Puranic encyclopaedia

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

This page describes the Story of Nagastra 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 Nāgāstra

A destructive weapon (arrow). The following story about the astra is told in the Yuddha Kāṇḍa of Kamba Rāmāyaṇa.

In olden times there was a very powerful and mean asura called Nāga. Brahmā resorted to virulent black magic to kill Nāga, and from the fire-pit arose a terrible goblin called Nāgapāśa. It was deputed to kill Nāga and the Trimūrtis followed it. Nāgapāśa went to the city of Nāgāsura called Vīramahendra, ascended its tower and made a terrible noise the echo of which caused abortion in all the pregnant nāga women. Many children fainted and many died. Nāgāsura deputed his army chieftain Vīrasena with an army to kill the nāga goblin. At the sight of the army the goblin raised another terrible cry, which blew off Vīrasena and his army, reducing them to powder. Then Nāgāsura’s minister with a big army attacked the goblin. But the minister was devoured by him, and the army annihilated. Enraged at this defeat of his minister, Nāgāsura attacked the goblin with an army of crores of soldiers. But, within seconds the goblin devoured the mighty army. At last Nāgapāśa and Nāgāsura engaged themselves in a duel which lasted for years. Ultimately the goblin swallowed up Nāgāsura also. Then he went to the Trimūrtis and saluted them. They granted him many boons, and Śiva, in excess of joy, wore it as one of the ornaments round his neck. Some time later Nāgapāśa set out on a tour to see the fourteen worlds, and Śiva specially instructed him not to visit the Śālmali island. He visited the various worlds earning all knowledge and started for mount Kailāsa. On his way he saw Śālmali island, the abode of nāgas, and in violation of Śiva’s instructions, he entered the island. The nāgas there did not honour him and his false pride made him tremble with rage. Then the nāgas of the island told him thus: "We have a powerful enemy, who visits us every month, and unless we feed him sumptuously he will devour all of us for food He is to come today, and if you are capable enough, you defeat and drive him off and save us. If you do so, we shall crown you as our King and honour you."

The powerful enemy of the nāgas was Garuḍa and he came. All the nāgas ran off at his sight. Garuḍa then attacked the goblin Nāgapāśa, who was standing unperturbed before him. There being no chance of victory for the goblin he ran away and took refuge with Śiva. Garuḍa also followed him, and demanded of Śiva to return to him, his enemy, the goblin. Śiva told Garuḍa thus:—"If, in future he (the goblin) interferes with anybody connected with you, you may either punish or eat him. Do not do anything with him now".

Garuḍa agreed to the above proposal of Śiva. From that day onwards Nāgapāśa lived in Vaikuṇṭha entwined with nooses. He became the arrow called nāgapāśa or nāgāstra.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: