Astras - 2 - Vaishnavastra

Note:- An internal mail by my colleague G, is the starting point of this series.
This could be labelled as a religious post. Readers Discretion is advised.
I enjoyed researching and writing it.
Hope you enjoy reading it...!!!

So what do we know about Vaishnavastra ?

I know three usages of Vaishnavastra...

Shishupala on Krishna,
Indrajit on Lakshmana,
Bhagdutta on Arjuna,

Of these, only the usage of Bhagdutta on Arjuna has relevant literature. Others are more of folklore..

Before we start, let me mention one fact.
There is only one counter for Vaishnavastra ... which is itself.
i.e , the Vaishnavastra can be nullified only by itself, or by its creator(i.e Vishnu/Narayanan)(not the invoker)

Here is the story..

During the Mahabharata war, it was the time for a face-off between Bhagdutta and Arjuna. Bhagdutta was a very old man, and a very good friend of the Kuru Dynasty. He was a maharathi.. meaning.. he could fight 60,000 foot soldiers at the same time.
Bhagdutta charges all sorts of weapons, but Arjuna counters them all. Arjuna scoffs at Bhagdutta and asks him to look at his warriors who are crossing the threshold from life to the Abode of Death in the wink of an eye, from his (Arjuna) arrows.. and asks him to speed up his arrows. This infuriates Bhagdutta to no end, and he invokes the Vaishnavastra on Arjuna. Arjuna has no idea about its power, but Krishna is fully aware of its implications. Krishna stands up in his chariot, and receives the Astra on his chest. The Astra transforms into a VaijaiyanthiMala (No.. not the actress.. :) :D) and decorates the Lord. The VaijaiyanthiMala is a symbol of eternal victory.

Leaving aside the dialogues between Arjuna and Krishna, (which will be discussed later), Arjuna launches an attack of large scale on Bhagdutta and his army, first vanquishing Bhagdutta's vehicle and then killing Bhagdutta himself.

Arjuna asks Krishna, that why did he take up arms, when he had promised that he will not fight the Mahabharata War ? He attacks Krishna verbally launching into a tirade, asking questions like maybe Krishna did not feel him to be capable enough to handle Devastras.

Krishna hastens to explain. He first explains the history of the weapon. Years ago, Bhooma Devi had prayed to Krishna, to ask for the boon of immortality for her son, to Lord Vishnu, which of course, was denied. She then asked for a weapon, whose mere possession granted infallibility on the battlefield and victory. Hence Naraka had a field day using the weapon. But all good things must come to an end. With Naraka dying at the hands of the Supreme himself, the weapon was handed over to the next generation and this had come to Bhagdutta.

Since the boon was procured by Bhooma Devi for the purpose of security, there are some ethics involved here. Bhagdutta did not use the weapon as a last resort. He just wanted to prove a point. He did not use the weapon for his personal safety or as a strategic deterrent, but more as a psychological weapon, risking millions of lives, which was against the ethics of the weapon.

The weapon that was originally a gift from Lord Krishna, for the benefit and security of the possessor and for the welfare of the people around the possessor, reached him in its completely transformed state. The weapon, was actually love in its original form, which it attained, when it reached its creator.

Vaishnavastra has the easiest form of transformation, from a dangerous weapon, an article of war, to a garland, an article of worship. From the point of view of Ethics, The Lord is still neutral. Bhagdutta is given the end, that his life deserved. When Krishna intercepts the weapon, he does it in the fulfilment of the principle embodied in, and ordained by his essential being. He is the best and complete respository of nature (Prakriti) with he being her nourishing, all fulfilling source (Purusha).

Hey, this is the second post in the series... :)

Comments are welcome... !!!

P.S:- Many thanks to G for his 'Ram-Ram' threads. This series on Astras is dedicated to him.
P.P.S:- I promise to do more research and provide some interesting food for thought.
P.P.P.S :- Here is the link that I referred to ...

Friday, December 4, 2009 by Hari
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