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Brahma Astra
(also known as Brahmastra and Brahmaastra)

Brahma Astra is one of the most powerful celestial weapons in Hindu mythology. It is typically associated with Lord Brahma the Creator, but there is no textual evidence that he actually used the weapon and he rarely takes destructive actions in Hindu mythology. It is more likely that "Brahma" in this context refers to "to expand, grow, swell, or enlarge" and therefore Brahma Astra refers to an expanding celestial weapon of immense destruction.

Brahma Astra can be obtained only through intense meditation and accumulation of ascetic merit. A worthy individual receives a mantra to invoke the weapon, and the Brahma Astra can only be used once in a lifetime unless the wielder knows a separate mantra to withdraw it. Discharging the weapon requires intense mental discipline and concentration and must be used against a worthy individual or army. Improper use of the weapon, either against a weak individual or without specific intent could cause the destruction of the entire universe. When used properly, the Brahma Astra is a counter to most other astras while at the same time there is no defense or counter to it; the target of this weapon will be completely annihilated.

Anecdotal evidence also indicates that the Brahma Astra causes environmental damage on a massive scale. The land on which the weapon is used becomes barren and cracked, all life withers and dies in the surrounding area and not even rain will fall, causing drought-like conditions. It is also said that men and women near the vicinity of the blast become infertile. In modern times the Brahma Astra has been compared to a nuclear device but based on the description, it is far more powerful. While the entire stockpile of nuclear weapons could at best destroy the world, the Brahma Astra is capable of destroying the entire universe (again, only when used improperly).

The Brahma Astra has been invoked several times in literature. In the Ramayana, Rama uses the Brahma Astra to deal the final blow against the rakshasa Ravana during their battle on the island of Lanka. Bharata tried to use the Brahma Astra against Lava and Kusa, but they both fired their Brahma Astras first, killing him and most of his army. In the Mahabharata, Pradyumna used the Brahma Astra on Salwa, but he survived.

Thanks to Jijith Nadumuri Ravi from Ancient Voice.

Astra, India, Mythology, Weapon


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