Sep 12, 2011

Weapons & Warriors: The Khanda of the Rajput

Art by TL Jeffcoat
Some of you weapon buffs already know about this very well respected sword of Indian history. The Rajput warriors ruled much of Northern India before and during the medieval ages. The Khanda was their pride and joy and the main piece to their amazing arsenal of weapons. In the hands of a Rajput, it could dice an opponent in mere seconds. The Rajput word translates to the Son of a King. They were born into this title and trained in the ways of the Rajput from youth. The Khanda is also symbol of Shiva and can be seen at the Mysore Dasara festival. 

I will go into more details about the Rajput history and culture later on, but for now, let me tell you about this unusual blade. It was forged with iron, sharpened on both sides of the thick blade, but the tip was made blunt. The thick flared tip increased the weight of the blade and assisted in its ability to slice through anything in its path. A thin point was placed under the handle which allowed a deadly backswing. This could be used as puncture weapon if sharpened or a bludgeoning tool. Some of the later designs included a spine in the blade to increase its strength for chopping through thicker obstacles. The Rajput used two hands with this sword, and although it was light enough to swing with one hand, it was capable of chopping through leather and chain with enough force behind the blow.

As a noble, the Rajput had plenty of time to become masters of their weapons. They trained constantly with the Khanda as well as their other weapons. They also trained in a form of martial arts that complimented their unusual arsenal. The unique style of combat at first glance would appear almost as an entertainer as the Rajput twirled the blade in his hands and spun around the battlefield. These were not warriors that fought as one unit, like many others. Instead, they would spread out and use ambush tactics on invaders to separate their ranks and force them into more single combat situations. Then they would lead the charge into the enemy with their soldiers close behind. The Rajput would dance and twirl through their enemies, striking out with the Khanda and dismembering anyone who stepped too close to the hacking blade. A Rajput never surrendered and would fight to the death, by twirling this blade in circles so that the only way to stop him was to kill him or just run away. The Rajput were very honorable, and lived by a strict code of honor.

I really love the arsenal of the Rajput, the weapons are one of the most unique designed set that I've ever come across.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Weapons and Warriors, click here to view the entire catalog of weapons and cultures. Thank you, see you next week.


  1. I've never heard of the Rajput before, but they sound awesome. Fighting to the death, twirling blades, and honorable--sounds like they'd make great characters for a story. :-)

  2. It's funny you mention that. I spent 20 years world building for my fantasy novel and I designed a nation that is based on the Rajput nobles. Just wait till I cover their "whip sword." That is frightening.

  3. Hello,

    just came across your blog and thought of sharing some information that might be useful to you. You may already have heard about the Sikhs, but if you haven't, this might help you in your work...

    The Khanda was/is also used by the Sikhs. In fact, it was the weapon of choice. When the "Khalsa" were created, a large number of Rajputs became Sikhs/ Khalsas. I myself belong to a family of Sikh Rajputs.

    The Rajputs were the major martial community in the new Khalsa society established in 1699 AD by Guru Gobind Singh. Later, other communities like the "Jats" joined the Khalsa in huge numbers.

    There is a spiritual dimension of the Khanda for the Sikhs. The double edges of the sword are meant to annihilate the enemy outside and the enemy within. Enemies within one's self being - Anger, Ego, Lust, jealousy etc.

    The sword is so important that the new order of the Khalsa was established by baptizing the Sikhs or followers by giving them sweet water which was stirred by a Khanda.

    The symbol of the Sikhs - The Nishan Sahib, has a Khanda in the middle and the symbol is sometimes just referred to as "Khanda Sahib".

    The Sikhs still use the Khanda. There is a sect of the Sikhs called 'Nihungs' who continue the warrior tradition till this day !! Their daily routine involves prayers and martial arts, of which the Khanda is an integral part along with other shastras ( weapons) like the Chakram (mostly worn on the turban), The gatka Chakkar, and many more.

    In case you need any info, feel free to write to me at:

    Thanks :)

    1. thank you for your info. sikhs,rajputs and marathas are india's deadliest warriors.

  4. I've heard of the Sikhs and actually ran across them often in my Rajput research. That's a lot of good info and I do plan on writing more about the warriors in India, so thank you for making yourself accessible. The Sikhs would be who I'd like to write about so I'll contact you when that date draws nearer. Thanks!

  5. Since you are doing an article on Rajputs you should mention some famous figures. Maharana Pratap, Rana Sangha, Rana Uday Singh, Bappa Rawal, and Rana Kumbha just of the Sissodia royal family. There are other great warriors like Prithviraj Chauhan, Patta Singh etc. Also great female warriors like Rani Durgavati, Rani Ajabde, etc. Rana means king rather warrior King, and Rani means queen.

  6. Other great warrior groups are the Marathas, Jatts, Bhil tribals, Punjabi's, Etc. Some famous military leaders would be Shivaji the Maratha, Chandragupta Maurya who was born a poor peasant, Bajirao Peshwa and Rani Laxmibai aka Jhansi ki Rani.