Bows from Hindu mythology: Gandiva – a bow created by Brahma and used by Arjuna during the Kurukshetra war

Gandiva (IAST: Gāṇḍīva; Sanskrit: गाण्डीव) is the bow of Arjuna, one of the pandavas from Hindu epic Mahabharata and was made by Brahma.


Agni, the God of fire, wanted to devour the forest of Khandavaprastha, to regain his power and splendour. He had enlisted the help of the two heroes, Krishna and Arjuna. Arjuna was one of the best and greatest archer of all time, and demanded from Agni a bow which would suit his strength, skill and the power of celestial weapons.

Agni provided the heroes with the desired weapons. He gave the Gandiva bow to Arjuna, as well as two quivers which would provide an inexhaustible number of arrows.

The weapon was dreaded by many during the Kurukshetra war, having defeated and killed many great warriors and the gods themselves.


The Gandiva gives the wielder self confidence, self belief . The bow was well adorned and endued with great energy and is said to equivalent to a hundred thousand bows, it was also incapable of being damaged and was worshiped by the celestials and the Gandharvas.

Return to the gods

At the end of the Dwapara yuga, Krishna departed the mortal world and left for Vaikuntha. Arjuna could not string the bow, or remember the spells necessary in order to summon his celestial weapons. Later the pandavas retired and journeyed to the himalayas. On their route, Agni came and asked Arjuna to return the Gandiva to varuna {the god of sea},for it belonged to him. Arjuna obliged and dropped them in the waters of the sea. Thus the celestial bow was returned to the gods.

This artifact is a part of SwordTemple Library

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