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A Dictionary of Hinduism

W. J. Johnson


A member of the second varṇa, the warrior, governing, or princely class. Initially referred to as the rājanya (‘kingly’) class, the ideal member of the kṣatriya varṇa is the king, who, from the Brahmanical perspective, is the model householder (gṛhastha) and patron of the sacrifice (yajamāna). Through his power and wealth, he supports the brahmin class and its ideology, but is classified by the latter as less pure, and so of a ritually lower status. In reality, the kṣatriyas usually exercised political or economic supremacy; this has been mirrored at the local or village level, where the dominant caste of landowners (such as the Rājpūts), often aspire to, or claim, kṣatriya status.