Sergei Schmalz schms060 at MAIL.UNI-MAINZ.DE
Thu Feb 3 17:18:37 UTC 2000

Dear Sergei Tawaststjerna,
please accept my respectful greetings.

> In Raghuvamza (3.31) Kalidasa wrote that Rama learnt the science of
> missiles with their incantations from his father (azikSatAstraM
> pitureva mantravat). Mallinatha explains 'mantravat' as
> 'samantrakam astram AgneyAdikam'. Does it mean that there were
> specific mantras for kshatriyas, or does he mean some Vedic mantras?
> Were these mantras used before or during the battle? Of what kind
> were these mantras (may be curse or abuse towards enemies)? Are
> there any surviving texts? Monier-Williams dictionary gives
> 'AgneyAstra' as a tantric formula (?).

        Although I have no proof, but I guess the mantras mentioned in Raghuvamsa
are those from Dhanur Veda. At least according to the tradition, when a
ksatriya releases an arrow he utters a particular mantra in order to invoke
a particular deity who presides over particular "spells of nature". Thus,
for example, I can shoot an arrow "accompanied" with fire (to burn my
enemy), for this purpose, most probably, I need to invoke Agnideva, who is
the Fire himself. To counteract such an arrow, one has to shoot an arrow
"accompanied" with water (to extinguish the fire), I need to invoke,
probably, Varuna. So, it works like this. Even the so-called brahmastra
requires a mantra uttered by the archer and can be counteracted by another
brahmastra only (compare Bhagavata Purana, first Canto).
        I hope this helps somehow.

With best wishes,
Sergei Schmalz.

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