Brahmastra

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In Hindu mythology, the Brahmastra (IAST: Brahmāstra) is an astra (weapon) that is said to be able to destroy the whole universe, capable of destroying creation and vanquishing all beings. It is one of the most destructive, powerful, and irresistible weapons mentioned in Hinduism. It was created by Lord Brahma along with its more powerful variants Brahmashirā astra, Brahmanda astra and Bhargavastra.

It is termed as a fiery weapon that creates a fierce fireball,[1] blazing up with terrible flames and countless horrendous thunder flashes. When discharged, all nature including trees, oceans, and animals tremble, and the sky surrounds with flame, glaciers melt and mountains shatter with copious noise all around.

When used, the Brahmastra which is person-centric can destroy a powerful enemy if he does not possess an alternate counter weapon. If it is Brahmashirsha astra it causes collateral damage to every useful resource in a given area and prevents even a single blade of grass from ever growing in that area again. It is mentioned in Epic that there will be no rainfall for 12 Brahma years (12 Brahma years = 37.32 trillion human years) and climate conditions will worsen. The strike of the Brahmashirā astra will eventually destroy everything.

When Ashwatthama hurled the Brahmashirā astra against Arjuna, the Pandava countered by invoking the same weapon; to prevent widespread destruction Narada and Vyasa stood between the two astras, ordering the two warriors to withdraw their weapons. (Arjuna, out of nobility, did so; Ashwatthama, however, out of anger refused to recall the astra and rather directed it to Uttarā's womb to kill the unborn Parikshita in an attempt to produce some level of damage to his opponents.)[2]

Narada and Vyasa come to stop Brahmastra used by Ashwatthama and Arjuna

The origin of the word comes from the word Brahma, who is the "Creator" in Hindu culture. The idea that Brahmastra is the most powerful weapon can be understood by the kind of weapons that were used according to Hindu culture. The Trimurti, which consists of the three main Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, each wielding an astra, have them according to their characteristics.

The primary and personal astra of Shiva is a Pashupatastra. It is one of the six Mantramukta astra which when unleashed cannot be stopped. Only 3 people in written texts have the power and capability to wield it. Brahmarshi Vishwamitra, Sri Rama and Arjuna. Lord Shiva has never used it against a lesser mortal or on any worldly entity. Also it has been a crime to use it in the current iteration of the universe.

The personal astra of Vishnu is Narayanastra. It is also one of the six Mantramukta astra which when unleashed cannot be stopped. However unlike Pashupatastra one can pray to this astra for forgiveness and the astra may stop.

One of the astra of Brahma is the Brahmashirā astra, which has the power to eliminate the existence of anything from the past, present and future. This astra can remove and entity's existence from this Brahma Cycle. A more common usage of a lesser powerful astra is Brahmastra. Most often, a Brahmastra would be a weapon with insurmountable capabilities, far surpassing any other weapon used during any war or event. Most often the astra has been used by its wielder to destroy an extremely powerful enemy. Most of the Brahmarishis were capable of wielding it. Only Mahavir ajay vijaydhari Karna was able to hurl this mighty astra.

Variants[edit]

Brahmashirā Astra[edit]

The Brahmashirā Astra (Brahma's head weapon),[3] manifests with four heads of Brahma at the front and is four times stronger than the normal Brahmastra. Arjuna, Drona, Karna, Ashwatthama and Bhishma possessed this knowledge in Mahabharata. [4]

Uses[edit]

There are numerous instances within Sanskrit theological scriptures where the Brahmastra is used or its use is threatened, including:

  • Maharaja Kaushika (who later became Brahmarshi Vishvamitra) used it against Maharishi Vasishta, but the Brahmastra was swallowed by Vasishta's Brahmadanda Astra.
  • Indrajit used the Nagpasha against the army of Rama in the Ramayana. Lakshmana was injured by this weapon only. Only the Sanjeevani herbs brought by Hanuman managed to save the brothers and their army from death. Also, Indrajit used the Brahmastra against Hanuman, but Hanuman survived because of the boon previously given to him by Lord Brahma.
  • In the Ramayana, a Brahmastra is used by Shri Rama several times: once against Jayanta when he hurt Sita, against Mareecha in their last encounter, and finally the Brahmastra was used in the last battle with the Asura emperor Ravana.[5] According to the Ramayana, the weapon was also aimed at Samudra (the sea god) to carve a path out of the sea such that Rama's army could march towards the island of Lanka. However, as Rama loaded the weapon, Samudra appeared and offered to assist the king in crossing the ocean. But once invoked, the Brahmastra must be discharged, and hence it was instead aimed towards Dhrumatulya, falling at of modern-day Rajasthan, causing it to become a desert for eons to come. This incident is mentioned in Yuddha Kanda 22 Sarga, Verse 31.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Krishnamoorthy, K.; Channakeshava, B.; Rao, H. V. Nagaraja (1995). Ānanda Bhāratī: Dr. K. Krishnamoorthy Felicitation Volume. Dr. K. Krishnamoorthy Felicitation Committee.
  2. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 10: Sauptika Parva: Section 15".
  3. ^ Maehle, Gregor (2009). Ashtanga Yoga: Mythology, Anatomy, and Practice. New World Library. ISBN 9781577316695.
  4. ^ W. J. Johnson (2009). "Brahmaśiras". A Dictionary of Hinduism. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780198610250.001.0001. ISBN 9780198610250.
  5. ^ Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam (ed.). India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 80.