Hindu mythological wars

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Ancient Hindu wars are the battles described in the Hindu texts of ancient India. These battles depict great heroes, demons, celestial weapons and beings, and the supernatural.

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.

The Battle of Kurukshetra, fought between the Kauravas and the Pandavas, recorded in the Mahabharata.

In Vedic literature[edit]

Indra and Vrtra[edit]

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.[1]

Another important battle is the historic Battle of the Ten Kings, alluded to in the Rigveda, in which the Tritsu clan, led by Sudas, defeat the Puru confederation of ten Indo Aryan clans.[2]

The Devas and Asuras[edit]

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.[3]

  • Shukra: the Preceptor of the Asuras, their high priest and guru, worshiper of the Supreme Lord, but remains supportive of the Asuras.[4]
  • Brhaspati:[5] 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 the god of war and victory. He is the son of Shiva and Goddess Parvati.[6]
  • Narakasura: the great Asura opponent of Vishnu.[7]
  • Vritra: the brahmin Asura, who performs a sacrifice to obtain sovereignty of the three worlds.[8]

The Kshatriya order[edit]

War Sacrifices:

  • 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 Ashwamedha Yagya of his brother.[9]
  • 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 Indra. It was performed by the Pandava hero Yudhishthira in the Mahabharata epic. Arjuna had conquered many kingdoms for the sake of Yudhisthira's Rajasuya.[10]
  • Vishwajeet Yagna
  • Gomedh Yagna
  • Yajna: Akin to the conduct of the Rajasuya, save only that the entire sacrifice is to please Vishnu.[citation needed]

Strategic Formations: The Vyuha[edit]

  • Padma Vyuha or the Chakravyuha: A winding, ever-rotating circular formation; considered impenetrable during the Mahabharata age by all warriors except for the Krishna, Arjuna, Drona, 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[edit]

  • 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.[11]
  • Then Shiva Nataraja, the Destroyer, kills the paramount demon of the time and performs the Tandava Nritya (The Dance of Tandava) on his back, ending with the destruction of the universe.
  • In Shaktism, the mystical dance by Goddess Kali (the terrifying form of Parvathi, Shiva's consort) i.e. Dark Energy for destroying all forms of matter, materials, beings, and illusions, which are absorbed within herself i.e. the Supreme Brahman.

The Ramayana[edit]

The epic story of Ramayana was adopted by several cultures across Asia. Shown here is a Thai historic artwork depicting the battle which took place between Rama and Ravana.
  • Vishvamitra : He was the preceptor of Rama and Lakshmana, a powerful tapasvi and Brahmarishi.[12] 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 : He was Seventh Avatar of Vishnu. Rama was extremely powerful warrior & had knowledge of usage of many celestial astras. Rama single-handedly slayed 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 : He was also very powerful like his brother. He was incarnation of Sheshnag. He controlled his sleep for 14 continuous years and slayed extremely powerful demons including Atikaya and Indrajit.
  • Hanuman : He was son of Kesari & Anjana. He was one of the Rudras of Shiva. He was first trained by Sun god Surya & later Shiva himself mentored him. Later he became Vanara minister of Sugriva. He 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, no astra & weapon could harm him. He can transform into any size & shape as he desired. He was also well expert in using celestial astras. He also possessed Mohini astra, Raudra astra etc.
  • 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 : He was first-born son of mighty Ravana. Originally his name was Meghanada. He was master of illusion war techniques. He became the possessor of several supreme celestial weapons. Through penance, he obtained a boon from Brahma : he could be killed by a common man who could control his sleep for 12 years continuously. He defeated Indra & arrested him. Then Brahma appeared and asked him to free Indra. Meghanada did as Brahma directed & was then granted boon : he would never be killed 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 unkilled in any battle. But Brahma also cautioned him that whosoever would destroy this yagna, would also kill him. He was killed by Lakshmana.
  • 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.[13]
  • 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 Shiva trident in Mount Kailash when Shiva was angry with 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 Ashok 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.


  • Akampana
  • Kampana
  • Devanataka
  • Narantaka
  • Akshayakumara
  • Ahiravana
  • Kumbha
  • Nikumbha
  • The Younger Sons of Ravana


  • Laxmana
  • Ravana
  • Kumbhakarna
  • Atikaya
  • Jambavan
  • Sugriva
  • Angada
  • Bharata
  • Shatrugna


  • Rama
  • Hanuman
  • Indrajit

The Mahabharata[edit]

  • 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.
  • 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 legendary archer and was a super warrior like his father, Arjuna. On the 13th day of war, he entered Chakravyuh and was unfairly killed by multiple Kaurava warriors.[14]
  • Arjuna: He was the son of Indra. He was the best archer & greatest warrior in Mahabharata. He defeated great warriors like Bhishma, Drona, Ashwatthama, Karna, Kripa many times but never got defeated by any of them through out his life. He performed incredible feats like defeating Gandharva King Chitrasena & Nivatakavachas (whom Ravana & Indrajit together failed to defeat and made truce). Arjuna is the only invincible warrior on the Earth. It is said that only Mahadeva had ability to beat Arjuna in battle.
  • Ashwatthama:the son of Drona, one of the eight chiranjeevis . He is a great warrior. Ashwathama and Kripa are believed to be the lone survivors still living who actually fought in the Kurukshetra war. Ashwathama 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.
  • Bhima: The 2nd most powerful (physical strength) after 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 is no greater destroyer's than him to Kuru army.
  • Duryodhana: He was a skilled warrior with mace in the Mahabharata war. The only man on Earth who could beat him in a mace fight was Bhima, Arjuna and Balaram, the elder brother of Krishna.
  • Dussasana: Younger brother of Duryodhana who assaulted Draupadi in the Game of Dice. He was known to be an aggressive warrior who was a major threat to the Pandava army, but was brutally slain by Bhima.
  • Bhishma: the most consummate warrior trained by Parashurama, Bhishma is indestructible by any warrior (except Lord Parshuram, Lord Krishna, Lord Balrama, Arjuna and Abhimanyu) when he lifts his weapons. Having countered 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 (except Arjuna, Abhimanyu, Krishna and Balarama) 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. In some instances, he loved Arjuna more than his own son Ashwatthama.
  • Karna: The son of Surya and first born of Kunti who shunned him due to her being the mother of the Pandavas. Karna was one of the great archers in Mahabharat. He had multiple defeats at the hands of Arjuna and in final war, he was defeated and fairly killed by Arjuna on 17th day of Kuru war. 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 most of the offspring of all the Kauravas.
  • Sahadeva: the fifth brother of the Pandavas. He was an expert in the art of axe warfare. He was also greatly associated with sheep, insects. During the Kurukshetra war, he killed Shakuni.

Levels of Warrior Excellence as per Bhishma from Mahabharata[edit]

Before war, Bhishma ill treated Karna by calling him artharathi because Karna had a very bad habit of flying away from battlefield after being defeated. But Karna was potentially equal to 1 Maharathi warrior

From Kaurava side


  • Sudhakshina-the ruler of the Kamvojas.
  • Shakuni-King of Gandhara and uncle of Kauravas.
  • Duryodhana's son-Lakshmana and the Durjaya-son of Dussasana
  • Jayadratha-the king of the Sindhu and brother in law of Kauravas is equal to 2 rathas
  • All 99 brothers of Duryodhana including Dushasana are single Rathis
  • Duryodhana is classified as a warrior equal to 8 Rathis


  • Kritverma- the general of "Narayani Sena" of Krishna.
  • Susharma-the ruler of Trigartas
  • Shalya- the ruler of Madra
  • Bhurisravas-the son of Somadatta
  • Brihadbala-a descendant of Rama, equal to 6 atirathis
  • Kripa-also known as Kripacharya, the son of Saradwat, equal to 5 atirathis


  • Bhagadatta-the ruler of Pragjyotisha & son of Narakasura- equal to 1 maharathi.
  • Ashwathama-the son of Guru Drona, one of the eight chiranjeevis & equal to 2 Maharathis.
  • Bhishma-even though he never classified himself, later it was revealed that Bhishma is equal to 4 Maharathi warriors.
  • Drona-the teacher of Pandavas & Kauravas; equal to 3 maharathi class warriors.
  • Karna-the son of the sun god Surya; king of Anga kingdom; he is equal to 1 Maharathi.

From Pandava side


  • Uttamaujas
  • Sikhandin-the son of the prince/ess of the Panchalas
  • All sons of Draupadi (Upapandavas) are single rathis
  • Dhrishtaketu-the son of Shishupala, the king of the Chedis
  • Nakul and Sahadeva are single Rathis.
  • Yudhishthira-the son of Pandu and Kunti, is a Ratha.
  • Virata King-King of Matsya


  • Bhima-the second of the Pandava prince, is equal to 8 Atirathis.
  • Satyaki-of the Vrishni race-equal to 6 Atirathis
  • Dhrishtadyumna-the son of Drupada.
  • Kuntibhoja-the maternal uncle of Pandavas.
  • Ghatotkacha-prince of Rakshasas and master of all illusions, son Bhima and Hidimba.
  • Drupada-King of Panchalas.


  • Abhimanyu- the son of Arjuna is equal to 4 Maharathis.


  • Arjuna- the son of mighty Indra is equal to 12 Maharathis.

According to Bhishma, only Arjuna was the Atimaharathi at time of Mahabharata war.

Levels of Warrior Excellence[edit]

  • Atimaharathi: A warrior capable of fighting 12 Maharathi class warriors or 8,640,000 warriors simultaneously; circumspect in his mastery of all forms of weapons and combat skills; expert in designing & destroying all strategies (vyuhas); able to fight against all illusions & win against opponents in such situations. Hanuman, Rama, Krishna, Arjuna and Meghanada are considered as Atimaharathis. Different forms of Lord Shiva are also Atimaharthis. Veerabhadra, Bhairava etc. fall under this category. Incarnations and avatars of Lord Vishnu are generally considered as Atimaharathis.
  • Rathi : A warrior capable of contending with 5,000 warriors simultaneously.

Major Deities[edit]


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, Parshuram, 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, 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 Rama in the Ramayana. Then, thousands of years later, this astra was again used by Ashwathama 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 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. Krishna gave this astra to his cousin Arjuna.
11th-century statue of Shiva performing the dance of destruction.


Lord Shiva is the greatest Vaishnava(Devotee of Vishnu) - "Vaishnavanam Yatha Shambhu"[15].In this material world, Mahadeva literally means "Highest of all gods". He is the Supreme God in Shaivism sect of Hinduism. Shiva is also known as Maheshwar, "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.[16] 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 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 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 Shiva.
  • Parashu: The axe of Shiva given to Parashurama (the 6th Avatar of 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's bow): A bow given by Shiva to Janaka and broken by Rama during Sita's swayamvara
  • Vijaya Dhanush:Vijaya (bow): A bow given by Shiva to Parasurama to kill Kshatriyas
  • Shiva Kaakam: An unconquerable weapon of 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 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.


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,[17] 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.[18]

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, 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 demigods.

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 Yamaraj. 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 is vested. She is all powerful. All in one and one in all too.

Celestial Weapons[edit]

An astra is a weapon that is to be hurled at an enemy. Examples include arrows from bows. A shastra is a personal weapon, like swords and maces, that must be constantly operated by the warrior.

  • 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 Rama declined, Lakshmana used it to kill Atikaya, 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 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 Ashwathama 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. "It blazes up with terrible flames within a huge sphere of fire. Numerous peals of thunder were heard, thousands of meteors fell and all living creatures became terrified with great dread. The entire sky seemed to be filled with noise and assumed a terrible aspect with flames of fire. The whole earth with her mountains and waters and trees trembled." When it strikes an area it will cause complete destruction and nothing will ever grow, not even a blade of grass for the next 12 years. It will not rain for 12 years in that area and everything including metal and earth becomes poisoned.[19]In the epic Mahabharata, it is said that the weapon manifest with the four heads of 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 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 Brahma as its tip.Brahma earlier lost his fifth head when he fought with Siva.This weapon is said to possess the power to destroy entire solar system or brahmand, the 14 realms according to Hindu cosmology. 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 universe 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.[20]
  • Pashupatastra: In Hinduism, it is believed that Pashupatastra is the most devastating weapon, as it is the weapon of the consort of the God head Mahadeva, i.e. Mahakali. Mahadeva literally means "Highest of all gods" and Mahakali means "Goddess who is beyond time". This weapon was granted to Arjuna by Shiva. It is the most destructive and foreboding weapon in Mahabharata. It was first used by Shiva for the destruction of tripura. It is capable of destroying entire multiverse. In Ramayana, Vishvamitra possessed this mighty weapon. In Mahabharat era, Apart from Arjuna no one possessed this weapon.
  • Narayanastra: Invincible and painful, this astra is unconquerable except by total submission, this astra was used by Krishna against Shiva, when Shiva was fighting on behalf of the evil Banasura, when shiva charged his personal Pashupatastra on Krishna, Krishna used this to make Shiva fall asleep, allowing him to move past him and cut off Banasura's arms but at the request of Shiva does not kill Banasura.
  • Vaishnavastra  : One of the most powerful astras, this cannot be stopped by anyone except its creator, Vishnu. 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. Krishna gave this astra to his cousin Arjuna. Rama, Krishna, Arjuna possessed this weapon
11th-century statue of Shiva performing the dance of destruction.
  • 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 Indra. This is the astra used by Arjuna to slay Karna in the Mahabharata war.
  • Ramabanam (Ramastra): Created by 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 Sri Rama.
  • Bhargavastra: this is the astra created by 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.,[21] 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. Apart from Indra, only Arjuna possessed it.
  • 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. It was used by Arjuna to collapse the entire army of kuru Maharathis including Duryodhan, Drona, Kripa, Ashwatthama, Dushasan, 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 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 Gandharva 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. It was possessed by Arjuna.
  • 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 Bhumi 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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