Ancient Weapons

Below are a list of weapons which are used in Ramayana/Mahabharata. And its a relief that we lost them now and you can imagine why.

Brahmastra :
As described in a number of the Puranas, it was considered the deadliest weapon. It was said that when the Brahmastra was discharged, there was neither a counter attack nor a defense that could stop it, except by Brahmadanda, a stick also created by Brahma. The Brahmastra never missed its mark and had to be used with very specific intent against an individual enemy or army, as the target would face complete annihilation. It was believed to be obtained by meditating on the Lord Brahma; it could only be used once in a lifetime. The user would have to display immense amounts of mental concentration. According to ancient Sanskrit writings, the Brahmastra is invoked by a key phrase or invocation that is bestowed upon the user when given this weapon. Through this invocation the user can call upon the weapon and use it via a medium against his adversary.
Presiding Deity: Brahma, the creator
Weapon’s Effect: Total annihilation
Warriors:Arjuna, karna, Drona, Bhishma, Ashwatthama, Bhima, Satyaki, Yudhishthira, Dristidyumna, Rama, Ravana, Inderjeet Megnadh, Laxmana

Brahmashira :
Brahma had created a weapon even more powerful than the Brahmastra, called the Brahmashira. The Brahmashira was never used in war, as it had four times more power than the Brahmastra, i.e. Fourth power square, as the name suggests, since Brahma has Four Heads. Only Arjuna and Ashwatthama possessed the knowledge to summon the Brahmashira
Presiding Deity: Brahma, the creator
Weapon’s Effect: Total annihilation
Warriors: Drona, Arjuna and Ashwatthama.

Bhargvastra :
Parsurama is owner of this astra and he provided this powerful weapon to Karna.
Presiding Deity : Parsurama
Weapon’s effect : Total annihilation
Warriors- Parsurama, Karna

Aindra astra:
Presiding Deity: Indra, the god of weather
Weapon’s Effect: Would bring about a shower of arrows from the sky.

Vasvi astra: A deadly weapon like Pasupata.
Warrior: Karna

Vajra: Indra’s favorite weapon.
Warrior: Arjuna.

Indrastra- A powerful missile used to scatter the opposing army.
Warriors- Arjuna,Drona, Ashwatthama, Yudhishthira.

Agneya astra:
Presiding Deity: Agni, the god of fire
Weapon’s Effect: The weapon discharged would emit flames inextinguishable through normal means.

Varuna astra:Presiding Deity: Varuna, the god of water
Weapon’s Effect: The weapon discharged would release torrential volumes of water. This weapon is commonly mentioned as used to counter the Agneyastra.

Naga astra:
Presiding Deity: The Nagas
Weapon’s Effect: The weapon would have an un-erring aim and take on the form of a snake, proving deadly upon impact.

Naga paasha:
Presiding Deity: The Nagas
Weapon’s Effect: Upon impact, this weapon would bind the target in coils of living venomous snakes. In the Ramayana, it was used against Lord Rama and Lakshmana by Indrajit.

Vayu astra:
Presiding Deity: Vayu, the god of wind
Weapon’s Effect: Bring about a gale capable of lifting armies off the ground.

Surya astra:
Presiding Deity: Surya, the sun god
Weapon’s Effect: Create a dazzling light that would dispel any darkness about.

Vajra astra:
Presiding Deity: Indra
Weapon’s Effect: Target would be struck with bolts of lightning (vajra referring to Indra’s thunderbolt).

Mohini astra:
Presiding Deity: Mohini, Visnu avatar
Weapon’s Effect: Dispel any form of maya or sorcery in the vicinity.

Twashtar astra:
Presiding Deity: Twashtri, the heavenly builder
Weapon’s Effect: When used against a group of opponents (such as an army), would cause them to mistake each other for enemies and fight each other.

Sammohana/ Pramohana astra:
Presiding Deity:
Weapon’s Effect: Would cause entire hosts/armies to collapse in a trance.

Parvata astra:
Presiding Deity:
Weapon’s Effect: Would cause a Parvata/mountain to fall on the target from the skies.

Narayana astra:
Presiding Deity: Visnu, the Preserver
Weapon’s Effect: Would create showers of arrows and discs. The astra’s power would increase with the resistance offered to it. This weapon had to be obtained from Vishnu directly, and could be used only once.

Vaishnava astra:
Presiding Deity: Visnu, the Preserver
Weapon’s Effect: Would destroy target completely, irrespective of target’s nature. Infallible. This weapon had to be obtained from Vishnu directly.

Pashupata astra:
It is the crescent-shaped irresistible and most destructive personal weapon of Kali and Shiva, discharged by the mind, the eyes, words, or a bow. It was used in the Mahabharata war by Arjuna to kill Jayadratha. It was used against Lakshmana by Meghanada. According to Kurma Puran, in the battle between the Purusha and demonic forces, Narasimha avatar escapes a powerful weapon called Pashupata. It is returned without causing any harm since it can be used only to uphold Dharma.
Presiding Deity: Shiva, the Destroyer
Weapon’s Effect: Would destroy target completely, irrespective of target’s nature. Infallible. This weapon had to be obtained from Shiva directly.

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15 thoughts on “Ancient Weapons

  1. Sir, What is the effect of karna’s bhargavastra on arjuna? Why karna didn’t used any other divyastra on gattodgacha that he can have? Why ashwattama and dronacharya didn’t use divyastra on gattodgacha that they can save karna’s vasavi astra?

  2. There is another missile called Shaiva missile which is similar to Pasupath and possessed by Drona. The presiding deity is Lord Shiva. Its effect is either to counter other Shaiva weapons or total annihilation.

  3. Dear Dhruv,

    I don’t think that any astra of Mahabharata, whether pasupata or vasavi, was the weapon of god. All of them were man made. There were no presiding deities of these astras. Gurus or rishish who created these astras gave a name to them like Brahmastra, Indrastra etc. Generally they named these weapons after a deity- brahma, Indra, Varuna etc. Sometimes the inventors gave their own name to these astras like- Bhargava, Twastri etc

      1. I totally agree with you Yuvasamrat. I always keep thinking, all these gods have attained the state or “God”ness because of their ability. Their power. Example, Agni was an amazing scientist who discovered fire… May be!! Varuna, may be he is the one who was an expert in the science of cloud and rain and would invoke it for the good of mankind! So on and so forth!

  4. Here I am giving a list of some important weapons in the context of Mahabharata war and the Mahabharata warriors who possessed these weapons………….

    1) Brahmastra- A very power missile (by Mahabharata period’s standard). Only few warriors were having this astra.
    Warriors- Arjuna, karna, Drona, Bhishma, Ashwatthama, Bhima, Satyaki, Yudhishthira and Dristidyumna.
    2) Brahmshira- An advanced version of Brahmastra.
    Warriors- Drona, Arjuna and Ashwatthama.
    3) Pasupata- One of the deadliest weapon of Mahabharata time. Only Arjuna was having this weapon.
    Warrior- Arjuna.
    4) Vasvi astra- A deadly weapon like pasupata.
    Warrior- Karna
    5) Vajra- Indra’s favorite weapon.
    Warrior- Arjuna.
    6)Indrastra- A powerful missile used to scatter the opposing army.
    Warriors- Arjuna,Drona, Ashwatthama, Yudhishthira. I may be wrong here but am not sure about other warriors having this astra. Please correct me.
    7) Bhargavastra- A somewhat similar weapon to Indrastra. Karna countered Indrastra with Bhargavastra. This weapon can not be neutralized.
    Warrior- Karna.
    8) Mahendrastra- An advanced version of Indrastra.
    Warriors- Arjuna and Yudhishthira.
    9) Nagastra- An arrow containing acid or some other dangerous chemical.
    warrior- Karna.
    10) Sthunkarna- A powerful weapon that can resist a volley of upcoming arrows, spear, mace etc.
    Warriors- Arjuna, Drona, AshwatthamaBhima. Not sure about others.
    11)Twastri- One of the powerful weapons of Mahabharata time
    Warriors- Arjuna, Drona, Ashwatthama and Bhima. Not sure about others.
    12) Agni astra- A powerful missile emitting fire.
    Warriors- Drona, Arjuna, Ashwatthama. Not sure about others.
    13) Narayanastra- An advanced version of Agni astra
    Warriors- Drona and Ashwatthama.
    14) Vaishnawastra- A powerful arrow, but with limited effect. Similar to nagastra.
    Warrior- Bhagdatta
    15) vayavya astra
    Warriors- All the prominent maharathis.
    16) Varunastra
    Warriors- All the prominent maharathis.

    There were some other weapons as well.

    1. I dont agree with your views on bhargavastra. Arjuna himself didnt. Sachin too has been trying to downplay bhargavastra but couldnt suceed

    2. An important weapon….Sammohanastra- An astra like tear gas cells.
      Warriors- Arjuna and Dristidyumna.

  5. Very interesting topic Dhruv bhai ! Discussion on this page will certainly increase our knowledge about ancient weapons.

    Some other weapons like Vasvi astra, Sthunkarna, Mahendrasta etc. can be included here.

  6. Shri Dhruvji Gustakhi maaf. Bhargavastra ko kaise bhool gaye. Jis tarah boris becker ka fan uske diving volley ko nahee bhool sakta karna ka fan bhagravastra ko nahee bhool sakta