Ancient Hindu epics and Puranas often describe fearsome and bloody battles between the forces of good and evil. The gods and demons too often play a role in such encounters, along with their powerful and awe-inspiring weapons. Here is a list of the 10 most powerful weapons mentioned in the ancient Hindu epics.
Vajra, The Thunderbolt Of Indra
Lord Indra was engaged in battle with the Asuras Namuchi and Vritra on earth. The two demons had removed all light and moisture, thereby making the land harsh and unfit for habitation. But when Indra found his opponents were too much for him, he prayed to Lord Vishnu for help.
Vishnu created a unique weapon called Vajra that could release thunderbolts. With its help, Indra conquered the Asuras. Another story talks of Saint Dadhichi, who offered his bones for making Vajra.
This weapon belonged to Barbarika in the Mahabaratha epic. It was gifted to him by Goddess Siddhidhatri. It is said that had Barbarika taken part in the Kurukshetra war and used this weapon, the war would have ended in 30 seconds. The weapon is an arrow that can be used 3 times – firstly to choose the target, secondly to choose the target to be saved, and thirdly, to destroy all the targets that were not chosen.
Pinaka, The Bow Of Shiva
Pinaka is the bow that features in the Ramayana epic. It is the one broken by Lord Rama during Sita’s Swayamvar. Actually, Pinaka is the bow of Lord Shiva, and it is used for Pralaya or total dissolution.
But in Valmiki’s Ramayana, Devendra created two equal bows. One went to Vishnu, and one to Dhanush. But before their contest began, they were told that it would result in unforetold destruction. On hearing this, Dhanush threw his bow down, and it fell to the ground. This bow, which was later known as Shiva Dhanush, was lifted by the Mithila princess.
The bow is very powerful. When used in a battle against the demons by Shiva, he destroyed the whole of Tripura.
Sudarshana Chakra, Vishnu’s Disc
This is a disc-like weapon with 108 serrated edges and is the main weapon associated with Vishnu. The discus returns to the attacker once it destroys the enemy; hence the weapon is easy to control. The weapon is said to be constantly in motion, and its name means “auspicious vision”.
Sudarshana Jayanthi celebrates the appearance of the Sudarshana Chakra. If one worships this divine weapon, it is equivalent to the worship of Vishnu’s ten avatars. It bestows positive energy and keeps one safe from danger. It can heal illness and remove our worries and sorrows. Sudarshana Jayanthi 2021 is on July 19.
Kaladanda, Yama’s Staff
Yama, the God of death, rules hell or Naraka in Hindu mythology. His staff or club is said to be very lethal.Once a target had been set, it would destroy the person, no matter how many boons or protections they enjoyed. This is the same weapon used by Yama to defend himself against the demon, Ravana.
Rudra Astra, The Power Of Shiva’s Third Eye
This Astra is one of the most devastating weapons owned by Shiva. It is believed to have the power of one of the 11 Rudras and releases a beam that burns everything to ashes and can destroy even celestial beings.
In the Mahabaratha epic, Karna used it to pierce Arjuna’s Shiva Kavach on the chest. It drained the armor of its mystical powers and greatly weakened Arjuna’s hold over his bow. The Rudra can be stopped only by using an Astra presided over by Vishnu.
This is an irresistible and highly destructive personal weapon of deities like Shiva, Kali, and Adi Para Shakti. Supposedly, it can be discharged by the mind, the eyes, and words, not just a bow. It is not for use against lesser foes or by lesser warriors. Pashupatastra can destroy all creation. In Mahabharata, only Arjuna possessed it. In the Ramayana, Meghnad and Sage Vishvamitra possessed it. It is one among the six Mantramukta weapons that cannot be resisted.
Brahmastra, The Devastating Missile
A weapon of immense strength, the Brahmastra is like a missile. It was created by Brahma. Highly effective against almost all the other Astras, this divine weapon can be obtained through great concentration and meditation. It can also be given by a Guru who knows the appropriate incantations.
The weapon could be used only once a day, and the havoc it wreaked was so great that the land as well as the men and women living around became barren and infertile. In the Ramayana, Ravana’s brother, Indrajit, used the weapon to inflict a near-fatal wound on Lakshmana. In the Mahabaratha, two competing Brahmastras were used to devastating effect.
Trishul, Shiva’s Trident
The Trishul is the most powerful weapon used by Lord Shiva. It was the weapon he used to cut off Lord Ganesha’s head.
It has the power to cut through the physical world, the world of the mind, and the world of forbears, thereby creating a state of bliss. Shiva is the only force that can withstand the Trishul.
Vijaya, Karna’s Bow
This bow can guarantee victory to whoever wields it. This divine bow of Karna was designed by the divine architect, Viswakarma, for Lord Shiva. The bow was then given to Indra for safekeeping. Indra gave it to Parasurama, who in turn gave it to Karna in recognition of his archery skills.
Krishna had warned Arjuna about how far the power of the bow could carry Karna, and it was proved when Karna achieved victory over Arjuna. Krishna then advised Arjuna to defeat him with stealth when he was not wielding the bow. Each arrow was also charged with sacred mantras.