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Vaishnava Astra
(also known as Vaishnavastra, Vaishnavaastra)

Vaishnava Astra is the celestial weapon of Vishnu in Hindu mythology. Vaishnava means related to Vishnu and the weapon had to be obtained from Vishnu directly.

"My fourth form lieth down in sleep for a thousand years. The form of mine which awaketh from sleep at the end of a thousand years, granteth, upon awakening, excellent boons to persons deserving of them. The earth, knowing (on one occasion) that that time had come, asked of me a boon for (her son) Naraka. Hear, O Partha, what that boon was. Possessed of the Vaishnava weapon, let my son become incapable of being slain by the gods and the Asuras. It behoveth thee to grant me that weapon. Hearing this prayer, I then gave, in days of old, the supreme and infallible Vaishnava weapon to the Earth's son."

The Vaishnava Astra is so powerful that not even the king of the gods could survive it. Only Vishnu could nullify the weapon.

"I said also at that time these words, 'O Earth, let this weapon be infallible for the protection of Naraka. None will be able to slay him. Protected by this weapon, thy son will always, in all the worlds, be invincible and crush all hostile hosts.' Saying, So be it! the intelligent goddess went away, her wishes fulfilled. And Naraka also became invincible and always scorched his foes. It was from Naraka, O Partha, that the ruler of the Pragjyotishas got this weapon of mine. There is none, in all the world, O sire, including even Indra and Rudra, who is unslayable by this weapon."

The king of the Pragjyotishas, Bhagadatta, used the Vaishnava Astra against Arjuna. However Arjuna's charioteer was Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu. Krishna nullified the astra by turning it into a garland in the Mahabharata, Drona Parva section 27.

"Filled then with rage, he with Mantras, turned his hook into the Vaishnava weapon and hurled it at Arjuna's breast. That all-slaying weapon, hurled by Bhagadatta, Kesava, covering Arjuna, received on his breast. Thereupon, that weapon became a triumphal garland on Kesava's breast."

Arjuna then felled Bhagadatta's elephant and finally killed the king of the Pragjyotishas.

Thanks to Jijith Nadumuri Ravi from Ancient Voice.

Astra, India, Mythology, Weapon


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