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Sakti
(also known as Shakti, Amogha Astra, Amoghastra, Amogha Shakti, Vasavi Shakti)

Sakti means "power" or "force" and refers to a celestial weapon that the god Indra gave to Karna in the Mahabharata. Unlike a traditional astra in which the mantra is taught to the individual, in this case Indra invokes the astra onto the weapon, but does not tell Karna the mantra to invoke or withdraw it. Therefore the weapon can only be used a single time against Karna's greatest enemy. Karna wanted to use the Sakti against Arjuna, but ultimately had to use it against Ghatotkacha.

"And the chief of the celestials accepted the gift and was exceedingly gratified with Karna's liberality. He therefore, gave unto him a fine dart, saying, 'That one (and one only) among the celestials, the Asuras, men, the Gandharvas, the Nagas, and the Rakshasas, whom thou desirest to conquer, shall be certainly slain with this dart."

The gods have no such restrictions on Sakti's use, and Skanda used the astra to slay many Danavas including the mighty Mahisha.

"And, O great king, the mighty Mahasena discharged a bright Sakti for the destruction of Mahisha. That missile cut off the head of Mahisha, and he fell upon the ground and died. And his head massive as a hillock, falling on the ground, barred the entrance to the country of the Northern Kurus, extending in length for sixteen Yojanas though at present the people of that country pass easily by that gate.

It was observed both by the gods and the Danavas that Skanda hurled his sakti again and again on the field of battle, and that it returned to his hands, after killing thousands of the enemy's forces. And the terrible Danavas fell in large numbers by the arrows of the wise Mahasena."

There are several other names for Sakti identified in the texts. Amogha's primary meaning is "drastic" but has a secondary meaning of "infallible/unfailing" which is more likely given the nature of the weapon and its certainty in slaying the target. Therefore Amogha Astra would mean "infallible weapon" and Amogha Shakti "infallible force". Indra is also known as Vasava, so Vasavi Shakti means "Indra's power" or "Indra's force".

Thanks to Jijith Nadumuri Ravi from Ancient Voice.

Astra, India, Mythology, Weapon


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