It’s true that the Indian tradition of Kshatra has witnessed several ups and downs and hundreds of incidents of defeats and death. In reality, our Rajas and Maharajas and other towering Kshatriya warriors, owing to their near-sightedness, misplaced generosity, and needless pride lost their respect, wealth and culture to the forces of barbarism. At times, some of these kings turned out to be selfish, narrow-minded and were fatal to Sanatana Dharma.
As the last vestige of India’s glorious heritage of Kshatra (or valour), we see the solid resistance of the native Indian army during the First War of Indian Independence in 1857. After this, we observe the same Kshatra spirit in Subash Chandra Bose’s army Azad Hind Fauj in 1944.
Like Sawai Jai Singh, the other warrior who toiled for the cause of Sanatana Dharma during the period of the downfall of the Mughal Empire was the ideal woman Ahalyabai Holkar. Before her were women like Jijabai (Shivaji’s mother) and Yesubai, the wife of Sambhaji, Shivaji’s son. Sambhaji who was caught and imprisoned by the Mughals did not convert to Islam despite the horrific tortures he endured, and finally died a martyr. After his death, Yesubai instead of giving the throne to her young son, Sahu, displayed magnanimity by giving it up to her brother-in-law, Rajaram.
In this background, there were several heroes who strove to alleviate the pain of the Sanatana-Dharmis and protect their honour. Such people are worthy of the highest praise.
Of them, the foremost was Sawai Jai Singh.
After the death of Aurangzeb, the Mughal empire was scattered and confused. In fact, this had already started during Aurangzeb's lifetime itself. As a result of the barbaric behaviour of Muslims and forcible conversions to Islam, millions of Sanatana Dharmis were attacked and tormented; every single Hindu had in his heart, a deep-seated hatred for Islam and the spirit of revenge had risen.
Although Shivaji was born in a Shudra family, his love and respect for Sanatanadharma was immense. In his letters to Aurangzeb, he uses his honorific titles that translate into "a protector of cows and brahmanas." He put together a number of youngsters from the Maval region and created a strong army. Not only that, just like Prahlada, he took on his own father in battle.
The next great landmark of the tradition of the spirit of Kshatra is available in South India. He is the lodestar of Hindu Dharma, Chhatrapati Shivaji.
Shivaji hailed from the Bhosle lineage, considered as Shudras. His roots lie in the Mewad-based Sisodia clan. In other words, we can identify him with Rana Pratap’s lineage.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh stands in the forefront of this great Sikh warrior tradition. It was Ranjit Singh who reestablished Sanatana Dharma in the North Western regions (Afghanistan and surroundings) of Bharata after the downfall of the Mughal Empire. He was the nightmare of the British.
Deeply pained at the persecution and suffering of his children and followers, Gobind Singh decided to form a separate sect in order to fight the Mughals. This was how the Khalsa Panth was born: to protect the Hindu people who were following their tradition peacefully. In Gobind Singh’s own words:
Chidiyon se mein baaz banaaoon |
Savva laakh se ek ladhaaoon ||
I will make hawks out of sparrows |
I will fight lakhs of soldiers alone ||