Vishnu with Sudarshana Chakra in his right rear hand
|Affiliation||Weapon of Vishnu|
The Sudarshana Chakra (Sanskrit: सुदर्शन चक्र) is a spinning, disk-like super weapon with 108 serrated edges used by the Hindu god Vishnu. The Sudarshana Chakra is portrayed on the right rear hand of the four hands of Vishnu, who also holds a Shankha (a conch shell) in his left fore hand, a Gada (mace) in his left rear hand, and a Padma (lotus bud) in his right fore hand.
According to the Puranas, Sudarshana Chakra is used for the ultimate destruction of an enemy. The depiction of Vishnu with Sudarshana Chakra also means that Vishnu is the keeper-owner of the celestial bodies and heavens.
The word Sudarshana is derived from two Sanskrit words - Su (सु) meaning "divine" and Darshana (दर्शन) meaning "vision". Hence, the word Sudarshana collectively means "vision of which is auspicious". Lord Sudarshana is generally worshiped during Homas to ward off negative powers or vibrations. The word chakra is derived from the word Chruhu (चृ:) meaning movement and kruhu(कृ:) meaning to do. Hence, chakra collectively means the one which is mobile. Among all the Vedic weapons, Sudarshana Chakra is the only mobile weapon.
There are different stories about the origin of the Sudarshana Chakra.
According to one version, it was given to Lord Vishnu by Lord Shiva who was pleased with Vishnu's devotion. Vishnu went to Mount Kailasa and began to pray to Shiva. He chanted many mantras, but there was no sign of Shiva. Shiva has a thousand names and Vishnu next started to chant these names. Each day he chanted the thousand names and offered a thousand lotus flowers to Shiva. Shiva decided to test Vishnu. One day, he stole a lotus flower from the thousand that were to be offered. When Vishnu realized that there was one lotus flower less, he gouged out his own eye and offered it in place of the missing lotus flower. Shiva was now pleased and appeared before Vishnu and presented him with the Sudarshana Chakra. With that Chakra the reverend Lord Vishnu is protecting all the worlds. The form of Lord Shiva blessing Vishnu with the disc is the Chakra Prada Murthi.
According to another version, the Sudarshana Chakra was made by the architect of gods, Vishvakarma.
Viswakarma's daughter Sanjana was married to Surya, the Sun God. Due to the Sun's blazing light and heat, she was unable to go near the Sun. She complained to her father about this. Viswakarma took the Sun and made him shine less so that his daughter would be able to hug the Sun. The left over Sun "dust" was collected by Viswakarma and he made three things out of it. The first one was the famous aerial vehicle Pushpaka Vimana, the second being the Trishula (Trident) of Lord Shiva, and the third was the Sudarshana Chakra of Lord Vishnu. The Chakra comprises 10 million spikes in two rows moving in opposite directions to give it a serrated edge.
It was also used to cut the Goddess Sati, consort of Lord Shiva into 51 pieces after she gave up her life by throwing herself in a yagna (worshipful fire ritual) which was held at his father's place. It is said that Shiva, in grief, carried around her lifeless body and was inconsolable. The 51 parts of the Goddess' body were then tossed about in different parts of Bharatvarsha and came to be known as "Shakti Peeths".
The use of the Sudarshana Chakra is occasionally mentioned in the Hindu texts of Rigveda, Yajurveda and Puranas, as an ultimate weapon to eliminate the enemy of law, order and preservation. Such enemies are enumerated variously as rakshasas, asura, and vikrutatma.
In one such instance, as scribed in the stanzas of the Mahabharat, Lord Shri Krishna, the Avatar of Lord Vishnu, beheads Shishupala with the use of the Sudarshana Chakra, for his rapacious behaviour (committing 100 mistakes each worthy of death) at the Rajsuya yagna celebration of Emperor Yudhishthira. It was also used to cut the celestial mountain Mandrachal Parvat for churning the ocean of milk (Samudra Manthan).
In the Tamil, the Sudarshana Chakra is also known as Chakkrath Azhwar (translated as Ring/Circlet of God).
Temples of Sudarshana
- Sri Sudarshana Bhagavan Temple, Nagamangala
- Sri Sudarshana Sannidhi at Sriranganatha temple, Srirangapattana
- Chakrapani Temple, Kumbakonam
- Thirumogur Temple, Madurai
- Chakkarathalwar at Srirangam, temple
- Chakkarathalwar at Sri Devanatha Swamy Temple (Kanchi Varadhar Temple), Kancheepuram
- Anjumoorthy (Five Deities) Temple, at Anjumoorthy Mangalam, in Palakkad district (The main deity of this temple is Sudarshana).
- Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, "How did Lord Krishna acquire Sudarshan Chakra?" and the composition of Sudarshan Chakra
- Vishnu’s Flaming Wheel: The Iconography of the Sudarsana-Cakra (New York, 1973) by W. E. Begley
- "Ancient Vishnu idol found in Russian town", Times of India (4 Jan 2007)