Bharatha is land of ‘Kshatriyas’. Their valour, battle skills, use of different weapons are all have been passed through stories for centuries. From deva-asura conflicts, to rama building setu, from krishna teaching Kshatra dharma to stories of Hindu kings defending the land from invaders, we have numerous stories which describes various technique of battle and valour.
In India, Sanatan Shastar Vidiya is traditionally spoken of as a gift from Lord Shiva to the world. It was given to mankind by the great deity so it may defend and up hold Dharma – the way of law, peace and harmony in the world; to ensure that all may live happy, prosperous and productive lives.
In the 16th Century, the Sikh Gurus infused new life into this ancient art to revive it as an instrument for upholding and defending Sanatan Dharma in the face of tyranny.
Shastar Vidiya, being an ancient battle art is also known by various other names, namely:
- Ayudh Vidiya – the science of weapons
- Bir / Vir Vidiya – the science of warriors
- Jujaroo / Loojaroo Vidiya – the one who die fighting enthusiastically upholding Dharma’
- Chatka Gatka – Quick-killing Gatka
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 Ram.
Shastar Vidiya is a complete traditional Indian battlefield system from the Punjab, land of the five rivers. 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’, ‘bagh nakha’ , etc., as well as tactics.
The art has alongside it, a martial yoga, known as ‘Sanjam Kiriya Variyam’. Despite being deeply rooted in tradition, its ancient wisdom, techniques, character and spirit are timeless – and are very relevant and practical even today. The benefits do not only limited to the combat art, it helps in living a long, healthy and happy life.
It brings to life the wisdom, great martial qualities and deeds of our ancient Indian deities and ancestors: Shiva, mother Chandi, Chaturbhuj Vishnu, Krishna, Ram, Arjun, Hanuman, Bheem, Guru Gorakhnath, Guru Gobind Singh, Guru Hargobind, Baba the darbar Singh, Baba Sukha Singh, etc.
There are ten classical fighting forms in Sanatan Shastar Vidiya termed ‘Yudhan’ (combat forms) or ‘Pentra’ (tactical deployments).
- The first six Yudhan are known as ‘Khat Ang’ (six limbs). These six Yudhan are based upon characters from Indian mythology that possess animal forms.
- When integrated, they form the seventh limb – the leopard ‘parjog’ (application).
- Beyond these are three more advanced forms referred to as ‘Dev Ang’ (limbs of the gods), which are based upon Shiva and his consort, the Devi (also known as ‘Shakti’, ‘Durga’, ‘Chandi’, etc.).
A Shastar Vidiya warrior at this level of skill is able to respond to any situation or physical attack naturally and spontaneously in the most efficient and versatile manner. Together with application of tactics and intelligent strategy, the warrior is formidable.
All Shastar Vidiya fighting forms have both unarmed and armed applications; they can be done individually, in pairs, groups or armies. A unique characteristic that distinguishes Shastar Vidiya from other more familiar fighting forms of Eastern martial arts is that there are no sequential movements; rather they are governed by very precise tactics
Indians should feel proud of this tradition as it was our great ancestors who defended India. In defending its people, they treasured Dharma, hence kept this unique cultural, spiritual, and martial legacy alive. In this way Shastar Vidiya fully in the context of Hindu and Sikh martial, historical and spiritual traditions. As such, Shastar Vidiya remains a relevant and essential art not only for Sikhs, Hindus or Indians at large, but to the whole world.
Dr Sindhu Prashanth