Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Gandiva included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Gāṇḍīva

The famous bow of Arjuna.


It was Brahmā who made the bow. 'This terrible bow which can punish the unjust and the wicked has been made by Brahmā'. (Udyoga Parva, Chapter 98, Verse 21).

Specialities of Gāṇḍīva.

This bow is enough to fight one lakh of people at one and the same time. Both Devas and men could be defeated with it. Chiselled very smooth and shining with many colours it was a very long bow. It was worshipped by Devas, Dānavas and Gandharvas. (Virāṭa Parva, Chapter 43). It gained and also decreased in power as the situation called for. (Udyoga Parva, Chapter 98, Verse 20).

History of Gāṇḍīva.

Brahmā, who made this bow kept it with him during the first 1000 years. For the next 1000 years Prajāpati kept it with him. Next, Indra got it from Prajāpati and he used it for 3585 years. After that Candra kept it for 500 years with him, and then Varuṇa came in possession of it. After using it for 100 years Varuṇa gave it to Arjuna, who used it for 65 years.

Gāṇḍīva and Arjuna.

Arjuna agreed to protect the Khāṇḍava forest from rain, if Indra sent rain when Agni began eating the forest. But, realising that Arjuna possessed no weapons to effectively oppose Indra, Agni requested Varuṇa to give the following to Arjuna, viz., the Gāṇḍīva bow and a quiver wherein the arrows will never be exhausted, and the chariot marked with the symbol of monkey and drawn by four white horses -all kept by Candra. Varuṇa at once made a present of the above to Arjuna. And, it was with the aid of this Gāṇḍīva, that Arjuna defeated Indra at the time of Khāṇḍavadāha. (See Khāṇḍavadāha). Arjuna had taken a secret vow to cut off the head of anyone who asked him to give the bow to some one else. (Karṇa Parva, Chapter 69).

In after years Arjuna won many wars with the help of this bow. (See Arjuna).

Arjuna gives up Gāṇḍīva.

The great Kurukṣetra war, which shook Bhārata, to its very foundation came to an end. Dharmaputra was crowned a King. It was at this juncture that the Yādava dynasty got itself annihilated and Śrī Kṛṣṇa entered mahāsamādhi. Now the Pāṇḍavas lost all interest in mundane life, and they set out for the forest on their great journey after crowning Parīkṣit, the grandson of Arjuna as King. Their great travel took them to the shores of the Red Sea. The Gāṇḍīva was still in Arjuna’s hands. On the shores of the Red Sea Agni Deva appeared before the Pāṇḍavas and spoke to them "Well, Pāṇḍavas, I am Agni Deva. Arjuna requires the Gāṇḍīva no more. I got it from Varuṇa for Arjuna. Return it, therefore, to Varuṇa."

No sooner did he hear Agni Deva speak thus than did Arjuna throw it into the depths of the sea and also the quiver which never got exhausted of arrows with it. Agni Deva disappeared, and the Pāṇḍavas continued their journey. (Mahāprasthānika Parva, Chapter 1).

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