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Use Of Chariots In War In Hinduism

Chariots, ratha, were used in wars in Hinduism even during the days of Rig Veda, which contains a hymn addressed to the war chariot (Rig Veda VI.47.26). A similar verse is found in Atharva Veda (VII.125). The most famous picture of chariot in Hindu religion is Sri Krishna delivering Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna just before the Mahabharata war atop the chariot.

Chariots constituted the first division of the ancient army in Hinduism.

Lord of the wood, be firm and strong in body: be, bearing us, a brave victorious hero
Show forth thy strength, compact with straps of leather, and let thy rider win all spoils of battle. (Rig Veda VI.47.26)

The epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata contain numerous references to the use of chariots in war.

Chariots were normally drawn by horses, but sometimes mules and bulls were also used for this purpose. Demons could fly their chariot. They could make it disappear and make it appear in another spot in the battlefield.

Arthashastra of Kautilya states that three varieties of chariots were used in war; one used during the training period, one for marching towards the foe and another in operation on the battlefield. It also mentions that there was a special officer called the (rathadyaksha) superintendent of chariots. The banners of kings were flown from the top of the chariots.

Chaturanga is a Sanskrit word meaning four-limbed, from the words Chatura (four) and anga (limb). This word appears in Rig Veda (X.92.11) with reference to the human body and was later used to describe the four-fold division of the army (sena), which consisted of chariots (ratha), elephants (gaja), horses (turaga) and infantry (pada).




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