In the ancient Vedic period, there were all kinds of modern weapons. It is mentioned in the Vedas. The technology of that period was different from today’s period but the firepower of the weapons was the same as that of today’s weapons. However, by which technology they were operated, it is a matter of research. In that period, there is also a mention of the protection of various parts of the body during the war. For example, skin and armor for the body, headgear for the head, and Kanthatran for the neck, etc.
Difference of Astra & Shastra
‘Astra‘ was called that, which was operated by any mantra or any instrument and ‘Shastra‘ was called that, which was operated by hands. This astra – shashtra were thrown from a distance by mantras, such as Pashupatastra, Brahmastra, Garudastra etc.
General parts of the Astra:
- Astra thrown by hand, such as javelins.
- Those Astra which are thrown by machine, like arrows, slingshot etc.
- Those Astra that are thrown by mantra or tantra, such as Narayanastra, Pashupat
Shastra were operated by hands. These were also dangerous. Shastra were also operated by hand and also with some small instrument, such as sword, vajra, dagger, khappar, khadg, parshu, spear, trishul etc.
General parts of the Shastra
- Cutting weapon like sword, parshu etc.
- Stabbing weapon like spear, trishul etc.
- Blunt weapon like mace, stick etc.
Fundamental knowledge has been acquired on the subjects of 18 martial arts in the Vedas. Upveda ‘Dhanurveda’ is completely dedicated to archery. Although the description of Astra is found in the Vedas, but Dhanurveda, Dhanush-Chandrodaya and Dhanush-Pradip these 3 ancient texts are often mentioned.
In Agni Purana, it is mentioned about Dhanurveda that there are 4 main parts of Astra in it- 1. Amukta, 2. Mukta, 3. Muktamukta and 4. Muktasanivrtti.
Four Main parts of Astra
Amukta: Amukta has been kept in the category of Shastra. These were the Shashtra which could not be thrown.
There are 2 types of Amukta –
1. Head Shastra: Weapon that strike by holding in hand like sword, mace etc.
2. Bahu-Yuddha: To fight unarmed.
Mukta: Mukta was placed in the category of Astra, which could be thrown.
There are 2 types of Mukta:-
1. Pani Mukta – Thrown by hand like spear.
2. Yantramukta- Thrown by instruments like arrows, which are thrown from a bow.
Muktamukt: Holding in the hand but striking like a astra, such as spear, trishul etc. That is, those Shastra which were used both by throwing or without throwing.
Muktasanvritti: Those Shastra which could be thrown and returned, like Chakra etc.
Main types of Astra
Divyastra: Those Astra which were operated by mantras are called Divyastra. Each Astra has the authority of a different god or goddess and it is operated by mantra-tantra. In fact, these are called divine and magical Astra.
Names of Divyastra
1. Agneyastra, 2. Parjanya, 3. Vayavya, 4. Pannag, 5. Garuda, 6. Narayanastra, 7. Pashupat, 8. Brahmashira, 9. Ekaginna, 10. Amoghastra and 11. Brahmastra. Apart from this, there were some such terrible Astra which were operated by machine or system.
Main types of Shastra
1. Mechanical: These Shastra were operated by some machine, such as Shakti, Tomar, Pash, Baan Sayak, Shan, Arrow, Parigh, Bhindipal, Narach etc.
2. Hand: Rishti, Gada, Chakra, Vajra, Trishul, Asi, Khadga, Chandrahas, Farsa, Mushal, Parshu, Kunta, Shanku, Pattish, Vashi, Sword, Spear, Axe, Knife, Bhusundi etc.