The Astras, Part 11 – Narayana-astra


19th c. Patna

Mar 01, 2012 — CANADA (SUN) — A survey of transcendental weaponry.

Lord Vishnu/Krsna is the Controller of numerous transcendental weapons, like Vaishnava-astra, the Kaumodaki mace, Nandaki sword, Sharnga bow, and of course, Sudarshan chakra. In His Narayana manifestation, the Lord employs a most fearsome weapon – the narayana-astra.

When deployed, narayana-astra launches an inconceivably deadly array – millions of simultaneously fired missiles. Depending on the intensity of resistance being demonstrated by an enemy in battle, the intensity of the missile shower increases accordingly. The only way to escape is to offer total submission to the Lord before the missiles hit their target.

Like many of the astras, the narayana-astra can only be invoked once in battle against a given enemy. When Lord Narayana offers the use of His personal astra to someone else, it must be returned immediately after use. If a combatant tries to use narayana-astra twice, the weapon boomerangs, targeting the invoker.

The narayana-astrawas one of the many weapons used by Lord Rama in His battle against the demon Ravana. Then, thousands of years later, it was again used by Ashwattama, the son of Dronacharya, at Kurukshetra where he deployed it against the Pandava army. Lord Narayana also gave the use of narayana-astra to Drona, who deployed it against the Yakshas.

Only three personalities know the secrets of narayana-astra: Lord Narayana (Krsna), Ashwattama, and Drona. Even Arjuna did not know the details of its inner workings.

Lord Narayana on Garuda
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

During the battle of Kurukshetra, the launching of narayana-astra was a transgression of the normally accepted ethics of war. Because the astra is an embodiment of Lord Narayana Himself, it is to be used only against an enemy who is of deva or daitya nature. In other words, it is not intended to be used against maanav-yudh, in battle with a combatant who has lesser potencies.

The narayana-astra may not be used indiscriminately, in escapable situations, or under the guise of citing flimsy grounds of conflict. It is strictly a weapon of last resort. Narayana-astra is not to be used on soldiers who have laid down their weapons and abandoned their chariots. It is not be to be used against those who are retreating from battle, or those who are begging for shelter or protection. Under the rules of war, the astra's use in such circumstances would cause it to turn back on the invoker. Lord Narayana Himself has stipulated these rules of use of the weapon.


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