Mahadeva literally means “Highest of all gods”. He is the Supreme God in Shaivism sect of Hinduism. He is the Supreme God without any starting or end. Shiva is also known as Maheshvar, “the great Lord”, Mahadeva, the great God, Shambhu, Hara, Pinakadhrik, “bearer of the Pinaka” and Mrityunjaya, “conqueror of death”. He is the spouse of Shakti. He also is represented by Mahakala and Bhairava. Shiva is often pictured holding the Damaru, an hourglass-shaped drum, along with his Trishula, a trident-staff. His usual mantra is Om Namah Shivaya. Lord Shiva is also considered as the God of Gods. The existence which represents infinity itself. He is the supreme masculine divinity in this universe and is lord of the three worlds (Vishwanath) and is second to none in wrath and power.
The Lord Destroyer, Sarvaripati Shiva is one of the most fearsome manifestations of the Supreme God. Assigned with destroying all of the universes at the end of time, Shiva is one of the most fearsome warriors and unconquerable. In battle, Shiva and his Avatars deploy formidable weapons controlled by some of the renowned ones are:
It is the weapon is said to have been used to sever the original head of Sri Ganesha. Mata Durga also holds a Trishula, as one of her many weapons. The personal weapon of Lord Shiva, The Trishul aka Trident has three pointed blades that denote several Trinities such as that of creation, maintenance, and destruction or that of the Three Kalas – Past, Present, and Future or that of the Three Gunas – Sattva, Rajas and Tamas). Shive while performing his cosmic dance can destroy the three worlds with His Trident.
A popular significance of the Trishula is about the three fundamental aspects of life. These are the three fundamental dimensions of life that are symbolized in many ways. They can also be called Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna. These are the three basic nadis – the left, the right and the central – in the pranamaya kosha, or the energy body of the human system. Nadis are pathways or channels of prana in the system. There are 72,000 nadis (rivers) that spring from the three fundamental ones.
The Pingala and Ida represent the basic duality in the existence. It is this duality which we traditionally personify as Shiva and Shakti. It can be called masculine and feminine in simpler terms. Masculine and feminine, is not in terms of sex – about being male or female – but in terms of certain qualities in nature, it is the logical and the intuitive aspect of you; in terms of our thought energy.
Bringing a balance between the Ida and Pingala will make you effective in the world; this will allow you to handle life aspects well. Most people live and die in Ida and Pingala. Sushumna, the central space, remains dormant, it is the most significant aspect of human physiology. Life really begins only when energies enter into Sushumna. You attain to a new kind of balance, an inner balance where whatever happens outside, there is a certain space within you that never gets disturbed and cannot be touched by outside situations. Fascinating, how a simple looking weapon reveals the secrets of life!
The trident of Shiva is infallible and cannot be averted by any divine or demonic energy, it destroys everything in its way and can only be stopped by Lord Shiva himself.
Parashu was known as the most lethal close combat weapons of the epics. Parashu is a type of axe which Shiva gave it to Parashurama, 6th avatar of Vishnu. Parashurama, a disciple of Shiva was known to have terrible temper having lost his father to the evil asura. In his anger, Parashurama used the parashu to get rid of the all the Earth’s tyrannical kshatriya caste twenty-one times over. Parashurama’s weapon had supernatural powers. It had four cutting edges, one on each end of the blade head and one on each end of the shaft. It is also one of the weapons Goddess Durga.
Sword of Ravana granted by Lord Shiva as a boon, when pleased with his intense devotion. The divine sword Chandrahasa literally means ‘the laughter of the moon’ but referring to the shape formed by a crescent moon which resembles a smile. Ravana gave this sword to Indrajit in different occasions especially to fight against Devas. Invincible, infallible against any weapons and victory is assured.
A special sword of Shiva with unique characteristics. Girisha (also spelled as ‘Gireesh’) is also a name of Lord Shiva, given because of his abode in the Himalayan Mountains. It means, “The Lord of the Mountains” in Sanskrit; ‘Giri’ means Mountain and ‘Ish’ means God.
The khaṭvāṅga is quite a beautiful object, which looks kind of like a walking stick with three upward pointing prongs. It is a long, studded club originally created as a weapon. It was adopted as a religious symbol in Indian religions such as Shaivism and Vajrayana Buddhism. This word is often pronounced ‘khatamka’ by Tibetans. The khatvāṅga was adopted by some lineages of historical tantra though it preceded such traditions. Shiva carried the khatvāṅga as a staff-weapon and are thus referred to as khatvāṅgīs.
Shiva’s one of the most powerful weapons. An arrow from the Teen Baan was enough to destroy the entire hostile force in a war. Given to Barbarika by Shiva, the Baan facilitates the release of three arrows; the first marking the target, the third destroying the target and returning to the bow and the second aimed at marking the target (s) that the shooter wants to save.
Pinaka is the original bow of Shiva used for total destruction or “Pralaya”. As per original Valmiki Ramayana, two bows were created by God Devendra of equal capacity which were given to Rudra and Vishnu and requested them to fight with each other to know who is more powerful. However, just before the start of the war, an Aakashvani said that the war will lead to total destruction and hence the war was stopped. On hearing Aakashvani, Rudra threw his Dhanush which fell on earth to be later known as “Shiva Dhanush”. It was later found by King Devaraatha, the ancestor of King Janaka.
Later, Janaka had announced that whosoever wanted to marry Sita had to lift the divine bow and string it. The bow was broken by Ayodhya‘s Prince Rama when he attempted to string the bow, during the swayamvara of Sita, thereby winning the princess’s hand in marriage. After the marriage when his father Dasharatha was returning to Ayodhya with Rama, Parashurama obstructed their path and challenged Rama for breaking his guru Shiva’s bow. Rama extolled the sage. After that Dasharatha prayed to the sage to forgive him but Parashurama remained enraged and brought out Vishnu’s bow. He then asked Rama to string the bow and fight a duel with him. Rama snatches the bow of Vishnu, strings it, places an arrow and points it straight at the challenger’s heart. Rama then asks Parashurama what he will give as a target to the arrow. At this point, Parashurama feels devoid of his mystical energy. He realizes that Rama is the avatar of Vishnu, his successor and his superior. He accepts Rama’s superiority.
Perhaps, the most powerful of all, an Astra of Lord Shiva himself which was also blessed to Arjuna, Vishwamitra (Lord Shiva’s disciples), Lord Rama and Goddess Durga – who had all the astras of the Trinity Gods. Believed to be one of the most powerful and fierce weapons throughout Hindu history, it was discharged by the mind, the eyes, the words or a bow. The as so powerful that it was forbidden to be used against lesser enemies or lesser warriors. This weapon is capable of immense carnage and overpowering all beings.
There is a story on how Arjuna got the possession of this weapon. The epic Hindu text – Mahabharata mentions that Arjuna took this the Pashupatastra from Lord Shiva, but never used it. Arjuna was in exile for 12 years because of his interference in the privacy of his elder brother. During this time Vyasa advised Arjuna to obtain the Divyastras (the celestial weapons) for the coming up war. That’s when Arjuna decided that he would pray to Lord Shiva and seek this weapon. An asura (demon) – Mukasura disguised as a pig tried to kill Arjuna. Since Arjuna was praying he didn’t have any weapons handy, so to prevent himself he fired arrows onto the pig. The pig takes him deep into the forest and the tussle continues. Frustrated by all the efforts, Arjuna finally takes an arrow and shoots the pig. At the same instant, another arrow hits the pig. This arrow was supposedly shot by a tribal called Kiraata. Realizing that the tribal is way stronger than him, Arjuna decides to ask Lord Shiva for help. He decorates a Shiv Lingam with sandalwood tilak and a garland. The Kiraata comes from the bushes. Arjuna sees a sandalwood tilak on his forehead and a garland around his neck. He realizes his mistake and asks for forgiveness. Lord Shiva is impressed with Arjuna’s devotion and gives him the Pashupatastra.
No known warrior has ever used this mighty weapon although the Astra was a reusable infinite number of times and if it is used against a mortal enemy, the entire world would be destroyed. Thus, Arjuna refrained from using it.
But there is a version of Ramayana which states the use of the Pashupatastra by Lakshmana against Meghanada.
According to the Kurma Purana, in the battle between the Purusha and the demonic forces, the Narasimha (half man – half lion) avatar of Lord Vishnu escapes the powerful Pashupatastra. The Kurma Purana is one of the 18 Mahapuranas which is narrated by Lord Vishnu. The weapon didn’t cause any harm to anyone because its primary aim is to uphold Dharma or faith. As mentioned earlier it can be used ‘n’ number of times, provided it is not being used against a lesser enemy. The mantra to obtain the weapon is sealed by Lord Shiva so that it cannot be misused under any circumstances, especially in the Kali Yuga. The Pashupatastra can be neutralized only through another Pashupatasra or any other Astra (weapon) whose presiding deity is Lord Vishnu.
The Pashupatastra teaches a lesson of life that if a damage is done, it cannot be reversed. Thus, we should think about our words and actions before, rather than being sorry later. Words are one of the strongest weapons and give wounds that even time cannot heal. Whether it is our life or the Pasupatastra, stability, and patience are the key attributes that would enable us to overcome enmity and annoyance! Therefore it is advised that the Pashupatastra should not be used.