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History of War in India: Part 01

I found a really interesting article on a website, with courtesy to this nice website I am sharing a part of the article, if you wanna know more go to that website: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/vimanas/esp_vimanas_11a.htm



Introduction


The value and importance of the army were realized very early in the history of India, and this led in course of time to the maintenance of a permanent militia to put down dissensions. War or no war, the army was to be maintained, to meet any unexpected contingency. This gave rise to the Ksatriya or warrior caste, and the ksatram dharman came to mean the primary duty of war. To serve the country by participating in war became the svadharma or this warrior community. The necessary education, drill, and discipline to cultivate militarism were confined to the members of one community, the Ksatriyas. This prevented the militant attitude from spreading to other communities and kept the whole social structure unaffected by actual wars and war institutions.


Says the Arthva Veda:
"May we revel, living a hundred winters, rich in heroes."
The whole country looked upon the members of the ksatriya community as defenders of their country and consequently did not grudge the high influence and power wielded by the Ksatriyas, who were assigned a social rank next in importance to the intellectual and spiritual needs of the society.

The ancient Hindus were a sensitive people, and their heroes were instructed that they were defending the noble cause of God, Crown andCountry. Viewed in this light, war departments were 'defense' departments and military expenditure were included in the cost of defense. In this, as in many cases, ancient India was ahead of modern ideas.


Chivalry, individual heroism, qualities of mercy and nobility of outlook even in the grimmest of struggles were not unknown to the soldiers of ancient India. Thus among the laws of war, we find that,
(1) a warrior (Khsatriya) in armor must not fight with one not so clad
(2) one should fight only one enemy and cease fighting if the opponent is disabled
(3) aged men, women and children, the retreating, or one who held a straw in his lips as a sign of unconditional surrender should not be killed
It is of topical interest to note that one of the laws enjoins the army to leave the fruit and flower gardens, temples and other places of public worship unmolested. Terence Duke, author of The Boddhisattva Warriors: The Origin, Inner Philosophy, History and Symbolism of the Buddhist Martial Art Within India and China, martial arts went from India to China. Fighting without weapons was a specialty of the ancient Ksatreya warriors of India. 

Territorial ideal of a one-State India

Imperial sway in ancient India meant the active rule of an individual monarch who by his ability and prowess brought to subjection the neighboring chieftains and other rulers, and proclaimed himself the sole ruler of the earth. This goes by the name of digvi-jaya. It is not necessary that he should conquer all States by the sword. A small state might feel the weight of a conquering king and render obeisance of its own accord.

According to the Sangam classics, each of the respective rulers of the chief Tamil kingdoms, the Cera, Cola and Pandya, carried his sword as far north as the Himalayas, and implanted on its lofty heights his respective crest the bow, the tiger and the fish. In these adventures which the Tamil Kings underwent for their glorification, they did not lag behind their northern brethren. The very epithet Imayavaramban shows that the limits of the empire under that Emperor extended to the Himalayas in the north.

This title was also earned by Ceran Senguttuvan by his meritorious exploits in the north. Names like the Cola Pass in the Himalayan slopes, which in very early times connected Nepal and Bhutan with ancient Tibet, give a certain clue to the fact that once Tamil kings went so far north as the Himalayas and left their indelible marks in those regions.

If in the epic age a Rama and an Arjuna could come to the extremity of our peninsula, and in the historical period of a Chandragupta or a Samudragupta could undertake an expedition to this part of our country, nothing could prevent a king of prowess and vast resources like the Cera king Senguttuvan from carrying his armies to the north. The route lay through the Dakhan plateau, the Kalinga, Malva, and the Ganga. Perhaps it was the ancient Daksinapatha route known to history from the epoch of the Rg Veda Samhita. 


The king who became conqueror of all India was entitled to the distinction of being called a Samrat. In the Puranic period the great Kartavirya Arjuna of the Haihaya clan spread his arms throughout the ancient Indian continent and earned the title of Samrat.

The same principle of glory and distinction underlay the performance of the sacrifice, Asvamedha and Rajasuya, which were intended only for the members of the Ksatriya community.

This bears testimony to ' the existence of the territorial ideal of a one-State India' (Cakravartiksetram of Kautalya). These kings were called Sarvabhaumas and Ekarats.

Vedic kings aimed at it, and epic rulers realized it. The idea of ekarat, continued down to Buddhist times and even later. The Jatakas which are said to belong to the fifth and sixth century B.C., make pointed reference to an all-Indian empire.

This concept of an all-India empire stretching from Kanyakumari to the Himalayas, according to Kautalya receives further support from another important political term: ekacchatra, or one-umbrella sovereignty.

Hindus have given shelter to the persecuted people from many lands and in all ages. But what is most important, they have always regarded their own homeland as the only playfield for their chakravartins, and never waged wars of conquest beyond the borders of Bharata-varsha.


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