The Astras, Part 12 – Narayana-astra
BY: SUN STAFF
Dronacharya, Ashwatthama, Abhimanyu and Kripacharya
on the battlefield of Kurukshetra
Mar 02, 2012 CANADA (SUN) A survey of transcendental weaponry.
One of the three occasions on which Lord Narayana's weapon, the narayana-astra was deployed took place on the battlefield at Kurukshetra when the son of Dronacharya, Ashwattama, used it against the Pandava's army. After Dronacharya was killed, Ashwattama triggered the weapon in a rage as Arjuna's forces approached.
When Ashwattama unleashed this deadly weapon, ekadasha (eleven) Rudras appeared in the sky to destroy the Pandavas. They released millions of weapons like gadhas, ultra-sharp arrows, and chakras. 'There was a thunderclap in the cloudless sky, there was rain and tempestuous wind. The earth was quaking, the oceans were angry and the sea turned its tides. This and many things happened as an indication of cataclysmic disturbance.
The weapon first rose as a single rocket, then at a distance it exploded in the air into thousands of shapes and colors, covering the enemy positions in ever widening circles. Emerging from the field of fire were thousands of fire-tipped missiles, and in a moment, millions of club-shaped projectiles, two-wheeled and four-wheeled propellers and projectiles, all burning like revolving and sweeping celestial bodies in space.'
Hundreds and thousands of the Pandava warriors perished under this deadly rain of armament. In a panic, Yudhisthir thought that the massacre was due to his own sinful acts, having deceived Grandfather Bhishma and causing the death of his teacher, Drona. Thus Yudhisthir shouted for everyone to leave the battlefield and save themselves, leaving him to face the astra alone.
Observing all this, Sri Krsna informed Yudhisthir that he should not despair –he did not have control over these matters. When Yudhisthir asked if there was any way to escape from this terrible astra sent by Ashwattama, Krsna said that the narayana-astra was familiar to Him. In fact, only Krsna, Drona and Ashwattama knew the secret of how to nullify the power of this transcendental weapon.
Krsna thus instructed the Pandava army to drop their weapons and lie down on the ground, surrendering completely to the power of narayana-astra. While others surrendered before the astra, the heroic Bhima refused, considering it a cowardly act. He instead counter-attacked the downpour of fiery armaments, standing defiantly and swinging his mace in the direction of the falling missiles. As a result, the astra became concentrated on him and would surely have destroyed him, but Arjuna snatched away his mace and Krsna put Bhima under His protection, saving him. Thus, the narayana-astra's ferocity abated, and it returned to its abode.
When the narayana-astra's cycle of destruction wound down, leaving Krsna and Arjuna without even a scar on their bodies, Ashwattama was perplexed. He went to Vedavyasa to inquire about the potency of the weapon, which he had assumed would perform as expected. But Vyasa informed him that Narayana was actually Lord Krsna, Who was indestructible and completely beyond the astra's potency.
Although Ashwattama was disappointed by the astra's performance, he was elated that the Pandava army had stood down, surrendering to the weapon. Duryodhana, however, was very disappointed in the turn of events. Finding no satisfaction in moral or spiritual victory, he asked Ashwattama to deploy the weapon again, but was informed that this would not be possible – the astra could be used against an enemy only once.
In a sullen mood, Duryodhana's hopes were dashed along with the mood of the Kauravas, as the war came to a close for the fifteenth day.
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