Nitiprakasika (Critical Analysis)

by S. Anusha | 2016 | 34,012 words

This page relates ‘Samhara weapons (1): Sopasamhara-astras’ of the study on the Nitiprakasika by Vaisampayana which deals primarily with with Dhanurveda, i.e., the science of war, weapons and military strategies of ancient Indian society. It further contains details on Niti-shastra, i.e., the science of politics and state administration but most verses of the Nitiprakashika deal with the classification and description of different varieties of weapons, based on the four groups of Mukta, Amukta, Muktamukta and Mantramukta.

Saṃhāra weapons (1): Sopasaṃhāra-astras

[Full title: War weapons > Astras > Saṃhāras > Sopasaṃhāra-astras]

Nītiprakāśikā II. 22-7 enlists the forty four astras falling under the Sopasaṃhāra variety.

Some of the names are explained by the commentary with interesting and pertinent remarks:


(1) Daṇḍacakra–Discus of punishment[1]

(2) Dharmacakra–Discus of right

(3) Kālacakra–Discus of Yama

(4) Aindracakra–Discus of Indra

(5) Śūlavata–Spear (like) of Śiva; the commentary Tattvavivṛti makes a note that it is śulavata merely in name–[...] Probably he means that it is not the trident of Lord Śiva. Tattvavivṛti also notes that there is an alternative reading as śūlavara–[...]

(6) Brahmaśīrṣa–head of Brahma; Tattvavivṛti says that it is different from[...]–[...]

(7) Modakī–the charmer

(8) Śikharī–the pointed; These two are considered by Tattvavivṛti as other names of gadā; probably varieties of gadā

(9) Dharmapāśa–noose of right

(10) Varuṇapāśa–noose of Varuṇa

(11) Painākāstra–missile of Śiva; This is explained as the weapon of Agni - [...]

(12) Vāyavya–missile of Vāyu

(13) Śuṣka–the dry

(14) Ārdra–the wet; aśani is another name of these two weapons, Śuṣka and Ārdra, emitting fire - [...]

(15) Śikharāstraka–the flaming missile

(16) Krauñcāstra–the Krauñca missile

(17) Hayaśīrṣahorse-headed missile

(18) Vidyāstra–missile of knowledge

(19) Avidyāstra–missile of ignorance

(20) Gandharvāstra–the Gandharva missile

(21) Nandanāstra–joy-producing missile; Commentary explains it as having vidyādhara as devatā -[...] it also records that it is also known as asiratna - [...]

(22) Varṣana–rainy missile

(23) Śoṣana–drying missile

(24) Prasvāpana–sleep-causing missile

(25) Praśamana–the soothing missile; pacifies the anger of the enemy, says Tattvavivṛti[...]

(26) Santāpana–tormenting missile

(27) Vilāpana–wailing missile

(28) Madana[2] -deluding missile; According to Tattvavivṛti it creates madness in the minds of the attacked - [...]

(29) Mānava–missile of Manu; Tattvavivṛti says it throws the enemy to a far off place - [...]

(30) Śāmana[3] –conciliatory missile

(31) Tāmasa–missile of darkness; Tattvavivṛti says that it creates delusion in the minds of the enemy–[...]

(32) Saṃvarta–the rolling missile

(33) Mausala–club-shaped missile

(34) Satya–missile of truth

(35) Saura–missile of Sun

(36) Māyāstra–missile of illusion; Tattvavivṛti says that it is different from those of the asuras but it creates delusions - [...]

(37) Tvāṣṭra–missile of Viśvakarma

(38) Somāstra–missile of the moon

(39) Saṃhara–missile of restraining; this is explained by Tattvavivṛti as that which takes away one’s life - [...]

(40) Mānasa–spiritual missile

(41) Nāgāstra–missile of the serpent; Tattvavivṛti says that it shall bind the enemy like a serpent - [...]

(42) Garuḍāstra -missile of Garuḍa

(43) Śaila[4] –rocky missile; according to the commentary, this astra effectively creates a line of mountains to ward off the enemy attack in the form of astras like vāyavyāstra-[...]

(44) Īsika–reed missile

Footnotes and references:


The English equivalents are as given by Oppert.


Oppert calls it mathana–churning missile.


The edited text carrys the reading nāyana; Oppert and one of the manuscripts have the reading sāmana which is more preferable here


The edited text reads this as śaiva; but Tattvavivṛti clearly states śaila and explains it too.

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