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Story of Nagapasha or Nagastra

Nagapasha or Nagastra is a powerful arrow capable of huge destruction. The story of the origin of Nagastra is mentioned in the Yuddha Kanda of Kamba Ramayana. Legend has it that Nagapasha was in the beginning a very powerful Snake. Brahma had created Nagapasha to annihilate a demon named Nagasura.

Nagapasha’s main weapon was a sharp piercing cry. On reaching the kingdom of Nagasura, the Snake made a huge cry and this killed many pregnant women, children and old people. Nagasura tried several methods to overpower Nagapasha but his entire army and finally the Nagasura himself was killed by Nagapasha.

Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva gave blessings to Nagapasha for killing the demon. Shiva also made Nagapasha one his ornaments.

Nagapasha once decided to go on a tour of the worlds. Shiva advised him not to visit Salmali Island. But the snake did not heed his advice and visited the island. Nagas on this island were regularly attacked by Garuda.

Nagapasha was attacked by Garuda and the snake could nothing to Garuda. Nagapasha took refuge in Shiva.

Shiva pacified Garuda and said that from then onwards Nagapasha will not interfere with Garuda.

From that day Nagapasha became the arrow. Demons, Devas and Humans pleased Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu through austerities and as boon gained the arrow in their armory.

Nagastra was used in the Ramayana and Mahabharata. When Nagastra was used, thousands of snakes came down from the skies. In some cases it emitted poison.

Nagastra in Ramayana

Nagastra was used by Ravana against Sri Ram. From a single arrow thousands of snakes darted towards Sri Ram. The arrows had their mouths like serpents and vomited fire all round. Sri Ram to stop the Nagastra discharged Garuda Astra. The arrows became Garudas and cut off the serpent arrows on all sides. Garuda is the enemy of serpents. Garuda nullifies the effect of Nagastra.

Indrajit, son of Ravana, had used it against Lakshman. This made him senseless.

Nagastra in Mahabharata

Karna had used it against Arjuna. Kunti had got a word from Karna that he will not use the Nagastra twice against Arjuna. When Karna used it the first time, Krishna cleverly rides the chariot into a pit and lowers the chariot, the nagastra hits the crown of Arjuna.