What are the top 10 most powerful weapons in Mahabharata?

What are the top 10 most powerful weapons in Mahabharata? by C.V. Krishnakumar

Answer by C.V. Krishnakumar:

Wow, what a question! So, let's analyze the cool weapons that appear in the Mahabharatha, in the form of a countdown.

10. वासवी शक्ति (Vasavi Shakti)

Indra's weapon that was loaned for a one-time use to Karna. Sure to kill the target, no matter what/who it may be. Karna preserved it to use it against Arjuna but was forced by some smart tactical moves to use it against Ghatotkacha instead.

One of the most powerful weapons that appear in the epic, and one of the few that seriously threaten Arjuna.

9. वज्र (Vajra)

Indra's all powerful weapon – prepared out of the spine of Sage Dadhichi and used to kill the demon Vritra. Superlatively powerful so much so that most of the weapons are glorified using this as the adjective.

So powerful that, in the Gita, Lord Krishna claims that amongst weapons, he is Vajra.

āyudhānām ahaḿ vajraḿ

dhenūnām asmi kāmadhuk

prajanaś cāsmi kandarpaḥ

sarpāṇām asmi vāsukiḥ

Among weapons, I am Vajra; among cows, I am Kamadhenu; I am the progenitor Cupid and among snakes, I am Vasuki, the king of sarpas.

Considered to be the supreme amongst weapons, indestructible. Yet it is at #9 in our countdown (no offence, Indra!).

8. नारायणास्त्र (Narayanastra)

Lord Narayana's weapon that was reported to split into millions of self guiding missiles, with power of impact directly being proportional to resistance offered. The only known shield was disarmament and complete surrender. Knowledge of this astra was possessed only by Drona, his son and Krishna. Used by Ashwattama against the Pandava armies, but effect was thwarted by Krishna who knew the said trick. Imagine the disappointment of Duryodhana.

From this point on, the rankings are meaningless. It is like ranking the 1000000 KT and 2000000 KT nukes. Any usage was going to result in end of life on Earth.

7. ब्रम्हास्त्र (Brahmastra)

Considered to be the supreme weapon that can be possessed. Very very rare. Possessed by many people and used by just one person in the epic (See #4). Effects similar to nuclear fallout – areas become barren, people suffer, effect propagates across generations. Use restricted against mortals. Karna planned on using it against Arjuna, but due to several reasons (his mother's request, his teacher's curse) could not do so.

6. ब्रम्हशिरा (Bhrahmashira)

Close relative of the Brahmastra. Used by Ashwattama against the Pandavas and by Arjuna in self defence.. Nuclear fallout contained by intervention of Sages Narada and Vyasa, where Arjuna retracted his weapon as ordered, but Ashwatthama, unable to do so, instead sends it to attack Arjuna's unborn grandson, Parikshit, who is subsequently saved by Krishna.

5. पाशुपतास्त्र (Pashupatastra)

Indestructible and irresistible weapon of Lord Shiva that contains the power to destroy all creations. Use prohibited against mortals. Possessed by Arjuna who obtained it directly from Shiva. Never used in the epic.

4. ब्रम्‍हदंड (Bhramhadanda)

Remember how I mentioned (in #7) that just one person actually used it. That person was King Kaushika (later known as Sage Vishvamitra) in a conflict against Sage Vashishta, and had it swallowed by Bhramhadanda. Talk about nuclear shields!

3. सुदर्शन चक्र (Sudarshana Chakra)

As powerful as it can get. This is Lord Vishnu's weapon that was used by Krishna to kill Sisupala at Yudhistira's Rajasuya Yagna.

Well, that probably leaves us with

2. त्रिशूल (Trishula)

Speaking of destruction, what can be more powerful than the most powerful weapon of the very God of destruction amongst the trinity – Lord Shiva? This trident was used to sever the original head of Ganesha – the remover of obstacles. Enough said.

If you have come so far, you might be wondering what could be more powerful. Well, IMHO, there still is.

Remember how all the weapons above are meant for destroying enemies that are out there (at least superficially). Most of them were quite successful too. However, unfortunately, the most formidable enemies of a person are often not physical entities that can be blown to bits. They are often sneaky ones in the form of sense objects – lust, anger, gluttony etc and they are often the undoing of the most powerful of warriors, even in the epic. Hence we have

1. बुध्दिः (Loosely, the mind / intelligence / consciousness)

You don't have to take my word for this.

From Krishna's statement in the Bhagvad Gita:

indriyāṇi parāṇy āhur

indriyebhyaḥ paraḿ manaḥ

manasas tu parā buddhir

yo buddheḥ paratas tu saḥ

The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he [the soul] is even higher than the intelligence. (3.42)

Following which he goes on to claim:

evaḿ buddheḥ paraḿ buddhvā

saḿstabhyātmānam ātmanā

jahi śatruḿ mahābāho

kāmarūpaḿ durāsadam

Thus knowing oneself to be transcendental to the material senses, mind and intelligence, O mighty-armed Arjuna, one should steady the mind by deliberate spiritual intelligence and thus — by spiritual strength — conquer this insatiable enemy known as lust.

There is no doubt that the person who possessed and used this the most in the war is none other than Krishna (even while keeping his promise of not bearing arms).


I cannot take any credit for this update as there are others (eg. Raghu Bhaskaran) who have already suggested in comments below. I believe that there is one other weapon that is way way stronger than all the above listed ones. It's ways are subtle. Path leading to it is tough. It's power is said to move everything. It was the power that forced the lord of the Universe to break his word. In face it is the source of power for all the other weapons above. And am sure you'd know it:

0.  धर्म (Dharma)

The Pandavas were awesome heroes. They had the raw strength of Bheema, the valor and unsurpassed skill of Arjuna and the  beauty and brains of the Aswini putras( not to mention the generosity of Karna). Why, they had the constant aid, support and guidance of the Lord himself. Any of them could have been suitable to rule the world in their own right. Yet, they all worked to establish the supremacy and sovereignty of Dharmaputra, who stood for Dharma.

Note that there were many other warriors on the other side who were more experienced, skilled, powerful, and had better weapons. Yet they fell, for the weapon of Dharma was wielded by the Pandavas and Krishna.

As is said:

धर्मो रक्षति रक्षित: ।

What are the top 10 most powerful weapons in Mahabharata?


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