Sanatan Shastar Vidiya

The term 'Shastar Vidiya' is transliterated as 'shastar' - weapon or more specifically edged weapons, and 'vidiya' - science. Hence Shastar Vidiya translates as 'the science of weapons'.

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Shastar Vidiya, being an ancient battle art is also known by various other names, namely:

*a designation introduced in the late 19th century in Punjab, India, by Nihang Singhs to distinguish Shastar Vidiya from the exhibitionist art of Gatka that came to predominance during British Raj.

Having traversed the ages, Shastar Vidiya is also referred to as 'Sanatan Shastar Vidiya' - the timeless science of weapons. Given that 'Sanatan' (timeless/most ancient) Dharma is the traditional designation of Hinduism, and in the past Hindus practiced this art, the art is also known as 'Sanatan Hindu Shastar Vidiya'. In the 15th century the Sikhs, being of Hindu descent themselves, adopted the art. The tenth Sikh Guru traces back his own ancestry to the great 'Surya Bansi' (belonging to the Sun Dynasty) Hindu warrior, Lord Raam (see Bachitter Natak, Dasam Guru Granth Sahib). As such, it is also known as 'Sanatan Hindu Sikh Shastar Vidiya'.

Shastar Vidiya is a complete traditional Indian battlefield system from the Punjab, land of the five rivers, in the north west of India. It is a highly evolved and deeply conceptual art as it incorporates sophisticated unarmed techniques with a variety of unique Indian weapons such as, swords, spears, daggers, clubs, sticks, chain and ball, 'chakars' (quoits), 'bagh nakha' (leopard claw), etc., as well as tactics and stratagems.

The art has alongside it, a martial yoga, known as 'Sanjam Kiriya Variyam'. Despite being deeply rooted in tradition, its ancient wisdom, techniques, character and spirit are timeless - and are very relevant and practical even today. The benefits do not only pertain to the combat art, bit in living a long, healthy and happy life.

Many prominent masters of various martial arts have, in relation to their own practices, described Shastar Vidiya as being 'a long lost relative' (Fred Bigliardi, June 2012). This echoes the teachings of many martial arts of Far Eastern origin, which in one form or another, trace their origins to ancient India. From a purely Indian perspective, its martial-cum-cultural and spiritual wisdom engenders a deep sense of pride in the ancient 'Kshatriya' (traditional Hindu warrior) and spiritual heritage of India. It brings to life the awe-inspiring wisdom, great martial qualities and deeds of our ancient Indian deities and ancestors: Shiva, mother Chandi, Chaturbhuj Vishnu, Krishan Maharaj, Raam, Arjun, Hanuman, Bheem, Guru Gorakhnath, Guru Gobind Singh, Guru Hargobind, Baba Darbara Singh, Baba Sukha Singh, etc.

Indians can feel proud of this tradition as it was their great ancestors who defended India. In defending its people, be they of whatever creed, race or religion, they treasured Dharma, hence kept this wondrous, unique cultural, spiritual, and martial legacy alive. In this way Shastar Vidiya fully contextualises Hindu and Sikh martial, historical and spiritual traditions. As such, Shastar Vidiya remains a relevant and essential art not only for Sikhs, Hindus or Indians at large, but to the wider world.

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