Hindu mythological wars
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While no Hindu epic or scripture fails to describe the horrors of war and its fallout, major wars are fought with the purpose of upholding the Dharma (righteousness that brings prosperity to humanity) over Adharma (wickedness that causes humanity to suffer). The purpose of the wars is often to eliminate demonic beings or lords and rulers who pursue war want only for ambition (wicked wishes) and domination (for worldly pleasures). Hindu teachings prescribe war as the final option, to be employed only after all peaceful methods are exhausted. But when this time comes, war is taught to be a matter of great personal and social importance, where every man who belongs to the warrior caste must do his duty, exemplifying courage, honor, and fearsome prowess against all odds and even at the cost of his life.
The major Hindu gods, including Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, often engage in war, either in the form of Avatars or in their true form. They and many Hindu heroes use astra – celestial weapons with fearsome supernatural power – to aid them in battle.
- 1 In Vedic literature
- 2 Levels of Warrior Excellence
- 3 Other Sanskrit epics
- 4 Major Deities
- 5 Celestial Weapons
- 6 References
In Vedic literature
Indra and Vrtra
The central battle in the Vedas is between Indra and Vrtra, and the defeat of the demon Vrtra leads to the liberation of rivers, cattle and Ushas (dawn/light). While this battle does reinforce the timeless good v/s evil theme, close examination of various hymns and verses in the Rig Veda suggest this might have been an allegorical account of the end of the last ice age in the Himalayan glacial system.
The Devas and Asuras
The perennial battle between the Devas and Asuras is undertaken over the dominion of the three worlds: Svarga, Bhumi and Patala, or Heaven, Earth and the Nether worlds. Both races are technically equal, possessors of great religious and martial powers, but the Devas are committed to the worship of the Supreme Being and the practice of virtue. The Asuras have atheistic and devious tendencies that grow over time. The divide is the greatest in the Kali Yuga, the final age.
- Shukra: the Preceptor of the Asuras, their high priest and guru, worshiper of the Supreme Lord, but remains supportive of the Asuras.
- Brhaspati: the Preceptor (Guru) of the Devas. Possessing unparalleled knowledge of the Vedas, scripture, religion and mysticism, Bṛhaspati's mastery of the military arts is akin to Shukra, his counterpart.
He is also known as Guru Brihaspati.
- Indra: the God of thunder and lightning, King of Heaven, the leader of all the Devas against the demons. The greatest performer of sacrifices, Indra is the most famous and fearsome warrior in the three worlds. When facing opponents like Vritra, Indra seeks the aid of Vishnu.
- Kartikeya: army commander of Devas. He is also god of war and victory. He is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
- Narakasura: the great Asura opponent of Vishnu.
- Vritra: the brahmin Asura, who performs a sacrifice to obtain sovereignty of the three worlds.
The Kshatriya order
- Ashvamedha: The famous horse-sacrifice was conducted by allowing a horse to roam freely for a slated period of time, with the king performing the sacrifice laying claim to all the lands it touched. The king whose authority is contested must prove himself in battle or accept the imperial supremacy of the challenging king. When the horse returns safely after the period of time, the main sacrifice is performed, and the king, if successful in obtaining dominance over other kings, is crowned Emperor of the World. The Ashwamedha allows the opportunity to maintain peace if the kings do not choose to contest the sacrificial horse. In Mahabharat era, Arjuna alone had conquered whole world for the sake of Ashvamwdha yagya of his brother.
- Rajasuya: Considered the ultimate sacrifice, the king performing the sacrifice must openly challenge every king in the world to accept his supremacy or defeat him in battle. If and when the king returns successfully, having beaten all other known rulers, the performance of the sacrifice will send him to the abode of Lord Indra. It was performed by the Pandava hero Yudhishthira in the Mahabharata epic. Arjuna had conquered many kingdom for the sake of Yudhisthira's Rajasuya.
- Vishwajeet Yagna
- Gomedh Yagna
- Yajna: Akin to the conduct of the Rajasuya, save only that the entire sacrifice is to please Vishnu.
Levels of Warrior Excellence
- Mahamaharathi's: A warrior capable of fighting 24 Atimaharathi class warriors or 207,360,000 warriors simultaneously. This includes Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma, Durga, Manikanta, Kartikeya, Ganesha.
- Atimaharathi's: A warrior capable of fighting 12 Maharathi class warriors or 8,640,000 warriors simultaneously. Hanuman, Rama, Krishna, Arjuna, Indrajit (Avatars of Vishnu : Rama, Krishna) are considered as Atimaharathis. Arjuna was reincarnation of Nara- the divine form of Lord Vishnu. Different forms of Lord Shiva are also Atimaharthis. Veerabhadra, Bhairava etc. fall under this category.
- Maharathi's: A warrior capable of fighting 12 Atirathi class warriors or 720,000 warriors simultaneously, circumspect in his mastery of all forms of weapons and combat skills. Lakshmana, Abhimanyu, Vali, Alambusha, Angada, Ashwatthama, Atikaya, Bhima, Karna, Bhishma, Drona, Kumbhakarna, Sugriva, Jambavan, Ravana, Bhagadatta, Narakasura, Lakshmana, Balarama, Jarasandha were Maharathis.
- Atirathi: A warrior capable of contending with 12 Rathi class warriors or 60,000 warriors simultaneously. Lava, Kusha, Kritavarma, Shalya, Kripacharya, Bhurisravas, Drupada, Yuyutsu, Virata, Akampan, Satyaki, Drishtadyumna, Kuntibhoja, Ghatotkacha, Prahasta, Angada, Duryodhana, Jayadratha, Dushasana, Vikarna, Virata, Yudhishtir, Nakula, Sahadeva, and Pradyumna were Atirathi's.
- Rathi: A warrior capable of attacking 5,000 warriors simultaneously. Somadatha, Sudhakshina, Shakuni, Shishupala, Uttar, all 96 brothers of Duryodhana, Shikhandi, Uttamaujas, all sons of Draupadi, etc. were Rathi's.
Strategic Formations: The Vyuha:
- Padma Vyuha or the Chakra Vyuha: A winding, ever-rotating circular formation; considered impenetrable during the Mahabharata age by all warriors except Arjuna, Drona, Krishna, Pradyumna and Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu had learnt how to break into the formation (in the womb of Subhadra) but not how to break out of it and is trapped inside during the Mahabharata war.
- Krauncha Vyuha: The crane-shaped formation of an army; forces are distributed to form spanning wing-sides, with a formidable, penetrating centre depicting the crane's head and beak.
- Sarpa Vyuha: Winding Snake Formation
- Makara Vyuha: Crocodile Formation
- Sakata Vyuha: Cart Formation
- Shukar Vyuha: Pig Formation
- Vajra Vyuha: Thunderbolt formation, the toughest after chakravyuha.
- Kurma Vyuha: Turtle formation
The end of the world
- The end of the world and illusions is prophesied to happen at the end of the Kali Yuga. Kalki, the final Avatar of Vishnu is also prophesied to appear the end of the Kali Yuga, to wage the final battle between good and evil.
- Lord Shiva Nataraja, the Destroyer, kills the paramount demon of the time and performs the Tandava Nritya (The Dance of Tandava) on his back.
- The mystical dance by Goddess Kali i.e. Dark Energy for destroying all forms of matter, materials, beings and illusions, which are absorbed within herself i.e. the Supreme Brahman.
Other Sanskrit epics
- Vishvamitra is the preceptor of Rama and Lakshmana, a powerful tapasvin and Brahmarishi. He bestows the knowledge of all divine weaponry to Rama and Lakshmana, leads them to kill powerful demons, and instructs them in religion and military arts.
- Rama: the Seventh Avatar of Vishnu, a great warrior-tapasvin. Rama single-handedly slays the 14,000 demon hordes of Khara (in one hour, according to the Ramayana), the demons Maricha and Subahu, Ravana's chief commander Prahasta and is responsible for the ultimate killing of Ravana himself.
- Lakshmana is as powerful and an excellent warrior as his brother, and slayed extremely powerful demons, including Atikaya and Indrajit.
- Hanuman: the Vanara minister of Sugriva is the greatest devotee of Rama, famous for his unerring service, absolute loyalty and great feats of courage. Hanuman is responsible for killing many demons, as well as burning the city of Lanka. His strength is given by his father Vayu, and by virtue of the boons bestowed on him by various Gods, he could increase his size and strength beyond any limit he desired.
- Ravana: blessed by his fearsome 10,000 year tapasya to be the most powerful being on earth, invulnerable to every God, demon and living being, save man. Although an expert on the Vedas, a great king, and a great devotee of Shiva, he is the Emperor of evil due to his patronage of demons, murder of kings and humiliation of the Gods headed by Indra.
- Indrajit: as his name suggests, Ravana's first-born son defeated Indra, king of Gods. He even twice defeated Rama and Lakshman. Indrajit killed 670 million Vanara's in a single day, nearly exterminated the entire half man-half monkey race[not in citation given][page needed]. Master of mystical warfare and celestial weapons, and blessed by boons from Gods, Indrajit was considered the most fearful and knowledgeable warrior, virtually invincible. He was said to be invincible in battle because of a Yajna he used to perform before every battle.At a very young age, Meghnada became the possessor of several supreme celestial weapons, including Brahmandastra, Pashupatastra and Vaishnavastra, under the guidance of Shukra, the guru of the daityas (demons).During the Devasura Sangram (the battle between the devas and the asuras) he defeated Indra, tying him up and mounting him onto his celestial chariot.At this juncture, Brahma intervened and asked him to free Indra. Meghanada obliged, and was granted a chance to ask for a boon from Brahma. Meghanada asked for immortality, but Brahma remarked that absolute immortality is against the law of nature. Instead, he was then granted another boon: he would never be won over in any battle, until his Yagna (fire-worship) of his native goddess Nikumbala was disturbed and destroyed. On the completion of the Yagna, a supreme celestial chariot would appear, boarding which, Indrajit would become invincible in any battle. But Brahma also cautioned him that whosoever would destroy this yagna would also kill him. It was Brahma who gave him the name Indrajit ("the conqueror of Indra").However, He was easily beaten by Angad who destroyed his horses and made him run but his real power was his magic. He was finally killed by Lakshmana who challenged him and defeated him twice before killing him.
- Kumbhakarna: the gigantic brother of Ravana is a fearsome monster-demon who sleeps for six months at a stretch, rising for only one day and then returning to his slumber. Kumbhakarna can slay hundreds of warriors by the sweep of his hand or step of his foot. He is slain by Rama in the war.
- Prahasta: the chief commander of Lanka's army who was killed on the 1st day of the war of Rama and Ravana.*Atikaya: the second son of Ravana, who had an indestructible armor given to him by Brahma that can only be pierce by the Brahmastra. Once he caught Lord Shiva trident in Mount Kailash when the Lord was angry at him. Both Atikaya and his cousin Trishira were the reincarnations of Madhu and Kaitabha, who were defeated by Mahavishnu.
- Akshayakumara: the youngest son of Ravana who died, fighting Hanuman in Ashoka Vatika, who later set Lanka on fire.
- Shatrughna: Brother of Rama who killed Lavana, son of Madhu and Kumbhini (a sister of Ravana) and became the King of Mathura.
- Bharata: Brother of Rama who along with his maternal uncle Yudhajit, conquered Gandhara and created his kingdom of Takshasila and Pushkalavati by defeating Gandharvas inhabiting that kingdom.
- Kuru Army: of 11 Akshauhinis is formed by the kingdom of Hastinapura in alliance with races like the Samshaptakas, Trigartas, the Narayana army, the Sindhu army and Madra.
- Commanders in Chief: Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Shalya and Ashwathama
- Rathis: Duryodhana ( 8 Rathi), Susharma, Sudakshin, Shakuni, Jayadradha, Dussasana, Vikarna, 97 Kauravas, Duryodhana's son Lakshmana and the son of Dussasana were Rathi warriors.
- Atirathis: Kritavarma, Kripacharya, Shalya, Bhurisravas, Brihadbala, Somadatta, Karna
- Maharathis: Bhishma, Drona, Ashwathama, Bhagadatta,
- Pandava Army: is a coalition of 7 Akshauhinis, primarily the Panchala and Matsya forces, the Rakshasa forces of Bhima's son, and Vrishni-Yadava heroes.
- Abhimanyu: He was the son of legendary archer Arjuna, Abhimanyu was a super warrior like his father. On 13th day, he entered Chakravyuh and defeated all Kaurava warriors including Karna and Drona multiple times in war. Karna fled twice from child Abhimanyu in Chakravyuha. He deafeated all the warriors in Chakravyuha including Drona, Karna, Ashwatthama, Kripa, Kritavarma etc. At last he got killed unfairly by multiple Kaurava warriors.
- Arjuna: He was the son of Lord Indra. Arjuna was invincible in his time. He also obtained name "Vijaya" which means ever victorious, wins in every battle. He was the greatest warrior of Mahabharata and the best, greatest archer of his time. He was the only person able to win hand of Draupadi by hitting target in Swayamvara contest. He defeated all mega warriors at a time in Virat Yudh including Bhishma, Drona, Ashwatthama, Karna, Kripacharya etc. It is believed that none can stand infront of Arjuna. In Kurukshetra war, Arjuna killed many heroes including Bhishma, Karna, Bhagadatta, Susharma etc.
- Ashwatthama, the son of Drona, one of the eight chiranjivi . He is a great warrior. Aswatthama and Kripa are believed to be the lone survivors still living who actually fought in the kurukshetra war. Aswatthama was born with a gem in his forehead which gives him power over all living beings lower than humans. This gem is supposed to protect him from attacks by ghosts, demons, poisonous insects, snakes, animals etc. Dronacharya loved him very dearly. The rumors about his death in the Kurukshetra war led to the death of Drona at the hands of Prince Dhrishtadyumna. He is the grandson of the Brahmin sage Bharadwaja. Ashwatthama is a mighty Maharathi who fought on the Kaurava side against the Pandavas. His physical description in the Mahabharata is that he is incredibly tall, with dark skin, dark eyes, and a gem in his forehead. He is a master of the science of weapons . Aswatthama is the master of all forms of knowledge and possesses complete mastery over 64 forms of arts or Kalas and 18 Vidyas or branches of knowledge. Ashwatthama used the mighty Narayanastra against the Pandava army in-order to avenge his father Drona's death. Narayanastra destroyed one Akshauhini of Pandava army. He was also responsible of leading the night raid at the end of 18th day of the war in order to avenge the unethical killing of Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Bhurisravas, Prince Duryodhana and killed all the remaining Panchala army and sons of Pandavas. Thus only 3 people from the Kauvarava side and 8 people from the Pandava survived the war. At the end Ashwatthama and Arjuna used Brahmshirsha astra against each other and he tried to kill the unborn son of Abhimanyu in order to exterminate the Pandava lineage. But the child was saved by Lord Krishna himself who in turn gave the most fearsome and deadly curse to Ashwatthama that anybody had ever got and declared that he would carry that curse till the end of Kaliyuga. He also removed the gem from his forehead and left him helpless.
- Bhima: The 2nd most powerful (physical strength) after Lord Hanuman. Bhima had phenomenal personal strength, he is also known for killing many powerful kings and demons like Jarasandh, Kirmira, Bakasura, Hidimb, Jatasura, Kichaka and wrestler Jimut, he was an unsurpassed master of the mace weapon and a consummate wrestler. He slays all of the one hundred Kuru brothers including the chief antagonist of the saga, Duryodhana. There are no greater destroyer's than him to Kuru army.
- Bhishma: the most consummate warrior trained by Parashurama, Bhishma is indestructible by any warrior when he lifts his weapons. Having countered his preceptor himself, as well as all the kings of the earth, he is the Commander in Chief of the Kuru Army.
- Drona: the preceptor of the Kshatriyas and kings of the age, Drona is a great master of Vedic military arts and almost every celestial weapon. He is invulnerable to any attack till he holds a weapon of any sort. He also has great religious knowledge and wisdom. He becomes the second Kuru commander, and Arjuna was his favorite student.
- Karna: The son of Suta, Karna was one of the great archers in Mahabharata. He was the first-born of Kunti. He was killed by Arjuna. Karna was taught by Parashurama in warfare.
- Nakul: the fourth brother of the Pandavas. It is said that he was the most handsome man in the world. He was an expert in the art of sword warfare. He was also greatly associated with horses. During the Kurukshetra war he was the one who killed all the offspring of all the Kauravas. He also killed a son of Shakuni, Ulloka.
Levels of Warrior Excellence as per Bhishma from Mahabharata
As per Bhishma in Mahabaratha at the tale of Rathas and Maharathas there are only 3 types of warriors. They are Rathas, Atirathas and Maharathas. He classified every warrior in both sides of the army as per his judgement and knowledge of the science of weapons. According to him the highest level of a warrior is Maharathi and does not mention about the concept of Atimaharathi or Mahamaharathi.If we go by authentic scripture the highest class of a warrior is Maharathi.
From Kaurava side
- Sudhakshina, the ruler of the Kamvojas
- Shakuni, King of Gandhar and uncle of Kauravas
- Duryodhana's son Lakshmana and the son of Dussasana
- Jayadrath, the king of the Sindhu and brother in law of Kauravas is equal to 2 rathas
- All 99 brothers of Duryodhana including Dushasan are single Rathis
- Duryodhana is classified as a warrior equal to 8 Rathis
- Bhoja chief Kritavarman
- The ruler of the Madras, Salya
- Bhurisravas, the son of Somadatta
- Kripa, also known as Kripacharya, the son of Saradwat
Brihballa, descendant of Lord Rama Kritverma He was general of Narayani sena of Lord Krishna
- The ruler of Pragjyotisha, the brave Bhagadatta
- Guru Drona he was the best warrior ever known no one could defeat him even the indra with all the deva continuously fire at him he will not get defeated until he had any sort of weapon in his hand
- Asvathama, the son of Guru Drona, one of the eight chiranjivi and a Maharathi.
- Bhishma, even though he never classified himself, later it was revealed that Bhishma was equal to 2 Maharatha warrior.
From Pandava side
- Sikhandin, the son of the king of the Panchalas
- All sons of Draupadi
- Dhrishtaketu, the son of Shishupala, the king of the Chedis
- Satyaki of the Vrishni race,
- Dhrishtadyumna the son of Drupuda
- Kuntibhoja, the maternal uncle of Pandavas
- Ghatotkacha, prince of Rakshasas and master of all illusions, son Bhima and Hidimva.
- Yudhishthira the son of Pandu and Kunti, is a Ratha.
- Nakul and Sahadeva are single Rathis
- Virata King, King of Matsya
- Drupuda, King of Panchalas
- Bhima, the son of Lord Vayu
- Abhimanyu, the son of Arjuna.
- Arjuna, the mighty son of Lord Indra is equal to 12 Maharathis.
Shakti is the Supreme God in Shaktism Sect of Hinduism. Both a Supreme Being and an energy that is considered to be the source of all works of creation, preservation and destruction, Adi Parashakti is the mother of Trimurti, the universe and all of creation. She took many incarnations to fight with demons, including Parvati, wife of Shiva, the complete avatar of Shakti herself, according to the Devi Gita and Durga Saptashati, the main scriptures for Shakti worshipers. As the goddess Parvati, she is considered to be the most powerful of all deities.
Sometimes, the gods worship Parvati, who came before them in different avatars:
- Durga, who killed the demon Durgamasur
- Kali, the most ferocious Form of the Goddess, who can not be pacified by anyone after war. No one can stop her because she is the only deity who is omnipotent, free from all rules and regulations.
- Chandi, the gentle manifestation of Durga or Kali, Goddess Lakshmi, Saraswati, who killed Mahishasura in the Battle of Alkapuri.
- Kanyakumari, who killed Banasura
- Chamunda, who killed Chanda and Munda
- Kaushiki, who killed Shumbha and Nishumbha
- Minakshi, who defeated all the demigods and destroyed the arrogance of all demi-gods.
Shakti is usually depicted as having the weapons of all the gods, even the Trimurti. She holds the trident of Shiva, the Chakra of Vishnu, the Vajra of Indra, the Gada of Yamaraaj. It indicates that she is the one who actually having all kinds of powers. It is she from whom strength arose. It is she from whom all powers of nondimensional formless GOD (Not talking about Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva) is vested. She is all powerful. All in one and one in all too.
Mahadeva literally means "Highest of all gods". He is the Supreme God in Shaivism sect of Hinduism. He is the Supreme God without any starting or end. Shiva is also known as Maheshvar, "the great Lord", Mahadeva, the great God, Shambhu, Hara, Pinakadhrik, "bearer of the Pinaka" and Mrityunjaya, "conqueror of death". He is the spouse of Shakti. He also is represented by Mahakala and Bhairava. Shiva is often pictured holding the damaru, an hourglass-shaped drum, along with his trishula, a trident-staff. His usual mantra is Om Namah Shivaya. Lord Shiva is also considered as the God Of Gods. The existence which represents infinity itself. He is the supreme masculine divinity in this universe and is lord of the three worlds (Vishwanath) and is second to none in wrath and power.
The Lord Destroyer, Sarvaripati Shiva is one of the most fearsome manifestation of the Supreme God. Assigned with destroying all of the universe at the end of time, Shiva is one of the most fearsome warriors and unconquerable. Tandava is the dance of the Destroyer, which He performs over the body of a demon. Shiva employs his power to kill the Asura Tripura, destroying the flying three cities of Tripura. In battle, Shiva and his Avatars deploy formidable weapons controlled by him. Some of these are:
- Arrow of Shiva: It can destroy creation. Returns to the quiver after being used.
- Chandrahas: Sword of Ravana granted by Maha Shiva as a boon.
- Ekasha Gada: The mace of Lord Shiva. A blow from the weapon is the equivalent of being hit by a million elephants.
- Girish: A special sword of Shiva with unique characteristics.
- Jayantha Vel: A spear which contains the power of the third eye of Lord Shiva.
- Khaṭvāṅga: In Hinduism, the god Shiva - Rudra carried the khatvāṅga as a staff weapon and are thus referred to as khatvāṅgīs.
- Maheshwara Chakra: The Chakra of Lord Shiva.
- Parashu: The axe of Shiva given to Parashurama (the 6th Avatar of Lord Vishnu).
- Pashupatastra: An irresistible and most destructive personal weapon of Shiva, discharged by the mind, the eyes, words, or a bow.
- Pinaka: The celestial bow of Shiva.
- Shiva Dhanush (Shiva's bow): A bow given by Shiva to Janaka and broken by Rama during Sita's swayamvara
- Shiva Kaakam: An unconquerable weapon of Lord Shiva.
- Shiva Parham: A long noose (of Shiva) from which even the Gods can't escape from.
- Shiva Vajra: A vajra 100 times more powerful than Indra's Vajra
- Teen Baan: Shiva gave Barbarika three infallible arrows (Teen Baan). A single arrow was enough to destroy all opponents in any war, and it would then return to Barbarika's quiver.
- Trishula (Trident): The trident of Shiva
- Third eye : The third eye situated in the center of the forehead of lord Shiva (also the point where the three nadis – Ida, pingala and suhasmana meet – pituitary gland) is the most destructive weapon/power in the entire universe. It is proved to destruct kaala (time) hence ending all the creation. Once opened for a purpose, its immense energy is so intense that it can burn down the entire universe into ashes. No other weapon can match its powers.
Vishnu, the Inconceivable Supreme, is the Supreme God in Vaishnavism sect of Hinduism. "Vishnu" means "all pervading" supreme being, the source of everything. In the Vishnu Sahasranama he is called Paramatman or Parameshwara(the highest form of God), and is periodically reborn as an Avatar upon earth in order to destroy evil and bring deliverance to the pious. He is also the refuge of the Devas in their battles against Asuras. The most martial Avatars include Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Mohini, Vamana, Parshurama, Rama, Krishna, Kalki. He is also considered to be the first God, 'Adideva'. He is beyond birth, death, time. He is Beyond all. In battle, the Avatars of Vishnu are aided by a variety of astra or celestial weapons. His two human avatars, Parashuram and Rama were fearsome warriors and possessed many celestial weapons that accompany the past times of Vishnu. Sri Krishna also used a few of these weapons in Mahabharata. These include:
- Kaumodaki: The divine mace weapon of Vishnu; invincible and without parallel, Lord Krishna slayed demon Dantavakra with it.
- Kodandam: The bow of Rama, 7th avatar of Vishnu.
- Nandaka: The Sword of Vishnu
- Narayanastra: Narayanastra is the most powerful astra in the universe along with the Vaishnavastra. The personal missile weapon of Vishnu in his Narayana (Naraina) form, this astra lets loose a powerful tirade of millions of deadly missiles simultaneously. The intensity of the shower increases with resistance. The only solution is total submission before the missile; only then will it cease. The Narayanastra was first used by Lord Rama in the Ramayana. Then, thousands of years later, this astra was again used by Ashwatthama in the Kurukshetra War against the Pandava army.
- Parashu: The axe of Parashurama, 6th Avatar of Vishnu, given by Shiva.
- Sharanga: The Celestial bow of Vishnu
- Sharkha: The bow of Krishna, 8th avatar of Vishnu.
- Sudarshana Chakra: The magical Chakra, a spinning disc with sharp outer spears. It is the most powerful Shastra in the universe, and without any parallel. The Chakra was famously designed by Vishwakarma for Lord Vishnu. The Sudarshan flies at the command of Krishna, spinning away to tear off the heads of His opponents, or to perform any function desired by Vishnu. It was most famously used by His Avatar Krishna in the Mahabharata.
- Vaishnavastra: Vaishnavastra is the most powerful astra in the universe along with the Narayanastra. The personal missile weapon of Krishna, once fired it cannot be thwarted by any means, save by the will of Vishnu Himself.
- Brahmastra: Embedded with the mystical force of Brahma, this weapon releases millions of missiles, great fires and a destructive potential capable of extinguishing all creation, if not used by and aimed only at a celestial fighter. Modern speculation has equated its destructive nature to be similar to that of a nuclear weapon, it has been used multiple times in Ramayana, Indrajit used it against hanuman, Lakshmana asked permission to use it against Indrajit, which Lord Rama declined, Lakshmana used it to kill Atikaya, Lord Rama used it as final arrow to kill Ravana. In the epic Mahabharata, it is said that the weapon manifest with the single head of Lord Brahma as its tip. In Mahabharata era Parasurama, Bhishma, Drona, Karna, Kripa, Ashwatthama, Arjuna, Yudhishtir and several Maharathi's possessed the knowledge to invoke this weapon.
- Brahmashirsha astra: A weapon capable of greater destruction than the Brahmastra. It can burn all creation to ashes once discharged, Arjuna and Ashwatthama both used it against each other after the Mahabharata war.Capable of killing even heavens. Was used by Ashwatthama on Parikshit. It is thought that the Brahmashirsha is the evolution of the Brahmastra, 4 times stronger than Brahmastra.Its similar to modern day hydrogen bomb or thermonuclear (fusion) bomb.In the epic Mahabharata, it is said that the weapon manifest with the four heads of Lord Brahma as its tip.In Mahabharata era sage Agnivesha, Drona, Ashwatthama, Arjuna possessed the knowledge to invoke this weapon.
- Brahmanda astra: This is the most powerful weapon of Lord Brahma. It was first used by sage Vashishtha against vishwamitra's (who was King Vishwarath at that time) Brahmashirsha, as only Brahmanda astra can stop Brahmashirsha astra, it was also used by sage Piplad against Shani to avenge his father's death.In the epic Mahabharata, it is said that the weapon manifest with the all five heads of Lord Brahma as its tip.Brahma earlier lost his fifth head when he fought with Lord Siva.This weapon is said to possess the power to destroy entire solar system or brahmand, the 14 realms according to Hindu cosmology. In Mahabharata era no one possessed the knowledge to invoke this weapon. In some texts it is called Brahma-dhanda astra, the weapon created by Saptarishi's to counter any weapon ever created, even that of Trimurti's. The rishi of this weapon is Para Brahman. It is said to be the most difficult astra to obtain. Capable of destroying entire multiverse in a blink of an eye. Vishvamitra used all kinds of divine weapons against sage Vashistha, even Pashupatastra, but the Brahma-dhanda astra of Vashistha neutralized and swallowed all astra (weapon) of Vishwamitra proving that Brahma-dhanda astra is the most powerful of all astras.
- Pashupatastra: It is believed in Hinduism that Pashupatastra is most devastating weapons, as it is the weapon of the consort of the Godhead Mahadeva, i.e. Mahakali. Mahadeva literally means "Highest of all gods" and Mahakali means "Goddess who is beyond time". This weapon, granted to Arjuna by Shiva, is one of the most destructive and foreboding weapon in Mahabharata it was first used by lord Shiva for the destruction of tripura, also acc. To Ramayana, Indrajit used it against Lakshmana, lord Shiva also granted this astra to Arjuna. In Mahabharat era, Apart from Arjuna no one knew this weapon.
- Narayanastra: Invincible and painful, this astra is unconquerable except by total submission, this astra was used by Lord Krishna against lord Shiva, when lord Lord Shiva was fighting on behalf of the evil Banasura, when lord shiva charged his personal Pashupatastra on Lord Krishna, he vanquished it with his personal Narayanastra, In Mahabharata ashwathama used it against Pandava army to avenge his father's death.
- Vaishnavastra : One of the most powerful astras, this cannot be stopped by anyone except its creator, Vishnu. Only Rama, Krishna & Arjuna possessed this weapon.
- Nagastra: The snake weapon used by Indrajit against Rama and Lakshmana, used by Karna against [Arjuna].
- Nagapasham: is the celestial weapon equal to Nagastra".
- Garudastra:The eagle weapon to counter against the Nagastra.
- Anjalikastra: The personal weapon of Lord Indra. This is the astra used by Arjuna to slay Karna in the Mahabharata war.
- Ramabanam (Ramastra): Created by Lord Sri Ram, and is used to kill the Rakshasa King Ravana in Ramayana.It cannot be countered by any weapon and could not be stopped by anyone except Lord Sri Rama.
- Bhargavastra: this is the astra created by Lord Parasurama, he gave it to Karna in the Mahabharata.
- Parvatastra: one of the most dangerous weapon, once it used mountains from sky fall in to the earth.
- Vasavi Shakti: The magical dart weapon of Indra, unfailing at executing its target. Indra granted it to Karna during the Kurukshetra war, in Mahabharata it was used by karna to kill ghatotkacha.
- Vajra: The thunderbolt weapon of Indra, who is the God of Thunder and Lightning, akin to Zeus and Jupiter., this weapon was made from the bones of sage dadhichi and it was used by Indra to slay demon called Vritra. Later, Indra gave his Vajra to his son Arjuna.
- Agneyastra: The fire weapon, created by Agni, master of the flames
- Varunastra: The water weapon, created by Varuna, master of the oceans
- Vayavastra: The wind weapon, created by Vayu
- Samvarta: Weapon belonging to Yama used by Bharata to annihilate thirty million gandharvas in a moment, tearing them to pieces.
- Sammohanastra: Would cause entire hosts/armies to collapse in a trance. Was used by Arjuna to collapse the entire army of kuru Maharathis including Duryodhan, Drona, Kripa, Ashwatthama, Duhsashan, and Karna.
- Twashtastra: When used against a group of opponents (such as an army), would cause them to mistake each other for enemies and fight each other.
- Sooryastra: Created by Lord Suryadev, Create a dazzling light that would dispel any darkness about and dry up water bodies.
- Sabda vedastra: This weapon prevents an opponent from turning invisible. Used by Arjuna against the Ghandarva king Chitrasena.
- Gandharvastra: Created by Gandharva King Chitrasena (who defeated the combined force of Duryodhan and made karna flee the battlefield). He gave it to his best friend Arjuna.
- Mayastra: Dispel any form of maya or sorcery in the vicinity.
- Manavastra: Created by Manu" father of the human race, Could overcome supernatural protections and carry the target hundreds of miles away. Can inspire humane traits in an evil being. This weapon was used by Sri Rama on the rakshasa(demon) Maricha.
- Bhaumastra: Created by Goddess Bhoomi Devi, The weapon could create tunnels deep into the earth and summon jewels.
- Indrastra: Created by the God Indra, King of Devas and God of the sky and weather, Would bring about a 'shower' of arrows from the sky.
The three potential astras are Vaishnavastra, Pashupatastra and Brahmanda astra. However, these astras cannot harm four principle gods i.e. Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi as they are the supreme manifestation of the divine. Especially, these astras cannot harm Vishnu, the greatest of all gods, Shiva, the god of gods and the destroyer himself, and Shakti, the original energy behind all astras. With these five gods, the astras also can not harm Hanuman, the son of god vayu, as he obtained vardanas (boons) from several gods.
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