The Pashupatastra (IAST: Pāśupatāstra, sanskrit: पाशुपतास्त्र; the weapon of Pasupati, an epithet of Shiva) is an irresistible and most destructive personal weapon of Shiva, Kali and Adi Para Shakti, which can be discharged by the mind, the eyes, words, or a bow. Never to be used against lesser enemies or by lesser warriors, the Pashupatastra is capable of destroying creation and vanquishing all beings. Pashupatastra is the most destructive, powerful, irresistible weapon mentioned in the Hindu mythology. In Mahabharata, only Arjuna; and in Ramayana, sage Vishvamitra and Rama[1] possessed Pashupatastra.[2][3] It is one of the six Mantramukta weapons that cannot be resisted.[4]

Lord Shiva gives Pashupatastra to Arjuna
The same episode in a murti, Srikanteshwara Temple, Nanjangud.

A narrative from Kisari Mohan Ganguli's translation of Mahabharat regarding the power of Pashupatastra:[5]

O thou of mighty arms, that weapon is superior to the Brahma, the Narayana, the Aindra, the Agneya, and the Varuna weapons. Verily, it is capable of neutralising every other weapon in the universe. It was with that weapon that the illustrious Mahadeva had in days of yore, burnt and consumed in a moment the triple city of the Asuras. With the greatest ease, O Govinda, Mahadeva, using that single arrow, achieved that feat. That weapon, shot by Mahadeva's arms, can, without doubt consume in half the time taken up by a twinkling of the eyes the entire universe with all its mobile and immobile creatures. In the universe there is no being including Brahma, Vishnu and the Goddess Lakshmi, Parvati, Sarasvati that are incapable of being slain by that weapon.

Arjuna's penance for PashupatastraEdit

After the battle at Khandava, Indra had promised Arjuna to give him all his weapons as a boon for matching him in battle with the requirement that Shiva is pleased with him. Following the advice of Lord Krishna to go on meditation or tapasya to attain this divine weapon, Arjuna left his brothers for a penance on Indrakeeladri Hill in Vijayavatika, known in the present day as Vijayawada in Andhra.

On learning about Arjuna's penance, Duryodhana sent a demon Mukasura to kill Arjuna. Demon Mukasura took the form of a wild boar to interrupt Arjuna's worship. On knowing this, Lord Shiva appeared there in the form of a hunter. It is also believed that the four Vedas followed the lord in the form of dogs to protect Arjuna. Arjuna shot an arrow at the boar and killed it. At the same time, Lord Shiva had also released an arrow from his bow. There after a scuffle arose between the two as to whose arrow had killed the boar. The scuffle led to a fight and Arjuna broke Lord Shiva's bow since Arjuna fought with his Gandiva and Shiva came with normal bow instead of Pinaka. Then both of them were involved in sword fighting and wrestling. Lord Shiva sliced and stabbed Arjuna many times and blood started flowing out like a stream. Lord Shiva disarmed Arjuna's sword after which they began wrestling. Lord Shiva lifted and threw down Arjuna many times. Still Arjuna rose up and was ready to attack. At last, Arjuna realised that the hunter was none other than Lord Shiva himself and begged his pardon. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati gave darshan to Arjuna and blessed him with the Pashupatastra.[6] Lord Shiva also told Arjuna that he was tired of fighting with Arjuna and was impressed with him more than his student Parashurama. Lord Shiva also bestowed Arjuna- the name "Vijaya" (invincible). From this incident, Arjuna was also popularly known as Vijaya.[7]

After Shiva left, the Lokapalas appeared before Arjuna and then Kubera, Yama, and Varuna also blessed each of their potent weapons to Arjuna. Indra then invited his son to his palace in heaven.

Arjuna was amazed at the splendor of his father's palace at Amaravati. Dancers like Urvashi, Tilottama, Rambha and Menaka entertained him. There was a huge banquet serving different varieties of heavenly dishes. Arjuna learnt song and dance from the Gandharva, Chitrasena and Indra himself taught him how to use all the divine weapons and also gave him his Vajra. Many other gods also blessed Arjuna with their respective divine weapons.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Valmiki Ramayana - Baala Kanda - Sarga 27".
  2. ^ Sharma, Arvind; Khanna, Madhu (15 February 2013). Asian Perspectives on the World's Religions after September 11. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9780313378973.
  3. ^ Sharma, Mahesh; Chaturvedi, B. K. (2006). Tales From the Mahabharat. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. ISBN 9788128812286.
  4. ^ Oppert, Gustav Salomon (1880). On the Weapons, Army Organisation, and Political Maxims of the Ancient Hindus: With Special Reference to Gunpowder and Firearms. Higginbotham. p. 30. Narayanastra most powerful.
  5. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 3: Vana Parva: Kairata Parva: Section XL". Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  6. ^ Rajarajan, R. K. K. "From Purāṇic to Folk: the 'Kirātārjunīyam Ballade' and Visuals". Eikón Imago.
  7. ^ Krishnan, S. A. (12 July 2019). Om Namaha Shivaya: Short Stories of Shiva: Stories from Hindu Puranas. SA Krishnan.
  8. ^ "The Mahabharata, Book 3: Vana Parva: Indralokagamana Parva: Section XLIV". Retrieved 3 August 2016.