arthmetic ( sankhya) & writing ( lipi) & then to study: a) Three Vedas; b) Philosophy under teachers; c) the different departments of economic life; d) Science of polity.

He must attain control of his passions & recall the ruin bought on themselves by the greatest kings by indulging in their passions & the prosperity of those known for their self-control.

In the forenoons, he is to undergo military training in fighting with forces of elephants, horses, chariots & infantry.

The afternoon has to be devoted to the study of history, including: 1) Puranas, 2) 'Itivrata' or past history, such as Ramayana & Mahabharat, 3) 'Akhyayika' or tales of gods & great men, 4) Dharma -Shastras , books of Manu & other authors.

The Prince has to devote his leisure hours to acquisition of new knowledge & assimilation of what is learnt. He must never be off guard, and should always be up & doing ( Uttanam kuruvita). Thus educated & disciplined, the king becomes invincible.



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