What is the Sanskrit Word for War?

The Sanskrit word for war, gavisti, literally means a desire for more cows. This comes from the pastoral period of the Vedic society, during which cattle were a main source and symbol of wealth. During this time, many inter-clan wars were fought over getting and keeping cattle, and the warrior class of the society, known as Kshatriyas, were largely responsible for stealing cattle from other clans, and protecting their own clan's cattle.

More facts about Sanskrit:

  • Although Sanskrit has been declared a classical language in India, it is still registered as one of the country's 22 official languages.

  • The oldest form of Sanskrit, called Vedic Sanskrit, is thought to date back to 1200 BC.

  • Sanskrit is also often used as a religious language, and is featured in many Vedic chants that are still used today.

More Info: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanskrit

Discussion Comments


More correctly, yuddha.


Sanskrit word for War is Yudh. The movie is wrong. Gavisti would be a smaller scale war -- say violence between two people, two villages or of that magnitude. The movie dramatizes it. Also, in the movie the Berkeley professor was also right -- gavisti could be applied to an argument. It's all contextual. Vedic society and cattle as wealth are simplistic attributes to attach to a civilization.


A tidbit: The Sanskrit word for war is mentioned in Villeneuve's new movie "Arrival," about 14 minutes from the start

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