Khandayat (Odia: ଖଣ୍ଡାୟତ, Hindi: खंडायत) is a local synonym of Kshatriya(Odia: କ୍ଷତ୍ରିୟ, Hindi: क्षत्रिय) community/varna, a martial caste found in the state of Odisha in India.
Origin of the Term
The term Khandayat is a poetic citation from the Sanskrit term khandâ-âyata, which means ” the master of the sword/land”. The name Khandayat is originated from the term “Khanda” with its origin in Sanskrit which means the sword as well as the land and “âyata” means control in specific discipline.
In the ancient Utkal/Kalinga military, Prabhu Jagannath of the Rig vedic Dham, Puri, is referred as the “Prathama Khandayat”(First commander of the Army) followed by the Gajapati King as “Dwitya Khandayat”(Second in-Commander of the Army).
The Khandayats have a recorded history of over 2500 years, and have been noted in historical events such as the famous Kalinga War, Defeating and further invading 7 sultanates in medieval era and the Khandayat Rebellion(Paik Rebellion) against the britishers, where, along with the East Indian Company Khonds regiment, they fought strenuously against British Rule.
The Khandayats are supposed to have ruled Odisha and several adjoining parts in 16th century with the death of last Gajapati emperor Mukunda Dev, who was killed by Govinda Vidyadhara in 1541. Govinda Vidyadhara was the founder of Bhoi (Bhoumyokar) dynasty in Orissa. The much famous Gajapati Routaray Dynasty had a Khandayat lineage with the prominent rulers being Kapilendra Routaray . Since then, the ruling families such as Singh Deo, Bhanj Deo, Singha Deb are limited to their rule in Odisha.
The advent of land holding came as a central issue for Khandayats in the medieval ages, as feudalism became an important factor in the common Indian society. Hence, after each battle or war, Khandayats who had fought were given lands or “jagirs” according to their rank and success in the battlefield. Because of this, by the end of 19th century, most landholdings became part and parcel of people from the Khandayat community.