Martial arts of Akhanda Bharat or undivided India including Sri Lanka are our pan-Hindu heritage – a crucial system of Hindu armed resistance to invaders. When practising weapons is practised as a Guru-Shishya parampara, with rules and restrictions, with updating and evolution of styles, it is a martial art.
A lot of internet information focuses on just a few styles. A lot of such internet websites fail to underline the Hindu nationalistic basis of these martial arts, or show their similarities in origins and tenets. All that has been attempted in this blog. So while the style is informative and slightly encyclopedic, it serves to provide a ready compendium on Indian martial arts.
In this blog, as stated, we shall enumerate a lot of styles from across India. But, three styles will be discussed in greater detail: Shastar Vidiya of Punjab, Thang Ta of Manipur and Kalaripayattu from Kerala.
Please note, Shastar Vidiya is the Punjabi martial art with its own prachalit name denoting its Punjabiness, but Shastra Vidya or Shastar Vidyaa as a spelling would mean the original primeval martial art descended from Shiva Mahadeva.
- PUNJAB’S SHASTAR VIDIYA (SHASTRA VIDYAA)
“Salutations to foremost death form ‘Bhairo’, the great terror ‘Rudra Bhairav’, the ‘Jagt Gur’ (Guru of the world)”: (Sarblok Guru Granth Sahib) http://shastarvidiya.org/articles/shiva_guru_nanak.html
“When all other means have failed, it is proper to take the sword in one’s hand“, said Guru Gobind Singh in the Zafarnama. http://culturalpunjab.blogspot.in/2013/06/sikh-martial-art-gatka-is-ancient.html
Well, Punjab’s martial spirit predates the Gurus by some millennia, as Punjab was the second line of defence of India till Afghanistan, Baluchistan and Sindh were still Hindu, and the first line of defence of Hindu society (along with Rajputana) after Afghanistan, Baluchistan and Sindh got Islamised. And martial practice is a tradition of Punjab since millennia, starting from the ancient Vaidik times, from Shiva Himself. Punjabis have an elaborate system of the exercise-cum-weapon-using Akhara and the modern martial art of Punjabi Gatka is a descendent of the ancient, dreaded Shastar Vidya of pre-Sikh times. Sikhs are the last custodians of the techniques taught for generations. Many Sikh practitioners, not separatist about their identity vis-à-vis Hindu Dharma, have traced the origins of Shastar Vidiya to Shiva.
Book: “Shastra Vidya: The Ancient Indian Martial Art of the Hindu Kshatriyas” – Harjit Singh Sagoo is a multi-genre writer, illustrator and researcher of reality-based combat; he uses the pseudonym ‘Harivansh Subramanyam’.
The book’s description states: “With textual evidence extracted from ancient Hindu scriptures, epics and treatises, this book presents the Kshatriya’s art of armed and unarmed combat which includes punches, palm slaps, finger jabs, kicks, elbow attacks, knee strikes, head-butts, chokes, strangles, body throws, ground-fighting moves, sword strikes, mace blows, trident thrusts, lasso hurls, discus throws, archery techniques and mantras for operating divine missiles – all accompanied by nearly 120 line drawings. Also included: the connection between Hindu gods and martial arts, the life and fighting skills of renowned ancient Hindu warriors, weapon worship, animal sacrifice, Dharmic rules of warfare, the four enemy-defeating remedies, formidable fortification, training of war elephants, horses, chariots and infantry, pre-battle goddess worship, battle arrays, battle spells, espionage, assassination methods, martyrdom and more…” The book gives the Hindu origin of what is claimed by separatist Sikhs to be a ‘Sikh-specific’ martial art: Shiva, and through him, Karttikeya, Ravana and Parshurama are credited with the dissipation of Shastra Vidya to the Kshatriyas. The Shanti parva of the Mahabharata describes how the sword was brought out from a yadnya and how Shiva employed it to vanquish the asuras.
One of the last exponents of Shastra Vidya is Niddar Singh Nihang.
In his website, he states: “Shastar Vidiya is also called Chatka Gatka or the quick-killing Gatka, a designation introduced in the late 19th century in Punjab, India, by Nihang Singhs to distinguish Shastar Vidiya from the exhibitionist art of Gatka that came to predominance during British Raj. Having traversed the ages, Shastar Vidiya is also referred to as ‘Sanatan Shastar Vidiya’ – the timeless science of weapons. Given that ‘Sanatan’ (timeless/most ancient) Dharma is the traditional designation of Hinduism, and in the past Hindus practiced this art, the art is also known as ‘Sanatan Hindu Shastar Vidiya’. In the 15th century the Sikhs, being of Hindu descent themselves, adopted the art. The tenth Sikh Guru traces back his own ancestry to the great ‘Surya Bansi’ (belonging to the Sun Dynasty) Hindu warrior, Lord Raam (see Bachitter Natak, Dasam Guru Granth Sahib). As such, it is also known as ‘Sanatan Hindu Sikh Shastar Vidiya’.
Shastar Vidiya is a complete traditional Indian battlefield system from the Punjab, land of the five rivers, in the north west of India. It is a highly evolved and deeply conceptual art as it incorporates sophisticated unarmed techniques with a variety of unique Indian weapons such as, swords, spears, daggers, clubs, sticks, chain and ball, ‘chakars’ (quoits), ‘bagh nakha’ (leopard claw), etc., as well as tactics and stratagems..The art has alongside it, a martial yoga, known as ‘Sanjam Kiriya Variyam’.” http://www.shastarvidiya.org/
Claim practitioners of Shastaar Vidiya, the original form was changed by the British and rendered it to a more exhibitionist form, namely the Gatka, which works through Akhada units and some Gurus.
So committed is Niddar Singh about his Vidya that he is attacked by separatist Sikhs, with Khalistani intent, when they criticize him and state that Jathe leaders from “Punjab and India” opposed him. Here is their statement:
Image courtesy: https://www.sikh24.com/wp-content/uploads/niddar2.png
Quote – separatist Sikh comments: “Niddar keeps changing the name of his akhara on his website to include names such as ‘Hindu Sanatan Shiv Akhara’ and is falsely using the name of Jathedar Akali Baba Darbara Singh to legitimize himself…Niddar Singh is stating that the Khalsa was born from Shiv Ji and not Guru Gobind Singh ji. He also proclaims falsely that the ‘Farla’ of Nihang Singhs is sprouted from the Ganges River and that blue baana is from the colour of Shiva. He is also saying that the ‘chakar’ that Nihang Singhs wear on their dumalla is a sign of Shivji…He is saying that the Sikh religion emerged from Hinduism and that Sikhi is just another samparda (sect) of the Hindu religion. He is also teaching that Sikh Shastar Vidiya and Gatka is a branch of the Hindu Dharma…Niddar Singh’s activities in the UK are upsetting and dividing Sikhs there. Guru Gobind Singh ji made the Khalsa unique however this fake Nihang is spreading doubts, confusion and slander within the Sikh Sangat. On the 300th celebration of Guru Granth Ji’s Gurgaddi the sangat of Hazoor Sahib banned him from the celebrations due to his nefarious activities and anti-Sikh parchaar…By putting the concerns of the Panth first, we recommend that this individual is brought before the Akal Takht to answer for his crimes and given punishment according to the Sikh faith so that the Sikh Sangat is freed of this confusion.” These kattar Sikhs have ‘excommunicated’ him. https://www.sikh24.com/2012/10/12/excommunicated-niddar-singh-receives-flak-from-nihung-jathebandis/#.WhM5b9KWaM8
Niddar Singh Nihang is clear that Sikhs are Hindus, that Shastar Vidiya is an ancient art of Sanatan Dharma, that Shiva is holy to Sikhs and that Sikhs are merely the latest custodians of the endangered Hindu art in its original complete form. To read the full argument of the Hindu-ness of Sikhi, by Niddar Singh Nihang’s group, read http://shastarvidiya.org/articles/misunderstandings.html . On this e-page, there is also a quote by another Sikh who refuses to call Sikhs a separate community different from Hindus: “Then in time, some selfish men, for the sake of filling their bellies, forsook the ‘Sanatani’ (traditional)Singhs (i.e., their Gurus’ principles), and in accordance with their own intellect began to self-manufacture the [Sikh] faith. The ordinary people, thinking that they represent the Guru’s faith, joined them. Not considering the past or future, not looking at past historical books. Then, when it reached such a state that for us [eating of] cow and goat was considered equal; that we were not Hindus; on hearing the Guru-like ‘devtas’ (Hindu gods/goddesses) being slandered, this dog of the Guru (i.e., loyal disciple) became dejected from the world. I desired that I sitting in some mountain cave eating the fruit [there in the wilds] I will subsist. To endure such anti-Dharma is a miserable plight.”
(Nihang Sanpuran Singh, Suraj Vansiya Khalsa Panth, (Siri Chand Press, n.d.), Introduction)”
To read the quote upheld by Niddar Singh about the Shiva origin of Shastar Vidiya, read this academic quote he has upheld inhis website: Quote: “…‘He’ is the inspiration behind many of the spiritual traditions, practices such as ‘Simran’ (meditation), yoga, classical arts and sciences of India; Sanatan Shastar Vidiya is no exception. The oldest, at present non-extant, Indian martial arts instructional manual was the ‘Siva-Dhanur-Veda’. Later texts such as Vasistha’s Dhanuvedasamhita were based on this work. In his work, Vasistha is quite clearly acknowledged, “his debt to an earlier work by ‘Siva’ or ‘Sadasiva'” (P.C.Chakravarti, The Art Of War In Ancient India, (Low Price Publications, Delhi, 1993), X-XII)…” (http://shastarvidiya.org/history/shiva.html).
Says Niddar Singh about misuse of Gatka: “Many practitioners of Gatka employ their art as a deceptive tool to hoodwink and gain converts to Sikhism. This is a vile distortion of Guru Nanak / Gobind Singh’s teachings.” http://shastarvidiya.org/articles/akhara_nihangs.html
Niddar Singh honours Shiva as Adi Deva. Here is a picture of Shiva from the site of Niddar Singh:
Sikhs practicing the ‘milder’ Gatka (Sikhs)
While Gatka websites do admit Gatka has a past dating thousands of years, they do not always credit Mahadeva Shiva with its origins, with Shastra Vidya as the root.
To read about Sikh ladies (‘kaur’s) practicing Gatka, read http://dedicatedkaurs.blogspot.in/2006/05/blog-post.html
2. KALARIPAYATTU, KERALA:
Kalaripayattu is an ancient martial art form of Kerala, and legend has it that Kalari has its origins in Mahadeva Himself, passed on vide Karttikeya and Parshurama to the world. States the website of a traditional Kalari unit: “The word ‘Kalari’ is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘Khaloorika’ meaning a place where weapon training is practiced. The system of physical and weapon training imparted within the Kalari came to be called ‘Kalarippayattu’. A Kalari teacher was very much respected by the society. He was given the title ‘Panikkar’; derived from the term ‘Parinayaka’. According to Buddhist literature, he is a teacher of weaponry or Ayudha Vidya Guru. Later the titleholders identified themselves as a separate sub-sect of the Nayars.” (http://choorakkodykalari.com/kalari.html)
The writings of the Buddhist priests who visited South India centuries ago show that Kalarippayattu had flourished as a rather specialised martial art as early as 5th century CE and was taken by the Buddhist priests and other travelers to China and far off countries. There, it flourished and transformed through the ages to what we now know as karate and judo. (http://www.kalaripayattubangalore.com/index.php/abtus/kalaripayattu-history/2-uncategorised/33-how-other-martial-arts-derived-from-kalaripayattu)
The weapons of Kalari bear remarkable resemblance to Sinhala Angampora weapons (described ahead) as well as to Silamban, a martiall art form of Tamil Nadu. And the unarmed techniques of Kalaripayattu bear resemblance to Garadi, the wrestling martial art form of Tulu Nadu. Over time, Kalari teaching has shifted from Brahmins to non-Brahmin Hindus, to even non-Hindus.
Kalaripayattu was outlawed by British in 1793 which, Nair social media sites claim, led to a great loss of self esteem among Nair warriors, who were otherwise feared by both Muslim and European-Christian powers alike. But the Nair class redeemed their prestige – vide the anti-British Pazhasi revolt by the Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, ruler from the Kottayam dynasty (a revolt depicted in films too); the Pazhasi Raja was joined not just by the warrior and ruling classes butalso by the tribals; Malayali Hindus showed the British how much KshaatraTeja shone in the mindscape of the brave Nair class, and the other Keralites.
Well, Kallaripayattu was used by the Keralite warriors against the British in the revolt by the Pazhasi Raja, and their centuries old tradition came in handy for their attempt at independence.
Meenakshi Raghavan is a 72-year old woman Guru of Kalari, who teaches 150 students at her school ‘Kadathanadan Kalari Sangam’ in her locality in Vatakara, which falls in Kozhikode (colonial Calicut) in the state of Kerala.
Quotes Meenakshi Raghavan: “In fact, until the invention of gun powder and other sophisticated weapons that revolutionised warfare, Kalarippayattu had an important role in enabling the warriors of those days… In that society where might was right, the mighty were right. And the mighty were worshipped. The disputes between the local rulers or feudal lords were determined by the ‘ankam’ (fight) between the hired ‘chekavar’ (kalarippayattu warriors), and their superb skill was honoured everywhere.” https://yourstory.com/2016/08/meenakshi-raghavan-gurukkal/
3. MAHARASHTRA’S MARDANI KHEL
The ‘Mardani’ or masculine name in the label is an Urduised Marathi word; it is also practised by women. It is used to describe all these forms of martial art which may not have a hoary origin like in case of Thang ta, Kalaipayattu or Angampora but has evolved in the 1600s in the unique hilly terrain conditions of Maharashtra attacked by Muslims.
Mardani Khel as a martial art is respected and practised today as a performance art, but it was put to successful use in guerilla warfare by Shivaji Maharaj and his Maratha warriors, while harassing the Muslim forces.
We have centres of learning the art in various places in Maharashtra. In Maharashtra, the culture of wrestling, Soorya Namaskar, fort climbing and lezim are associates of the Mardani Khel tradition.
4. TAMIL SILAMBAM
As a martial art, Tamil Silambam may be 2200-3000 years old. Silapathiharam, which was written by Ilangovadigal, is a great historical and dramatic literature. It is a Tamil literature, dating back to 2nd century AD., it mentions the dexterous use of the long and short Silambam sticks used in mock fighting as well as serious fighting (http://www.vajramutthi.org/en/articles/vajramushti/).
The Tamil meaning of Silambam is the bamboo or staff play, and dates to the classical Sangam era of ancient South India. It involves armed and unarmed combat with deep knowledge of ‘varma’ points. It is said that it was Agastya Muni who invented the art of Silambam. Later on the Chera, Chozha and Pandiya kings introduced this art in their warfare and made it compulsory for all the soldiers in the five wings of their military. (http://amudu-gowripalan.blogspot.in/2014/11/history-and-origin-silambam.html)
For a video on women performing Silambam, watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8fIKiCYK34 <iframe width=”854″ height=”480″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/d8fIKiCYK34″ frameborder=”0″ gesture=”media” allowfullscreen></iframe> Says the artist Aishwarya Manivannan, silambam warrior in a saree: ‘The kambu is an extension of my body. Silambam is meditation to me.’
After the British era, it is practised more in the Tamil diaspora of Southeast Asia.
Silambam lathi fights focus on multiple imaginary opponents, unlike Kalaripayattu which focuses with eye contact n one single opponent.
5. MANIPUR’S HUYEN LANGLON: (THE ARMED THANG TA AND THE UNARMED SARIT SARAK):
Manipur’s Meiteis have a long tradition of being a martial race. They have their own version of wrestling called Mukna, their very own style of martial arts called Huyen Langlon, their own style of horse polo and many other unique traditions. Thang Ta can be practiced in tantric (ritualistic), dance and combat ways. Western ladies tend to cover their eyes, grasping for breath at the climax of a Thang-Ta presentation.
It is significant that performance of a lot of Manipuri physical arts focus on graceful turns, be it Manipuri classical dance, the drum dance (Pung) and, even the Thang Ta.
Thang Ta against Burmese invaders
Manipur displayed armed resistance to invaders. Before the British, in the 18th Century the Manipuris fought Burmese invaders more with Thang Ta and horsemanship (Manipuri cavalry) than with firearms which they had few of.
Thang Ta against the British: sword and spear against bullets and grenades
Like all parts of India, Manipur too was occupied by the British; Manipur also displayed her own Manipuri edition of armed Hindu resistance to British occupation. These are called the Anglo-Manipuri wars (similar to the Anglo-Nepali, Anglo-Maratha, Anglo-Afghan, Anglo-Carnatic wars).
In the last Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891, Meitei leader Paona Naol Singh (Paona Brajabashi), Meitei Commander-in-charge, used Huyen langlon against the British at Khongjom, a small village on the Indo-Burma road as he led the Manipuri Army to take on the British columns coming from Myanmar. Unfortunately, in the course of the period just before the battle and during the battle, there was non-compliance of three consecutive requests for immediate supply of pounders of high caliber to Paona Brajbashi of Manipuri force at Thoubal (under Wangkheirakpa & Yengkoiba Major) but Paona Brajbashi refused to surrender, using Thang & Ta (thang = sword and ta = spear) against the flying bullets & bombs form British army.
Paona is said to have cut the igniting/detonating threads/wires of the British bombs in the air, hurled at Meetei army, with his mere sword before they exploded. The design of such bombs is very similar to the present day firecrackers or fire-works, with a long igniting thread/wire present for safe detonation. The Fourth Gurkha regiment Captain F.M.Tundull reported the Gurkhas were butchered by Paona Brajbashi. In the battle, Paona Brajbashi was killed aand his memorial is there at Khongjam.
British ban on Thang Ta
With their nightmarish experience at the Khongjom, bearing the ferocity of the deadly Thang Ta, it was banned by the British up to 1930. In fact, it was a complete disarmament, even carrying a stick was banned; and as far as Thang Ta was concerned, anyone found practising or teaching the art was labeled as a rebel or insurgent affiliate, & summarily prosecuted. So Thang Ta got confined to the secret home schools of individual teachers, passing the knowledge down from generation to generation behind closed doors or at night in the jungle. Some of the teachers even started using different name for the art, so as to mislead the British.
A Hindu Mahasabha unit of Manipur helps revive the art
The gradual revival of the art started slowly near & after the independence under the leadership of Meitingu Churachand (1891-1941), Nikhil Hindu Manipuri Mahasabha (NHMM) was established in 1934 (originally to regulate the religious activities, but latter exercising major influence in the socio-political domain). Due to the cooperative hard work of many Thang Ta teachers & members of NHMM (like noted people’s leader like Hijam Irabot (Vice-President), the ban on Thang Ta was lifted up in the 8th resolution of NHMM.
Thang Ta, Grand Master R. K. Sanahal and Gandhian non-violence
In the early 1930’s, the movement of Indian Independence under Gandhi; non -violence & satyagrahi andolans reached Manipur too; the non-violent, unarmed Gandhiwadis in their satyagrahi andolans would get beaten severely when lathi-charged by the British.
In one discussion, Manipuri leaders H. Irabot , Pandit Raj (‘Phurailatpam’) Atombapu Sharma and Somorendro happened to mention about the Thang Ta & the ability of blocking even swords by bare hands. Subsequently, with a request from the Gandhiwadis, a demonstration was organized in a Congress program in Guwahati, Assam; noted Thang Ta Guru (Ojha) Rajkumar Sanahal of Meitei royal blood was invited to demonstrate the ancient art.
In front of the amazed Gandhiwadis, the secret art was exhibited by Ojha Sanahal: the fierce, forceful attacks of a sharp sword by one martial art master (believed to be a Punjabi/Sikh as selected by the Gandhiwadis) were met softly & peacefully, ‘subduing the violence’, deflecting all the directed force towards the attacker himself (the weapon flew off uncontrollably), making heads bow down in respect.
Grand Master (Sintakpurel) R.K. Sanahal had established the Huyen Langlon Thang-Ta Academy in 1934.
6. SQAY: THE MARTIAL ART OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR:
The word ‘sqay’ is ‘knowledge of war’ in Persian. http://www.sqayindia.com/his.html
The origin of Sqay (whatever its older name may have been) is from the history of Jammu’s Hindu dynasties who became rulers of Kashmir.
Jammu is the place Jambu, founded by King Jambu Lochan, whence forth all descendents are called Jamwals. Jambu Lochan’s son, King Puran Karan, continued to rule Jammu. Puran Karan was an illustrious king. At that time, there was chaos in adjacent Kashmir (which also historically included Chitral, Gabral, and the mountains we call today the HinduKush); obviously Kashmir valley was populated then and had contacts with Jammu. Puran Karan resolved the chaos in Kashmir and helped the people, through a military operation led by one of his sons, Daya Karan. Having encountered war, and with contact with wild animals, Jammu King Puran Karan ordained compulsory training for his soldiers in a martial art what we today called Sqay; it was also used to acquire food by hunting wild animals.
Later, Daya Karan set up capital at Rainawra in Srinagar and his generations ruled Kashmir and later, Bhuti-Kremchi near Jammu (the Bhatyal branches of the Jamwals). This effectively entitles the Jammu Sooryavanshi Rajput dynasty with the copyright of the martial art of Sqay (whatever its older name may have been) and with the antiquity of ruling Kashmir valley.
During the Muslim period from 1325 A.D to 1819 A.D, the SQAY Martial Art training was compulsory for Kashmiri soldiers. This martial art was known as Kashmiri ‘Shamsherizen’, thus proving that the art had another name in medieval times; therefore this Jammu-Kashmir martial art could have had a Sanskrit name earlier which needs to be researched. Kashmir’s Sqay also fell into disuse in colonial times and after integration of Jammu Kashmir.
Sqay is now revived with inputs from Far Eastern martial arts. Hence, Sqay practitioners are seen with uniforms similar to those used as by Far Eastern martial artists and with techniques taken in from Far Eastern martial art forms. Sqay is practised not just in Kashmir but all of India, and also Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Sqay in uniform: Image courtesies: https://www.desiblitz.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Martial-Arts-Sqay.jpg (left) and https://4.imimg.com/data4/FU/IE/MY-5277784/sqay-dress-250×250.jpg (right)
Let us see what Wikipedia states about Sqay: “The early history of sqay is limited to mythology. Folklore traces it to remote antiquity several thousand years ago, as far back as the ancient Kashmiri flood myth. The Shaivite snake-worshipping Naga people are said to have created the art prior to the Indo-Aryan invasions, and it was later patronised by kings. The first written evidence of sqay dates to the Muslim period when Persian writings told of sabre-fighting (shamsherizen) in Kashmir. The word sqay itself is first recorded in this period, and is said to mean “knowledge of war” in Persian. Sqay first began to decline in the colonial period but its popularity suffered more during the post-independence Kashmir conflict. In the 1980s, the sqay grandmaster Nazir Ahmed Mir feared that the art would go extinct, and so introduced modern types of competition influenced by karate and taekwondo. The subsequent founding of the International Council Of Sqay and the Sqay Federation Of India have allowed the system to be promoted on a national level. It is now taught in twenty Indian states as well as Bhutan and Kathmandu, Nepal.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sqay
Next, let us see what one Sqay association (Sqay Federation of India) talks about Sqay on its own website: “The history of ‘SQAY” can be traced in early days of Kashmir history, when man learnt to protect himself from wild animals, individually or collectively… Before 4012 B.C Sqay Martial Art was used by Kashmiri’s to protect themselves and used this art to kill animals for their food purposes. But after 3905 B.C the King ‘Diya Dev’ gave the training of this art to the soldiers for protection of Kashmir from enemies and give strict orders to follow up these rules to soldiers… In 3889 B.C, a storm had destroyed whole Kashmir. The storm was known as (Tophani Nuh A.S). Storm of Nuh A.S, That storm had destroyed whole nation. The few people were alive in (Kohistans) forests of Kashmir.They used this art for protection themselves from wild animals and enemies, and using this art for killing animals for food purposes individually or collectively. After the storm of Nuh A.S when the Kashmir was rebuilt in the period of Kashwap Reshi then theirs was the democratic government… The king of Kashmir ‘Puran Karan’ started the training of ‘SQAY Martial Art’ for their soldiers and made it compulsory. In 3121 B.C king ‘Oukhand’ was the king of Kashmir. In this period, a big war destroyed some parts of Kashmir. After 3121 B.C Kashmir was safe from invaders up to 1324 A.D. In 1324 A.D, Kashmir was once again attacked and this time the king ‘Zavel Qader Khan’ Tatari defeated the king of Kashmir.” http://www.sqayindia.com/his.html Grand Master Nazir Ahmed Mir is the author of 3 books on martial arts so far: ‘Sqay – Pride of Kashmir’, ‘Martial Art & Islam’ and ‘Martial Art self defense for women’.
A Dharmik rejoinder and UttaraPaksha to the Islamised version of the history of Sqay:
(i) We have already studied how the kings of ancient Jammu had Soryavanshi Aikshwaku ancestors.
Well, the origins of Sqay becoming compulsory seems to be with Puran Karan’s son Daya Karan and his campaign in Kashmir, which is a much later Itihasa than the Ramayan times but before the Mahabharat times, both typical Hindu Itihasas, and Saptarshis like Rishi Atri predate the Ramayan. Thus Sqay,whose use is accepted to the pre-Mahabharata times, can be stretched to the Saptarshi times. After all, Shastra Vidya is ascribed to Shiva Himself.
Thus, the martial art of Sqay (whatever its older name may have been) originates within the pre-Islamic Hindu history of Jammu-Kashmir, millennia before Islam arrived in Jammu and Kashmir.
(ii) Indologist historians who go by the Aryan Invasion Theory model state ‘the art of sqay has origins in the Shaivite Naga people, but was later patronized by the Aryan kings’.
Well, that Kashmir has always been a seat of Shaivism is agreed to even by AIT believing historians.
(iii) Kashmir did have a geographic situation in the ancient past, of being flooded by multiple streams and spings; Kashmir’s history involves a turning point when a mountain pass was widened enabling clearing of swamps, which effort Hindus ascribe to Kashyap Rishi; it is from Kashyap Rishi that we have the name Kashyap Mir or Kashmir. Yet the history and mythology of a Kaffir Hindu society gets co-opted into Abrahamic story-telling. (https://shahishaharyar.wordpress.com/tag/kashmirs-5000-years-recorded-history-hindu-buddhist-period-muslim-period-to-follow/)
Thus, after Islamisation of Kashmir, the history of Kashyap Mir was substituted by the Abrahamic-Biblical-Quranic myth of ‘The Great Flood’ in Noah’s (Islamic Nuh) time, with the ‘Koh’ (Persian for mountainous region) being the only places where humans survived while having to deal with wild animals, whereby they evolved Sqay. Muslim historians quote the Persian writings which mention warriors in Kashmir called the Shamsherizen or sabre-fighting, which is due to the Persian influence on language and culture.
The two versions of the Kashmir flood legend, the Kashyap Rishi one by Hindus and the Nuh (Noah) one by the Muslims are funnily merged together, as by this website on Sqay which states that the flood was Toophani Nuh at a perfect time 3889 BCE, that people lived in the mountains (‘Koh’ meaning mountain in Persian, hence ‘Kohistani’) yet the situation was remedied by Kashyap Reshi! (http://withkashmir.org/2016/11/30/history-kashmirs-martial-art-sqay/)
Well, the mixing of Hindu and Abrahamic legends is because Kashmir does have syncretism to a great extent, which has done nothing to stop the exodus of Pandit Hindus from the valley or to stop the radicalization of Kashmiri youth who pelt stones.
7. SRI LANKA’S ANGAMPORA
Angam Pora or Angan Pora is a martial art form deeply rooted in the Dharmik, pre-Buddhist as well as Buddhist traditions of Sri Lanka. Watch students worship, pray, meditate, listen to chanting of ‘Govind’ and ‘Vallabh’ and train in the martial arts in this video on Angam Pora, to know how connected Angan is to India https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFhOYGsiPmU <iframe width=”854″ height=”480″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/QFhOYGsiPmU” frameborder=”0″ gesture=”media” allowfullscreen></iframe>
We shall be only mentioning Angampora here – as Sri Lanka’s ethnic Sinhalese culture; it becomes common heritage at an Akhanda Bharat level. The Sinhalese had used this art against the Portuguese at Mulleriyawa. We shall be dealing with it in detail in a later blog.
Sinhala Angampora – similar to Keralite Kalaripayattu:
Kalaripayattu and Angampora are highly related, just as Kerala and Sri Lanka re geographically close together. Could then the word Angampora also have its origins similar to Kalari? To speculate, we may have to delve into the etymology of the word “Ankam”, part of the Sinhala martial art name Angampora, and also for ‘Ankam’, a name for a peculiar method Keralites used to settle disputes, using Kalaripayattu. The Sanskrit word ‘Ankam’ used by Meenakshi Gurukkal, mentioned in the section of Kalaripayattu above, may inform us how the Sanskrit-derived Sinhala word, Angampora, or Ankam, may thus link the origins of both Malayai Kalaripayattu and Sinhala Angampora.
In the context of Kalari, the word ‘Ankam’ was used by Keralite society for a peculiar method of settling disputes: both arguing parties would hire their own Kalari combatant (Chekkava, plural Chekkavar); these hired Chekkavar were paid but had to fight to the death, with the loser being killed and the winner’s hiring family getting to win the suit. The loser Chekkavar’s family was compensated by cash, but the judgment of the dispute went into the hands of the party which had engaged the winner. (http://choorakkodykalari.com/kalari.html) Well, even Angampora had a duel-to-death, called “Ūra Linda”, a boar-pit fight, similar to Roman circus Gladiators, except that it was not widespread and was only a part of the total context.
8. MALLAYUDDHA, MALLAKHAAMBA AND VAJRAMUSHTI:
Mushti Yuddha or fist-fighting is supposed to have originated in Varanasi (broadly in the Yamuna-Gangetic bellt of UP and Bihar). It involved punches, kicks, knee strikes and elbow strikes.
Malla Yuddha was a contest where wrestlers would spar unarmed, boxing, wrestling, etc. If they were armed with various sharp and blunt, hurtful devices (‘knuckle-dusters’) fixed onto the warrior’s right mushti or fist, it was called Varja-Mushti or the fist of Indra’s thunderbolt. Gymnastic training on the wooden pole, now an art, is called MallaStambha or Malkhamb, and it was where the student wrestlers or young Mallas would practise leg and hand grips of the pole for contests, as gripping techniques. Combats lying on the ground have also been used.
The Mallapurana describes the various types of exercises the wrestlers would undertake to condition themselves for the fight. Among these are the Rangasrama (wrestling and manner of grappling techniques, such as takedowns, fighting from the bottom, fighting from the top, and striking techniques); the Sthambhasrama (calisthenic exercises performed on a standing upright pole called a Sthamba to develop arm, leg and upper-body strength and stamina); the Gonitaka ( training done with a large stone ring weight lifted, swung in various ways, worn around the neck to develop neck, back and leg strength, etc.); the Pramada ( exercises performed with the use of the Indian club or the Gada); the Kundakavartana (callisthenics performed without the use of equipment: tumbling, various push-ups, squats, etc to develop overall strength and stamina); tthe Uhapohasrama (discussion of tactics and strategies – an important part of the fighters training regime). http://www.grapplearts.com/the-ancient-vale-tudo-of-india-vajramushti/
In case of Vajra-Mushti, the knuckle dusters were sometimes made of ivory (hastidanta): the entire allegory is to Indra, the king of Gods, the loftiest in terms of royal patronage, his armour, image, royal patronage and weaponry and vehicle. Indra’s elephant vehicle ‘Airavat’ was four-tusked and white, as white as his deadly strong tusks (denoting the perfect health of strong teeth; dentine, the core of the tooth, is the hardest tissue in the mammalian body, and particularly hard in case of the elephant’s tusks, which could also pierce and kill). Indra’s weapon was the Vajra or thunderbolt, which was skeleton-shaped (derived from the bones of Rishi Dadhichi who took Samadhi to offer his body for weaponry), hard and unbreakable like a diamond, and a very hard weapon to strike an opponent. Hence, combatants fighting with ivory knuckle dusters (the elephant element), was supposed to bring in elephant-like power to the combatant’s blows, hence the name Indra Mukti or Indra Mushti.
But Indians have smelted iron for millennia – ‘Indian-made’ steel too was also used for knuckle dusters.
Image courtesy: https://citytoday.news/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/kings.jpg
The fight would be stopped by a judge when the probable loser would appeal for stopping the fight, but no-rules fights have happened, especially at least till blood was drawn, as in Mysuru’s Dasara celebrations.
Most warriors were the Jyeshti Malla Barhmins, a sub-caste of Gujarat’s Modha Brahmins; they worshipped Krishna and also followed a late-written Kula Purana called Malla Purana, in memory of how Krishna and Balaraama had dispatched the wrestlers of Uncle Kamsa before taking on Kansa. The Jyeshta Brahmins would anoint themselves the Vaishnav mark, wear only their kaupeenam (loin-cloth) and be with their shikhi which often had Neem leaves tied into the shikhi’s self-knot. These Brahmins were considered Aayudhya-Jeevi or those surviving through usage of weapons.
Training involved yoga and sooryanamaskar as well as techniques specific to fights, with a strict diet.
The princely states of Vadodara (Gujarat’s Marathi royal family of the Gaikwads) and Mhaisuru (Wadeyar – Vajra-Mushti Kalaga) would organise these events; now the art has lost royal patronage.
The JyesthiMallas have had a long tradition of working as bodyguards to marriage parties, and have been patronised by kings, princes and rulers for many centuries. http://www.grapplearts.com/the-ancient-vale-tudo-of-india-vajramushti/#
In India, the wrestler need for a dummy wrestler to wrestle with, has given birth to the unique and ingenious activity called Malkhamb (http://www.vajramutthi.org/en/articles/vajramushti/). aharashtra has kept the tradition of malkhamb alive.
Within Punjab’s Shastar Vidiya, there is Loha Mushti – a form of Vajra Mushti – which is using iron knuckle dusters on the combatant’s fist. The Tamil variant is Tamizhar Tharkappu Kalai.
There is a martial art called Shirayan Vajramuthi, which has a Northern Kshatriya origin.
To quote a website on the martiall art: “The founder, Dēvasharmī, was once the ruler of a small kingdom somewhere in the South-Eastern region of the Himalayas; overpowered and defeated in continuous skirmishes, he retreated with his two sons, his military and retinue becoming wandering hermits wishing to spend the rest of their lives contemplating on life and faith. He, even in his exile, paid great attention to his sons’ physical and spiritual education compiling a training method that included various yoga positions and forms of motion from the ancient Indian martial art of Vajramushti and named it Samthijāō Vajramutthī. The Samthijāō Vajramutthī exercises were further developed by Dēvasharmī and three kshatriyas Dhanī, Charaka and Pindu. Taoist and Tibetan contributions have also come into the art, which was practised in family secrecy for generations.”
9. TULU NADU’S GARADI
Garadi is an ancient tradition of training in bodybuilding as well as weaponry of the region of Tulu Nadu, especially the Billava people of Tulu Nadu.
Garadi Mane is the name by which it is also practised in other parts of Karnataka too, and features in the Mysore Dasara festival along with Vajramushti. Kai Varase (unarmed combat), katti Varase (sword fighting) and kolu varase (staff fighting) are the three versions.
Garadi is practised under a Guru, with obeisance paid to the deity of the Garadi and with reverence also paid to historical figures that had employed Garadi for protection of the local people.
The worshipped historical figures are usually two historical Billava warriors, Koti and Chenayya, the bravehearts who fought against injustice and atrocities jamindars meted out to poor people; Koti and Chenayya were staying in Garadis. Due to this the Garadis gained significance and the places that were earlier used as gymnasia became centers of worship. Gradually the activities of gymnasia disappeared from Garadis and people started visiting them to pay respect and worship Koti-Chennayya, giving great impetus to the Garadi practice being part of Tulu culture. Sometimes the two heroes worshipped – especially in the areas bordering Kerala, are Chaatu and Chandu.
The deities worshipped in the Garadi are either Chandika Durga Paramaeshwari whose place is always the southwest direction of the Gaaraadi, or a horse-riding Bremer (Brahma?).
Bremer Deva on a horse, flanked by Koti and Chenayya; image courtesy https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-EiIMFs6zJY0/Tu3aEHQ0cpI/AAAAAAAAA3Y/wK2NezeMV5A/s320/bermer+VN01+001.jpg
In the wrestling arenas of Garadi (Garadi Mane), wrestling is practised on a mud floor similar to other wrestling forms across India, before deities. Every wrestler had to level the mud as a warm-up exercise. The exercises were more functional to build immense stamina, which was useful in gripping the opponent during wrestling.
Garadi warriors were required to learn some deeper weapon-using arts of Garadi from their Gurus before qualifying for marriage: the Vidyaas included Shastra Vidya and Yodha Vidya Sadhane; these vidyaas covered use of both: a stick as well as the Veeragatti, a sword; and the swords were ‘worn’ in the house of the Guru.
Image courtesy: Garadi warrior with his sword of VeeraGatti
The marriage-aspiring Garadi warriors also had to go through a snaana ritual and a digvijaya ritual. Thus Garadi teaches both: unarmed combat, and use of weapons. Thus it is similar to both, to the unarmed combat aspect of Kerala’s Kalaripayattu and to Maharashtra’s Kushti. Tulu Garadi and Malayali Kalari have both evolved with osmosis and growth in syncronisation with each other (http://vamana-nandavara.blogspot.in/2011/12/contribution-of-tulunadu-garadis-to.html).
But, today Garadi is primarily practised as a wrestling art of Tulu Nadu, with weapons not being taught enough on the scale of Kalaripayattu. It is hardly known. This makes us realize the scale of the loss…
The first loss is of a Dharmik nature with loss of weapon teaching and use. Weapons have been worshipped, used and taught from generation to generation in Hindu heritage, which includes Tulu culture. Garadi had evolved locally and was based in the history and geography of Tulu Nadu, with significant osmosis with neighbouring Konkani-Marathi, Kannada, Tamizh, Kodagu (Coorgi) and Malayali cultures. Reduced to mere gym learning under a pehelwan, who could even be a Muslim Ustad today, the Garadi loses its Dharmik and historical significance. Hence, Garadi losing out would be cultural amnesia. [Tulu loss is part of overall Hindu loss. The waning of such a local tradition of Garadi dating hundreds of years is part of the waning of the overall umbrella of Tulu heritage (cultural amnesia)… the once-great Tulu linguistic sub-culture of peninsular Hinduism. Tulu was a language probably older to even Tamizh (within the Dravidian family of Hindu languages). The Tulu language had protected many an ancient Hindu Vidyaa… Many important Dharmik scriptures were written in the now-forgotten Tulu script. It is said these ancient Tulu-language Tulu-script Hindu scriptures are still preserved locked up and safe with some orthodox Malayalam-speaking Namuthiri Brahmin clans in Kerala, but the Tulu script is not in usage anymore – today the Tulu language survives in a spoken form alone; Tulu Nadu is also without a provincial administration of its own.]
The second loss is of patrons from the younger generation allured by the glamour of a modern gym. Without patrons, an art may go extinct due to sheer economic reasons.
The third is loss is inability to attract attention for the sake of traditional use of weapons which necessitate beautiful maneuvers and weaponry, unlike Kalaripayattu which still uses weapons, attracting worldwide attention.
The BJP has been giving moral support to the cause of protecting the Garadi culture of Karnataka. http://www.mangalorean.com/yeddyurappa-inaugurates-second-conference-of-garadis-of-tulunadu/
10. ODISHA PAIKA MARTIAL ART
Odisha had a strong military past where the Odias would control the whole Karamandal coastline (Anglicised pronunciation Coromandel coast). Odisha had succumbed to Muslim rule a full three centuries after Bengall had, and Odia king Langula Narasimha would often make sorties to free parts of Southern Bengal from Muslim control. Odisha has thus got a martial tradition, and Odia martial art was pracised by the Paikas.
The first Indian rebellion against British rule was under the Paikas of Fort Khurda in 1817.
During the revolt led by Jayee Rajguru against the British and the Paik Revolt led by Buxi Jagabandhu Bidyadhar near the Barunei Fort of Khordha (Khurda), the Khadayats and other Paikas displayed courage.
The Paikas were mostly Khandayats, who had tremendous control over swords (Khanda-Sword/ Ayata-Control/ Khanda + Ayata = Khandayat; thus, Khandayat means the master of the sword).
The Paika Akhada is where the practice of fitness, unarmed combat, wrestling, body building, combat with swords and war dances are all practised.There are also war dance called the Ghumura, as also the Chhau of Mayurhanj. Ranapa Nacha, another performing martial art form southern Odisha, is where a Paik uses a “Ranapa” (an instrument made of wood is attached to the legs to add height) wearing which a Paik could walk in double or triple speed.
Odia martial arts are exhibited in processions and ‘parva’s – like before the rath of the Jagannath rath yatra.
Odisha also has a woman Paika Akhada practitioner today, by the name Sunita Behera, who was inspired by the historical character Karuvaki, a female warrior in the Kallinga war. Sunita teaches other girls students too, in her Kalinga Kanya Paika Akhada. https://www.thebetterindia.com/121135/sunita-behera-hailed-gladiatrix-east-heres/
11. OTHER MISCELLANEOUS MARTIAL ARTS OF INDIA:
Imbuan wrestling of Mizoram, Khamlainai of Bodo people of Assam, Bholi Khella of Bengall, Pari Khanda (use of swords in the Bihari Rajput tradition), etc.
SOME STRIKING CONCLUSIONS:
The desire to continue to practise our ancient martial arts and the readiness to seriously disarm oneself in the name of non-violence can never go hand-in-hand. It is important to understand the scale at which British disarmament and Gandhian preaching of non-violence have left Hindu society vulnerable.
- INFLUENCE OF GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY ONTO COMBAT TRAINING IN INDIA:
The way the various martial arts of India have evolved is testimony to evolution in syncronisation with not just the history but also the geography and agroecology of their province of origin.
The Aravalis and the Thar-Kutchh desert have influenced Rajputana and Gujarat Rajputs, and the use of the sword in arid battle plains or forests. The Sahyadris and the Satpudas have influenced Maratha warfare (guerilla techniques) and helped evolve Mardani Khel. The Brahmaputra’s flood-based riparian agrarian forest-surrounded ecosystem influenced the Ahoms by bringing up naval warfare (Lacchit bar Phukan defeated the Mughals in a navalbattle). One’s habitat being a fertile valley surrounded by densely forested hills influenced the Manipuri Meiteis, with circumstances providing a mix of both intermingling (with surrounding Assamese, Bengali Hindus and Burmese) and the isolation and insulation (reguired for evolving a culture in peace). The mountainous and submontane topography of the Himalayas with proximity to Tibet and Muslim-occupied Punjhabi and Pakhtun regionsinfluenced Nepalis, Gadhwalis, Kumaonis, Himachalis and Dogras; and so on…
Yet, India and the Hindu nation have always been able to maintain martiall traditions and defeat invaders.
Quotes a book writer, practitioner and historian of VajraMushti, one martial art of Hindus, on the effect of geography and the cultural goals of a culture, onto the mindset of a soldier in combat: “The history of a country and its geographical position sometimes makes some of the war aims of that country essential to its life and growth… If the war aims fully penetrate the people of that country, and are deeply felt by them. Then the soldiers who represent that country in the battlefield will be different from those soldiers who knew nothing about, for what they are fighting, and they will have no national interest in the outcome of the struggle. In this and other ways the politics or class structure of a society affects the morale of its soldiers and their war tactics.” (http://www.vajramutthi.org/en/articles/vajramushti/)
- ALL THESE MARTIAL ARTS HAVE HAD FORTUNES WHICH WERE ALSO SIMILAR…
All these vidyaas had evolved in history and were patronized and used. They were used against invaders (Angampora against the Portuguese; Malayali Kalaripayattu, Punjabi Shastar Vidiya, Odia Paika and Manipuri Thang Ta against the British; Mardani Khel against the assorted Muslim powers and the British too). Many were either banned by colonial squatters (Angampora, Thang Ta, Kalaripayattu, were banned by the British). Some were modified (toned down), as in case of Punjabi Shastar Vidiya which produced a morphed version (the Gatka) symbolic of Sikh separatism and disowning of the greater larger Hindu heritage of Sikhism in general. And all Vidyaas were kept alive in secrecy.
All these Vidyaas meant for up close combat faced irrelevance in warfare with the arrival of firearms with distant combat. It must be remembered that in modern times, modern warfare will decide war fortunes, which involves technology and distant combat. So learning modern warfare is indispensibale, a point that Veer Savarkar has always reiterated.
But as cultural emblems, majestic self-defence techniques and part of Hindu national as well as pan-human evolution, they will always be treasured. Almost all of them are benefitting from a public mood of cultural revival today.
- THESE VIDYAAS HAVE INTERACTED WITH OTHER CULTURES OUTSIDE BHARATVARSHA; WE WANT TO PROTECT THEIR IDENTITY AND COPYRIGHTS YET REVIVE OR ENHANCE THEM WITH INPUTS
These Vidyaas have evolved into newer versions with interactions and osmosis with other martial arts of the neighbouring cultures adjacent to India, and have also entered other countries in historic times, getting adapted to local ethnic and cultural needs. It is believed, that it was through Bhoganath (Boganathar) who took Kalaripayattu to China, that China developed Kung Fu. Manipuri Meitei Thang Ta had influenced Thailand’s Muay Thai.
There are conferences and workshops held by representatives of Indian martial artists with artists of other styles from other cultures and societies. These include (i) newer martial arts like Israel’s ‘Krav Maga’ (which evolved only since 1880 CE and includes techniques form judo, jujitsu, karate, Western Boxing and elements of wrestling with styles of punching, kicking, chokes, take-downs employed to neutralize the enemy in the shortest amount of time possible), (ii) indigenous martial arts of South East Asia (Muay Thai, Fillipino Arnis, Malay-Indonesian Silay) and (iii) the Far Eastern arts of Karate, Taekwondo and Kung Fu (descendents of India’s own Kalaripayattu).
This may have either improved a form that had lost some aspects in historic turmoil enriched it or led to a deDharma-isation of a Dharmik copyright(losing identification and narrative to other cultures).
Kashmir’s Sqay is now associated with inputs from far Eastern arts, with uniforms used as by Far Eastern martial artists and with techniques taken in from Far Eastern martial art forms, while the revivalist Sqay Teacher Nazir Mir writes books on Islam and martial arts like Sqay, almost severing the historic link with the ancient Ikshwaku Sooryavanshi kings of Jammu, which is mentioned in the history for mere lip-service and which is merged with the account of the Abrahahamic-Biblical flood myth and Noah).
Alarmingly for Dharma enthusiasts, Dharmik and Pagan martial arts outside India and from South East Asia have been co-opted into the cultures of Islamic or Spanish colonisation. Filipino pre-Spanish Arnis-Ka-Li is now Hispanised. Silat, of the Hindu-Buddhist heritage of pre-Islamic Malaysia and Indonesia, is now identified with Islam. Quotes a website on Islam and Silat: “Most-easily understood as an Islamic form of yoga, Senaman Tua requires that in addition to physical development, students take a journey toward self-realization… One who trains in Senaman Tua will eventually have all the core skills to learn and master Silat, a martial art practised in Malaysia and Indonesia, rooted in Islam. The goal of each Silat practitioner is to improve their art for the sake of God, explained Mohd Nadzrin bin Abdul Wahab, Imran’s Senaman Tua instructor, who has offered Silat training in Malaysia since 2003.” https://www.huffingtonpost.com/daliah-merzaban/martial-arts-and-the-journey-to-islam_b_983142.html
India’s martial arts show unity in diversity. In the era of globalization, each art has to adapt and grow but not lose its regional identity. Today, India’s indigenous martial arts have to manage the delicate balance between two opposite needs:
(i) Protecting their own identity (resurrecting lost techniques research into the history and treatises on the art forms from old scripture manuscripts and epigraphy, retaining local identity, maintenance of tradition by managing economic inputs through patronage and popular practice, abiding with Dharma-rootedness) as well as
(ii) Evolving and not falling into a cocooned existence detrimental in globalised times (especially taking inputs from other arts to rediscover lost techniques by drawing parallels).
- YET, ALL THESE VIDYAAS HAVE A BASE IN DHARMA.
As diverse as the topography and agro-climatic variations may be for various parts of India, it is also proof that the same people have been residing in these places for some thousands of years and have worked as one nation. These Vidyaas prove the culture of India is ancient, resilient and locally evolved, unlike the colonial-missionary Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) model.
Shastar Vidiya (and therefore, Gatka) has historic origins in Shastra Vidya, which is rooted in Bhakti to Mahadeva Shiva, The Absolute One. Shastar Vidiya and Gatka are fully associated with the Ten Gurus. Sqay of Jammu and Kashmir has also got its roots in the Shaivite tradition. Even Garadi Gurus claim an origin in Shiva’s Shastra Vidya. Silamban has its origins in Agastya Muni. Kalaripayattu claims origins in Shastra Vidya and in Shiva, Parshurama and Karttikeya. The Jyestamalla wrestlers of Gujarat are Vaishnava Brahmins. The Garadi arena houses Chandi Durga, the northern Akhadas compulsorily have Hanuman. Thang Ta also pays obeisance to Meitei devatas. Mardani Khell claims association with Hanuman, Samartha Ramdas Swami and Mata Bhawani.
All of them practise reverence to the Guru, worship of weapons and even local deities.
Angampora claims origins in Shiva Bhakti too, through Ravana, and uses Sanskrit and Sinhala chants; evolving in pre-Buddhist Sri Lanka (Anuradhapura era), it is practised before the moorti of Buddha today.
Since all these Vidyaas give us a segment of our historic resilience, they remain a system of Hindu resistance to armed invaders, from the ground up. Resurgence of these systems of Hindu resistance will require resurrection of Dharma by decolonisation, with a return to classical times along with modernization.
- A GREAT MANY OF THE MARTIAL ARTS OF BHARATVARSHA HAVE WOMEN PARICIPATING IN THEM TOO
During Maurya Empire or Ashoka (321-185 BC) as testified to by Kautilya in his Arthasastra (c. 350-283 BC), women were the armed bodyguards of the kings. (http://www.fscclub.com/history/indian-combat-e.shtml) Hindu women have participated in battle too, with Rani Lakshmibai being the most recent and notable example. Thus arms have also been the proud possession of Hindu women, and they learnt to use them.
Marathi women practise Mardani Khel, Sikh women practise Gatka, Meitei women practise Thang Ta, women practise wrestling in Haryana or other places (the Phogats), a Meenakshi Raghavan practises and teaches Kalaripayattu . Thus most of these arts have been open to women, excepting the Akjhada itself which must have a celibate all-male setting, with men channelizing their energies into bodybuilding and due to the uniform of minimal clothes.
Image of participation of women in Hindu wrestling arts: Ancient basalt relief in Hampi, Karnataka
Image courtesy: http://www.fscclub.com/history/images/indian-wr.jpg
- INDIAN AND SRI LANKAN REVIVAL OF KALARIPAYATTU AND ANGAAMPORA, LIKE MANY POINTS OF HERITAGE, WILL HAPPEN TOGETHER
Angampora’s connections to Kerala’s Kalaripayatu are being recognised with an open mind and federations of Kalari and Angam have joined hands too; and Kalari practitioners also visited Sri Lanka. All these prove that even beyond the LTTE chapter, Sri Lankan and Indian revivalism of culture and decolonization can only happen together.
- IT MUST HAVE TAKEN QUITE A CONCERTTED EFFORT BY COLONISING BRITAIN (DISARMAMENT AND DISTORTED EDUCATION THROUGH COLONISATION) AND THE PREACHING BY GANDHI (ABSOLUTE NON-VIOLENCE) TO DENY ALL THIS HERITAGE OF HINDU USE OF FORCE
About Shastar Vidiya and Gatka
About Kalaripayattu spreading to the far Eastern countries with Buddhism
About Mardani Khel
Comparing Silambam with Kalaripayattu
Striking a Balance – the relationship between dancing and fighting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzHICgWD-TY
About Huyen Langlon / Thang Ta
On Sqay and the Hindu origins of Jammu Kashmir and of Sqay
About Jammu’s ancient Hindu kings: “History Of Ancient India (a New Version) From 4250 Bb To 637 Ad” J.P.Mittal. Page 398 onwards of the e-copy:
About the coming together of Angampora and Kalaripayattu
About Vajramushti and Mallayuddha:
About Odisha martial arts: Paika
About more information on Indian martial arts
About martial arts and Islam: