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Indian martial arts refers to the fighting systems of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia. This includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Although South Asian martial arts is sometimes preferred for neutrality, the fighting styles of all the aforementioned countries are generally accepted as "Indian" due to shared history and culture. This article will refer to India in the historic sense to include most of what is now southern Asia.
A variety of terms are used for the English phrases "Indian martial arts" or "South Asian martial arts", usually deriving from Sanskrit or Dravidian sources. While they may seem to imply specific disciplines (e.g. archery, armed combat), by Classical times they were used generically for all fighting systems.
The most common term today, sastra-vidya, is a compound of the words sastra (weapon) and vidya (knowledge). Dhanuveda derives from the words for bow (dhanushya) and knowledge (veda), the "science of archery" in Puranic literature, later applied to martial arts in general. The Vishnu Purana text describes dhanuveda as one of the traditional eighteen branches of "applied knowledge" or upaveda.

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