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The earliest Vedic texts listed the Kshatriya (holders of kshatra, or authority) as first in rank, then the Brahmans (priests and teachers of law), next the Vaishya (merchant-traders), and finally the Sudra (artisans and labourers). Movements of individuals and groups from one class to another, both upward and downward, were not uncommon; a rise in status even to the rank of Kshatriya was a recognized reward for outstanding service to the rulers of the day. The legend that the Kshatriya were destroyed by Parasurama, the sixth avatar of Vishnu, as a punishment for their tyranny is thought by some scholars to reflect a long struggle for supremacy between priests and rulers. Brahmanic texts such as the Manu-Smrti (a book of Hindu law) and most other Dharmashastras (works of jurisprudence) report a Brahman victory, but epic texts often offer a different account, and it is likely that in social reality rulers have usually ranked first. The persistent representation of deities (especially Vishnu, Krishna, andRama ) as rulers underscores the point, as does the elaborate series of ritual roles and privileges pertaining to kings through most of Hindu history. These largely buttress the image of a ruler as preserver of dharma (Religious and moral law) and auspicious wealth. In modern times, the Kshatriya varna includes a broad class of caste groups, differing considerably in status and function but united by their claims to rulership, the pursuit of war, or the possession of land.