Ancient Hindus were inferior as far as the art of warfare is concerned, is one of the most extraordinary delusions put forward by Marxist academicians and Colonial historians. This claim is far removed from reality. Independent Indian and Western scholars have shown that ancient Indians were proficient in the art of warfare and superior in many ways.
Jawaharlal Nehru in his Discovery of India writes: “It is interesting to note that Chanakya in his Arthshastra, in discussing weapons of warfare, mentions machines which can destroy a hundred persons at one time and also some kind of explosives.”
Captain Troyer, in his essay on the Ramayana in the Asiatic Journal (October 1844, p. 514), says: “All the traditions of the Hindus are filled with wars, in which religion certainly had its share. I have shown this sufficiently already, without being- obliged to go back so far as the contests between the Suras and the Asuras.”
Being skilful sailors from time immemorial, the Hindus were adepts at naval warfare. Colonel Tod in his book on Rajasthan (Vol 2) says: “The Hindus of remote ages possessed great naval power.”
Being the greatest commercial nation in the ancient world, and enjoying sea trade with nearly every part of the world, they were compelled to look to their navy to guard their trade and to make it sufficiently strong to ensure their position as the ” mistress of the sea”. Their position in the ancient world being similar to that of England in the modern world so far as maritime affairs are concerned, their navy, too, was equally eminent and powerful. Manu mentions navigation to have existed among the Hindus from time immemorial. Strabo mentions a naval department in addition to the others in the Indian army.
Dhanur Veda, the standard work on Hindu military science being lost, the dissertations on the science found in the Mahabharata, the Agni Purana, and other works are the only sources of information on the subject left to us. Dr. Sir AV Hunter says: “There was no want of a theory of regular movements and arrangements for the march, array, encampments, and supply of troops. They are all repeatedly described in the Mahabharata.”
Ward says: ” The Hindu did not permit even the military art to remain unexamined. It is very certain that the Hindu kings led their own armies to the combat, and that they were prepared for this important employment by a military education; nor is it less certain that many of these monarchs were distinguished for the highest valour and military skill.” The ancient Hindu tactics of war were as original as valuable. It is said that the Hindus divided their army in the following manner: (1) Uras or centre (breast), (2) Kakshas or the flanks, (3) Pakshas or wings, (4) Fraligraha or the reserves, (5) Koti or vanguards, (6) Madhya or centre behind the breast, (7) Prishtha or back — a third line between the madhya and the reserve.
Array of forces in action is generally termed vyuha. Some vyuhas are named from their object. Thus: Madhyabhedi — one which breaks the centre, (2) Antarbhedi — that which penetrates between its division. More commonly, however, they are named from their resemblance to various objects. For instance, Makaravyuha, or the army drawn up like the makara, a mire monster. Syenarvyuha, or the army in the form of a hawk or eagle with wings spread out. (3) Sakatavyuha or the army in the shape of a waggon and so on…
In the Mahabharata (Vol. VL, pp. 699-729), Yudhishtira suggests to Arjuna the adoption of the form of Suchikamukha, or the needle point array (similar to the phalanx of the Macedonians), while Arjuna recommends the Vajramukha or thunderbolt array for the same reason. Duryodhana, in consequence, suggests Abhedya, or the impenetrable.
In schools, students are taught about how Indian history is all about defeats and invasions. Indian students are taught to hate our culture and traditions. They are told that Indians excelled in nothing. Despite Indians were adept in the art of warfare, foreign invaders managed to defeat us. There might be many reasons for this. One of the reasons is our defeat was outlook towards humanity. For the Hindus, all actions, even wars, were determined by dharma. The bestial mlechas – adharmis — never had any respect for humanity or women or places of worship other than theirs.
Nehru writes: “The old Indo-Aryan theory of warfare strictly laid down that no illegitimate methods were to be employed and a war for a righteous cause must be righteously conducted. How far the practice fitted in with the theory is another matter. The use of poisoned arrows was forbidden, so also concealed weapons, or the killing of those who were asleep or who came as fugitives or suppliants. It was declared that there should be no destruction of fine buildings.”
(Some portions of the article have been taken from the book Hindu Superiority by Har Bilas Sarda)