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(Sanskrit, from kshatra, “dominion,” “rule”), one of the four main varnas, or social estates of ancient India.

The Kshatriya varna originated among Aryan tribes in the pre-Indian period as a result of the separation of military and government functions from productive labor when the primitive society was in the stage of decay. In the ancient Indian states, the Kshatriyas, who constituted the military and tribal aristocracy, assumed the ruling political and economic position; they were the rulers of states, officials, landowners, and professional soldiers. By the middle of the first millennium A.D. membership in the Kshatriya varna had ceased to determine the composition of the ruling class. In the Middle Ages it existed only as a traditional idea; for example, members of the military feudal Rajput caste, who had no hereditary link with the ancient varna, were called Kshatriyas.


Kane, P. V. History of Dharmasastra, vol. 2, part 1. Poona, 1941. Chapter 2.
Law, B. C. Ancient Mid-Indian Kshatriya Tribes. Calcutta, 1924.
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