Shiva’s Pinaka

- January 4, 2021


By Shivam Pathania

Illustration: Ram Waeerkar

Lord Shiva’s bow, known as the Pinaka, was one of the two bows that Vishwakarma had created for Shiva and Vishnu. Shiva first used the weapon to destroy the three impregnable cities of Maya, Tripura, and put an end to the evil asuras Tarakaksha, Vidyunmalin and Kamalaksha. Lord Shiva had used Vasuki, the snake he wears as a garland, as the string of Pinaka. The day Shiva destroyed the three cities is celebrated as Kartik Purnima.

Illustration: Zoheb Akbar

The bow also has had a key role in the Ramayana. Pinaka was passed down in King Janaka’s dynasty, who was Sita’s father. Once, while playing with her sisters, a young Sita lifted the bow with ease. King Janaka was astonished to see such a miracle as it took several strong grown men to lift the bow, but his young daughter had done the deed effortlessly. And so, he decided that he would marry his daughter to someone who could also lift the divine bow. Years later, King Janaka organised a swayamwar for his daughter and invited princes from all distant kingdoms. The king announced to the assembly of princes that whoever of the bunch could string the divine Pinaka, would be granted the permission to marry his daughter Sita. Several men tried the challenge but all of them failed miserably. They could barely move the heavy bow. Finally, prince Rama of Ayodhya, the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu, was able to lift the divine Pinaka, and while trying to put a string to the bow, he snapped the bow into two. King Janaka announced Rama as the winner of the swayamwar, and wed his daughter to the prince as promised.

Read the complete six-volume set of Valmiki’s Ramayana on the ACK Comics app and Kindle. The collection is also available on Flipkart, Amazon, and other major e-tailers. 

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