All About Divine Bows - Gandiva, Sharanga, Pinaka, Vijaya and Kodanda

All About Divine Bows - Gandiva, Sharanga, Pinaka, Vijaya and Kodanda

All About Divine Bows - Gandiva, Sharanga, Pinaka, Vijaya and Kodanda

Our epics Ramayana and Mahabharata mention multiple divine bows used by great warriors. In this post we will cover the stories of these bows, how they were created and then passed on to various warriors across yugas. 


Brahmadev instructed Devashilpi Vishwakarma to design a divine unbreakable bow for himself. This bow was created using the wood that grew on top of Kandu rishi, when he was performing penance for many years.

This bow had 108 strings and could not be broken. Brahmadev kept that bow with himself for 1000 years before handing it over to Daksha Prajapati. Daksha Prajapati kept it for 503 years and then handed it over to Indra. Indra kept it for 85 years, then passed it on to Chandradev. Chandradev kept the divine bow with himself for 500 years before handing it over to Varunadev.

It was in possession of Varunadev for 100 years before he gave the bow along with two inexhaustible quivers to Arjuna, in order to help him in allowing Agni to burn the Khandav forest. During the Matsya war Arjuna had already held it for 65 years.

Arjuna kept this divine bow with himself for his entire life and returned it to Varuna Dev before going to Himalaya with Draupadi and his brothers.

Sharanga and Pinaka

Once Brahmadev decided to find out who among Vishnu ji and Shiv ji was a better archer. He proposed to have them compete in a duel to showcase their prowess. There were no bows, which could match the skills of both the Gods. Brahmadev requested Devashilpi Vishwakarma to create two divine bows, which were strong enough to match the skills of both the Gods and would not break during the duel.

Vishwakarma designed Sharanga bow for Vishnu ji and Pinaka for Mahadev. When the duel between the two Gods started, it threatened the very existence of the universe created by Brahmadeva. The duel was stopped when Vishnu ji caused a tear in the Pinaka with his humkar.

Mahadev gave away the Pinaka bow to Devarat Janak, an ancestor of Siradhwaj Janaka, Sita ji's father. This bow of Mahadev was worshipped in Mithila for many generations before Shriram broke the bow. Bhagwan Vishnu gave away Sharanga bow to Bhrigu rishi's son Richika, who then passed it on to his son Rishi Jamadagni. Jamadagni rishi passed on this divine bow to his son Parashuram.

When Bhagwan Parashuram met Shriram after he broke the divine bow of Mahadev Pinaka, he angrily gave the Sharanga bow to Shriram asking him to demonstrate his prowess on that divine bow. Shriram used the Sharanga bow to destroy Bhagwan Parashuram's ego and then gave it to Varuna dev.


This was another unbreakable bow of Mahadev which he gave to Bhagwan Parashuram. Bhagwan Parashuram used this bow during his battle with Kartavirya Arjuna.
In Mahabharata two of Parashuram's disciples claim to have received this divine bow from their guru - Karna and Rukmi. Karna is popularly accepted as the holder of this divine bow of Mahadev during the Mahabharata era.
What happened to this divine bow after Mahabharata is not clearly stated anywhere however considering Varuna is the guardian of all these divine weapons it would be a safe assumption that this bow also returned to Varuna's armory.
Kodanda is another word for a bow, however this is commonly used to refer to the divine bow used by Shriram.
As per Aranya Kanda of Shri Valmiki Ramayana when Shriram visited the ashram of rishi Agastya during his exile, rishi Agastya gave him multiple weapons including a divine bow.
This divine bow was used by Shriram during his battle against Ravana and it was the Brahmastra given by rishi Agastya that he used to finally put an end to Ravana.
Disclaimer: We have used Shri Valmiki Ramayana and Gita Press edition of Mahabharata as source for this post.