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The Deadly Weaponry of the Mahabharata

Updated on October 7, 2011

Composed perhaps as early as 1,000 B.C.E., the Mahabharata, a Sanskrit spiritual epic, contains the history of a great battle waged between the five sons of King Pandu and the hundred sons of King Dhritarashtra.

Within this sacred account, there are references to use of over forty devastating weapons, the most severe of which may have been the brahmastra. This device is described multiple times within the Mahabharata, but detailed perhaps best in the text of Srimad Bhagavatam, a commentary of divine Hindu knowledge, compiled by Vyasa.

“saṁhatyānyonyam ubhayos

tejasī śara-saṁvṛte

āvṛtya rodasī khaṁ ca

vavṛdhāte 'rka-vahnivat

The translation of this Sanskrit passage reads as follows:

When the rays of the two brahmastras combined, a great circle of fire, like…the sun, covered…whole firmament of planets.” -source

Evidently, this weapon was so destructive that it could upset the cosmic balance (i.e. “whole firmament of planets”); environments would be rendered inhabitable and resulting infertility would cause species to become extinct.

Still, there remains an inventory of additional technologies utilized during this historic war.Mantras, for instance, refer to weapons that caused impairment by emitting harmful sound vibrations. Another device, known as the Naga astra, had flawless aim and attributed similarities to a snake. An ideal modern comparison would be a heat-seeking missile. Other passages within the Indian epic reference the use of toxic gases that could cause physical and mental incapacitation (sammohana astra)

Regardless of their specific purpose, all astras, or supernatural weapons, were created by a supreme heavenly deity yet commanded by lesser gods. A fairly complete list of recordedastras can be found here.


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    • ravi1991 profile image

      Ashutosh Tiwari 3 years ago from Lucknow, India


      Nice one yet it could have been expanded.

      Hey ! Do you know about Barbarik ?

    • Lilith Eden profile image

      Lilith Eden 6 years ago from Memphis, TN


      When I write interpretations of historical events, I make sure to use diction such as "supposedly", "perhaps", "possibly", etc. in order to maintain the tenuous nature of certain claims.

      Never are my writings composed with my own personal bias. Instead, hubs such as these should offer simply another outlook on an ancient occurrence.

      Certainly, it could all simply be some fictitious accounts composed by some early fantasy writer. Wouldn't it be great to know?

      For years, archeologists have been attempting to link the suggested time of the war depicted in the Mahabharata with specific locations and astrological events. There have been some surprising findings, including that of radioactive ash being found in the antiquated ruins of Harappa, India.

      Still, nothing will ever be conclusive. Even current events are horribly warped.


    • Craig Suits profile image

      Craig Suits 6 years ago from Florida

      Hiya Lilith..

      I've seen that video before on TV and althought anything is possible I suppose, all of the so-called evidence from the the street to the vitrified soil and all the rest could easily be explained by understanding how these various thing happen and could happen in our times.

      There just isn't any undeniehable proof of any of it let alone accurate descriptions of what may have occurred. If there were nuclear explosions that big, there wouldn't have been anyone left to document the up-close observations as described in the text.

      Great subject though. I'd love to be an archeologist...

      So maybe someone way back then decided to write a scifi book. It can happen you know.......