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Thursday, September 24, 2015


Our ancient sagas are replete with war-stories where both sides are engaged in a gruesome battle deploying various divyastras(divine weapons), we have always been so fascinated about them. We always wonder how those weapons looked like, there efficiency and efficacy, there limitations, if any. Among those, the most popular weapon or rather weapon system was dhanush or the bow; they were used to discharge arrows and to launch the divyastras as well and that's what made them prominent as without them it was difficult or rather impossible(in some cases) to launch those divine weapons.
Talking about bow or dhanush, I remember the most famous amongst all the bows in our legends, The Pinaak. It belonged to Bhagwan Shiv and hence also termed as Shiv-Dhanush. The amazing bow was employed by Shiv ji to annihilate Tripurasur. He later gave that bow to king Devvrat, ancestor of king Janak after demolishing Daksha-Yagya.

Yes, you got it right, we are approaching towards the great event of Ramayan - dhanushbhung, that proceeded to the Ram-Janki vivaah.

When sage Vishwamitra reached Mithila accompanied by Shri Ram and Lakshmarn, king Janak was immediately intimated of the sage's arrival. The king made no delays and presented himself at the sage's service. Janak’s eyesight caught glimpse of both princes, he was bewitched by the grace of the princes.

hey rishivar; strong and handsome like the devas, these two princes look like adamantine lion and bull; holding sword, quivers and bow like undefeatable warriors. Like the Ashwini Kumars; their exquisiteness is mesmerizing, they seemed to have just entered to their youth, coming all the way from the heavens, these two add to the pride of which dynasty, as Sun and Moon honors the sky likewise their radiance embellishes my kingdom.’ Janak asked Vishwamitra.
(Valmiki Ramayan;Baal Kaand;Chapter-50;Verse-17-21)

Vishwamitra introduced both princes and their amazing endeavors and they were there to sight the Shiv-dhanush. Janak also came to know about the obtention of divyastras by Shri Ram from the sage and the king was pleased to cognize it. There was now something going on his mind; his daughter Sita, a divine girl whom he discovered while ploughing the field.
Janak informed the sage about his daughter and the condition he had put for her marriage; the Shiv-dhanush, whoever would succeed in picking the massive bow, would win Sita's hand. Though many kings and princes tried their chivalry but failed miserably, no one couldn't even move the bow an inch, lifting it was out of question.
Shri Ram, at such young age, was an accomplished prince now and that too at such a tender age, he had the knowledge that was rare to devas even, above all, he hailed from Suryavansh, son of king Dashrath. Janak knew destiny had brought them at his place and his dear daughter's safety would be ensured(we will for sure get into that, but later).
Janak further told Vishwamitra that he would be more than happy to show the bow to both princes and if Shri Ram could lift the bow then he will marry his daughter Sita to him.
With sage's permission, the bow was summoned. An iron box-cart moved by eight wheels, was brought by five thousand heavy-weight people.
It was out of question for a mere human to pull it as well as to strike an arrow with it, when the divine devas and the valiant asurs failed miserably. 
Vishwamitra asked Shri Ram to have a look at the legendary bow.

‘With your permission; hey rishivar, I will try to lift this divine bow and will attach its string to its other end.’
(Valmiki Ramayan;Baal Kaand;Chapter-50;Verse-14)
Shri Ram rose and circumambulated the Shiv-Dhanush joining his palms. Then he held the bow from its center and lifted it with such an ease, like a child plays with a toy and playfully attached its string to the either sides. Thousands of people gathered were looking at him startlingly at that moment.
As he pulled the string to his ears; the bow broke from its center, due to stretching and made a sound of a thunder-bolt. An earthquake occurred the moment bow got broke.
Everyone except Shri Ram, Lakshmarn, Vishwamitra and Janak lost their consciousness with that massive blow.

नमोस्तुते श्री राघवम् 
Janak wished so, yet he was in an astonishment. Already mesmerized by Shri Ram's aura he lauded the unimaginable and marvelous incident. And thus the auspicious wedding of Shri Ram and Devi Sita took place to benefit the world.
We just saw how Shri Ram broke Shiv-Dhanush with such a grace.
But one thing has been keeping the masses in a perplex, or rather, entangled. What was Shri Ram and Devi Sita's age when this great event took place. There is nothing sensitive about it, cause as I have always said truth is emotion-less, it is we who see it with different outlooks. So before we discuss it, we need to have a better understanding, to know the characters more. Today let's get to know about the amazing bows discussed in our legends.

Theoretically, A bow is a flexible arc which shoots aerodynamic projectiles called arrows. A string joins the two ends of the bow and when the string is drawn back, the ends of the bow are flexed. When the string is released, the potential energy of the flexed stick is transformed into the velocity of the arrow. That was theory, let have a illustrated view:

 Here we can see as well as understand the definition of a bow given above.
According to Dhanurvaid; the bows can be made to different sizes referring to different purposes. Bhagwan Shiv's bow was believed to be around five and a half hands in length, so were the bows of Bhagwan Ram and Bharat, ParshuRam followed by sage Dronacharya, Arjun and Satyaki. Other bows used to be around four hands in length(an average human is approximately two and a half arms, yeah I tried to measure).
         Dhanurvaid is a sub-text of Ayurvaid, it is a compilation of complete warfare to enlighten any inquisitive of all kinds of weapons and launchers. Dr. Devvrat Acharya has done a commendable job penning the essence of dhanurvaid in today's perspective(I enlightened myself from there) .

Now, when we look above given illustration and the description of the Shiv-Dhanush that was carried in "an iron box-cart moved by eight wheels, was brought by five thousand heavy-weight people" things look superficial. How come a simple looking bow can be so heavy that it required the heavy weight cluster to move it.
There is a difference when we talk about a simple bow/dhanush and a divine bow. Pinaak was not any ordinary bow but a divine creation that too carried by Bhagwan Shiv, how can be things usual here. It was created by divine-architect Vishwakarma, with the length specified according to dhanurvaid. The reason it being so heavy was due to its capability of launching single or multiple divastras at once; no one, no one had strength to lift it apart from Bhagwan Shiv followed by Bhagwan Ram and that is why the question of misuse ceases.
There had been other divine bows like Pinaak; Vijay another exceptional bow that belonged to Bhagwan Shiv(though not greater than Pinaak) was rare and could not be lifted easily, it was passed to Karna of Mahabharat in order to counter Gandeev; the most famous bow that was presented by Agni dev to Arjun. In Ramayan, sage Agastya presented a infrequent Vaishnav-dhanush to Shri Ram accompanied by two quivers that never went short of arrows. Apart from these, there have been other bows with there limited powers that belonged to different devtas.

Now when we have come so far understanding bows; there have been theories with regards to these divine bows. According to some, these bows were actually not the typical bows as we know but a range of launchers of divine weapons. These launchers were motile hence easy to commute and target. Every launcher was employed with regards to the divyastra needed for discharge.

something like this, may be
Well this may sound logical, but then what about the description of Shri Ram lifting the Shiv-Dhanush and tying it's knot; also the descriptions in dhanurvaid do not give any indication of that sort. Some times we must stop implying science or logic and accept the divinity completely in stead of partially(accepting the divine weapons but doubting the concept of a bow). What I observed in Ramayan is that when Vishwamitra bestowed divyastras to Shri Ram, they were not with him all the time, but he manifested them reciting the mantra as per the need.
Shri Ram summons the divyastra and launches it through Indra's divine bow ending Raavarn's terror

Talking about launchers, according to dhanurvaid, there were weapons present known as shataghni, like the cannons we have in the present world. Yet, this possibility of motile weapon launching systems cannot be scrapped of, may be they co-existed, an assumption yet to be confirmed.
There had been a bow that was mightier than the Pinaak, we will know about it in the following post. Till then, be proud(we have so much to be after all)

"divinity cannot be doubted or questioned, it is holy. One can either believe it or disown it as there is no mid-way"

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