Children

Weapons of war

You have probably heard of the the great Pandava hero Arjuna. Here’s a story about how he got the divine weapons that helped him win the great Mahabharata war.

Locked in a bitter battle with their cousins the Kauravas, the Pandavas had to live in exile for 13 years. While his brothers and their wife lived in the forest, Arjuna — on the advice of the Pandava preceptor, Sage Dhaumya — decided to go to a remote area and propitiate the gods. After some time, Lord Indra appeared before him, and advised him to ask Lord Shiva for the Pasupata astra.

Following Indra’s counsel, Arjuna began to pray to Lord Shiva. As his penances became more severe, Shiva decided to test Arjuna before he gave him the weapon. When Parvati and Shiva’s ganas knew that he was going down to earth, they decided to go with him and watch the fun. Disguised as a tribe of hunters, they went to the area where Arjuna was meditating.

Fighting the demon

In the meantime, a demon named Muka was rampaging through the forest in the form of a wild boar. He had demolished an ashram and the terrorised sages were running helter-skelter. The noise from this disturbed Arjuna and he opened his eyes just as Muka arrived. Shiva and his followers reached the spot at the same time. As Muka tried to attack, both Shiva and Arjuna shot their arrows into the boar. The boar fell dead and the asura’s real form was revealed. Immediately, the hunters began to sing praises of their leader who had killed the asura. This annoyed Arjuna who thought he had been the one to kill it.

After an argument, Arjuna challenged the leader to a fight, not knowing it was Shiva. First they shot arrows at each other. Arjuna’s arrows, which had never missed the mark before, couldn’t hit the hunter. When he found his quiver was empty, they fought with swords. All that happened was that Arjuna’s blade broke. They moved on to close combat. When Arjuna tried to throw the hunter to the ground, he found himself lifted and thrown.

An unnerved Arjuna, who was not used to losing, decided to pray to Shiva for strength. He called for a break and quickly built a little linga from mud and offered some flowers. Now feeling stronger, he turned to challenge the hunter again. What he saw stopped him in his tracks. The flowers he had offered the mud linga now sat on the hunter’s head. He realised then that the god had been testing him and begged his forgiveness. Pleased with Arjuna, Shiva and Parvati took on their divine forms and blessed him. Shiva also taught him the secret of the Pasupata weapon.


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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 2:06:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/Weapons-of-war/article16388624.ece

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