Shiva Dhanush And Mithila

The Bow Of Lord Shiva; As Mighty As Lord Shiva Himself.

‘Dhanush’ is a Hindi word for Bow and Shiva Dhanush also known as ‘Pinaka’ refers to the bow that belongs to Lord of Lords Shiva. It is interesting to know the association of Pinaka and Mithila. What happened to the mighty bow. Any guesses?

Ages ago according to Ramayana, Lord Vishwakarma who is believed to be the principal architect of the universe, crafted two divine Dhanush. The first one ‘Sharanga’ was given to Lord Vishnu and the second one ‘Pinaka’ was given to Lord Shiva. Pinaka was given as a gift to the king of Mithila Raja Devarratha by Lord Shiva himself as he was happy with his worship and devoutness. King Devarratha was an ancestor of king Janak and hence Pinaka was passed down to him as an ancestral property. King Janak of Mithila had a daughter named Sita. Earlier in her childhood, princess Sita while playing with her sisters accidentally lifted the table over which the Pinaka was placed, which was something unbelievable as no one in the kingdom could do that. This incident was observed by King Janak and became a base for Swayamvar of princess Sita.


Later, King Janak announced that whomsoever wanted to marry Sita is invited to Mithila and is required to lift the mighty bow Pinaka and string it. Hearing this prince from all over the country gathered including Lord Shri Ram from Ayodhya and king of Lanka Ravana. Finally, Shri Rama broke the Pinaka while attempting to string it during Swayamvar of Sita and thereby winning princess’s hand in marriage.

After the marriage when Dashrath (king of Ayodhya and father of Lord Rama) along with Prince Rama were returning to Ayodhya, Parashuram (6th avtar of Lord Vishnu) blocked their way as he was displeased because he broke his Guru Shiva’s Pinaka. King Dashrath prayed to Parashuram to exonerate Lord Rama but his request was not accepted and he challenged Lord Rama to string the bow and fight. Rama takes the bow, strings it, places the arrow and points it straight at the challenger’s heart. At this point, Parashuram feels his mystical energy and realizes that Lord Rama is the avatar of Vishnu. He accepts that Rama was superior. Lord Rama takes Sharanga from Parashuram and gives it to Varuna, Lord of oceans for safe keeping.

Among many tales, there is a tale which is mentioned in the 75th sarga of Bala Kanda of Ramayana. This was narrated by Parashuram to Lord Rama before challenging him to String sharanga. Devas wanted to test the superiority of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva so they asked Lord Brahma to decide who is more powerful. This intent of Devas started to create adversities among the two Lords, Shiva and Vishnu. Owing to their animosity then occurred a fierce and blood-curdling war among Shiva and Vishnu, as each aspired victory for himself. The ‘HMMMM‘ sound generated by Lord Vishnu was so intense and powerful that it  not only overpowered mighty bow of Lord Shiva but also immobilized the three-eyed Mahadev. Thus, mighty bow Pinaka remains useless and Lord Vishnu’s bow Sharanga prevails.

India is a land of diverse culture, numerous heritages and various gods and goddess. The stories might be just beliefs of people or can be real facts. But people believe in them not because of a tale but because of the places that witnessed these events are present even today. In this story, Mithila is the place that witnessed these events and is mentioned in Ramayana which is still present in India and there are evidences that support this legend.

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Pranay Khare

To-Be-Engineer pursuing B.Tech from NIT Bhopal

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