In Ayodhya Kanda, Sita, while narrating her marriage episode to Anasuya, wife of Sage Atri, states that Janaka himself received a great bow from Varuna, the god of Water (rain-god), but not from Lord Shiva.

महा यज्ने तदा तस्य वरुणेन महात्मना |
दत्तम् धनुर् वरम् प्रीत्या तूणी च अक्षय्य सायकौ || (Ayodhya Kanda 118th Sarga 39th Sloka)

In ancient days, Janaka on the occasion of a great sacrifice, received with affection from Varuna (वरुणेन महात्मना) the rain-god, an excellent bow with two quivers that should never lack arrows.

असंचाल्यम् मनुष्यैः च यत्नेन अपि च गौरवात् |
तन् न शक्ता नमयितुम् स्वप्नेषु अपि नर अधिपाः || (Ayodhya Kanda 118th Sarga 40th Sloka)

That bow was so heavy in weight that no man could lift it up nor any of the kings were bale to bend it even in their dreams.

तच् च दृष्ट्वा धनुः श्रेष्ठम् गौरवाद् गिरि सम्निभम् |
अभिवाद्य नृपा जग्मुर् अशक्ताः तस्य तोलने || २-११८-४३

Seeing that excellent bow, resembling a mountain in weight, and being unable to lift it up, the princes offered salutation to it and went away.

सुदीर्घस्य तु कालस्य राघवो अयम् महा द्युतिः |
विश्वामित्रेण सहितो यज्नम् द्रष्टुम् समागतः || २-११८-४४
लक्ष्मणेन सह भ्रात्रा रामः सत्य पराक्रमः |

After a very long time, this Rama born in Raghu dynasty with a great splendour possessing a true valour, along with his brother Lakshmana together with a sage Visvamitra, came to witness a sacrifice.

इत्य् उक्तः तेन विप्रेण तद् धनुः समुपानयत् || २-११८-४७
निमेष अन्तर मात्रेण तद् आनम्य स वीर्यवान् |
ज्याम् समारोप्य झटिति पूरयाम् आस वीर्यवान् || २-११८-४८

Hearing the words of Vivamitra, Janaka caused the bow to be brought there. The mighty and the valiant Rama bent that bow merely within an instant and immediately stringed the bow with the bow-cord and drew the bow to the full.

Now, the question is, whose bow did Sri Rama actually break? The prevalent story is Sri Rama broke Shiva's bow.

  • 1
    Don't tell me even this is interpolated.
    – Surya
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 3:29
  • 1
    @Surya: I am not offering my opinion here. I just posed a question to the readers. If you know the answer, please let me know. Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 4:11
  • 3
    Actually I was saying that as a general statement; not as yelling at you....
    – Surya
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 4:55

4 Answers 4


If you read Bala Kanda, canto 66, verses 7 to 12, King Janaka says about the origin of the Bow. In verse 11 - 12, he clearly says the following:

Full of grace, Rudra or Shiva deposited the bow upon the high souled gods. Then the celebrated bow (of Shiva) was deposited with Devarata (forefather of King Janaka).

So, the bow was first bestowed with gods and then they entrusted it to King Devarata of Mithila dynasty.

In canto 71, of Bala Kanda, when King Janaka described his lineage, he says the following in the verse 15-16.

King Sudhanva came all the way from the town of Sankasya and besieged Mithila (verse 15)

He sent a word to me saying "The superb bow of Lord Shiva as well as your lotus-eyed daughter may be kindly be given to me".

On refusal, o great, he fought with me and was killed by me (King Sudhanva is killed by King Janaka) (verses 16-17)

So, it's again clear that it was the bow of Shiva.

In canto 75, of Bala Kanda, Parashurama relates the history of bows of Lord Shiva and Vishnu. Parashurama says the following (verses 20-21).

Feeling enraged Lord Rudra entrusted his bow which was passed on to King Devarata of Mithila.

So, from all this it is very clear that it was the bow of Lord Shiva only.

In Ayodhya Kanda, in canto 118, Sita on request by Anasuya, gives a summary of events from her descent to earth, how she was found by King Janaka and her subsequent marriage to Lord Rama.

In verse 38, Sita says the following.

At a great sacrifice, an excellent bow, as well as a pair of quivers were given to King Devarata, by Varuna.

So, the bow was passed on to devathas by Rudra, which in turn was passed on to Devarata through Varuna (as an agent of gods as enjoined by Shiva, whom the gods had previously approached for the bow)

So, by considering all the above verses, IT WAS BOW OF RUDRA or SHIVA ONLY, which was passed on to devathas, who in turn through Varuna passed it on to King Devarata.


  • Then what about Sita telling her story to Anasuya, wherein she mentioned it as that of Varuna's? Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 9:08
  • @srimannarayana k v - I have clearly provided the verses and also provided the conclusion. It was passed on to devathas, who inturn thru Varuna passed it on to King Devarata. So, seetha is referring to Varuna delivering the Bow as an agent. Seetha nowhere says it belonged to Varuna.
    – user808
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 9:13
  • 4
    @srimannarayana k v - People who are sane enough will understand a bit of english, i suppose, unlike some guys who pretend and act. For pretenders and actors nothing is palatable except NETI, NETI..
    – user808
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 9:17
  • 3
    Also, seetha never referred to bow belonging to Varuna...So, if you take all the verses, you can see that it is bow of SIVA only. Seetha is just summarizing to Anasuya. If seetha doest refer to it as bow of RUDRA, it doesnt make it the bow of Varuna. King Janaka is right, Parashurama is right and seetha is also correct. It is that you need to reconcile.
    – user808
    Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 9:24
  • 1
    @srimannarayanakv Yes, and in that case also, none of the weapons given by Varuna originally belonged to Varuna; see my questions here and here. Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 14:03

In 75th sarga of Bala Kanda of Ramayana, Parashurama narrates to Sri Rama the tale of Vishnu fighting with Shiva. To cut the story short, Shiva's bow was benumbed by the bow of Vishnu when Vishnu utters a battle cry "hum". After this battle, Shiva placed his bow and arrow with his devotee King Devaratha in the country of Videha (the kingdom of King Janaka).

Later, King Janaka was gifted with two bows and quivers containing an inexhaustible stock of arrows by Varuna. (which also mentioned to Lakshmana when he accompanies Sri Rama to forest).

So the modern version might have been altered with the story of King Janaka's ancestor receiving the great bow of Lord Shiva with the story of Varuna's bow.


  1. http://redzambala.com/ramayana-valmiki/ramayana-bala-kanda-chapter-75.html
  2. https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/SriRangaSri/conversations/topics/5221
  • Are you saying Janaka had 3 bows - 1 from Shiva and 2 from Varuna? Also what do you mean by the modern version of the story? Commented Oct 21, 2015 at 16:58
  • Yes ,you are right. King Janaka had 3 bow-1 from his forefather and 2 from Varuna .please check the hyperlinks given.
    – Ganesh
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 5:36
  • I don't mind reading the references but your answer should be self-explanatory or clear enough without having to dig deep into the references. Plus your references may not be "online" a few years later. Just a thought. Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 16:35

Let me first compare some of the verses of Valmiki Ramayana among themselves and other verses of Mahabharata. Then I will give my conclusion. I know it's a bit long but please read till the end.

The below verses are from Valmiki Ramayana – Bala Kanda – Chapter 75. These is a word to word translation given by sri Desiraju Hanumanth Rao ji who had translated the whole Valmiki Ramayana into english. He translates that verse as follows.


ime dve dhanuSii shreSThe divye loka abhipuujite dR^iDhe balavatii mukhye sukR^ite vishvakarmaNaa 1-75-11

“These are the two strong and sturdy unsurpassed longbows, well-designed by gods and well-crafted by Vishvakarma, the Divine Architect, and these are very important among all bows and well-worshipped by all worlds… one broken in your, and the other in my hand…” [1-75-11]

anisR^iSTam suraiH ekam tryambakaaya yuyutsave tripura ghnam narashreSTha bhagnam kaakutstha yat tvayaa 1-75-12

“Oh, best one among men, out of the two longbows gods gave one to restive Trymbaka, God Shiva for a combat with demon Tripura, and oh, Kakutstha, that bow alone is the annihilator of Tripura, the demon… and you have broken that alone…” [1-75-12]

adaa tu jR^imbhitam shaivam dhanuH bhiima paraakramam 1-75-17 hum kaareNa mahaadevaH stambhito atha trilocanaH

“By the ‘hum’ sound of Vishnu that ruinously overpowering longbow of Shiva is broken (unstrung), and the triple-eyed God, Mahadeva, is frozen…” [1-75-17b, 18a]

dhanuu rudraH tu sa.mkruddho videheSu mahaayashaaH 1-75-20 devaraatasya raaja R^iSeH dadau haste sa saayakam 20b-21a.

“That celebrated Rudra on his part with indignation has handed over that longbow, which is already fitted with unloosened arrow, to the sagely king among Videha kings, namely Devaraata…” [1-75-20b, 21a]

Note carefully .: "Here in this verses it is said that Lord Vishwakarma had made the bow for lord Shiva which he used to destroy tripurasura, was broken or unstrung by the "hum" of Lord vishnu and he gave this bow (with already arrow fitted with unloosened arrows) directly to king Devaraata."

In these verses only, there are many uncertainties let me point one rest I will compare with other verses. "If it was untrung by the hum than how it can have already unloosened arrow fitted in it.?"

No one can question the authenticity and originality of these translation here because it's given by sri Desiraju Hanumanth Rao ji and I have given word to word translation here. Now let's move forward.

Mahabharata has a detailed account of the story of Tripura Samhaara (Destruction of three cities) by lord Shiva. Vyasa himself narrates that story to Arjuna whose excerpt has been copied below. This excerpt has been taken from the Kisari Mohan Ganguli’s translation of the Vyasa Bharata.

Book-7: Drona Vadha Parva:SECTION CCII

Vyasa narrates:

“Mahadeva thus accepted their request, moved by the desire of benefiting them, and said, ‘I will overthrow these Asuras. And Hara made the two mountains, viz., Gandhamadana and Vindhya, the two poles of his car. And Sankara made the earth with her oceans and forests his battle car. And the three-eyed deity made that prince of snakes, viz., Sesha, the Aksha, of that car. And that God of gods, the wielder of Pinaka, made the moon and the sun the two wheels of that vehicle. And the triple-eyed Lord made Elapatra and Pushpadanta, the two pins of the yoke. And the valiant Mahadeva made the Malaya mountains the yoke, and the great Takshaka the string for tying the yoke to the poles, and the creatures about him the traces of the steed. And Maheswara made the four Vedas his four steeds. And that lord of the three worlds made the supplementary Vedas the bridle-bits. And Mahadeva made Gayatri and Savitri the reins, the syllable Om the whip, and Brahma the driver. And making the Mandara mountains the bow, Vasuki the bowstring, Vishnu his excellent shaft, Agni the arrow-head, and Vayu the two wings of that shafts, Yama the feathers in its tail, lightning the whetting stone, and Meru the standard, Siva, riding on that excellent car which was composed of all the celestial forces, proceeded for the destruction of the triple city”.

This story has been narrated by Veda Vyasa himself, and exists in Mahabharata which is an EPIC. Therefore we have two noteworthy plus-points to consider this story as authentic, one is Vyasa’s spoken words, and second is presence in Epic Mahabharata.

This story clearly contradicts the points summarized above. Here we have clearly seen that there is no Viswakarma involved in creation of any bow. Mahadeva himself did his preparation. Note that Shiva made the mountain range of “Mandara” his divine bow to destroy the triple cities.

The story of bestowal of Shiva’s bow to the dynasty of Janaka is said variously at various places. This bow obtaining story is itself NOT consistent.

1. In the hermitage of Vishvamitra it is said that the bow is given in Vedic-ritual

“taddhi puurvam narashreSTha dattam sadasi daivataiH 1-31-8”

2. In the chapter 75 of Bala Kanda as seen in above verses, it is said that the bow used in Tripura Samhaara was given in the hand of Devaraata

“devaraatasya raaja R^iSeH dadau haste sa saayakam 1-75-20”

3. And in chapter 66 of Bala Kanda it is said that the bow which Shiva used to destroy Daksha’s sacrifice, that was the same bow which was given in Dasksha’s ritual to Gods.

“dakSa yaj~na vadhe puurvam dhanuH aayamya viiryavaan 1-66-9”

4. Seetha says about this to ascetic Lady Anasuya that Rain-god gave this to Janaka’s dynasty

“mahaayaj~ne tadaa tasya varuNena mahaatmanaa dattam dhanur varam priityaa tuuNii ca akSayya saayakau Ayodhya II-118”(as mentioned in the question itself).

We can combine quotes no. # 3 & # 4 and frame a thought that the bow which was used by Shiva to destroy Daksha’s sacrifice was the same given to Rain god and Rain god Passed that on to may be Devaraata. Then these points # 3 & # 4. contradict point no. # 2.

Definitely Daksha Yajna bow is NOT SAME as Tripura Samhaara Bow since for the destruction of three cities the bow was specially made then and there and was NOT any bow used previously so far.

Another CRITICAL point to be noted is, we also can NOT assume that after destroying Tripura Shiva kept that bow with himself and later in Daksha sacrificed used the same bow and may be sometime later fought with Vishnu and got defeated and gave away that bow to Devaraata through rain god. This is also NOT A VALID assumption because, Daksha Sacrifice happened when Shiva married Sati (Shiva’s first consort), and Shiva destroyed Tripura after the birth of Kartikeya who was born after Shiva married Parvati (second incarnation). Kartikeya slayed Tarakasura and the Tripura owners (demons) were the three sons of Tarakasura.

Therefore, the Daksha Sacrifice incident precedes to Tripura destruction incident in sequence of time. So, that means Shiva definitely used a different bow in Daksha sacrifice which he might have gifted to rain God and he inturn gave that to Devaraata. And later in Tripura Samhaara, Shiva created a new bow using mandara mountain which was called Pinaka. Which lord shiva used during his battle with lord krishna in the banasura episode and also during his battle with arjuna during kirat Parva in Mahabharata.

So the fight between Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu kind of contradicts rest of the verses and Mahabharata. Still let's visit those verses again with a new angle.

"Because of Rudra’s raudra (angry) form, Lord Vishnu uses the hunkārā sound (hum, which is Om) to calm him. Hearing that sound(nAda), Rudra goes into meditation. Thus his bow becomes jrambhita(frozen strung with arrow as it is) & Rudra becomes stambhita, going into samAdhi."

Lord Shiva is the humkara himself so called Mahakala. Again the sound "hum" is equivalent to "aum" Naada. Even in Buddhism "hum" is used for "aum". (Now just don't say it's another different religion as it's originated from hinduism only like Sikhism and Jainism also Gautama Buddha is said to be the 9th avatar of Lord Vishnu among the dasha avataras).

Heart Mantra(Suragami Dharini). "The Heavenly One! AUM! He proceeds on the wind like fire, manifesting His devotion in place after place! The Diamond-Thunderbolt Handed One! HUM! To Him of Universal Attributes, Hail!"

Hūṃkāra (हूंकार) refers to the “syllable Hūm” and is associated with the Śivapraṇava, according to the Vijñānabhairavatantra (39).—Accordingly, “The vedic Praṇava is the syllable Om; the Śaiva Praṇava is the syllable Hūm (hūṃkāra) and the Māyā Praṇava is the syllable Hrīm; many such methods are taught in the Tantras”.

Plus according to Mahabharata.: the below verses from the Drona Parva of the Mahabharata and the Harivamsa reveal the boon given by lord shiva to lord vishnu after 66000 celestial years of penance as thus:

matprasādān manuṣyeṣu devagandharvayoniṣu aprameyabalātmā tvaṃ nārāyaṇa bhaviṣyasi ( Mahabharata 7 : 172: verse No. 74 )

By the grace of me you will become Nārāyaṇa with unending strength among the deities, humans and Gandharvas

kaś cit tava rujaṃ kartā matprasādāt kathaṃ cana api cet samaraṃ gatvā bhaviṣyasi mamādhikaḥ ( Mahabharata 7 : 172: verse No. 78 )

“Through my grace, none shall ever be able to cause thee pain by the weapon of thunderbolt or with any object that is wet or dry, or with any mobile or immobile thing. Thou shalt be superior to myself if thou ever goest to battle against me.'”

This was again confirmed by Lord Siva to Lord Krishna before Lord Krishna was about to appear in battle against Vanasura as stated in the Harivamsa :

yathA mainAkamAshritya tapastvamakaroH prabho | tathA mama varaM kR^iShNa saMsmR^itya sthairyamApnuhi ||2-74-37

O lord ! O kR^iShNa! As you did penance staying on mainAka, you received a boon from me. Be firm in your mind, remembering that boon.

avadhyastvamajeyashcha mattaH shUratarastathA | bhavitAsItyavochaM yattattathA na tadanyathA || 2-74-38

You can not be killed, you can not be conquered, you will be more valiant than me. All this will happen as told by me. None will be able to change this. Otherwise, who else is able to dare appear before Lord Siva in the battlefield when He holds His trident?

So it was Lord Shiva only who gave Lord Vishnu the boon of remain undefeated even against him.

This suits it more otherwise it will contradict vedas also which states.:

"imā rudrāya sthiradhanvane ghiraḥ kṣipreṣave devāya svadhāvne | aṣāḷhāya sahamānāya vedhase tighmāyudhāya bharatā śṛṇotu naḥ |” (Rig Veda 7:46:1)

“To Rudra bring these songs, whose bow is firm and strong, the self-dependent GOD with swiftly-flying shafts, The Wise, the Unconquered Conqueror whom none may overcome, armed with sharp-pointed weapons: may he hear our call. “

“śreṣṭho jātasya rudra śriyāsi tavastamastavasāṃ vajrabāho | parṣi ṇaḥ pāramaṃhasaḥ svasti viśvā abhītī rapaso yuyodhi |” (Rig Veda 2.33.3)

“In beauty thou art the most beautiful of all that exists, O Rudra, the strongest of the strong, thou wielder of the thunderbolt! Carry us happily to the other shore of our anguish, and ward off all assaults of mischief”.

“arhan bibharṣi sāyakāni dhanvārhan niṣkaṃ yajataṃ viśvarūpam | arhannidaṃ dayase viśvamabhvaṃ na vā ojīyo rudra tvadasti |” (Rig Veda 2:33:10)

“Worthy, thou carriest thy bow and arrows, worthy, thy manyhued and honoured necklace.Worthy, thou cuttest here each fiend to pieces: a mightier than thou there is not, Rudra“.

“namah sutayahantyaya |” (Yajurveda Sri Rudram – Anuvaka-2)

“Salutations to Lord Rudra who cannot be overcome (defeated) and slain”.

“Namah sahamanaya nivyadhina avyadhininam pataye namo |” (Yajurveda Sri Rudram, Anuvaka-3)

“Salutations to Him who can not only withstand the shock of the onset of His enemies, but overpower them. He who can effortlessly pierce His enemies; the Lord of those who can fight on all sides, salutations to Him”.

Conclusion.: The bow is definitely shiva dhanush given by lord Varuna to king Devaraata as all the weapons are said to be lord Shiva's only who gave them to other deities like vajra, asi, sudarshana, parshu, 3 baans, etc. But it's not his own bow "Pinaka" it's just another one of Shiva dhanusha like the one lord Krishna broke in kansa's ranga sabha in Mathura...

  • 1
    There is no contradiction. It is never stated that Shiva gave the bow to Devrata immediately after Daksha yagya. So Shiva first challenge gods using the bow in Daksha Yaga, later uses the bow to destroy Tripura and then fight Vishnu. After this Lord Shiva gave the bow to Devarata. Commented Mar 25, 2023 at 2:09
  • 1
    Except in the same Mahabharata, we have Nara Narayana fighting Shiva at Daksha Yaga and Brahma coming and informing Shiva that he was born from Narayana in a different Kalpa. Krishna also says that Shiva who walked in front of Arjuna's chariot was born from his rage. Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 23:22
  • 1
    Besides, the only reason Vishnu avatars worship Shiva is because Lord Vishnu had given a boon to Shiva - ‘’Lord Vishnu said - For protecting the devatas, when I will take avatara in human form, I will worship you , by which you shall become “varada” or the bestower of boons.’’-Varaha Purana 73.43". Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 4:25
  • 1
    U r no one to decide what is interpolation or not. Its totally present in Shatapatha Brahmana that Purusha Narayana prayed to the Supreme Purusha. Anyways, i can say the same the above verse u hv given r totally contradictory to what krishna said to arjuna that if he doesn't worship rudra who is his soul than no one will worship him. In Skanda purana. Bhagawān Shiva says he worship gajesh, kartik, vishnu, durga, etc etc when they achieve something just to show the world so that people dont become atheists. So, he created many paths of bhakti. Same is said in padma purana also. Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 9:35
  • 1
    He only worship the inner self of them which he is himself. So itihasa > puranas. So, anyways, this platform is not for deity supremacy battle. We were having different conversation suddenly u changed it into something else only. Plus, there was no need for this conversation only. I gave an answer with proofs. There are so many answers even one above mine totally opposite of mine. Still i didn't go n comment there. I wrote my own seperate thing even without dragging anyone just my answer. What i believe is true with facts. U also do the same. Why do u need my validation for that. Just do it. Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 9:42

King Janaka’s pious ancestors had received God Shiva’s celestial bow. God Rama easily lifts the bow, strings it and then breaks it. The thunderous sound shakes the Earth. God Rama thus wins the hand of Sita by achieving this difficult feat [Ref: Valmiki Ramayana 1.67-68].

After the wedding ceremonies, on the journey to reach back home to Ayodhya, God Parshurama, a Vishnu-avatara appears. He is carrying His parshu (axe) and God Vishnu’s celestial bow. He says when He heard that God Shiva’s bow was broken, He found it inconceivable. All the celestials gather in the sky to witness the spectacle. Dasharatha reminds God Parshurama that He had taken a pledge not to use His weapons anymore. God Parshurama asks God Rama to string the other celestial bow of God Vishnu that He is carrying. God Rama easily does it. God Parshurama is convinced that He is in the company of another Vishnu-avatara, who will continue to uphold Dharma (righteous laws of nature). God Parshurama returns to Mahendra Hill. The bow is then deposited with Varuna (the water demigod) [Ref: Valmiki Ramayana 1.74-77].

Source: 'Essence of the Fifth Veda' by Gaurang Damani pgs 5,6,7

You must log in to answer this question.

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