The Pashupatastra (IAST: Pāśupatāstra, sanskrit: पाशुपतास्त्र; the weapon of Pasupati, an epithet of Shiva) in Hindu mythology is an irresistible and most destructive personal weapon of Shiva, Kali and Adi Para Shakti, which can be discharged by the mind, the eyes, words, or a bow. Never to be used against lesser enemies or by lesser warriors, the Pashupatastra is capable of destroying creation and vanquishing all beings. Pashupatastra is one of the most destructive, powerful, irresistible weapons of all the weapons mentioned in the Hindu mythology. In Mahabharata, only Arjuna and in Ramayana only Indrajit are known to have possessed Pashupatastra. This weapon has to be obtained directly from Lord Shiva.
A Narrative from Kisari Mohan Ganguli's translation of Mahabharat regarding the power of Pashupatastra:
O thou of mighty arms, that weapon (Pashupatastra) is superior to the Brahma, the Narayana, the Indra, the Agneya, and the Varuna weapons. Verily, it is capable of neutralizing every other weapon in the universe. It was with that weapon that the illustrious Mahadeva had in days of yore, burnt and consumed in a moment the triple city of the Asuras. With the greatest ease, Mahadeva, using that single arrow, achieved that feat. That weapon, shot by Mahadeva's arms, can, without doubt consume in half the time taken up by a twinkling of the eyes the entire universe with all its mobile and immobile creatures. In the universe there is no being including even Brahma, Vishnu and the deities, that are incapable of being slain by that weapon.
Arjuna's penance for Pashupatastra
After the battle at Khandava, Indra had promised Arjuna to give him all his weapons as a boon for matching him in battle with the requirement that Shiva is pleased with him. Following the advice of Lord Krishna to go on a meditation or tapasya to attain this divine weapon, Arjuna left his brothers for a penance.
Arjuna traveled for a while before reaching the mountain Indra keeladri, Vijayawada. Here he sat in meditation in the name of Lord Shiva. Arjuna managed to please Lord Shiva by his severe penance in just months because his penance generated so much intense heat that was unbearable to all living creatures of earth which ultimately forced Lord Shiva to come to earth. Lord Shiva appeared soon enough in the guise of a hunter and challenged Arjuna to a fight, In that fierce battle 8 forms of Lord Shiva defeated Arjuna. Arjuna prayed to a linga, asking who is the wild hunter who puts him into shame, and placed a flower besides him on top of the linga. When he turned around he saw that the flower was on the top of the head of that hunter and he understood that the hunter is Shiva himself. At last Arjuna gratified the Mahadeva in battle by showing his prowess, then the hunter (Shiva) transformed himself to show his real avatar and blessed Arjuna with the Pashupatastra. Shiva lectures Arjuna on the abilities of the weapon, as well as the judgement he must use while wielding it.
Arjuna was amazed at the splendor of his father's palace at Amaravati. Dancers like Urvashi, Tilottama, Rambha and Menaka entertained him. There was a huge banquet serving different varieties of heavenly dishes. Arjuna learnt song and dance from the Gandharva, Chitrasena and Indra himself taught him all the divine weapons and also gave him his Vajra.
- Sharma, Arvind; Khanna, Madhu (2013-02-15). Asian Perspectives on the World's Religions after September 11. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9780313378973.
- Sharma, Mahesh; Chaturvedi, B. K. (2006). Tales From the Mahabharat. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. ISBN 9788128812286.
- "The Mahabharata, Book 3: Vana Parva: Kairata Parva: Section XL". www.sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
- "The Mahabharata, Book 3: Vana Parva: Kairata Parva: Section XXXVIII". www.sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
- "The Mahabharata, Book 3: Vana Parva: Indralokagamana Parva: Section XLIX". www.sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
- "The Mahabharata, Book 3: Vana Parva: Kairata Parva: Section XL". www.sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
- "The Mahabharata, Book 3: Vana Parva: Indralokagamana Parva: Section XLIV". Retrieved 3 August 2016.
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