kṣatriya (P. khattiya; T. rgyal rigs རྒྱལ་རིགས་; C. chali 刹利) is one of the four castes (varna) of traditional Indian society. The other three castes being priest (brahmin), merchants (vaishya) and servants (shudra).
The term kṣatriya is translated into English as "warrior" or "royalty." Traditionally, the kṣatriya constituted the ruling and military elite. Their role was to protect society by fighting in wartime and governing in peacetime.
Siddhartha Gautama, the future Buddha, was born into the kṣatriya caste, but he renounced his traditional role when he decided to follow the spiritual path and seek enlightenment.
The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism states:
- Many of the leading figures in the śramaṇa movement, ascetic wanderers who stood in opposition to the brāhmaṇa priests of traditional Vedic religion, derived primarily from people of kṣatriya background.
- Bujor Avari (2007). India: The Ancient Past: A History of the Indian Sub-Continent from c. 7000 BC to AD 1200, p. 74
- Robert E. Buswell Jr., Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: 2014), s.v. kṣatriya
- Ramesh Chandra Majumdar, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. History and Culture of Indian People, The Vedic Age. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1996. pp. 313–314
- rgyal_rigs, Rangjung Yeshe Wiki