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We have 4 major caste in Hinduism, ie Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. Is there any rulebook present in Hinduism (and I am sure there must be) which lays down the rights, permissions, rules and duties for Kshatriyas. Also, is the present days caste 'Khatri' actually the same Kshatriya caste.

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The duties of Kshatriyas are mentioned in many scriptures. Let us take an example from the Kurma Purana:

The kshatriyas constitute the second of the four classes. They were created from Brahma’s arms. The duties of kshatriyas include dana (donation of alms), adhyayana (studying) and performing yajnas (sacrifices). But their primary duties are to take up arms and fight, It is their job to punish the evil and protect the good. A kshatriya who performs these tasks well, attains Indra’s residence of Indraloka.

Section LV of the Rajadharmanusasana Parva of Mahabharat also mentions something to this effect:

"Bhishma said, 'As the duty of the Brahmanas consists of the practice of charity, study, and penances, so the duty of Kshatriyas is to cast away their bodies, O Krishna, in battle. A Kshatriya should stay sires and grandsires and brothers and preceptors and relatives and kinsmen that may engage with him in unjust battle. This is their declared duty. That Kshatriya, O Kesava, is said to be acquainted with his duty who slays in battle his very preceptors if they happen to be sinful and covetous and disregardful of restraints and vows. That Kshatriya is said to be acquainted with his duty who slays in battle the person that from covetousness disregards the eternal barriers of virtue. That Kshatriya is said to be acquainted with duty who in battle makes the earth a lake of blood, having the hair of slain warriors for the grass and straw floating on it, and having elephants for its rocks, and standards for the trees on its banks. A Kshatriya, when challenged, should always fight in battle, since Manu has said that a righteous battle (in the case of a Kshatriya) leads to both heaven and fame on earth.'

The Dharma Shastras like the Manu Smriti are actually the most pertinent source for the duties of various castes so let me share some of the relevant verses:

  1. The Kshatriya he commanded to protect the people, to bestow gifts, to offer sacrifices, to study (the Veda), and to abstain from attaching himself to sensual pleasures.

Chapter II Verse 155 says:

  1. The seniority of Brahmanas is from (sacred) knowledge, that of Kshatriyas from valour, that of Vaisyas from wealth in grain (and other goods), but that of Sudras alone from age.

Chapter VII mentions in detail the duties of a Kshatriya king:

  1. I will declare the duties of kings, (and) show how a king should conduct himself, how he was created, and how (he can obtain) highest success.

  2. A Kshatriya, who has received according to the rule the sacrament prescribed by the Veda, must duly protect this whole (world).

Verse 87. A king who, while he protects his people, is defied by (foes), be they equal in strength, or stronger, or weaker, must not shrink from battle, remembering the duty of Kshatriyas.

  1. Not to turn back in battle, to protect the people, to honour the Brahmanas, is the best means for a king to secure happiness.

  2. Those kings who, seeking to slay each other in battle, fight with the utmost exertion and do not turn back, go to heaven.

  3. But the (Kshatriya) who is slain in battle, while he turns back in fear, takes upon himself all the sin of his master, whatever (it may be);

Verse 95. And whatever merit (a man) who is slain in flight may have gained for the next (world), all that his master takes.

The rights are also mentioned in the following verse:

  1. Chariots and horses, elephants, parasols, money, grain, cattle, women, all sorts of (marketable) goods and valueless metals belong to him who takes them (singly) conquering (the possessor).

  2. A text of the Veda (declares) that (the soldiers) shall present a choice portion (of the booty) to the king; what has not been taken singly, must be distributed by the king among all the soldiers.

  3. Thus has been declared the blameless, primeval law for warriors; from this law a Kshatriya must not depart, when he strikes his foes in battle.

Verse 144. The highest duty of a Kshatriya is to protect his subjects, for the king who enjoys the rewards, just mentioned, is bound to (discharge that) duty.

To conclude, it would seem that the primary duties of a Kshatriya was to protect the other three varnas through the use of strength and warfare. The present day term khatri is a colloquial word derived from the Sanskrit Kshatriya but those belonging to the community are seen more involved in the vaishya trades.

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    @DrVineetAggarwal, Thanks a lot for the detailed answer and experts from so many texts and sorry for accepting it too late as I was not able to see the notification for this answer somehow. I have always been a fan of your decode blog and it's so nice to see u reply to my question. Thanks again :) – Aby Jan 17 at 19:13
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    Btw, also came to know sometime back that besides Khatri, there are 2 more castes Chhetri and Khati that are also derivations of Kshatriya only. – Aby Jan 17 at 19:18
  • @Aby no worries and my pleasure completely! You are doing a great job on this website I have liked many of your questions here :) – Dr. Vineet Aggarwal Jan 18 at 7:56

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