Weapon Catalogue – from Indian mythology (1)

Weapon catalogue from Indian mythology

The range of weapons described in ancient texts is overwhelming. If we see closely, we will find many of the weapons from mythological stories, Mahabharat and The Ramayna, we discover that the warfare technologies were very much advanced.

Name of the weapon

Effect and usage

Associated with

Brahma Danda

It contained the spiritual powers of the 7 greatest sages (Sapta Rishis).. It contained the spiritual power of the 7 greatest sages of Hinduism – Bhrigu, Agastya, Jamadagni, Vasistha, Bharadwaja, Gautama and Kashyapa. This astra is the most powerful weapon of Lord Brahma. Drona used this on 15th day of Mahabharat war and nobody knew to counter this weapon. Pandavas had to resort to other means to counter this great warrior. Sage Vasistha given this weapon to Drona. Drona used Brahmadanda for the first time in the Mahabharat war.

Weapon of Seven Sages, The Sapta Rishis.

Aindra astra or Indra astra

Would bring about a shower of arrows from the sky.

Indra, the god of weather

Agneya astra

The weapon discharged would emit flames inextinguishable through normal means. Shishupala used this against Krishna which he had neutralized with Varun astra.

Agni, the god of fire

Varuna astra

The weapon discharged would release torrential volumes of water. This weapon is commonly mentioned as used to counter the Agneyastra.

Varuna, the god of water

Sammohana/ Pramohana astra

Would cause entire hosts/armies to collapse in a trance. Drona used on fourteenth day of Mahabharat to capture Yudhishthira, but Sahdev saved him.

Twashtar astra

Created illusion so that friends mistake each other for enemies and fight each other. Twashtar or Twashtri, is the architect employed by Indra, who later came to be known as Viswakarma and who built the celestial cities. The use of this weapon is not found. This is similar to Gandharva astra.

Twashtri, the heavenly builder

Mohini astra

Dispel any form of maya or sorcery in the vicinity.

Mohini, Visnu avatar

Surya astra

Create a dazzling light that would dispel any darkness about.

Surya, the sun god

Vayu astra

Bring about a gale capable of lifting armies off the ground.

Vayu, the god of wind

 

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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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