Kshatriyas: The Kings and Warriors
The warrior and kingly class in the ancient class system of India was the Kshatriyas, second in the social hierarchy only behind the Brahmins. They shouldered the great burden of protecting and ruling. Because of their elevated function in Indian society, they were always allied with Brahmins. The importance of the rulers was symbolized by wearing sacred threads, which marked them as twice born. Their first birth is physical, the second spiritual.
Though they were always allied with Brahmins, at times the warriors competed with the them for control of the top of the social hierarchy. By the sixth century
What is the sacred thread worn by Brahmins and Kshatriyas?
The sacred threat is a cord worn by upper-caste Hindu males over the right shoulder. The thread runs across the chest and around the left side of the body. It consists of three strands before marriage and six or more thereafter. This thread can be worn by any of the three upper castes — Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vaishya. In actual practice, Brahmins commonly wear the thread, while the Kshatriyas and Vaishyas wear it less often.
Further symbolic importance is bestowed on the Kshatriyas in Indian literature. Up to the Gupta era (600 c.e.), the Kshatriyas learned Sanskrit and, to some degree, the scriptures. Amazingly, the Upanishads reveal instances of Kshatriya kings teaching Brahmins the highest wisdom. Both the Ramayana and Mahabharata are Kshatriya epics that cover the issue of kingly succession. Further, these epics highlight the two Kshatriya heroes Rama and Krishna, both recognized as avatars of Lord Vishnu.
A Kshatriya who led a bad life in deed, word, or thought and who held wrong views about the world would be reborn in the pit of purgatory after parting with his body. The fates of Brahmins, Vaishyas, and Shudras would be similar.