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 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

We would love to hear from you. Please provide your valuable comments/feedback either through facebook box or wordpress comment form. webmaster @ ritsin.com.