Tag Archive: warrior races


The Pashtunwali

Pashtunwali dates back to ancient pre-Islamic times but is still widely in use, especially by the rural tribal society. It is not only practiced by members of the Pashtun diaspora but also by some non-Pashtun Afghans or Pakistanis who live in close proximity with Pashtuns.

Now my interest in this topic dates to the fact that there was quote that one heard during childhood ( pashtun or Pathans as they are called in India are integral part of Indian society pre-dating Islamic origination which goes back to ancient times, so as a group they are talked about often in the Pan-Indian society even though many associate them from Afghanistan which may be a more “modern” source point ).

The quote was :

You will never find a more noble, Honorable and Loyal friend

and Neither you will find a more Honest and fierce enemy.

Obliviously the whole quote got me thinking. I mean is it just the pashtuns who have these features or there is something else ?

Do they follow some type of code or lifestyle which evokes such response ?

Then while browsing over the net I fell upon a word called Pashtunwali.The word holds deep importance to the Pashtun culture and those who lived around them. It is said that a true Pashtun abides by this line of ethics. The great Badshah Khan tried to revive or more importantly tried to reignite it barring the badla ideology (which means revenge) . It was epitomised in the poetry by his son Khan Abdul Ghani khan, the Mad poet as he was called.The Red shirts were very prominent in telling about the pashtunwali culture in british era. One such line of his poetry reflects the deep pride he had of Pashtun culture.

“Pashtun is not merely a race but, in fact, a state of mind; there is a Pashtun lying inside every man, who at times wakes up and overpowers him.”

Imran Khan in this present era by his methods is trying live that great Pathan ideology but his ideology has got more to with moderate Pan-Pakistan (which is drawing hostility from urdu based parties especially PPP and Pakistan Muslim League (N).) He is in one way a by product of Pathan culture but of a Niazi Pashtun Tribe which settled in urdu speaking Punjab region during the Mughal rule. I however guess that his thinking is more in trying to mix both old and new. In order to give a balanced view point of Pakistani Moderates (which is creating a rockstar style status among youth of Pakistan, not that he isn’t already a rockstar. Someone even said that he is Mick Jagger of south Asia)

I therefore compiled a list of the points in Pashtunwali (hope I have covered all).

  1. Melmastia (hospitality) – Showing hospitality and profound respect to all visitors, regardless of distinctions of race, religion, national affiliation as well as economic status and doing so without any hope of remuneration or favour. Pashtuns are widely considered to be the most hospitable people in the world and a Pashtun will go to great extents to show his hospitality.
  2. Nanawatai (asylum) – Derived from the verb meaning to go in, this is used for protection given to a person who requests protection against his/her enemies. The people are protected at all costs, in many cases even people running from the law must be given refuge until the situation is clarified.
  3. Badal (justice) – To seek justice or take revenge against the wrongdoer. This applies to injustices committed yesterday or 1000 years ago if the wrongdoer still exists. Justice in Pashtun lore needs elaborating: even a mere taunt (or “Paighor”) is regarded as an insult – which can only usually be redressed by shedding of the taunter’s blood (and if he isn’t available, then his next closest male relation). This in turn leads to a blood feud that can last generations and involve whole tribes with the loss of hundreds of lives. Normally blood feuds in this all male dominated setup are then settled in a number of ways.
  4. Tureh (bravery) – A Pashtun must defend his land/property, family and women from incursions wherever he or she might reside. A Pashtun should always stand brave against tyranny and he should always be able to defend his property, family, women and the honour of his name. Death can follow if anyone mistreats these traits.
  5. Sabat (loyalty) – Loyalty must be paid to one’s family, friends, and tribe members. Loyalty is a must and a Pashtun can never become disloyal as this would be utterly shameful towards themselves and their families.
  6. Imandari (righteousness) – A Pashtun must always strive towards thinking good thoughts, speaking good words and doing other good deeds. Pashtuns must behave respectfully towards all creations including people, animals and the environment around them. Pollution of the environment or its destruction is against the Pashtunwali.
  7. Isteqamat – Trust in God (known as “Allah” in Arabic and “Khudai-ta-Allah” in Pashto). The notion of trusting in the one Creator generally comports to Islamic idea of belief in only one God (tawheed).
  8. Ghayrat (self honour or dignity) – Pashtuns must maintain their human dignity. Honour has great importance in Pashtun society and most other codes of life are aimed towards the preservation of one’s honour or pride. They must respect themselves and others in order to be able to do so, especially those they do not know. Respect begins at home, among family members and relatives.
  9. Namus (Honor of women) – A Pashtun must defend the honor of Pashtun women at all costs and must protect them from vocal and physical harm.
  10. TOR: Pashtuns are sensitive about the honor of their women folk and slight touching of the women is at times considered a serious and an intolerable offence. The cases of adultery and illicit relations are put down with iron hand in and no quarter is given to culprits either male or female. Casting of an evil eye on woman is tantamount to imperil one’s life. Both sexes, therefore, scrupulously avoid indulgence in immoral practices.
  11. TEEGA OR KANRAY: Teega or Kanray is cessation of bloodshed between contending parties. Teega (putting down of a stone) in other words means a temporary truce declared by a Jirga. The word stone is used figuratively as actually no stone is put at the time of the cessation of hostilities. Once the truce is enforced, no party dares violate it for fear of punitive measures.
  12. GHUNDI: Ghundi is a classic case of balance of power in tribal areas. It is derived from Pashto word Ghund, meaning a political party but it is used for an alliance. As modern states enter into bilateral agreements for promotion of trade, cultivation of friendly relations and mutual defense, similarly various sections of a tribe align themselves in blocs or Ghunds to safeguard their common interests. Ghundi is entered into defeat the aggressive and nefarious designs of a hostile neighbor. In tribal fighting the Ghundi members espouse their mutual interests against their common enemy and act as a corporate body with all the resources at their command.

Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan tried to eliminate the Badla aspect for which many term him Bachcha Khan too. The revenge culture however of Pashtun is such that it is passed from generation to generation. The term that “ Revenge is dish best served cold” was imbibed from this tradition and the Britishers took that quote and made it famous. Though now the whole world thinks that British invented that “fascinating” sentence. (It is sometimes funny how the world goes round, reminds me of “It’s awataur moron” dialogue by the “high-flys”.)

Ps: It sad to see that the real faces of Pashtun society being marginalized and only Taliban phenomenon is being made the face of Pashtun identity. There was a time when Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan was the spiritual leader (and many in this age have forgotten his name ) and now it is Mullah Omar the spiritual head of Taliban( The hardline Wahhabi ideologue, however poverty and neglect of Pashtuns has got to do alot with it).  Though what is sad more is that these days Militant feminist or Fem-Nazi as they “belovedly” are called in world. Identify anything which is not according to them as a Taliban phenomenon not to mention the entire pashtun race as such and those alike, just so that they could score some brownie points on media channels without even understanding the whole story.( Now does that make me uneducated for raising that question.I Do not know but just don’t shoot the messenger is all I ask. 🙂 )

Gatka has been part of north Indian culture for over 300 years. Guru Angad Dev, encouraged followers to train the body physically, mentally and spiritually.

Guru Hargobind propagated the theory of the warrior saint and emphasized the need for his followers to practice fighting for self-defence. When fifty-two Rajput princes were captured by the Muslim conquerors, he assembled an army to free them. This led to further exchanges in the martial cultures of the Sikhs and Rajputs. Both the Rajputs and Punjabi communities favored the sword as their main weapon.

Gatka is a weapon-based Indian martial art created by the Sikhs of the Punjab. The Punjabi word gatka refers to the wooden stick used in sparring matches. The term might have originated as a diminutive of the Sanskrit word gadha or mace. A more popular theory is that it derives from the Punjabi words gat and ka. Gat means grace, liberation, and respect in one’s own power, while ka means someone who belongs or is part of a group. Gatka would therefore translate as “one whose freedom belongs to grace”.

Like all people who watch it, I was also truly mesmerized by it. It was more seen as an army’s practice before going to the war. Gatka is not gender specific and both boys and girls and perform it side by side. In India Gatka is generally at public display during religious processions. It is a showcasing of the might of Sikhs. The Gatka Federation of India, in collaboration with Punjab Gatka Association, for the first time, has formulated and standardized the in-depth Rules and Regulations Book in September 2009 for playing of Gatka game with pictorial guidelines and providing training to the budding Gatkebaaz through workshops, seminars and camps under the new Gatka rules.The best part of Gatka training is that it is not religion based. Anyone can join Sikhs in practicing this great martial art. It’s objective it help you defend against an attack.

The weapons used in the training process are :

  • Barcha — The spear is a long shafted weapon and has a hook at the spearhead used to pull away the opponent’s shield.
  • Chakram – The chakram is a flat steel ring, five to 12 inches in diameter, from half an inch to an inch and a half wide, and with a sharp outer edge. While not being used, it is carried “fixed” to the Turban. Several of different sizes were often carried on a pointed turban, the “dastar ungaa” or behind the back. It is held between the thumb and index finger and thrown towards the opponent with an underhand flick. Thrown with sufficient force and accuracy it can cut off a green bamboo three-quarter of an inch in diameter at a distance of thirty yards.
  • Dahl or Shield. It is nearly always round and varies in diameter from about eight inches to about twenty-four. Some are very nearly flat while others are strongly convex. The edges may be flat or rolled back in the reverse curvature of the shield. It is held by two handles fastened to ring bolds that pass through the shield and are riveted to bosses on the outside, sometimes formed to spikes. Between the handles there is a square cushion for the knuckles to rest against. The handles are so placed that, when tightly grasped, they force the backs of the fingers against the cushion giving a very firm and comfortable hold. These shields are nearly always of steel or leather.
  • Gurj or Mace: Indian maces have great variations in their shape. From simply curved steel bars to Persian influenced maces with openings in the head which gives a whistling sound when the blow was struck to plane massive heads. They often have guard hilts like the Khanda
  • Katar – The Katar is a double-edged and straight bladed dagger used to pierce armour. The handle has two sidebars to provide protection and a better grip.
  • Khanda – This is a typical Indian sword and has a broad, straight blade, usually widening towards the point, which is blunt. Sometimes it is also double-edged.
  • Kirpan – The Kirpan is a short curved dagger and all Sikhs are required to carry it by tradition.
  • Lathi – The lathi or quarterstaff is a wooden stick as tall as the warrior and made of oak.
  • Marati – Trainig device: The Marati is a bamboo stick with wooden or cloth balls on its ends. It is mainly used for training purposes but there are variations with blades or burning cloth on its ends, to attack and distract elephants and for psychological warfare.
  • Soti – This is made from fire hardened bamboo or ratan, 1m long and usually has a hand guard. It is mainly used for practice and “playing Gatka”, the training fight. For combat they were replaced by oak ore ironwood sticks, without hand guards.
  • Tapar – The battle-axe is very distinct from the normal axe and sometimes has a dagger concealed in the handle.
  • Talwar – The sword is usually curved with a thin and sharp blade. The Talwar is greatly respected and treated with care.
  • Tir Kaman – The bow and arrow is a potent weapon. The arrow is made of steel heads with reed shafts. The bow is also composite and made of layers of wood and steel.
  • Chakar – The Chakar looks like a wagon wheel with weights at the end of each spoke. The chakar is wielded by grasping the centre and spinning it around, causing damage upon anyone coming too close to the spinning weights.

If someone observed carefully, then it was performed in the opening ceremony of the commonwealth games. It is truly an art that needs to be remembered and kept alive. Though in this modern world where weapons have changed many would not agree, but the gatka techniques and the meditation that it involves while practicing does really makes the mind calm of a warrior. That calm mind helps him to fight better in any domain of life.

One has been watching over the years that warrior tribes or some castes in particular have been subjected jokes and insults in audacious manner people speak behind their backs as to why this guy is so aggressive ,buffoon or he should not be employed in our organization….may it be Gukhas of north east India,Pathans of Afghanistan n India n Pakistan ,jats in Pakistan and india or Sikhs all over the world.

it is funny when dying for nation is considered then these very individuals who insult them want them to “protect” them.

Not only talking about these races but those from business community of north india and specially from a traditional administration communities blur out these racial slurs and these slurs are retaliated back with equally vehemental force.

It is but a very disturbing trend , dis-respects are such as

1. Bengali : will run away on the instance of 1st shot from the gun, Hypocrite, self obsessed pseudo intellectual.(Netaji subhash chander bose , a bengali freedom fighter, doubt that u can use those words against him. )
2. Gurkhas : he is suppose to say “uuu shabji ” and he will be a guard standing outside your home or he will be from nepal , he is suppose to carry an axe along all the time. He is always a friend which you want in terms of war standing besides you, but that is all ! Nothing more than that and a sense of alienation always remains.

3. A business community from punjab khatris : (better known as punjabis )
(now they are suppose be extremely shrewd,cunning, will take your money away and will play with your instincts, most notably if your women (warrior people women in particular and those from not their community  ) are pretty they will be lured on the behest of love and taken away ( a phenomenon of beauty drain in this case )
A question in this regard : don`t the AMERICANS do the same capitalist economy, rich men beautiful women and appreciated : why double standards n what about khatri women ?
(but do spare a though for poor guy who cannot express his feeling in warrior clan, because he is conditioned never to express it and if he does then he is not MAN enough, quite the “KAMINEY” story plus he is poor n dumb as per perception )


4.  Pathan : for their simple and straight forward nature are again and again targeted for their simplicity and dialogs like ” hum pathan hai ” and “oye tum kahmiz kya bolta hai ” is used as a derogatory joke !
A perception or Image is formed via media aspects and through influential circles used often to tell that Pathan are buffons and are at peace when at war !!


(what abt shah rukh khan, khan abdul gafar khan, Imran khan , do they fit these stereotypes developed by the individuals who do not wish to get out of their ignorance cocoon.)

5. Sikhs : for one have always been on receiving end, but i guess they don`t give a rat`s ass about what others think till their gurus` honour is challenged.

The most notable insult against a sikh will always be : “12 o clock” without even knowing the whole story behind it plus some have issues that they are not FASHIONABLE………

This following lines  narrated is an answer to the insult :

    During 17th Century, when Hindustan was ruled by Mughals, all the Hindu people were humiliated and were treated like animals. Mughals treated the Hindu women as there own property and were forcing all Hindus to accept Islam and even used to kill the people if they were refusing to accept.That time, our ninth Guru, Sri Guru Teg Bahadarji came forward,in response to a request of some Kashmir Pandits to fight against all these cruel activities. Guruji told the Mughal emperor that if he could succeed in converting him to Islam, all the Hindus would accept the same. But, if he failed, he should stop all those activities. The Mughal emperor happily agreed to that but even after lots of torture to Guruji and his fellow members he failed to convert him to Islam and Guruji along with his other four fellow members, were tortured and sacrificed their lives in Chandni Chowk.

Since the Mughals were unable to convert them to Islam they were assassinated.Thus Guruji sacrificed his life for the protection of Hindu religion.

Can anybody lay down his life and that too for the protection of another religion? This is the reason he is still remembered as “Hind Ki Chaddar”, shield of India . For the sake of whom he had sacrificed his life, none of the them came forward to lift his body, fearing that they would also be assassinated . Seeing this incident our 10th Guruji, Sri Guru Gobind Singhji (Son of Guru Teg Bahadarji) founder of khalsa made a resolution that he would convert his followers to such human beings who would not be able to hide themselves and could be easily located in thousands.

At the start, the Sikhs were very few in numbers as they were fighting against the Mughal emperors. At that time, Nadir Shah raided Delhi in the year 1739 and looted Hindustan and was carrying lot of Hindustan treasures and nearly 2200 Hindu women along with him. The news spread like a fire and was heard by Sardar Jassa Singh who was the Commander of the Sikh army at that time. He decided to attack Nadir Shah’s Kafila on the same midnight . He did so and rescued all the Hindu women and they were safely sent to their homes. It didn’t happen only once but thereafter whenever any Abdaalis or Iranis had attacked and looted Hindustan and were trying to carry the treasures and Hindu women along with them for selling them in Abdal markets, the Sikh army although fewer in numbers but were brave hearted and attacked them at midnight ,12 O’clock and rescued women.

After that time when there occurred a similar incidence, people started to contact the Sikh army for their help and Sikhs used to attack the raider’s at Midnight, 12 O’clock.

Nowadays, these “smart people” and some Sikh enemies who are afraid of Sikhs, have spread these words that at 12 O’clock, the Sikhs go out of their senses.

6. Dogras :

The Dogras, numbering nearly one million are concentrated north of the River Sutlej (in Jammu, Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir and Punjab) and have carved out India`s northern frontier along the Karakotam.

According to one tradition, the word Dogra is derived from `duggar`, which is ascribed to dvigarta, implying a land of two lakes, the Mansar and Saruinsar. The historical tradition rests on two Chamba copper plates of the eleventh century that have been found which mention Durgareshwar, the lord of Durgar. It is said that Durgareshwar, once attempted to conquer the Chamba Kingdom so the name may well be derived from durgaradesha (the difficult terrain). In any case, the word `Dogra` does not denote a caste but is a term embracing Hindus of all castes as well as Muslims and Sikhs living in the Dogra region and speaking Dogri.
The Dogras excel in martial arts. However, in addition to their joining the defence forces in large numbers, they have also entered other spheres of economic and political activity. Dr. Karan Singh, the youngest person ever to become a member of the union cabinet, and at one time the ambassador to the United States, is a Dogra.
kashmir was under Dogra from 1846 to 1947: Dogra Rule

It troubles one that after the so-called FREEDOM we are still not able to respect each other, is this the cool , modern, liberated India.. ? Where jokes are used as a weapon to tell that though you might be good at war or whatever but we are in command here and will use you and throw you as per own will or constraint in those domains in which you are not good traditionally…….

and those who don`t care and are truly in place to make difference, well they are too educated, too liberated and interested in “get a life” phrase ,that only way to make them think is to bring out a movie on the lines of “RANG DE BASANTI “.

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