The Kshatriya, whose name translates literally into "protector of gentle people," are the second social hierarchy of the Hindu caste system after the Brahmin. They are were kings and warriors, children born from the arms of Brahma, symbolizing their purpose in protecting people and livestock. Hinduism maintained that only the Kshatriya could rule, however a few Brahmin rulers have been noted. The Kshatriya was allowed to drink liquor and eat meat, their most exalted death was one in battle.

The Puranas, a body of Hindu myth, says that Parashurama destroyed all the original Kshatriya men. In the absence of rulership anarchy prevailed. The Brahmin knew they would have to do something.
They held a grand sacrifice near Mt. Abu and from that great fire pit emerged four great clans: the Parmars, Chauhans, Parihars, and Solankis. These were the fire-born, the Agnikula, and are more often known as the Rajputs. According, therefore, to the Puranas, the Rajputs are the only true Kshatriya clans, the others are the children of Kshatriya women and either conquerors or Brahmin men.

Other Kshatriya families include the Suryavanshi, Children of the Sun and the Chandravanshi, Children of the Moon.

One important Kshatriya figure is Siddhartha Guatama, he who would be known as the Buddha. Born a prince and warrior, in adulthood he taught that nonviolence was superior to force and that the caste system was obsolete to the point of atrocity.