In the Anushasana Parva of the Mahabharata, just like in the Shanti Parva, Bhishma gives advice to Yudishthira and concerning how to be a good king and how to be good person, while he is lying on a bed of arrows after the end of the Kurukshetra war. In this chapter, Bhishma tells Yudhishthira about various actions which are rewarded and punished in the afterlife. One part of the list seems rather peculiar to me, though:

śastravikrayakāś caiva kartāraś ca yudhiṣṭhira
śalyānāṃ dhanuṣāṃ caiva te vai nirayagāminaḥ

They who sell weapons, they who forge weapons, they who make shafts, and they who make bows, have to sink in hell.

So my question is, is it always a sin to make weapons?

Is the verse just saying that people shouldn't go into a weapons-making as a business? Or is it actually saying that it is forbidden for anyone to make a weapon under any circumstances? It would be rather strange if making weapons is categorically forbidden; how in the world would Kshatriyas get the weapons they need then?

Do the Manu Smriti or other Dharma Shastras shed any light on this?

  • I think if its a king or govt. funded thing, then its okay because you are serving the nation or the king, going into it as a business does raise the question of morality. Commented May 28, 2016 at 8:17
  • @AmitSaxena Yeah, that was my thought as well, but then why would selling weapons and making them be listed as separate sins? So I'd like to find some scripture that clarifies whether people who work for the king can make weapons for him. Commented May 28, 2016 at 13:16
  • Could be an interpolation? Commented May 28, 2016 at 18:55
  • @sv. Well, it's a possibility, but most of the other sins described in the chapter are mentioned in the Manu Smriti and other Dharma Shastras, so I think it is authentic. Commented May 28, 2016 at 19:17
  • At least we can say that a similar verse can be found in other scriptures, see eg The Vishnu Purana: Book II: Chapter VI at sacred-texts.com/hin/vp/vp064.htm "The maker of arrows is sentenced to the Vedhaka (piercing) hell: and the maker of lances, swords, and other weapons, to the dreadful hell called Viśasana (murderous)." Commented May 28, 2016 at 22:14

1 Answer 1


I have searched Parashara,Vashishta and Yajnavalkya Smritis for relevant verses.Unable to find any.

The Manu smriti ,however,has a verse which says that the maker of bows and arrows are to be avoided(as sinners).

3.160. A maker of bows and of arrows, he who lasciviously dallies with a brother’s widow, the betrayer of a friend, one who subsists by gambling, he who learns (the Veda) from his son,

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are to be carefully avoided

.This chapter gives long lists of persons who are to be avoided and the makers of bows and arrows are one of them.

I was looking for more verses that talk about the makers of weapons to be used in wars but unable to find any.In the case of a war ,i presume,it is a duty of the weapon maker to craft arms to be used by soldiers & hence it(the act of making weapons) might not incur any sin then.


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