During the Kurukshetra war, after Karna killed Ghatotkhasa with the Vasavi Sakti weapon; Krishna started dancing.

Seeing this Bhima asked why he did so when the son of Bhima was killed.

To this Krishna replied that if Ghatotkasha was not killed then Arjun was sure to be the victim the next day.

What I could not understand is: Arjuna possessed the Pasupata, and the Vajra....then, how would he fail to counter the Vasavi Sakti weapon ?

  • I think vasavi shakti is powerless against only three weapons Bramhastra and Narayanastra and Sudarshana Chakra, because these are the weapons more dreadful/powerful then the power of Vasus en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasu
    – Yogi
    Jun 3, 2016 at 10:19
  • @Tezz: OK. I will definitely keep this in mind hereafter. But, to be honest, I have not yet got a satisfactory answer for this question. Jun 4, 2016 at 10:06
  • @InduBhusanNath ok... but I'm referring to other answers given to your question... I'm not claiming this Particular answer is complete...
    – Tezz
    Jun 4, 2016 at 10:09
  • There is a lot of information about this if you read about the Sabha and Yuddha Parva in Mahabharata.
    – Shyam
    Sep 18, 2016 at 10:47

7 Answers 7


Here is what Lord Shiva tells while giving Pasupatastra to Arjuna:

Bhava replied, 'O powerful one. I will give to thee that favourite weapon of mine called the Pasupata. O son of Pandu, thou art capable of holding, hurling, and withdrawing it. Neither the chief himself of the gods, nor Yama, nor the king of the Yakshas, nor Varuna, nor Vayu, knoweth it. How could men know anything of it? But, O son of Pritha, this weapon should not be hurled without adequate cause; for if hurled at any foe of little might it may destroy the whole universe. In the three worlds with all their mobile and immobile creatures, there is none who is incapable of being slain by this weapon. And it may be hurled by the mind, by the eye, by words, and by the bow.'" [VanaParva Chapter 60]

If Vasavi Shaki was ultimate then Indra would have remained unconquerable with the aid of that weapon. But it was necessary to make use of that weapon to Karna as he had received it as return gift from Indra and to keep word of Indra it was necessary to destroy one thing by the help of that Shakti. Here is what Indra says while giving it to Karna;

Hearing this, Indra said, 'As thou, O Karna, art bent upon observing the truth, thy person shall not be unsightly, or shall any scar remain on it. And, O thou best of those that are graced with speech, O Karna, thou shall be possessed of complexion and energy of thy father him self. And if, maddened by wrath, thou hurlest this dart, while there are still other weapons with thee, and when thy life also is not in imminent peril, it will fall even on thyself.' Karna answered, 'As thou directest me, O Sakra, I shall hurl this Vasavi dart only when I am in imminent peril! Truly I tell thee this! [VanaParva Chapter 308]

So to keep the above words of Indra if Karna used in such circumstances then it was necessary that one target gets destroyed.

Furthermore Pasupatastra is not a simple weapon which is to be hurled to mortals. Here is what Arjuna says :

Then the god Tryamvaka said unto me, 'I will give. O Pandava, my own weapon Raudra shall attend upon thee.' Thereupon Mahadeva, well-pleased, granted to me the mighty weapon, Pasupata. And, having granted that eternal weapon, he also said unto me, This must never be hurled at mortals. If discharged at any person of small energy, it would consume the universe. Shouldst thou (at any time) be hard pressed, thou mayst discharge it. And when all thy weapons have been completely baffled, thou mayst hurl it.' Then when he having the bull for his mark, had been thus gratified, there stood manifest by my side that celestial weapon, of resistless force capable of baffling all weapons and destructive of foes and the hewer of hostile forces and unrivalled and difficult to be borne even by the celestials, the demons and the Rakshasas. Then at the command of that god, I sat me down there. And in my very sight the god vanished from the spot.'" [VanaParva chapter 166]

Then what is the use of possessing Pasupatastra?

Just having knowledge of invoking it is sufficient to make a person victorious. One doesn't need to use it. Here is what Lord Krishna tells to Arjuna when Arjuna vows to kill Jayadtatha next day:

 I tell thee that the sun setteth quickly.' The bird-bannered Krishna hearing this cause of Partha's grief, touched water and sat with face turned to the east. And then that hero, of eyes like lotus leaves, and possessed of great energy, said these words for the benefit of Pandu's son who had resolved upon the slaughter of the ruler of the Sindhus, 'O Partha, there is an indestructible, supreme weapon of the name of Pasupata. With it the god Maheswara slew in battle all the Daityas! If thou rememberest it now, thou shalt then be able to slay Jayadratha tomorrow. If it is unknown to thee (now), adore within thy heart the god having the bull for his mark. Thinking of that god in thy mind, remember him, O Dhananjaya! Thou art his devotee. Through his grace thou shalt obtain that rich possession.' Hearing these words of Krishna, Dhananjaya, having touched water, sat on the earth with concentrated mind and thought of the god Bhava. After he had thus sat with rapt mind at that hour called Brahma of auspicious indications, Arjuna saw himself journeying through the sky with Kesava. [Drona Parva Chapter 80]

Thus, one doesn't need to hurl Pasupatastra, it's rememberance alone is sufficient.

  • Fantastic. But, why did then Krishna said to Arjuna after Ghatotkacha was killed that his Sudarshana Chakra would also not been able to counter that Vasavi Sakti weapon. I read it in many versions. Jun 3, 2016 at 12:06
  • @InduBhusanNath it is necessary to keep word of Indra given to Karna... Lord Krishna respects boon given by other God ..
    – Tezz
    Jun 3, 2016 at 12:08
  • 1
    @Tezz I think you're misinterpreting the line. Krishna isn't saying if you remember it then automatically Jayadratha will die. He's saying if you remember how to use it, then you will be able to use it against Jayadratha tomorrow. Jun 4, 2016 at 1:22
  • @KeshavSrinivasan I don't think I'm misintrepreting... because Arjuna didn't used Pasupatastra during Jayadratha vadha parva... so it worked subtly... otherwise there was no use of Krishna taking Arjuna to Kailash the before day... Arjun had to do mass annhilation after that day... so Krishna took him to Kailash by yogic path...
    – Tezz
    Jun 4, 2016 at 1:48

There are 2 reasons I think why krishna considered Arjuna need to stay away from Karna with Sakthi dart:

  1. It is not the power of Vasavi Sakthi that made Krishna keep Arjuna away from Karna. It is the valor of Karna combined with Vasavi Sakthi that Krishna feared. Karna is an accomplished warrior who has a weapon that cannot be stopped by normal means. So it is a risk to let Arjuna fight Karna. Why take a big risk with the warrior(Arjuna) who holds the key for the victory?
  2. Pasupathasthra, as described by Shiva, is an offensive weapon and cannot be used as a defensive weapon like Brahmashirashtra. Once invoked, it will destroy anything in the path as well as the intended target. However, Karna is just a mere mortal, albeit a great warrior. So there is a risk that Arjuna might destroy the universe along with karna, if invoked. Read this from the sacred-texts:

Bhava replied, 'O powerful one. I will give to thee that favourite weapon of mine called the Pasuputa. O son of Pandu, thou art capable of holding, hurling, and withdrawing it. Neither the chief himself of the gods, nor Yama, nor the king of the Yakshas, nor Varuna, nor Vayu, knoweth it. How could men know anything of it? But, O son of Pritha, this weapon should not be hurled without adequate cause; for if hurled at any foe of little might it may destroy the whole universe.

Original Link: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m03/m03040.htm

Here, no where Lord Shiva mentioned that Pasupathasthra can be used to just counter other astras. He pointed out that it will destroy the foe and the universe if the foe is weak. Which means, Arjuna might successfully counter Vasavi Sakthi but might end up destroying the universe.


The Pashupatastra was only counterable by two weapons. Those weapons were Brahmandastra, Narayanastra. The Vasvi Shakti could be countered by Pashupatastra very easily but the matter of fact is that Arjun had taken a vow that we will use any super destructive weapon in the Mahabharat. He also knew that after the use of Pashupatastra, everything will finish and die out.

  • 2
    Did you mean "he will not use any super destructive weapon" ? Also please cite sources.
    – user1195
    Apr 12, 2017 at 1:39
  • 2
    Cite sources for the part of Arjuna's vow and counter weapons to Vasavi shakti. Apr 12, 2017 at 2:39

The implied meaning of boon or curse is more important. The Shakthi kills any one enemy means that the weapon is capable of consuming one enemy only, of course, despite his other abilities. What that enemy has at his command and what his repertoire is full of, all these will not count. The shakthi is so powerful that it would not allow that much ability of the opponent to make use of what he has with him too, no matter even if his asthras are more powerful. There is hence no question of Pasupatha failing against Shakthi, since there would not be a question of employing it at all. Possession or knowledge does not mean its prayoga. no prayoga, no failure, so no escape from shakthi.Might be clear now.

  • 2
    Welcome to Hinduism SE. Please provide references for your answer. Aug 18, 2016 at 13:18

You are comparing a highly poisoned fatal dart to a nuclear bomb... One can kill a single target only, if properly used but the later is mass destructive...

Pashupata not only nullifies Vaasabi, but it'll consume all if not used upon a worthy immortal... But Vaasabi shakti can only kill the target if he's unable to call Pashupata Astra...

Narayana Astra is the only counter for Pashupata Astra... Narayana Astra is the ultimate Defensive but Pashupata Astra is ultimate Offensive ,and they rival each other... Not Even Brambh Dand can nullify Pashupata Astra...


No, I think Pashupatastra is more Powerfull than Vasavi Shakt, A divine dart of Indra. I Have come across a article which i hyperlinked and then assured about what am thinking is right.

  • Please add those points from your reference which says so.
    – user6981
    Jan 29, 2019 at 15:47

The potency of the celestial weapons has to be taken poetically. Just like the Gods are henotheistically described, so are the weapons. Mahabharata says Narayanastra can kill Brahma and Siva and Pashupathastra call kill Brahma and Vishnu.

There are rare conflicts between Gods and between Gods and Devas using celestial weapons and it usually ends in stalemate or someone else interferes to prevent a decisive outcome.

If I recall correctly, Indra tells Karna that he knows why karna asked for the Vasavi Shakti and that Krishna would never allow him to achieve his objective.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .