Lord Shiva had many lethal weapons in his arsenal. One such weapon was a bow called Shiv Dhanusha. The bow was also popularly known as Pinaka. Shiva is said to have used the bow for pralaya (total destruction). Pinaka also played an important role in Ramayana. Let us learn about Pinaka’s journey in this epic.
It all started with a duel between Lord Vishnu and Rudra. They both were worthy opponents. Gods wanted to see who among them was more powerful. Indra created two bows of the same power. He presented the weapons to both of them, asking them to fight. As soon as the duel started, an announcement came from the sky. It announced that this war could lead to the destruction of the universe, bringing the fight to a halt. Known as a hothead, Rudra wasn’t entirely pleased with this interruption. Angrily, he threw his bow, Shiv Dhanusha, away on earth.
Pinaka landed in the Mithila region. Once, King Devratha, Sita’s ancestor, was walking through a forest where he came across the sacred bow. By the looks of the weapon, he instantly knew this was not some common bow. He asked his guard to keep the bow in his palace. But the guard couldn’t lift the bow with all his strength. Many strong warriors had to come together to carry Pinaka. For many generations, Pinaka remained in Mithila. No One in the kingdom was powerful enough to lift the weapon. Some legends say that Shiva himself gave the bow to Devratha.
His descendent King Janaka also had seen the weapon many times. Once his daughter Sita was playing around the palace. She was spellbound at the sight of the magnificent bow. In a fit of curiosity, she picked up Pinaka. Janaka was a witness to that impossible event. From that day, he knew Sita was meant for the greater good. He decided to find her a match that would be equal in all aspects.
When Sita came of age, Janaka arranged a Swayamvara for her marriage. He announced that Sita would marry the man who lifts Pinaka. Mighty princes from many lands came forward for Sita’s hand. But they all failed at the attempt. They couldn’t even move an inch of the weapon.
Then came Rama. He was the prince of Ayodhya. Seeing the young man, the attendees thought he would meet the same fate as others. He effortlessly raised the bow, breaking it in front of everyone. He not only fulfilled Janaka’s wish but also won Sita’s heart. Soon with Janaka’s blessings, Sita and Rama were married.
Later, when Sita and Rama were returning to Ayodhya, they were stopped by Parashurama. Parashurama, a devotee of Shiva, was angry at Rama for breaking Shiva’s bow. He challenged Rama to fight him. With his wit and strength, Rama won over Parshurama.
There are two popular theories about Pinaka’s origin. Some legends say that Indra created the bow. Others believe Vishwakarma, the craftsman deity, to be the creator of Pinaka.
In an interesting anecdote, the Indian army has named its multi-barrel rocket launcher Pinaka.