Kurochkin A.

Abstract: The article deals with analyzing of the edged weaponry complex used by Indian warrior-ascetics. The complex was unified for all the ascetics units and hence it was quite conservative and invariable. For the time-span of the 17-18th century Indian ascetics units could be corresponded to the knightly orders in the medieval Europe. The ascetics controlled the trade of the precious stones, corrals, raw silk, gold and silver. As mercenaries they changed the service of all great and minor rulers of India including the British. The sanniyasis-nagas mercenaries had a reputation of warriors especially effective as assault infantry and close combat troops and notwithstanding their active usage of firearms they were often equipped with solely edged weapons. The yogas were the first ascetic group who took arms and became an organized military troop. Later on the armed yogas were integrated into military branch of sanniyasis-shaivites order. By the mid 18th century the ascetics had got several thousand strong armies with cavalry and artillery troops and themselves took mercenaries into service. Among the weapons used by the ascetics the author analyzes both the objects that were widespread in India everywhere (cudgels, lathees, battle-axes, spears, sabers, daggers) and the pieces that were common exclusively for the ascetics (chakram, chakkar, chimta pliers, madu – a double dagger made of antler). The objects like a trident, long all-metal spear and arm crutches that contrary to common belief were not weapons were described separately. For the firs time ever the author demonstrates the long dirk-shaped dagger as the ascetics’ military attribute and explains why the 19th century collectors considered this type dagger to come from Nepal: on the end of the ascetic revolt in Bihar and Bengal the ascetics groups left for Nepal which was used as their rare base during the revolt. The compositions of these daggers still decorate the walls of some temples in Nepal that were under the ascetics’ control. The author also marks the correlations between weapon types used by the Marathas and ascetic and the borrowings. It is explained both because of historical neighborhood of the Marathas and ascetics communities and because of the fact that Marathas were the first ones who started taking ascetics into the military service. The weapons were used by the warrior-ascetics for the personal defense and for earning s (tax collection, blackmail or mercenary) and in the coarse of time became tightly connected with their life style while it is likely that on the rise of the warrior-ascetics military stir the weapon skills and participation in the battles were variants of ascesis and finding salvation.

Keywords: ascetics, nagas, akalis, gosains, sanniyasis, staff, cudgel, mace, spear, dagger, trident, chakkar.