Brahmastra, Brahmāstra, Brahman-astra: 19 definitions


Brahmastra means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Marathi, Hindi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

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In Hinduism

Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

[«previous next»] — Brahmastra in Purana glossary
Source: Puranic Encyclopedia

Brahmāstra (ब्रह्मास्त्र).—This is known by another name Brahmaśirāstra also. This weapon was given to Agastya by Śiva. It is mentioned in Mahābhārata, Ādi Parva, Chapter 138, Stanza 9, that Agastya gave this weapon to Agniveśa, who gave it to Droṇa and Droṇa gave it to Arjuna and instructed him about the use of it as follows:

"You should never shoot this arrow at man. If it is used against mean people the three worlds would be destroyed. It is said that this weapon has no parallel in the world. Keep this pure, and give ear to what I say. If an enemy, other than human being attacks you, this weapon may be used to kill him in battle."

Source: Shiva Purana - English Translation

Brahmāstra (ब्रह्मास्त्र) refers to a type of arrow (weapon), according to the Śivapurāṇa 2.4.5 (“Kārttikeya is crowned”).—Accordingly, after the Kṛttikās spoke to Kārttikeya: “[...] Then Śiva, the lord of the universe, following the worldly convention delightedly placed Kārttikeya on a beautiful gemset throne. [...] Śiva gave him the trident, the bow Pināka, the axe, the arrow Paśupata, the weapon of destruction and the greatest lore. I gave him the holy thread, the Vedas, the mantra Gāyatrī, the vessel Kamaṇḍalu, the arrow Brahmāstra and the lore that destroys the enemy. [...]”.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

Brahmāstra (ब्रह्मास्त्र).—In Janaloka; given to Paraśurāma by Śiva;1 employed by Aśvatthāma against Parīkṣit in his mother's womb.2

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 32. 57.
  • 2) Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 20. 52.
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Dhanurveda (science of warfare)

Source: Wisdom Library: Dhanurveda

Brahmāstra (ब्रह्मास्त्र) refers to a weapon created by Brahmā. It is a Sanskrit word defined in the Dhanurveda-saṃhitā, which contains a list of no less than 117 weapons. The Dhanurveda-saṃhitā is said to have been composed by the sage Vasiṣṭha, who in turn transmitted it trough a tradition of sages, which can eventually be traced to Śiva and Brahmā.

Dhanurveda book cover
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Dhanurveda (धनुर्वेद) refers to the “knowledge of warfare” and, as an upaveda, is associated with the Ṛgveda. It contains instructions on warfare, archery and ancient Indian martial arts, dating back to the 2nd-3rd millennium BCE.

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Kavya (poetry)

[«previous next»] — Brahmastra in Kavya glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Kathāsaritsāgara

Brahmāstra (ब्रह्मास्त्र) is the name of a weapon (astra), capable of repelling the Brahmāstra, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 115. Accordingly, “... then Brahmā, seeing that his [Vidyuddhvaja’s] asceticism was becoming capable of upsetting the system of the world, came to him, and at his request gave him the weapons of Brahmā. He said: ‘This weapon of Brahmā [named Brahmāstra] cannot be repelled by any weapon except the weapon of Paśupati Rudra, which is unattainable by me. So, if you desire victory, you must not employ it unseasonably’. When Brahmā had said this, he went away, and that Daitya went home”.

The Kathāsaritsāgara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentioning Brahmāstra, is a famous Sanskrit epic story revolving around prince Naravāhanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the vidyādharas (celestial beings). The work is said to have been an adaptation of Guṇāḍhya’s Bṛhatkathā consisting of 100,000 verses, which in turn is part of a larger work containing 700,000 verses.

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Kavya (काव्य, kavya) refers to Sanskrit poetry, a popular ancient Indian tradition of literature. There have been many Sanskrit poets over the ages, hailing from ancient India and beyond. This topic includes mahakavya, or ‘epic poetry’ and natya, or ‘dramatic poetry’.

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Vaishnavism (Vaishava dharma)

Source: Pure Bhakti: Bhagavad-gita (4th edition)

Brahmāstra (ब्रह्मास्त्र) refers to “the most powerful weapon in Vedic military science (superior to nuclear weapons). It is released by mantra and kills only the person whose name is uttered in conjunction with the mantra”. (cf. Glossary page from Śrīmad-Bhagavad-Gītā).

Source: Pure Bhakti: Brhad Bhagavatamrtam

Brahmāstra (ब्रह्मास्त्र) refers to:—Atomic weapon powered by mantra. The most powerful weapon in Vedic military science, it is released by mantra and only kills the person whose name is uttered in conjunction with the mantra. (cf. Glossary page from Śrī Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta).

Vaishnavism book cover
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Vaishnava (वैष्णव, vaiṣṇava) or vaishnavism (vaiṣṇavism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshipping Vishnu as the supreme Lord. Similar to the Shaktism and Shaivism traditions, Vaishnavism also developed as an individual movement, famous for its exposition of the dashavatara (‘ten avatars of Vishnu’).

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Pancaratra (worship of Nārāyaṇa)

Source: Wisdom Library: Pāñcarātra

Brahmāstra (ब्रह्मास्त्र) [=brahmāstrādimantrasvarūpam] refers to one of the topics dealt with in the thirty-fourth chapter of the Ahirbudhnyasaṃhitā: an ancient Pāñcarātra Āgama scripture dealing with the symbology of the Sudarśana weapon while also dealing with iconography, philosophy and Vaiṣṇava rituals.

Pancaratra book cover
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Pancaratra (पाञ्चरात्र, pāñcarātra) represents a tradition of Hinduism where Narayana is revered and worshipped. Closeley related to Vaishnavism, the Pancaratra literature includes various Agamas and tantras incorporating many Vaishnava philosophies.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

[«previous next»] — Brahmastra in Hinduism glossary
Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

Brahmāstra (ब्रह्‍मास्‍त्र): A divine weapon, irresistible, one given (=created) by Lord Brahma himself.

It is sometimes known as the Brahma Astra (Astra means 'weapon'). As described in a number of the Puranas, it was considered the deadliest weapon. It was said that when the Brahmastra was discharged, there was neither a counter attack nor a defense that could stop it, except by Brahmadanda, a stick also created by Brahma. The Brahmastra never missed its mark and had to be used with very specific intent against an individual enemy or army, as the target would face complete annihilation.

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

[«previous next»] — Brahmastra in Marathi glossary
Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

brahmāstra (ब्रह्मास्त्र).—n (S) Weapon of Brahma, an arrow, a straw, or anything charmed and endowed by the recitation over it of a mantra. Ex. narakēṃ bra0 sōḍilēṃ jāṇa || tēṃhī giḷilēṃ avalīḷā ||. 2 The curse or imprecation of a Brahman.

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Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit dictionary

[«previous next»] — Brahmastra in Sanskrit glossary
Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Brahmāstra (ब्रह्मास्त्र).—a missile presided over by Brahman.

Derivable forms: brahmāstram (ब्रह्मास्त्रम्).

Brahmāstra is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms brahman and astra (अस्त्र).

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Brahmāstra (ब्रह्मास्त्र).—n.

(-straṃ) The Brahma'S weapon, a fabulous weapon originally from Brahma. 2. The imprecation of a Brahman. E. brahma and astra a weapon.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Cappeller Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Brahmāstra (ब्रह्मास्त्र).—[neuter] Brahman's weapon (myth.).

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Brahmāstra (ब्रह्मास्त्र):—[from brahma > brahman] n. ‘Brahmā’s missile’, Name of a mythical weapon (which deals infallible destruction), [Mahābhārata; Rāmāyaṇa; Kathāsaritsāgara]

2) [v.s. ...] of a [particular] kind of incantation, [Catalogue(s)] (cf. [Indian Wisdom, by Sir M. Monier-Williams 402, 1])

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Yates Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Brahmāstra (ब्रह्मास्त्र):—[brahmā+stra] (straṃ) 1. n. Brahmā's weapon; a brāhman’s curse or imprecation.

[Sanskrit to German]

Brahmastra in German

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Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family (even English!). Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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Hindi dictionary

[«previous next»] — Brahmastra in Hindi glossary
Source: DDSA: A practical Hindi-English dictionary

Brahmāstra (ब्रह्मास्त्र):—(nm) In ancient Indian warfare, a missile said to be set in motion by divine force; an unfailing weapon.

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Kannada-English dictionary

[«previous next»] — Brahmastra in Kannada glossary
Source: Alar: Kannada-English corpus

Brahmāstra (ಬ್ರಹ್ಮಾಸ್ತ್ರ):—

1) [noun] a mythical, infalliable weapon, of which Brahma is the presiding deity.

2) [noun] (fig.) an infalliable means or stratagem.

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Kannada is a Dravidian language (as opposed to the Indo-European language family) mainly spoken in the southwestern region of India.

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