In the Mahabharata, Arjuna spent five long years during his exile to go to heaven and acquire all the divya astras.

But, why didn't he use any of those major divya astras in the Kurukshetra war?

For instance, he was almost defeated by Karna and Bhishma; yet, he refrained from using the major divya astras like Vajra, Pashupata etc.

  • Good question but I think vajra/Pashupata would not have worked against bhishma and karna as they had power of bramhastra which can easily destroy anything even vajra.
    – Yogi
    Commented Jan 9, 2016 at 20:44
  • In fact, Pasupata is more powerful than Brahmastra..as it is a weapon of Shiva.... Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 12:06
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    No pashupatastra is not powerful than Bramhastra, since bramhastra can destroy anything that is created by bramha (that means all of the creations) but Pashupatastra will have to bow before rudra (deity of pashupatastra), and other trimurtis. While bramhastra may destroy rudra since he is creation of bramha.
    – Yogi
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 12:24
  • If Brahmastra is so powerful, why it did not kill Utara when Aswathama shot it?? Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 12:28
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    It was parikshit who was to be killed not uttara, and bramhastra killed him in womb, but krishna revived him thats why parikshit is known as twice born in womb,dwija by birth.
    – Yogi
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 13:21

3 Answers 3


The way MahAbhArata was fought was not the standard practice even during then. Had Arjuna used celestial weapons (DivyAstra), it would have gained a quick victory, as it happened in VirAta Yudha. Then why they fixed upon to use limited weapons?

The premises of MahAbhArata war was the conflict within the family, predominantly between step-cousins. The war was fought in Kurukshetra to avoid harming other population and reluctant kingdoms (who din't want to join). There was no intention to invade the territories. Rules of Engagement were laid before the war to maintain the ethical conduct, because this was a Dharma Yudha, i.e. the war fought to maintain the righteousness. Look at below rule:

Two warriors may "duel", or engage in prolonged personal combat, only if they carry the same weapons and they are on the same type of mount (on foot, on a horse, on an elephant, or in a chariot).

Which means, either Arjuna can't fight or he must break the rule for using DivyAstra. Both were not acceptable. Moreover, Drona and AshwathAmA also possessed such weapons in their arsenal. Bhima's grandson Barbarika wasn't allowed to fight for the same reasons; i.e. using special weapons.

The celestial weapons might not have been allowed for the same reason why the atomic warfare is not happening today. No one wins such wars, but humanity surely loses.

Interestingly, by the end of the Kurukshetra war, almost all the rules were broken in 1 or the other form. Because they were rules (or promises), they were destined to be broken!

  • But, DiyaAstras were used in the war. For, instance, Arjun used a DivyaAstra to chop off Jayadrath's head. Even Drona used DiyaAstras during his last day in the war. Karna also used Divya Astra against Arjuna. Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 5:46
  • @InduBhusanNath, yes certain Divyastras were indeed used in the war, but they were not as deadly in nature as we intend to discuss here .. e.g. BrahmashirAstra or BrahmAstra. IMO, Arjuna used it against Jayadratha & Karna both. Drona was stopped to use deadlier weapons by the various voices heard by him. Karna too used the snake weapon against Arjuna, however he failed to use the one which he got from Indra. He had to utilize against Ghatotkacha (who broke the rule of night warfare). In my answer, I meant the deadliest DivyAstras, which were predominantly possessed by Arjuna and Drona.
    – iammilind
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 5:56
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    Yes, you seem to be correct. Even, Bhisma did not use any DivyaAstra. Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 6:03

Arjuna did use divya astras . He used pashupatastra on jayadrath . He used anjalika astra on karna . He invoked brahmastra against ashwatthama. Firing divya astras required great skill and strength very few warriors could do it efficiently.Arjuna was not very good at it . He also couldn't wield his gandiva properly . whereas karna , bhishma and drona were much more powerful and skilled than arjuna in firing divya astras. Arjuna couldn't defeat them in fair combat . In fact he was almost killed by bhishma and karna. When arjuna faced karna he couldn't match karna speed in firing divine astras . karna was about to use brahmastra on arjun when krishna saved him by causing a sunset. Same happened when he faced Bhishma and Lord Krishna had to save him.

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    This looks like opinion that Arjuna is not a better warrior. Arjuna was perfect at using divyastras. He was the one who withdrawn Brahma shironamaka astra. Also, Anjalika astra is not a divyastra. Comparing Bhishma, Drona with Arjuna is not right because they were his superiors. Karna used Brahmastra, Varunastra on Arjuna, what was the result? Arjuna dissolved them with counter weapons. You are encouraged to cite sources in the answer. It is mandatory. Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 0:44

Krishna himself forbid Arjuna to use any kind of Celestial weapons during the entire war. If Arjuna had used the celestial weapons the war would have ended on first day itself. Remember what happened in Virat Yuddha. Arjuna single handedly defeated Bhishma, Karna, Drona and many more warriors even the God Krishna wasn't there on his side.

I saw some people arguing over whether Brahmastra is more powerful than pasupatatastra. Pasupatatastra is far more powerful than Brahmastra. Narayanastra is powered by the kundalini of God Vishnu while the Pasupatatastra is powered by the kundalni of God Shiv himself.


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