Weapon catalogue – Indian mythology (3)

Weapon catalogue from Indian mythology

In this article, details of Vaishnava astra, Gandharva astra, Manava, Maheshwar, Kuber weapons are given.

Name of the weapon

Effect and usage

Associated with

Vaishnava astra

destroys target completely, irrespective of target’s nature. Would Infallible. This weapon had to be obtained from Vishnu directly.

Vishnu, the Preserver

Gandharvastra

Used by Lord Rama against Ravana’s army. Also used by Abhimanyu in Mahabharat against kauravas.

Manava

Used by Lord Rama to kill Maricha.

Manu

Maheshwar

Used by Laskhman against Meghnaad.

Yamastra

Has been used by Meghnaad against Lakshman and Shishupala against Shri Krishna.

Shakti

Used by Meghnaad against Lakshman this caused his unconsciousness. Due to this weapon, Hanuman had to bring the whole mountain of sanjeevani booti. The physician who cured Lakshman was Sushena.

Pinaka

was the divine bow of Lord Shiva gifted to King Janaka by Sage Parashurama for safe-keeping while the sage performed penances. It was gifted to Parashurama by Shiva for being a great disciple.

Lord Shiva

Sammohanastra

Used by Arjuna in Mahabharat against Kauravas.

Samvarta

Rama passed on to Bharat. Three crores gandharvas were killed instantly by this.

Vishamitra taught Rama

Kuber astra

Shishupala and Shri Krishna used this during their battle in Mahabharat

Kuber, the god of wealth

Rudra astra

Used in the dual of Shishupal and Shri Krishna in mahabharat

Shiva

Sudarshan Chakra

Sudarshana Chakra: The magical chakra, a spinning disc with sharp outer spears. The Sudarshan flies at the command of Vishnu, spinning away to tear off the heads of His opponents, or to perform any function desired by Vishnu. It was most famously used by His Avatar Krishna in the Mahabharata. Shri Krishna cut Shishupala’s head with this weapon.

Sudarshan chakra
Sudarshan chakra

Krishna, one of the Dashavtar’s of Vishnu.

 

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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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Test your knowledge on Mahabharat

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.]

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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Test your knowledge on Mahabharat

 

Weapons in the period of The Ramayana

Rama and Ravana - The Ramayana

Weapons used in the times of the Ramayana

Long before the advent of nuclear weapons, we heard it many times in Indian mythology and ancient texts that not only powerful weapons existed, but they were also used by various people. Some of these weapons had the power to annihilate the whole universe. This provides us with some fascinating reading, as we can related to these weapons with modern warfare.

Lord Rama and his weapons

Probably the most written and popular is the Brahmastra, which is has found mention in Mahabharat and The Ramayana. This was the most potent and could be used once in the lieftime.  Lord Ram earlier intended to use this against Sagar (Sea god),as he wanted to ocean to give way to Lanka. Sagar was not yielding when Rama requested him, so as the last measure, he resorted to use the Brahmastra. Sagar promplty complied. By this time, the Brahmastra was invoked, so Rama has directed it towards a place, where it could do minimal harm.

When Rama invoked Brahmastra on Sagar (Sea God)
When Rama invoked Brahmastra on Sagar (Sea God)

Ravana’s killing: Lord Rama used prasvapna as the means to evaporate the amrita (nectar) from Ravana, which was the reason Ravana was not dying. This important advice was given by Vibheeshana to him.

Rama using Prasavapan on Ravana
Rama using Prasavapan on Ravana

 

In the war,  he used Gandharvastra to kill 14000 asurs, as this weapon compelled asuras to think that the next person fighting to them is Rama. Thus they fought with each other and killed themselves. Only two people knew to use this weapon, Rama and Ravana, though Ram only had the knowledge to neutralize this.

Earlier, in his student days, Lord Rama used Manava upon Maricha.

Rama and Ravana - The Ramayana
Ravana killing by Lord Rama – The Ramayana

Lakshman and his weapons

Lakshman used various weapons in this war. He has killed Ravana’s son Meghnad. He used Varunaastra which Meghnaad failed. He used Sauryaastra to neutralize Meghnaad’s Aagneyastra . Then Lakshman had to use powerful weapon named Maheshwar to stop Meghnad’s asur weapon. Meghnad was killed when Lakshman used Indrastra. Prior to that Meghnaad used his powerful weapon Shakti, due to which Laskhman was unconscious on battle field. Hanuman brought Sanjeevani to revive him.

Hanuman bringing sanjeevani booti to revive Laxman

Meghnaad managed to imprison Rama and Laxmana in Naagpaash. Hanuman sought the help of Garud to free Rama and Lakshman. This is a very interesting and important incident, where the gods have been rendered helpless and had to seek help of mortals. Thus this mythology story is a teacher which teaches us to be humble, as help is needed by gods too.

 

Meghnaad used naga astra against Ram and Laxman

 

Ram and Laxman in nagpaash - reviced by Garuda
Ram and Laxman in nagpaash – revived by Garuda

 

Meghnaad’s boon and his death – Meghnaad had this boon that he could not be killed after performing a yagya. After completing the yagya, he would have received a rath (chariot) and while sitting on this, he could not be killed. Rama was told by Vibheeshan of this fact and Rama ordered him, Lakshman and Hanuman to go and stop this yagya. There was a precondition that he could not touch any weapon when performing this yagya.

There they disturbed his yagya and did not allow him to complete the yagya. So he had to get up in the middle of the yagya and fought with Lakshman and Hanumaan only with Yagya utensils. He was very angry with Vibheeshan, his uncle. He had saved a Divine Astra, Yamastra, to kill him, so he used it to kill him, but Kuber had already warned Lakshman about it, so Lakshman countered it and saved himself. Meghnaad used his three most fierce Astra (BrahmastraPashupatastra and Vaishnavastra) at Lakshman but to his surprise none of them even touched him; rather Vaishnavaastra circumambulated Lakshman before disappearing.

Meghnaad realized that Lakshman was no ordinary man, so he briefly disappeared from the battle ground and came to his father, told him everything and requested to make peace with Rama. But Ravana rebuked him for being coward, so Meghnaad again came to the battle after bidding good bye to his parents and wife. He fought with Lakshman fiercely and then was killed by Indrastra.

Laxman killing Indrajit

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