Kshatriya, from (holder of) Kshatra (rule or authority), is one of the four varnas (social orders) in Hinduism. Traditionally,
Kshatriya constitute the ruling & military elite of the Vedic-Hindu social system outlined by the Vedas and the Laws
of Manu. They were in charge of the protection of the Hindu society by fighting in wartime and governing in peacetime.
At the time of the Buddha the Aryan clans in India recognized four social grades called varnas (a colour), the highest being the Brahmin or priest.
Next comes the Kshatriya, the Warrior-ruler; then the Vaishya, or merchant; and lastly the Sudra or people of non- Aryan descent.
The lines of demarcation between each varna were variable and undefined; the complexity and rigidity of the modern caste system was unknown.
The Buddha belonged to the kshatriya varna.
Sanskrit akṣatra, ruling; one of the ruling order member of the Kṣhatriya caste is the derivation for Old Persian xšaθra ("realm,
power"), xšaθrya ("royal"), and xšāyaθiya ("emperor") are related to it, as are the New Persian words šāh ("emperor") and šahr
("city", "realm"). Thai: กษัตริย์ (kasat), "king" or "monarch," and similar-sounding Malay kesatria or satria, "knight" or "warrior",
are also derived from it. The term may also denote aristocratic status.
The situation has changed in modern times and Kshatriyas do not have much to gain or lose in status by their Kshatriya lineage. One area where the Kshatriya heritage has been prominent is the Indian Army.
In rituals, the nyagrodha (Ficus Indica or India fig or banyan tree) danda, or staff, is assigned to the Kshatriya class, and along with a mantra, intended to impart physical vitality or 'ojas'.
Gautama Buddha was born into a Hindu Kshatriya family.
The major branches of Kshatriya varna are: Suryavanshi (solar line), claiming direct descent from Ramachandra, and descent from Surya;
Chandravanshi (lunar line), claiming descent from Yadu, as Yadu was himself born in a Chandravanshi dynasty, and descent from
Chandra; Agnivanshi, claiming descent from Agni; and Nagavanshi, claiming descent from the Nāgas.