:"For the ancient Indian sword traditionally carried by the warrior class, see Khanda (sword)"A legend concerning the sword ("IAST|khaḍga") appears in the Shantiparva section of Mahabharata. [Political and Moral Concepts in the Śāntiparvan of the Mahābhārata, 1990, p 166, Y. S. Walimbe.]

Out of curiosity, Nakula, the fourth son of Pandu and the master of swordsmanship, had questioned the Kuru Grandsire Bhishma, on his arrowy death bed, as to which was the best weapon in all kinds of fighting. In his own personal views, Nakula thought the sword to be the most superior, since even on having lost one's bow, horse and the chariot, a skilful swordsman could still defend himself against the mace and spear wielders. Nakula further queried the Grandsire about the origin and purpose of the Khadga as well as about its first acharya or preceptor.

Gladdened by these intelligent queries by Nakula, Bhishma related to him the complete "Itihaasa" of the Khadga or "divine sword" starting from its creation down to the present i.e time of Bharata war.

The full details of the legend appear in the Shantiparva of Mahabharata (MBH 12.167.1-87 Vulgo; MBH 12.161.1-87 (Critical)) [] .

Mythological creation of universe

In the beginning there was no sky, no light, nor motion. Spread everywhere was the awful silence. Then at his own proper time, Prajapita (Brahma) manifested as hiranyagarbha (primordial womb or atom) and created the stars, sun, moon, planets, and the divisions of time into years, months, days, seasons. Then he manifested and created the Deva Rudra and other Devas: the Maruts, Adityas, Ashvins, and Vasus etc.

Thereafter, Brahma manifested as various living forms which included the Rishis. Then he promulgated the Sanatana Dharma. The Rishis saw this Dharma in the form of the Vedas and lived in obdience to it.

However, there arose cupidity, avarice, jealousies, anger and arrogance which led the Danavas like Hirannyakashipu, Hiranyaksha, Virochana, Shambhara, Viprachitti, Prahlada, Nauuchi, Bali and many others to transgress the limits of Dharma and propriety and indulge in evil and sinful deeds and commit injustice and cruelty on the Devas as well as on the innocent public. The Devas approached Brahama and protested against the unjust rule and evil doings of the Danavas or Asuras.

Origin of sword

Hearing the protest from Devas, Brahma collected sacrificial objects and proceeded to perform a grand sacrifice with the foremost of the Rishis and Devas at the side of Himalaya.

During the course of the sacrifice, a dreadful creature sprang from the midst of the sacrificial fires scattering flames all around. It was as though a moon had arisen in the midst of the stars. He was colored like a deep-blue lotus. His teeth were sharp and terrible, stomach lean and skinny and stature very tall and slim. He was of exceeding energy and power. Simultaneously, the earth started shaking, there were turmoils in the oceans, the forceful winds started howling all around, the trees started falling and being torn apart, and the meteors started blazing through the skies!

Brahma declared:

"The 'being' I have conceived is "Asi". It shall effect the destruction of the enemies of the gods and restore the Dharma".

Upon this, the creature assumed the form of a blazing, sharp-edged sword, glowing like the flames at the end of the Kalpa.

word with the mythological deities

Brahma gave that sword to Rudra (one of Shivas forms) with the bull-banner and asked him to put down the sinners and evil-doers (paap and adharma) and restore the Dharma.

Rudra, assuming his terrible form, took up the sword and started the war against the Danavas, thus tearing, piercing, lopping off, chopping off and smashing and mutilating these enemies of the Devas and the Praja.

The earth became miry with flesh and blood of "Daityas" and looked like a fair-complexioned maid intoxicated with alcohol and attired in crimson robes in a full abandon.

Having extirpated the entire community of Daityas and after restoring Dharma, Rudra cast off his awful form and assumed the usual benign shape Shiva.

Rudra gave the sword, dyed with the blood of the Daityas, to Vishnu. Vishnu gave it to the Indra. Deva Indra, then gave it to other Devas.

word with the historical personages

The Devas then presented the mighty sword to Manu, advising him to wield it with utmost care, only resorting to it for punishing the transgressors of the Dharma. Mutilations and death punishments shall never be inflicted for small transgressions.

Manu used this "Daevi Khadga" or "Divine Sword" wisely and then passed it his to son "Kshupa". From Kshupa it passed to Manu's other son Ikshvaku. From him it went to "Pururavas", born of Ila. From him it went to "Ayu". From him it passed to "Nahusha". From him it passed to "Yayati". From him it passed to Puru. From him it was wrested by "Amurtarayas" of the clan of the Amavasus. From him it went to "Bhumishaya". From him it went to "Bharata Daushyanti". From him it went to "Ailavila", the upholder of Dharma. From him it went to "Kuvalashva", the Aikshvakava of Kosala.

From king Kuvalashva, the sword was wrested by Kamboja i.e the king of Kambojas.

"See also" Epic Kamboja

From Kamboja, the Khadga passed on to "Muchukunda" (a Yavana king). From Muchukunda it went to "Maruta".

From Maruta it went to "Raivata". From him to "Yuvanashva". From him it went to Raghu, the great conqueror. From him it went to "Harinashva". From him it went to "Shunaka". From him it went to "Ushinara". From him it went to the "Bhojas and Yadavas". From the Yadus it went to "Shivi". From him it went to the "Partardanas" of Kashi. Then it was taken by "Vishvamitras" of the Ashtaka lineage. Then it was taken by the Panchala Prishadashva. From him it went to the Brahmins of the Bharadvaja lineage. The last of that lineage was Drona. He gave to Kripacharya. He in turn gave it to the Pandavas.

Krittika is the Nakshatra of the sword, Rohini the gotra, Agni the deity, and Rudra the Maharshi. It is truly the upholder of Dharma.

It is the foremost of the striking weapons of the son of Madravati.

Historical value of the legend

This Mahabharata legend seems to point to a remote era of "transition" from Bronze Age to Iron Age (around 31st BC?). It also gives a brief history of how the Technology of "sword" originated in India and travelled North-west as given in the above account , it had its birth in present days Uttar pradesh - Bihar Zone which is rich in Iron ore and later there was a technology transferred to the neighbouring kingdoms and has spread to kambhojas and from there to yavanas here it took a technology transfer and returned to its birth place kosala(India).

The definition of the Mahabharata sword is "fearful, powerful, fiery, unassailable, affording wealth, giving victory, and the source of maintaining Dharma".


External links

* [ Mahabharata Sword ]
* [ The Mahabharata: Book 11: The Book of Peace, Part 1, edited by James L Fitzgerald]
* [ Durga Puja, pp lviii-lix, Pratāpacandra Ghosha]

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