Monthly Archives: August 2012

Weapons used in the time of Mahabharata – 2

Mahabharata – Important weapons from Indian Mythology

Karna’s weapons

Karna had the knowledge of Brahmastra, but his teacher Parshurama has cursed him that he could not use it when he requires it most. He had kavach and kundal from Sun, which would made him invulnerable, but Indra asked those in alms.

Karna born with Kavach and Kundal

Karna born with Kavach and Kundal

 

But he had given him Vasavi Shakti or Amoghastra, which could be used only once, to him. Karna saved that for Arjuna,  but upon the insistence of Duryodhana, he had to use this on Ghatotkacha. Ghatotkacha was Bheema’s son, who was single handedly decimating the kaurava’s army. He was called by Shri Krishna to fight from his father’s side. Another master stroke from the seventh avatar of lord Vishnu.

Karna - Mahabharat

Karna – Mahabharat

Arjuna’s weapons

Arjuna seems to have the blessings of gods when it came to astras and shastras. You name the weapon and he had it. He has done severe penance to obtain divyastras for the battle of Mahabharat. Shiva has bestowed his blessings on Arjuna that his quivers will be inexhaustible. Shiva has also given him the Pashupata, which had the powers to destroy anything. Arjuna also had Yamaraj’s mace, Naagpashas from varuna and Antardhana from Kuber at his disposal. Indra also presented him a weapon before Mahabharat war.  Gandiva was also given to him Lord Shiva. These gods have armed Arjuna to fight the evil forces. Arjuna and Shri Krishna are also known  as Nara(Arjuna) and Narayana (Shri Krishna).

Lord Shiva giving astra and shastras to Arjuna

Lord Shiva giving weapons to Arjuna

Lord Shiva giving Pashupata astra to Arjuna - Mahabharat

Lord Shiva giving Pashupata astra to Arjuna – Mahabharat

 

Shri Krishna’s weapons

Shri Krishna’s bow was Sharngadhanu, with which he has once countered Shiva’s weapons. He also used Brahmastra to counter a Brahmastra invoked by Shiva. Shri Krishna also had Narayanastra with which he has counterd pashupatastraWhen fighting Banasura and Lord Shiva, Shri Krishna used his weapon Narayanjvara to counter Shivajara. No discussion is complete on weapons of Shri Krishna, if we do not mention the Sudarshan Chakra. He used this in the war of Mahabharat for a different purpose – to make sun disappear. This led to killing of Jayadrath.

Another notable use of this Sudarshan Chakra was in killing of Shishupala, the king of Chedi, who was also a relative of Shri Krishna.

sudarshan-chakra-indian-mythology-mahabharat

Sudarshan Chakra – Vishnu – Dashavatar – Shri – Krishna’s weapon

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Weapon catalogue – Indian Mythology (4)

This is the last article describing weapons in Indian mythology. I am really amazed by the range and diversity these provided to the owners. Another noticeable fact is that lot of them can be related to the weapons used in modern warfare.

Following is the list of weapons in weapon series.

Name of the weapon

Effect and usage

Associated with

Sharnga, Nandaki and Kaumodaki

These three are the weapons of lord Vishnu.

Sharnga: The Celestial Bow of Lord Vishnu.

Nandaki: The Sword of Lord Vishnu.

Kaumodaki: The divine mace weapon of Vishnu; invincible and without parallel.

Lord Vishnu.

Pashupata Astra

It is believed in Hindu mythology that Pashupatastra is one of the most devastating weapons, as it is the weapon of the consort of the godhead Mahadeva, i.e. Mahakali. Mahadeva literally means “Highest of all god” and Mahakali means Goddess who is beyond time.

This weapon, granted to Arjuna by Lord Shiva, is one of the most destructive and foreboding weapon. It is said to have the power to change the course of Creation and Destruction. Would destroy target completely, irrespective of target’s nature. Infallible. This weapon had to be obtained from Shiva directly. There are some suggestions that this was used on two occasions as detailed below, but this is not confirmed.

Uses of Pashupata astra: In Mahabharat war by Arjuna to kill Jayadratha.

Against Lakshmana by Meghanada in The Ramayana.

by Lord Shiva on Tripurasuras.

Lord Shiva, Mahakali

Bhargava Astra

Karna used the the deadly Bhargava-astra, given to him by its owner, Parshurama on Pandavas, in mahabharat war. This weapon destroyed all the arrows sent by the Pandava armies. Krishna then encouraged Arjuna to strike with his Brahma astra, which brought an even more potent rain of arrows down on the heads of Karna and his men. Karna returned the arrow fire, as he and Arjuna traded blows with their deadly arsenal of astras.

Parshuram

Naga Astra

Used between the fight of Karna and Arjuna.

Having promised his mother that he would only use the Naga-astra once during the battle, after this failed attempt to kill Arjuna, Karna did not try to deploy the weapon again at Kurukshetra. Repeatedly Karna had broken Arjuna’s Gandiva bowstring, which Arjuna immediately restrung again, eleven times in a row. Arjuna then sent a number of astras after Karna, including the Agni-astra, which Karna met by releasing the Varuna-astra. The Varuna-astra produced rain to put out the firestorm created by Agni-astra. Arjuna then countered the strike by releasing his Vayu-astra, which produced winds that blew away the storm clouds of Varuna-astra.

Naga astra

Naga astra

The Nagas

Following weapons were given to Rama by Vishwamitra during the Balkand when he helped the sage in performing his yagya

Varsana

Causes rain

Sosana

Sosana, sucks up moisture from the air, the results of which are obvious.

Santapna

This weapon generates excessive heat, scalding the enemy forces.

Vilaapana

Tear or the weep-inducer, which can be related to the tear-gas of the present days.

Madan Astra

Difficult to overcome

 Tejaprabha

Robs people of their power

Lord Rama was also in possession of an unassailable intoxicator and a dear missile of Manmatha, namely Mohana [The Intoxicator,] and another the fond missile of gandharva-s namely maanava by its name, [The Humane missile,] and a missile dear one to pishaaca-s, monsters, namely paishaca [The Monster missile.]

Shri Krishna janmabhoomi mandir (temple) at Mathura

Shri Krishna janmabhoomi temple

The city of Mathura contains the famous Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple.  This temple is the birthplace of  Lord Krishna, who is believed to be the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.  This temple is actually  a prison cell belonging to Kansa, who was the uncle of Krishna and King of Mathura.

Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple at Mathura

Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple at Mathura

Janmbhoomi Temple that is currently managed by the followers of the Vallabhacharya sect is the most visited temple in Mathura. Located in the eastern part of Mathura, not far from the Yamuna River, the temple is architecturally very interesting.

According to historians, the prison cell, popularly known as ‘Garbha Griha’, in the temple premise is the exact place where lord Krishna was born. The stone walled cell is reminiscent of the cruelty of King Kansa. Many statues and sculptures of the bygone era were found on excavating the site. During the excavation work various things were recovered that confirm this story. The articles that were recovered include utensils, some old figurines, and a rock platform that were commonly seen in the prisons of that period. These articles are displayed in a museum. Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple shares a common wall with a mosque, due to which there is heavy security in the temple. The present temple was built in the 20th century. A stone slab is present in the temple that symbolizes the original site where Lord Krishna was born.

Main gate (entrance) of Krishna Janmabhoomi

Main gate (entrance) of Krishna Janmabhoomi

The city of Mathura

Being the birth place of Lord Krishna, Mathura is one of the most sacred destinations of India. As the legend goes, Mathura was founded in the Treta era by Shatrughna, the younger brother of Lord Rama and later was under the royalty of King Kamsa, the maternal uncle of Lord Krishna.

Shatrughna killed the demon Lavanasura who has tormented everyone.  Lavanasura was the son of Madhu, the pious demon-king after whom the city of Mathura was named.  Madhu’s wife and Lavanusara’s mother was Kumbhini, a sister of Ravan. Lavanasura was the holder of the divine Trishula (Trident) of Lord Shiva, and nobody was able to kill him or prevent him from committing sinful activities.

According to Hindu mythology, Kamsa heard a divine prophecy saying that he would be killed by his sister Devki’s eighth son Krishna. Hence, he imprisoned Devki and her husband Vasudeva and kept on killing their children one after another. But when Lord Krishna was born, miraculously all guards went to sleep, prison gates opened and Vasudeva carried his son to Gokul crossing the wild river Yamuna in the mid night. The divine prophecy came true and Krishna killed tyrant Kamsa and ruled Mathura for a long time. Vrindavan is the place where Lord Krishna spent his childhood leaving a number of myths and legends of love and friendship behind.

Reading suggestion: Shri Krishna’s birth and Janmashtmi festival.

 

When Arjuna was killed (Mahabharat)

Arjuna defeated and killed by another archer

Sounds surprising? This is true that Arjuna was killed by his own son before revived with the help of his wife.

When Yudhishthira was conducting ashwamedha yaga, Arjuna came to manipur. Babhruvahana, the son of Arjuna and Chitrangada was the ruler of this state.

There was a fight between Arjuna and Babruvahana and Babruvahana succeeded in killing him with an arrow.

Uloopi reviving Arjuna after Babhruvahana defeated and killed him

Repenting of his deed, he determined to kill himself, but he obtained from his stepmother, the Naga princess Uloopi, a gem which restored Arjuna to life.

He returned with his father to Hastinapura. This was on account of a curse by the Vasus, on account of Arjuna’s killing Bhishma (who is an incarnation of one of the Vasus) during the Mahabharat war. Babruvahana also killed Karna’s son Vrishaketu in the battle. Vrishaketu had accompanied Arjuna in the Ashwamedha Yagna and was consequently killed.

Vrishketu became very close to Pandavas following the death of Karna. Pandava knew that Karna was their elder brother.

Arjuna had a boon from Uloopi that no creature living in water can do any harm to him. With the help of this boon, he helped five crocodiles which were under a curse. Uloopi was the naga princess who abducted him and married him. This happened when he was on the tour of the country after breaking a rule. During this exile, he married Uloopi, Chitrangada and Subhadra.

Babruvahana was born with the alliance of Chitrangada.

Weapons used in the time of Mahabharat – 1

Weapon used in Mahabharat

We are continuing on from the weapons used in the times of The Ramayana. Brahmastra has been mentioned quite frequently in ancient texts and Mahabharat is no exception here.

Brahmastra

As described in the sastra, a Brahmastra is an astra. This is created by Lord Brahma. It is sometimes known as the Brahma Astra (astra referring to ‘missile weapon’). As described in a number of the Puranas, Brahmastra is considered to be the very deadliest of weapons. When a Brahmastra is discharged, neither a counterattack nor a defense of any kind can stop it.  This weapon can only be neutralized by Brahmadanda (stick of Brahma).  Karna has the knowledge of this potent astra. Though he was not able to use this because of the curse of Parshurama. Vishwamitra used this against Vasistha. Vasistha neutralized this weapon and defeated Vishwamitra. The whole story is narrated here.

Vasishtha – Vishwamitra – Brahmastra – Indian – mythology – weapon

Brahmashira

There was another powerful weapon called Brahmashira.  Brahmashira was never used in war. It had four times more power than the Brahmastra, i.e fourth power square. This was because Brahma has four heads, thus the name. Only Arjuna and Ashwatthama possessed the knowledge to summon the Brahmashira. Arjuna has the knowledge to retract this, but Ashwatthama did not. After Ashwatthama killed uppandavas, a fight ensued between him and Arjuna. During the fight, Ashwatthama invoked the extremely powerful Brahmashira, against Arjuna.  Arjuna in response invoked the same astra. Fearing the destruction of the world, the sages advised both to take back their weapons. While Arjuna could do so, Ashwatthama (presumably having less skill) could not, and was given the option of choosing any single target to destroy. Out of spite, Ashwatthama directed the weapon to the wombs of Pandava women. Among them was Uttara, Arjuna’s daughter-in-law. Shri Krishna saved the unborn Parikshit, but cursed Ashwatthama for his cowardly act.

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The Ramayana story in pictures – Ayodhya Kand (2)

Ayodhya Kand – The Ramayana in pictures

The Ramayana story is told by sage Valmiki in various kandas. This is the story which is told in Ayodhya kand and is primarily around Rama’s vanvaas. Kaikeyi and Manthra were the central characters towards Rama’s vanvaas.

Manthra and Kaikeyi

Manthra advised Kaikeyi to ask for her boons from Dashrath

Manthra advising Kaikeyi to ask for Bharat’s ascendance to throne. Kaikeyi had two boons from Dashrath. Dashrath was the king of ayodhya and Kaikeyi’s husband.

 Kaikeyi in kopa bhavan

Kaikeyi in kopabhavan – asking for her two boons to Dashrath

She asks Dashrath for two boons. These boons have been given to her when Dashrath was helped by Kaikeyi in Dev Asur sangram. He was wounded in the battle field and Kaikeyi rode her to safety and later, tended him. Pleased with her, Dashrath asked her for two boons. She has now asked for Bharat’s coronation and Rama’s banishment.

Dashrath and Kaikeyi

Rama is exiled for fourteen years and Bharat becomes the king of Ayodhya. Dashrath dies as he could not cope up with the parting of Rama. Dashrath had a curse earlier because of that he had to leave this world in this manner.

Once while hunting, he accidentally killed Shravan Kumar. Shravan kumar was a dedicated son who was serving his blind parents. When Dashrath told this unfortunate incident to them, they cursed him saying that he would also suffer for his son as they are suffering because of him.

Shravan kumar and his parents

Dashrath and Shravan Kumar

Dashrath and Shravan Kumar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dashrath’s was inconsolable when Rama, laxman and Sita were preparing to go to the forests.

Ram laxman preparing to go to vanvaas

Ram laxman preparing to go to vanvaas

Rama, alongwith Laxman and Sita go to forest to abide with their father orders.

Rama, Laxman and Sita

Bharat requests him to come back. But Rama refused as this was his duty to obey his father’s orders. Bharat then asks for his sandals and he put Rama’s sandals on the throne of Ayodhya. He then conducted the governance in the name of Lord Rama.

Rama and Bharat

Rama and Bharat

Story of Barbari in mahabharat

Barbari – if he had fought the Mahabharat war

Barbari or Barbarika has been a less written but important character of Mahabharat. He has been the illustrious son of the great warrior Ghatotkacha. Ghatotkacha has been himself the son of great Bhima and Hidimba.

Lord Shiva has granted him three infallible arrows which had the power to conquer the whole world. Agni god has bestowed him with a bow.

Before the Mahabharata war began, Lord Krishna queried the warriors how many days he would take to finish Mahabharat war alone. Bhishma answered that he would take 20 days to finish the war. Dronacharya said 25 days. Karna  said he would take 24 days. Arjuna told Krishna it would take 28 days for him to complete the battle.

Khatu Shyam jee or Barbari (Mahabharat)

Then he asked Barbari as how many days he would require? Barbari replied that he would take only a minute. Krishna baited Barbarika by mocking him for going to the great battle with only three arrows. In reply, Barbari proved to Krishna that he indeed would require only a minute.

Krishna then asks the boy whom he would favour in the war of Mahabharat. Barbarika reveals that he intends to fight from the weaker side. As Pandavas have only seven Akshouhini army, when compared to Kauravas eleven, he considers that Pandavas are weak and hence wants to support them. Krishna explains  consequence of his word to Barbari’s mother.

Krishna tells that whichever side Barbari supports will only make the other side weak due to his power. Nobody has the skill or power to defeat him. Hence, he is forced to support the other side that has become weaker due to his word to his mother. Thus, in an actual war, he will keep switching between the two sides, thereby destroying the entire army of both sides and eventually only he survives. Subsequently, none of the side is victorious as he will be the only lone survivor. Hence, Krishna avoids his participation from the war by seeking his head in charity.

As a true Kshatriya, he offered himself to be sacrificed, but he did have a condition. The condition was that he had left his home with a singular desire to witness the epic battle, so could Lord Krishna use some of his divinity to grant him that ability. So it is said that after the sacrifice, Barbareek’s head was installed atop a hilltop from where he witnessed the entire battle and thus he is also referred to as ‘Barbari – the silent witness’.

He is also known as Teen Baandhari and Khatu Shyamji. He is one of the persons who saw Shri Krishna’s vishwaroopa form.