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The Vajra: Powerful Ancient Weapon Of The Gods

The Vajra: Powerful Ancient Weapon Of The Gods

According to the Hindu mythology, Vajra is the weapon of Indra, the thunder deity. In Sanskrit, the word ‘Vajra’ means both thunderbolt and diamond. It is told that the weapon Vajra possesses the indestructibility of the diamond and irresistible force of the thunderbolt. The Vajra is said to have the ability to open stargates to other planets.

The myths surrounded Vajra

According to Rig-Veda, two evil Asuras named Namuchi and Vritra invaded the Earth and stole all the lights and moisture, leaving the land dry. Indra tried to beat them, but he was unsuccessful as no weapon, solid or liquid could kill them. To defeat them, Indra went to Vishnu, one of the supreme Gods, seeking help. Vishnu instructed Tvashta, the divine carpenter to make a weapon which is neither liquid nor robust.

The Vajra: Powerful Ancient Weapon Of The GodsLeft: Vajra in Mayan Art/Right:Yamantaka is the "lord of death" deity in Vajrayana Buddhism, above riding a water buffalo

This new weapon, Vajra, could emit thunderbolts. With this new weapon, Indra electrocuted both Namuchi and Vritra to return light and moisture back to earth.

The Purana also have the modified version of the same story. In this revised version, the Vajra was made from the bones donated by the sage Dadhichi.

According to the traditional images of Vajra, it’s a shaft made of metal with five or nine prongs emitted from the either ends. As per old description of Vajra by Rig-Veda, the Vajra of Indra had open prongs.

The Vajra: Powerful Ancient Weapon Of The Gods

Vajra in Greek Mythology

In the western world, the thunderbolt is most readily associated with the Greek sky god Zeus. With it, he defeated the Titans and took control of the Greek pantheon. Myth tells us, that Zeus freed the Cyclopes, the master builders, who were imprisoned in the depths of the underworld – Tartarus.

In gratitude for their release, they gave him a marvelous weapon, the thunderbolt. In another story, Zeus used his formidable weapon to battle the largest and most fearsome creatures in all of Greek mythology, the hundred-headed serpent Typhon. Early images of Zeus depict show him holding a rod like thunderbolt while others show this deadly weapon with its ends splayed into three prongs.

The Vajra: Powerful Ancient Weapon Of The GodsZeus depicted holding a rod like thunderbolt

Vajra in Buddhism

The Vajrayana Buddhism adapted the symbol of Vajra and transformed it into the symbol of peace. It is told that the Buddha himself took the weapon from Indra and closed the prongs to convert it into a peaceful sceptre.

buddha-1Vajra in the hand of the Buddha

Vajra in Sumerian Culture

A vajra-like weapon also appears in Sumerian cosmology. Its use is recorded in the Babylonian Epic of Creation, the Enuma Elish. A battle between the sky god Marduk (Bel) and serpent Tiamat is detailed on the fourth tablet of this ancient document.  The evil and powerful Tiamat, according to the Enuma Elish, was devising treacherous plans against Ea and the other reigning gods.

 The gods were afraid to invoke her evil wrath and search for a solution. Ea attempts to confront Tiamat, but instead of fighting backs down. Marduk, his son, steps forward and volunteers to fight the enraged serpent, on one condition… If he is successful, he will have dominion over the entire universe.

The Vajra: Powerful Ancient Weapon Of The GodsImages of this epic scene show Marduk - late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia, holding a three tipped scepter in his hand

Did anything of this highly sophisticated ancient heritage survive until today?

The Vajra: Powerful Ancient Weapon Of The GodsDifferent types of vajras. From left to right: 五鈷杵 gokosho, 独鈷杵 tokkosho, 金剛盤 kongōban, 三鈷杵 sankosho and 五鈷鈴 gokorei.

In Tibet it is called Dorje, in Japan – kongose, in China – dzingansi and Mongolia – Ochir. This is an important ritual object in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. We often see the vajra in the Buddha’s hand. Vajra represents a religious symbol like the cross for Christians and the crescent for Muslims.

According to early Vedic texts the substance of vajra fully controls devious influences, including heavenly demons and outside ways. The light, which is the characteristic mark of vajra, has the power to break up all darkness, yet protects itself from all destruction.

According to ancient traditions, Vajra itself is a thunder of a thousand blades forged from iron, or gold mixed with bronze or stone.

This powerful device could not only destroy the enemy in form of attacking flying machine, but it also had the ability to cause rain and was a symbol of fertility.

The Vajra: Powerful Ancient Weapon Of The Gods
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