The Gandiva: Arjuna’s magic bow

Gandiva is a bow with a hundred shafts and an endless supply of arrows. This bow cannot be destroyed. Every time it fires, there is a terrible thunderous sound that strikes fear into the hearts of enemies.

This weapon can shoot more than ten thousand arrows in an instant. Interestingly, these arrows tended never to run out. In addition, the gandiva was endowed with a semblance of intelligence (in modern parlance, artificial intelligence) and had a close relationship with its owner, Arjuna.

The concept of “bow” and “arrow” in ancient India could describe things for which there were no other words or definitions at the time.

If it is a weapon and shoots, then it is a bow and arrow. But in fact, it could have been something else entirely, some kind of high-tech weapon that our ancient ancestors wielded.

What to know about the gandiva bow

  • It was crafted by Brahma, the same God who created everything. It was designed specifically to eliminate all instances of Adharmis across the universes. It was fashioned from the Gandi, a tree of heavenly origin.
  • Brahma clenched his hands around it for a thousand years, during which time he caused the deaths of lakhs of Rakshasas and other higher bad entities.
  • After that, Brahma created Prajapati, who ruled over the universe for fifty-three hundred years while also being responsible for its protection and discipline. In the end, when there was harmony across the cosmos, he handed it up to Indra.
  • It was in use for five hundred and eighty years during the reign of Indra, King of the Devas. He engaged in battle with it to defend the Devaloka and other Lokas from the nefarious Rakshasas and other entities that posed a danger to the universe. He did so with tremendous bravery.
  • Indra gives it to Soma, the god of the moon, who is a romantic figure who battled against Adharmis, who was a danger to the nine planets. He guarded it carefully for the subsequent five hundred years.
  • He gave it to the soil as Adharma started to develop while it was growing there. He kept it with Him since, at that time, only the sea understood how to maintain it with Gandiva’s tremendous capabilities. So he kept it with Him. He kept it for a hundred years, during which time he defended the world from wicked monarchs and Adharmis.
  • Last but not least, at the Khandav-Prastha Dahan, Agni, the God of Fire, pleaded with Varuna to bestow upon Arjuna the Gandiva as well as a great number of other presents. Since it was also requested by Lord Krishna, Varuna was delighted to hand it on to Paarth for the sake of Dharma.
  • At last, after the devastating war. Because it had served its function in Arjuna’s possession, Varuna, the Sea, asked for it back, and Arjuna gladly handed it to him.
Arjuna’s magic bow
Arjuna’s magic bow

Now, about Gandiva’s abilities

  • Gandiva was a heavenly bow of a divine origin.
  • It contained 108 heavenly threads, out of which one was indestructible, and the rest were easily broken. The mantra that was chanted over Gandiva was said to be the number one string. When the mantra is said, the Gandiva appears in the hands of the person doing the chanting.
  • The Gandiva will only allow someone to lift it if they believe they are worthy of doing so.
  • When it is twangled, it produces a very low sound and reverberation that can be heard throughout all three realms. This sound silences anybody who dares to dispute the bow or the person who is wielding it.
  • Because of its incredible strength, it was able to draw any higher-level weapon, even those that an ordinary bow could not draw. Any bow that is not as powerful as the Gandiva, if it is used to summon one of the higher weapons, will be reduced to ashes by the immense spiritual power of the Astras, and the flame from the Astras will also devour the user. Therefore, Arjuna was in desperate need of a bow like that.
  • In the blink of an eye, it is able to let forth hundreds of Astras, and that too, all at once in a single shot.
  • The Devas, Danavas, Gandharavas, and Yaksha, along with other heavenly gods, were known to revere the bow.

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