Warfare was vital in ancient India, especially for the Maharajahs, emperors, and kings. This was due to their aim of attaining dominance and supremacy in certain regions. Conquest via military arms and means are more than an exhibition of strength and power. Winning in wars brought dignity, fame, territorial gain, and glory.
In the past, there were no technological advancements like today. This was the reason why weapons for warfare played such a vital role in ancient India.
The different weapons used in the past were diverse pieces. They were also designed by people who guaranteed that these were fatal and for defense. The most important tools for battle often included armors, bow & arrows, axes, and more.
Here, the focus will be on the deadliest, and most feared ancient Indian weapons used in battle.
What is the Khukri?
The Khukri or Kukri is a blade from ancient India that’s designed for chopping. It comes in a variety of shapes: from straight to curved, and smooth or angled spines. There are differences in the blade’s thickness and dimensions. These differences are all based on its use, function, origin, and the smith who crafted the Khukri.
As a standard rule, its spine measures from 5 to 10 millimeters along the handle. It can taper to 2 millimeters by its point while the blade can range from 26 to 38 centimeters. This is specific for general use. The general Khukri of ancient India often measures 40 to 45 centimeters long and weighs 450 to 900 grams.
Bigger Khukri is an impractical tool for daily use. These are also rarely seen, except in collections or for ceremonial use. The smaller ones have limited use, but are extremely easy to wield.
The blade is well-known all over the world since each Gurkha soldier wears it while in uniform. These commissioned soldiers offer their services throughout the world. Their sword’s blade is often curved, making it effective for slicing with ease.
It is a very lethal blade, where bones can even get penetrated with a good amount of force.
The mace or Gada was another weapon used in ancient India. It was a modified piece and often utilized by athletes. This was for developing physical attributes like stamina and strength needed for wrestling.
It predates Greece’s Golden Age which is often cited for their inputs in physical culture. A physician from India, Susruta, was the first to exercise for treating a disease.
This Gada of ancient India was the primary weapon of Hanuman, the Hindu God. He was a god known for his strength, hence, worshipped by wrestlers in India, as well as in Southeast Asia. Another God who carried the Gada was Vishnu, and he named this the Kaumodaki.
In the epic, Mahabharata, Duryodhana, Bhima, Jarasandha etc. were known as Gada masters.
How Deadly was the Bhuj or Kirpan?
The Bhuj or Kirpan was a kind of dagger often used in ancient India for duels. They were small in size and shape, measuring 6 – 10 inches in length, 2 – 4 inches in width. It weighs up to a total of 500 grams.
The daggers were pieces made from jade, diamond, gold, steel, ruby, emerald, and even agate. They were not popular tools for the war and was most suitable for hand to hand battles.
Generally, this is a kind of dagger that comes from Gujurat and Pakistan. Often, it’s a piece categorized as an ax due to its fixed blade located on the haft. It takes its name from the city of Bhuj, state of Gujurat. Though it originated in this area, it may have also come from Sindh.
For its physical aspect, this weapon of ancient India is broad, short, and quite heavy. its blade often displayed a slight curve on it. The Bhuji usually sports a gilded and engraved mount, decorative knob, as well as an inlaid haft.
Its knob is often styled with an elephant head, which gives it the nickname, elephant knife. For its measurements, its short blade is about 7 to 10 inches long. It comes with a copper sheath which makes it 20 inches in length.
The Bhuj is often single-edged, except for the slight rear edge located at the tip. Its fixed blade is mounted at a perfect right angle on a metallic haft. Sometimes, the haft is hollow enough to hide a little stiletto-like knife.
Was the Urumi Possible to Wield?
This is a sword featuring a flexible whip-like blade that was among the pieces used in ancient India. It originated from the Indian sub-continent and existed since the early Sangam period.
The sword from ancient India is a blade referred to having a unique appearance. It is also one of the most challenging weapons to master because it can also injure the person wielding it.
It is considered as a steel whip and sword, so the wielder should have adequate knowledge before using this. Because of this, the Urumi is often taught the last when it comes to Indian martial arts.
Looking at its hilt, it’s made up of brass or iron and is like that of the talwar. The whip-sword is complete with a cross guard, and sometimes, a thin knuckle bow. Its handle is called disc hilt, a name coming from the disc-like flange that surrounds the pommel.
As for the pommel, it features a short and decorative protrusion that comes from its center. Its blade is designed with edges and steel. Plus, it has a blade that’s usually the same length as the user’s arm span. Multiple blades are linked to the handle, and its variant in Sri Lanka can have 32 blades attached.
Only the most trained Rajput in ancient India were allowed to use this blade. They needed to have adequate coordination, agility, and concentration.
The Pata features a gauntlet that is built in as handguard. In its place of origin, Maharashtra, people call this the Dandpatta.
The blade of the Pata is long and straight, ranging from 10 to 44 inches long. The special feature of the Dandpatta is its hilt that has a form of a gauntlet. Inside, it’s padded to provide comfort for the hands when using the weapon.
The Marathas used the Dandpatta and it was an effective weapon against the Mughals. Wielders practiced cutting techniques by slicing fruit on the ground but without letting the blade touching the ground. It’s still a common way to demonstrate techniques until today, and flexible blades are used to perform the trick.
The Maratha warriors used the Pata effectively when two warriors fought as a pair.