While researching for my book about the Indian Air Force Himalayan Eagle – The Story of the Indian Air Force, I came across some very interesting details about the military/warrior traditions of India that seemed at odds with the general image of a country thought to be spiritual and pacifist - the Buddha and “Mahatma” Gandhi immediately spring to mind in this context.
The details were intriguing enough for me to embark upon another ambitious project - to gather together and collate the data available on this Indian warrior tradition and its resurgence in modern-day India.
This work is the presentation of certain pertinent details that are available in the open sources but told in a comprehensive, objective and readable form so that an interested reader gains a better understanding of India’s little-known martial and warrior history!
It is a narrative of the warrior/military traditions of India going back to its pre-Vedic roots and covers the birth of the Indian warrior caste, the Kshatriyas. How these warriors dominated among the empire builders, and how their pre-eminence was superseded by civilian rule, a change in the political scene of India that was to have ramifications from the 10th to 20th century CE.
The title chosen for this work may confuse those readers who are aware that the emperor Ashoka eschewed violence for pacificism as a Buddhist. The lions in the title refer to the four represented on the Ashoka pillars at Sarnath, each facing to the points of the compass and which are symbolic of the present-day warriors of the country, the Indian armed forces, guarding against intrusions from any point.
Ashoka's Lions : The Warrior Spirit of India
Born in India in 1940, educated at a British oil company school in Iran and then at high school in India, the author was unable, due to parental objection, to continue a career in the Indian Air Force, for which he retained a life-long admiration. (The paternal objection was ironic – father was in Indian Army in WWI, and two uncles in WWII)
Working in an industrial organization, he wrote a humourous play for his company’s social club which garnered some acclaim, and then won a State award for a paper on Industrial Relations in Industry. He gained some flying experience in gliders to satisfy his love of flying. He also gained a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. (Used to counsel Indian Army friends traumatized in 1962 Sino-Indian War and 1965 Indo-Pak War)
Migrating to Australia in 1973, was soon involved in writing rebuttals of anti-Indian bias in local defence magazines such as the Pacific Defence Reporter, and international news magazines like Asiaweek and Far Eastern Economic Review and others, most of which were published.
He was a prominent member of many professional and social clubs and associations. Currently a member of the Old Boys’ Association of Bishop Cotton Boy’s School Bangalore, and a permanent guest of the IAF Retirees Group in Sydney Australia. Retained friendships with many classmates and friends in Indian military, including two retired Vice Chiefs of Air Staff IAF.
A keen reader and collector of books, with an interest in humour, aviation and Indian military history
His first book, written after retirement in 2008 as a Forensic Accountant, was titled “Himalayan Eagle – The Story of the Indian Air Force” which was published in India in January 2018.
The research for that book led to the writing of a follow-on about the warrior spirit of India. “Ashoka’s Lions – The Warrior Spirit of India” is the result.
He is married, with two children and five grandchildren and currently resides in Sydney, Australia.