Some of the extremely powerful celestial weapons used on the Mahabharata battlefield could cause extra-ordinary damage and crush the enemy. For Instance, Barbarik, equipped with Lord Shiva’s three special Astras and Lord Agni’s (God of Fire) bow, had the ability to single-handedly end the Mahabharata war in just one minute.
There is no doubt that the celestial weapons were very powerful and way ahead of their time. This is a major reason why the Mahabharata remains relevant for generations to come.
Here are some of the most powerful weapons used in the epic:
Naga asthara – It was a commonly used weapon in the Mahabharata. It took the form of venomous snakes that coiled around the enemy troops and injected venom causing sure and certain death. In Ramayana, it was used by Indrajit against Rama and Lakshmana, and Karna against Arjuna in Mahabharat.
Nagapasham – a celestial weapon equal to Nagastra.
Garudastra – The eagle weapon to counter against the Nagastra
Anjalika – The personal weapon of Indra. It was used by Arjuna to slay Karna on the 17th day of the Mahabharata war. Even Ghatotkacha possessed this divine astra.
Varunastra – The water weapon, created by Varuna, master of the oceans
Mahendra astra– this Astra was used by Yudhisthira to counter the Andria and Prajnaya astras of Guru Dronacharya.
Vayavastra – The wind weapon, created by Vayu. It is capable of creating a low-pressure area that causes the air to rush in and create a storm or tornado. Only counter to this astra was Sailastra- obtained from Indra- King of Gods. Vayuvyastra was possessed by Rama, Hanuman, Lakshmana, Meghanada, Arjuna, Bhishma, Drona, Vishwamitra, Vasishta, Ravana, Ashwatthama, Krishna, Abhimanyu, Satyaki, Parashurama
Aindastra– is the projectile weapon that belongs to the king of gods Indra. Arjuna used it against Karna on the 17th day of the war.
Sooryastra: Creates a dazzling light that dispels darkness and dries up water bodies.
Gandharvastra: Created by Gandharva King Chitrasena (who defeated the combined force of Duryodhan and made Karna flee the battlefield). He gave it to Arjuna. This weapon was used by Abhimanyu who obtained it from Arjuna while trying to break the chakravyuha formation of the Kauravas
Bhaumastra: Created by Goddess Bhumi Devi, the weapon had the capability of moving the earth’s plates, and in turn cause earthquakes and create new land mass.
Antardhana Astra – This was Kubera’s personal Astra. Kubera gave it to Arjuna. It had the property to make things disappear.
Sakti Astra – one of the most powerful celestial weapons
Akshya Trunira- Meaningun-ending quiver. This was given to Arjuna by Varuna. The special feature of the quiver was that the arrows are always full and never end.
Mohini Astra – a powerful missile that can dispell any illusion or maya created by the enemy.
Nandaka – Nandaka or Nandaki is the sword of Lord Vishnu.
Sharanga – is the celestial bow of Vishnu made by Viswakarma, the Cosmic architect and maker of weapons. As per the legend Varun deva gifted the Saranga to Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu. Satyabhama, the wife of Krishna and avatar of goddess Bhumi, fought Asura king Narakasura with the Saranga bow and defeated him.
Pinaka – is the bow of Lord Shiva. As per the legend Lord Rama broke the bow at Sita swayamvar.
Govardhana bow – it was a very powerful bow of Lord Vishnu which could not be destroyed by any weapon. Lord Krishna an incarnation Lord Vishnu gave it to Vidura a great warrior and able administrator in the Kaurava court, respected by both Pandavas and Kauravas. Lord Krishna presented the bow to Vidhur to protect the women and children during the war, on the condition that he would not take part in the battle of Mahabharata from any side. Vidhur agreed and pledged not to participate in the battle.
Kaumodaki – is the Gada (mace) of Lord Vishnu who is often depicted holding the Kaumodaki in one of his four hands; besides the chakra, conch, and the lotus.
Antardhyana Astra – Arjuna received the Antardhana astra from Kubera. When invoked, this weapon makes the warrior invisible and disappear from the sight of enemy soldiers. Antardhana astra creates illusion and confuses the enemy soldiers. It can also make the user appear anywhere he wishes on the battlefield.
Prajnastra Astra – is a celestial weapon that restores the senses of a person, under the influence of the Sammohana Astra.
Parjanyastra—a mystic missile that brings heavy rain on the target. Arjuna is understood to have used it to pierce the earth, and produce water to quench the thirst of mortally wounded Bhishma lying on the bed of arrows.
Manavastra – It could overcome supernatural protections and carry the target hundreds of miles away. It could inspire humane traits in an evil being.
Kaladanda Astra – The deadly staff of Yama. Arjuna is believed to have received a Kaladanda from Yama but there is no mention of its use in Mahabharata.