The Astras, Part 2 - Pashupati-astra

BY: SUN STAFF

Arjuna's Penance, performed to get his favoured weapon, Pashupatastra, from Lord Siva
Rock-cut Monument at Mahabalipuram


Jan 25, 2012 — CANADA (SUN) — A survey of transcendental weaponry.

One of the most destructive of all astras is the Pashupati-astra, presided over by Rudra (Lord Shiva). This highly feared weapon belongs primarily to Durga, the destructive manifestation of Parvati Devi. It is the most destructive weapon in Shiva's arsenal. Lord Shiva is also known as Pashupatinath, and one of the most important of all Shiva temples, located in Kathmandu, is dedicated to Lord Pashupatinath.

At various times, Lord Shiva also bestowed the use of this astra on other famed personalities. One of these was Meghnad, the son of Ravana, who used it against Laksmana in the Treta Yuga. Indrajit is also said to have used this astra against Rama and Laksmana. In Dvapara Yuga, Arjuna employed Pashupati in the Kurukshetra war to kill Jayadratha, and he also used it against Karna and Ashwathama.


Shiva presents the Pashupata to Arjuna
Oleograph, Raja Ravi Varma


In the Udyoga Parva of Mahabharata, Grandfather Bhisma states:

    "Regarding Arjuna, who has Lord Narayana as his charioteer, there is none amongst the warriors on both sides who can be his equal. Indeed, even amongst the gods and demons, there is none his equal. The chariot on which Arjuna will fight is celestial and cannot be destroyed. The monkey that rides on the banner is also divine and cannot be slain. The Gandiva bow and the two inexhaustible quivers of Partha were given to him by Varuna. He has obtained all the celestial weapons from the heavenly gods, including the thunderbolt weapon and the Pashupati astra. Only myself and Drona can challenge him. However, he is young and skillful, whereas we are old and our energy is easily spent."

Pashupati-astra can be discharged simply by a thought, by using one's eyes, or by mantra. It can also be activated and delivered with a bow. The following mantra is said to be the one used for deploying Pashupati-astra, although it is locked during the Kali-yuga:

    om hara maheshwarah shoola paani pinak drikk
    pashupati shiva mehadeva eeshanaa namah shivaaya

This astra is capable of destroying the manifest creation and vanquishing all beings. However, it can only be used for conducting dharmic activities, also described in the Udyoga Parva:

    "In the presence of all the great fighters on his side, Yudhisthira inquired from Arjuna, O Dhananjaya, I have heard that Bhishma, our grandsire, has vowed to annihilate our army in one month's time. Drona has vowed the same and Kripa has vowed two months. Drona's son has said ten days and the wicked son of Radha has vowed five days. Therefore, I ask you, O Phalguna, how long will it take you to destroy the enemy?

    Do not have any fear, O King, Arjuna replied. Unquestionably I say that with Vasudeva as my chariot driver, I can decimate the three worlds in a mere twinkling of an eye. I have in my possession the Pashupati-astra given to me by Lord Shiva. It is not, however, proper to use it on common warriors. We shall, though, kill the enemy in a fair fight. All the great maharathis will slaughter the enemy forces, and even yourself will be competent to annihilate Duryodhana's forces."

The village of Deo Tibba, located in the Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh, is the place where Arjuna went to perform austerities in order to get the use of Pashupati-astra. He came to this place to do penance on the advice of Srila Vyasa. Arjuna's pastimes at Deo Tibba, which is located about 3,000 feet above sea level, are depicted in the rock-cut monument at Mahabalipuram that is commonly referred to as 'Arjuna's Penance'.


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