MARKANDEYA PURANA: Durga emerges from the radiance of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. She was also called Mahamaya, a body of glory and mountain of fire. The gods then handed their weapons. This is also described in Vama Purana. Siva gave his Trishul; Vishnu his discuss; Varuna his conch-shell; Agni his dart; Vayu a bow; Surya a quiver full of arrows; Indra a thunderbolt; Kuvera a mace; Brahma a rosary and water pot; Kala a shiled and sword; Visvakarma a battle-axe and other weapons. Thus armed Durga proceeded to the Vindhya hills. Mahisha’s life was to end….
ASTRA: This is a supernatural weapon presided over by a specific deity. It is summoned by a specific invocation or incantation and the deity invoked would endow it. So the astra is not available by regular means. It comes with conditions of usage and violations can be fatal. Knowledge involcing an astra was passed from teacher to pupil by word of mouth alone. Only qualified disciples of chachter has this blessings. Some astras were handed down directly by the deity.
Usage of astras are seen in the Puranas, especially the Ramayana and Mahabaratha. They were used as Rama, Arjuna and Bhishmar’s archers. They were called up and used as arrows. Indeed they could potentially be used as anything, for instance Ashwattama invokes an astra from a blade of grass.
Indraastra would bring about a 'shower' of arrows from the sky. Agniastra, a weapon discharged would emit flames inextinguishable through normal means.
Varunaastra The weapon discharged would release torrential volumes of water. This weapon is commonly mentioned as used to counter the Agneyastra. Nagaastra a weapon thatwould have an inerring aim and take on the form of a snake, proving deadly upon impact. Nagapaasha, upon impact, this weapon would bind the target in coils of living venomous snakes.(in the Ramayana, it was used against Lord Rama and Lakshmana by Indrajit).
Vayvayaastra brings about a gale capable of lifting armies off the ground. Suryastra Surya, creates a dazzling light that would dispel any darkness about. Vajra; the target would be struck with bolts of lightning (vajra referring to Indra's thunderbolt). Mohini dispel any form of maya or sorcery in the vicinity.
Twashtar, when used against a group of opponents (such as an army), would cause them to mistake each other for enemies and fight each other. Sammohana or Pramohana would cause entire hosts/armies to collapse in a trance. Parvataastra would cause a Parvata/mountain to fall on the target from the skies.
Brahmasirsha is capable of killing devas. It was used by Ashwatthama on Parikshit. It is thought that the Brahmasirsha is the evolution of the Brahmastra. Narayanaastra would create showers of arrows and discs. The astra's power would increase with the resistance offered to it. This weapon had to be obtained from Vishnu directly, and could be used only once. If the user were to attempt invoking it a second time, it would rebound on him, and possibly, his troops. Vaishnavaastra would destroy target completely, irrespective of target's nature. Infallible. This weapon had to be obtained from Vishnu directly.
TRISHULA: Needs no explanation really. Trishula is almost synonymous with Lord Shiva and Mother Kali. Mother Durga also holds trishula, also some other gods and goddesses. The three points have various meanings and significance but generally means the Trinity and their roles of Creation, Preservation and Destruction; the three Gunas, sattvic, rajasic, tamasic; Kala, past, present and future. The trisula’s central point represents Shushmana, and that is why it is longer than the other two, representing ida and pingala.
As Shiva’s weapon, the Trishula is said to destroy the three worlds: the physical world, the world of the forefathers -representing culture drawn from the past and the world of the mind -representing the processes of sensing and acting. The three worlds are supposed to be destroyed by Shiva into a single non-dual plane of existence, that is bliss alone.
KHATVANGA: Lord Shiva as well as Lord Rudra carried the Khatwang as a staff. It is is a long, club or staff originally created to be used as a weapon. It is a divine weapon of polysemic significance and accoutrement of chthonic deities and ‘left-handed path’ or Vamamarga. It is also carried by holy people in Dharmic Traditions such as Shaivism. The Khatvanga is also symbolic of some lineages of historical Tantra though it preceded such traditions.
PASHUPATASTRA: Pashupatastra is the most destructive personal weapon of Lord Shiva, discharged by the mind, the eyes, words, or a bow. It is not to be used against the inferior warrior. It is capable of destroying creation and vanquishing all beings. Arjuna used it to kill Jayadratha. When Meghanada used it against Lakshmana, it returned without hurting since it can be used only to uphold Dharma.
BRAHMA’S ARROW: Ramayana tells the story of Ravana’s heads growing back immediately after they were thrashed by Lord Rama’s arrows. So he always ended up having ten heads. These new heads gave him added strength. While Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana were exiled in Dandaka Forest, the sage Agastya imparted Brahma’s arrow. The arrow of Brahma had feathers of winds. The points were sun and flames. The shaft was Mount Meru, the hub of the universe and where Brahma lived. It was time to use it and Rama fired it. It burst Ravana’s chest, passed through his body, and returned to Rama’s quiver. Thus Ravana was destroyed. Lord Rama had his victory over Lanka and recovered Sita.
ASI: This sword appears in the Shantiparva section of Mahabharata. A demon-like being with exceeding power and energy sprang from the midst of the sacrificial fires. It scattered flames all around. His teeth were sharp and terrible, stomach lean and skinny and stature very tall and slim. There was havoc in the worlds when the earth started shaking; oceans were in turmoil and forceful winds tore down forests. Meteors blazed through the skys. The gods turn to Lord Brahma. Brahma declared: The ‘being’ I have conceived is Asi. It shall effect the destruction of the enemies of the gods and restore the Dharma. Upon this, the creature assumed the form of a blazing, sharp-edged sword, glowing like the flames at the end of the Kalpa.
BRAHMASTRA: Considered to be the deadliest of all weapons, it is described in the Puranas. Sometimes it is known as the Brahma Astra. Neither a counter attack nor a defense that could stop it once the Brahmastra was launched. It could only be stopped by Brahmadanda, a stick also created by Brahma. According to the Vedas it is obtained by meditating upon Brahma and it is a lifetime offer to be used only once. The user would have to display immense amounts of mental concentration. The Brahmastra is invoked by a key phrase or invocation bestowed by the guru when he hands this weapon. By the invocation it can be called upon just from anywhere. It is said that the Brahmastra prayogha or use of it is for the purpose of upholding Dharma and Satya. This may be the reason to destroy the enemy.The target, when hit by Brahmastra, would be utterly destroyed.
BRAHMASHIRA. Brahma had created a weapon even more powerful than the Brahmastra, called the Brahmashira. It is said that it has never been used in war. It is four times more powerful than the Brahmastra and symbolizes Brahma has Four Heads. It is said that only Arjuna and Ashwatthama possessed the knowledge to summon the Brahmashira. It could not be acquired by mere training or meditation, it could only be bestowed upon a warrior by Lord Shiva or Lord Brahma.
SUDARSHAN CHAKRA: This Chakra is a spinning, disk-like super weapon with 108 serrated edges used by Lord Vishnu and his incarnations. The earliest reference can be found in the Ramayana and Mahabaratha. The Sudarshana Chakra is occasionally mentioned in the Rigveda, Yajurveda and Puranas, as an ultimate weapon to eliminate the enemy of law, order and preservation. It targeted rakshasas, asura, and vikrutatma. It may be recalled from the Mahabaratha that Sri Krishna beheaded Shishupala with the use of the Sudarshana Chakra, for his rapacious behaviour at the Rajsuya yagna celebration of Emperor Yudhishthira.
CHENTU: The attribute of chentu, which is etymologically derived from a Tamil word, generally appears in Southern India, especially in Hindu images of Tamil Nadu state, India. It is a horse whip which looks like a crooked stick, and is a typical attribute of Lord Ayyanar, Krishna in his aspect as Rajagopala, and Shiva with Nandi.
ANKUSA: The elephant-hathi goad or Ankusa is a tool employed in the handling and training of elephants. It consists of a hook, usually bronze or steel which is attached to a handle. The hook is inserted into the elephant’s sensitive skin, either slightly or more deeply, to cause pain and induce the elephant to behave in a certain manner.
GANDIVA: Lord Brahma venerated the Supreme Brahman and earned this bow. He held it first for a thousand years. The bow was worshiped by Devas, Gandharvas and Danavas. Later Lord Brahma handed the Gandiva to Arjuna to be used in the Kurukshetra was and that made him invincible. Only Krishna and Arjuna could wield the bow in the mortal world. The bow, when twanged made the sound of thunder. Indeed the name Gandiva and Arjuna sound synonymous.
NARAYANASTRA: This is the personal missile of Majavishnu when he assumes the Narayan form. This astra assumes millions of deadly missiles simultaneously. It responds to resistance and multiplies itself. The only defence is total surrender and the target may be spared. Ashwathama, a Kuru warrior-hero in the epic Mahabharata unleashes this weapon on the Pandava forces. So Sri Krishna asked the Pandavas to drop their weapons and lie down on the ground. This trick was only know to Drona, Aswathama, and Krishna. Arjuna also was not aware of it. The use of the Narayanastra came with a condition that it is used only once in any particular war.
PARASHU: This is a battle-axe, the choice weapon of Lord Parashurama. It is either wielded by two or single hand. Parashurama’s parashu had supernatural powers. It had four cutting edges, one on each end of the blade head and one on each end of the shaft. Parashurama was the guru of Dronacharya, the guru who instructed the Pandavas in the epic of the Mahabharata. Bhishma and Karna, half brother of Pandava also took instruction in weaponry from Parashurama, a disciple of lord Shiva, and was known to have terrible temper having lost his father to the evil Asura.
VAJRA: The vajra is a ritual object, a short metal weapon, originally used as a kind of fist iron. It is Indra’s weapon. The vajra is believed to represent firmness of spirit and spiritual power. The Rigveda states that the weapon was made for Indra by Tvastar, the maker of divine instruments. It is similar to the Japanese weapon called Yawara
VEL: This is the divine javelin of Lord Skanda or Murugan. According to Skanda Purana, it was presented by Mother Parvati as an emobodiment of Her shakti or power in order to vanquish the evil asura Soorapadman. And Murugan does so. He hurled his Vel and split the mango tree in to two halves, one becoming Seval -a rooster and the other Mayil -a peacock. This gave him his vahana and battle flag. The Vel is symbolic of his valor and triumphs.
GADA: This is Hanuman’s mace. The gada is also carried in the right hand of Lord Hanuman, where is can symbolize self-sovereignty, the authority of governance and the power to rule. It is a blunt weapon, a type of club that uses a round and very heavy head on the end of a handle to deliver powerful blows.
Hara Hara Mahadeva
(draft Weapons - Hindu Symbolisms
Yogi Ananda Saraswathi