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Arjuna's Quest For Pashupatastra

Arjuna’s Quest For Pashupatastra

Pashupatastra is one of the most destructive weapons of Shiva. No wonder it was counted among the six Mantramugdha weapons that couldn’t be resisted. The weapon could be discharged with the mind, the eyes, words, or a bow, annihilating many in a blink. In every era, the most skilled warriors and powerful Kings either envied the weapon or wanted to own it. But only a few were courageous enough to possess Pashupatastra. One among them was the great archer Arjuna from Mahabharata.

The tale starts with the battle at Khandava forest. Initially, Khandava was inhabited by the Naga tribe. Pandavas wanted to clear the forest to build their grand capital Indraprastha. Pandavas sent their best, Arjuna and Krishna, on this task.

Both of them started clearing the forest with fire. The forest’s primary deity was Indra. Seeing the fire, Indra rained on the forest and attacked Arjuna with Vajra, injuring him. Still, Arjuna fought and defeated Indra along with the gods. Indra was awed by his bravery and offered Arjuna his most destructive weapons. But Indra put forward a condition that Arjuna must please Shiva.

Arjuna wanted to acquire godly weapons to safeguard his family. Lord Krishna advised him to perform severe austerities for Shiva. Arjuna left his brothers and went to Indrakeeladri Hill in Vijayvatika for penance. This news of his travel reached Pandavas’ arch-enemy Duryodhana. He sent a demon named Mookasura to disrupt Arjuna’s prayers.

Mookasura had magical powers. He took the form of a wild boar and advanced towards Arjuna, who was lost in Shiva’s devotion. Lord Shiva was watching over his devotee. He appeared as a hunter and shot an arrow at the boar. At the same instant, Arjuna became aware of the animal and released an arrow from his bow, killing the boar.

Arjuna saw an armed hunter looking down at the killed animal, which was struck with two arrows. The hunter claimed that he had killed the boar. Arjuna refuted his claim. Eventually, a disagreement of words turned into a violent clash between two great warriors. Arjuna broke his opponent’s bow with Gandiva. They fought with swords. Soon, they were wrestling to gain the upper hand.

Even though Arjuna was fighting tooth and nail, he couldn’t overpower Shiva. Like a sack of grain, Shiva picked him up and threw him down again and again. Arjuna was heavily injured. But he picked himself up again and began to duel. Shiva was pleased and inspired by Arjuna’s courage.

Arjuna quickly understood that the hunter was no mortal being. He realized that he was sparring with none other than almighty Lord Shiva and asked for forgiveness for raising weapons at him. Shiva forgave Arjuna, saying he had won him over with his bravery.

Shiva and Parvati appeared before Arjuna, blessing him with Pashupatastra. Arjuna stood humbled before them. On that day, Shiva named him Vijay, which meant victory. After Shiva’s departure, the Lokapalas materialized. Among them were Varuna, Indra, and Kubera. They gifted Arjuna with great weapons. Indra invited him to the Deva Loka, where he learned to dance from the Gandharvas.

This is how Arjuna became successful in his quest for Pashupatastra.

Click here to read about Yuyutsu – The Kaurava Who Switched Side.

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