Khanda (sword)

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Rajput Khanda.jpg
A khanda
Type Sword
Place of origin Indian subcontinent
Production history
ProducedSimilar weapons used from at least the Gupta period (320-550 CE) to present.
Blade  typeDouble-edged, straight bladed, blunt tipped

The khanda is a double-edge straight sword originating from the Indian subcontinent. It is often featured in religious iconography, theatre and art depicting the ancient history of India. It is a common weapon in Indian martial arts. [1] Khanda often appears in Sikh, Jain, Buddhist and Hindu scriptures and art. [2]



The word khanda has its origins in the Sanskrit khaḍga [3] (खड्ग) or khaṅga, from a root khaṇḍ meaning "to break, divide, cut, destroy". The older word for a bladed weapon, asi , is used in the Rigveda in reference to either an early form of the sword or to a sacrificial knife or dagger to be used in war.


The blade broadens from the hilt to the point, which is usually quite blunt. While both edges are sharp, one side usually has a strengthening plate along most of its length, which both adds weight to downward cuts and allows the wielder to place their hand on the plated edge. The hilt has a large plate guard and a wide finger guard connected to the pommel. The pommel is round and flat with a spike projecting from its centre. The spike may be used offensively or as a grip when delivering a two-handed stroke. The hilt is identical to that employed on another South Asian straight sword, the firangi.


Early swords appear in the archaeological record of ritual copper swords in Fatehgarh Northern India and Kallur in Southern India. [4] although the Puranas and Vedas give an even older date to the sacrificial knife. [5] Straight swords, (as well as other swords curved both inward and outward), have been used in Indian history since the Iron Age Mahajanapadas (roughly 600 to 300 BC), being mentioned in the Sanskrit epics, and used in soldiers in armies such as those of the Mauryan Empire. Several sculptures from the Gupta era (AD 280-550) portray soldiers holding khanda-like broadswords. These are again flared out at the tip. They continued to be used in art such as Chola-era murtis.[ citation needed ]

There is host of paintings depicting the khanda being worn by Rajput kings throughout the medieval era. It was used usually by foot-soldiers and by nobles who were unhorsed in battle. The Rajput warrior clans venerated the khanda as a weapon of great prestige.

Goddess Durga wielding khanda sword, 7th century. Varaha Cave Bas relief.jpg
Goddess Durga wielding khanda sword, 7th century.

According to some, the design was improved by Prithviraj Chauhan.[ citation needed ] He added a back spine on the blade to add more strength. He also made the blade wider and flatter, making it a formidable cutting weapon. It also gave a good advantage to infantry over light cavalry enemy armies.

Rajput warriors in battle wielded the khanda with both hands and swung it over their head when surrounded and outnumbered by the enemy. It was in this manner that they traditionally committed an honourable last stand rather than be captured. Even today they venerate the khanda on the occasion of Dasara.

Maharana Pratap is known to have wielded a khanda. The son in law of Miyan Tansen Naubat Khan also wielded khanda and the family was known as Khandara Beenkar. Wazir Khan Khandara was a famous beenkar of 19th century.

Many Sikh warriors of the Akali-Nihang order are known to have wielded khandas. For instance, Akali Deep Singh is famous for wielding a khanda in his final battle before reaching his death, which is still preserved at Akaal Takhat Sahib. [6] Akali Phula Singh is also known to have wielded a khanda, and this practise was popular among officers and leaders in the Sikh Khalsa Army as well as by Sikh sardars of the Misls and of the Sikh Empire. The Sikh martial art, Gatka also uses khandas.

In Religion

In Dharmic religions, Khanda is represented as wisdom cutting through veil of ignorance. Hindu and Buddhist deities are often shown wielding or holding khanda sword in religious art. Notably, Buddhist guardian deities like Arya Achala, Manjushri, Mahakala, Palden Lhamo etc.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Scimitar Sword

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"The Sword was of enormous length and breadth, heavy and unweildy, design'd only for right down chopping by the Force of a strong Arm; till Time and Experience discovering the Disadvantages, by Degrees contracted its Length and lighten'd its Weight in to the more handy Form of the Scymitar; which was first invented by the Eastern Nations, and has continued to be their principal Weapon to this Day:....""The Saracens, Turks and Persians, made use of but three different Throws with the Scymitar, and one of those, only on Horseback; the other two on Foot."

Firangi (sword) Sword

The firangi (Marathi:फिरंगाना) was an Indian sword type which used blades manufactured in Western Europe, particularly Solingen, and imported by the Portuguese, or made locally in imitation of European blades.

Panj Takht

A takht, or taḵẖata literally means a throne or seat of authority and is a spiritual and temporal centre of Sikhism. There are five Takhts, which are five gurudwaras that have a very special significance for the Sikh community. The first and the most important was established by Guru Hargobind in 1609, 'Akal Takht' and is just opposite the gate of Harmandir Sahib – The Golden Temple, Amritsar. While the Harmandir Sahib, or Golden Temple, represents Sikh spiritual guidance, the Akal Takht symbolizes the dispensing of justice and temporal activity. It is the highest seat of temporal authority of the Khalsa and the seat of the Sikh religion's earthly authority. There, the Guru held his court and decided matters of military strategy and political policy. Later on, the Sikh Nation took decisions here on matters of peace and war and settled disputes between the various Sikh groups. The Sarangi singers sung the ballads of the Sikh Gurus and warriors at the place and robes of honour (saropas) were awarded to persons who rendered distinguished services of the community of men in general. In December 2010, the Deccan Odyssey train, taken on charter from Government of Maharashtra, started with the aim to have a journey across four Sikh takhts, with a flight by devout and sightseers to the fifth takht. A special train named Panj Takht Special train for the pilgrimage of five Sikh takhts, was flagged off on 16 February 2014.

Dastar bunga

Dastar bunga, or "towering fortress", is a style of turban used by a specific sect within the Sikhs, the Akali Nihangs. As an essential part of their faith the warriors used the turban as a store for their expansive range of weapons.

Bagh nakh Claws

The bagh nakh, vagh nakh, or vagh nakhya is a "fist-load, claw-like" weapon, originating from the Indian subcontinent, designed to fit over the knuckles or be concealed under and against the palm. It consists of four or five curved blades affixed to a crossbar or glove, and is designed to slash through skin and muscle. It is believed to have been inspired by the armament of big cats, and the term bagh nakh itself means tiger's claw in Hindi.

Sanatan Shastar Vidya is a centuries-old Sanatan battlefield art which translates to "the science of weapons". It is used from last thousand of years. Rajput passed this art to Marathas, jaat and Sikhs. There is surname singh which means lion skill. Only sanatan shastar vidya mastered person can use singh name Rajputs also use sanatan shastar vidya and singh surname before origin of sikh relegion. There is a book name sikha dhi bhagat ratan mala written in 17 century during the time of guru hargobind singh ji which include information about sikh militarization. Rao jaita ji and Rao sigar ji two rajput train sikh army and Guru hargobind sahib ji about shastar vidya this was written in sikha dhi bhagat ratan mala book.


  1. M. L. K. Murty (2003), p91
  2. Teece, Geoff. Sikhism. Black Rabbit Books. p. 18. ISBN   1583404694.
  3. Rocky Pendergrass, 2015,Mythological Swords, Page 10.
  4. Murty, M. L. K. (2003) [2003]. Pre- and Protohistoric Andhra Pradesh Up to 500 B.C. Orient Longman. ISBN   81-250-2475-1.
  5. Allchin, F. R. (1979) [1979]. "A South Indian Copper Sword and its significance". In Johanna Engelberta, Lohuizen-De Leeuw (ed.). South Asian Archaeology 1975: Papers from the Third International. BRILL. ISBN   90-04-05996-2.
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-06-02. Retrieved 2015-07-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)