12 Of The Most Powerful Divine Weapons From Hindu Mythology
Hinduism boasts of a rich and varied mythos that still remains relevant in nations across the world today.
Their stories are entertaining and relevant. They are thought provoking and divisive, as works of art are meant to be. But all the great stories are made infinitely cooler by the presence of these divine weapons from Hindu mythology.
As powerful as they are terrifying, from the divine Astras to weapons of mass destruction, these are the objects that inspire awe in us still.
#1 Chandrahas, The Sword Of Ravana
A great devotee of Lord Shiva, Ravana was racing his chariot to the mountain abode of Shiva and Parvati, Mount Kailash.
When he realized the chariot could not pass over the mountain, he furiously ordered the mountain to move. When it wouldn’t, Ravana lifted the mountain, but the powerful Shiva pushed it back into place with his toe. With his fingers crushed, Ravana chanted the Shiv Tandav Strotram for the first time, which pleased Shiva so greatly, he granted him this indestructible sword.
#2 Indra Vajra, The Thunderbolt Of Indra
The sky god Indra was battling the asuras Namuchi and Vritra here on earth. The demons had removed light and moisture, making the land harsh and uninhabitable. But when Indra found his might was lacking he prayed to the deity Vishnu to assist him.
Vishnu fashioned him a unique weapon called the vajra which could release thunderbolts and wielding it, Indra vanquished the asuras. Another story tells fo the saint Dadhichi, who gave his bones so that the Vajra could be made from them
Similar to the imagery Zeus wielding his thunderbolt, the vajra as a symbol is prevalent throughout Hinduism as well as Buddhism.
#3 Nandaka, The Sword Of Vishnu
The most depictions of Vishnu with 4 arms do not depict him as holding a Nadaka, however, when he is depicted with more than four arms, he can be seen holding his sword.
The story goes that when Lord Brahma was meditating, a demon named Lohasura tried to disturb him. From the meditating God there sprung forth a man who transformed into a divine sword, Nandaka. The Gods then asked Vishnu to wield the sword and defend Brahma. Vishnu defeated the demon and its remains transformed into earthly metals.
According to the Vishnu Purana, the sword represents knowledge and its sheath is ignorance.
#4 Teen Baan, The Arrows Of Babrika
Babrika, the son of Ghatotkach was granted these three arrows that were considered infallible.
Each arrow had its own properties, the first would mark out all the targets that the archer wished to hit, the third, when fired, would destroy them. The second arrow was used to mark out those targets that were not to be harmed.
Babrika was granted a boon by Krishna that he would be known by Krishna’s own name, Shyam. and that any devotee who uttered that name in true faith would have his troubles disappear. Teen Baan Dhaari and Khatushyam are other names for the wielder of these mighty arrows.
Khatushyam, in fact, believed that he could end the Kurukshetra war in moments if he had to with the help of the teen baan.
#5 Pinaka, The Bow Of Shiva
Although its most popular iteration is the bow from the Ramayana, which is broken by Lord Ram during Sita’s Swayamvar, originally, Pinaka is the bow of Lord Shiva utilised for total dissolution, or pralaya.
In Valmiki’s Ramayan however, Devendra created two equal bows handing one to Vishnu and one to Dhanush. But before their contest was to take place, they were warned that it would cause unforetold destruction, leading Dhanush to throw his bow to the earth. This bow, later known as the Shiva Dhanush, was lifted by the princess of Mithila.
The bow is immensely powerful and was used in a battle against the asuras by Shiva to such effect, that he destroyed the entirety of Tripura.
#6 Kaladanda, The Staff Of Yama
Yama, The God of Death ad the ruler of Naraka wields this impressive staff which is described as a club with lethal capabilities.
Once set on a target, it would destroy them, regardless of the boons and protections they possessed. It is also the same weapon Yama used to defend himself against Ravana.
#7 Rudra Astra, The Power Of The Third Eye Of Shiva
The Rudra Astra is one of the most devastating weapons at Shiva’s disposal. Said to contain the power os one of the 11 Rudras, the weapon is said to let out a beam that reduces the landscape to ashed and can easily destroy celestial beings as well.
Karna utilised this weapon in the Mahabharata piercing Arjuna’s Shiva Kavacch on the chest. Draining the armour of its mystical powers, it is said to have weakened Arjuna’s hold over his bow considerably. The Rudra is said to only be stoppable using an Astra over which Vishnu presides.
#8 Gandiva, The Bow Of Arjun
Created by Brahma, Arjuna the legendary warrior of the Mahabharata wielded this bow. The bow was initially owned by Shiva and then passed on from diety to diety till it reached Varuna, who handed it to Arjuna.
Used by him in the Kurukshetra war, the bow was said to make him almost invincible, considering any ordinary human would not have been able to even lift the bow. The bow was said to have 108 bow-strings, giving the archer a significant advantage in combat. The strings would let out a thunderclap whenever a bow was fired and a flash so bright, most could not even look upon it.
#9 Brahmaastra, The Devastating Missile
Described as a weapon of unparalleled strength, the Brahmaastra is similar to a missile that was created by Lord Brahma. Effective against almost all other Astras, the Brahmaastra is said to be obtainable through immense concentration and meditation or can be given by a Guru who knows the correct incantations.
The weapon could only be dispensed once a day and wreaked havoc so great, that the land would become barren and the men and women surrounding it, infertile. The weapon was used by Indrajit in the Ramayan to such effect that it caused Laxman to fall in battle. Two competing Brahmaastras were used in the Mahabharata as well, to devastating effect.
#10 Trishula, the Trident Of Shiva
One of the most recognizable pieces of iconography around the world, the Trishul is the most powerful weapon personally wielded by Lord Shiva. The Trishul was the one he used to slice off Lord Ganesh’s head on being unable to recognize him initially.
It is said to be able to cut through the physical world, the world of forebearers and the world of the mind, sending them into a singular state of bliss. the only force that can withstand the Trishul is Shiva himself.
#11 Sudarshana Charka, The Disc Of Vishnu
A disc-like weapon resembling a shuriken with 108 serrated edges, it is the primary weapon associated with Vishnu.
It is said that the discus returns to the attacker after the enemy has been destroyed, making the weapon accurate and easy to control. The weapon is said to be constantly in motion and the name translated literally means “a vision of the auspicious”.
#12 Vijaya, The Bow of Karna
The bow is designed to guarantee victory the wielder. The divine bow of Karna, Vijaya was designed by Vishvakarman for Lord Shiva. The bow was then passed to Indra for safe-keeping. Indra then handed it to Parasurama who gave it to Karna as a reward for his skill.
Krishna even warned Arjuna about how far the might of the bow could carry Karna, which was proved when he achieved victory over Arjuna. Krishna’s only advice was then to defeat him with stealth, at a point when was not wielding the bow.
Each bow is said to be charged with sacred mantras.
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