Tuesday, October 1, 2013




Ayudha Puja is popular only in South India mainly in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.  Most of the times, it falls on Mahaa Navami during Navratri. Ayudha Pooja is also known as Shastra Pooja and Astra Pooja. Historically Ayudha Pooja was meant to worship weapons but in its present form all sort of instruments are worshiped on the very same day. You come across in Puraanas many instances where warriors are trained in Astras and Sastras,  named after  different deities like Brahmaastra, Naaraayanaastra, by administering mantras by Gurus like Drona, Viswamitra etc. This in turn warrants worship of weapons by the warrior. In South India it is a day when craftsmen worship their tools and instruments similar to Vishwakarma Pooja in Northern parts of India. In its modern form Ayudha Pooja has extended even to Vaahana Puja. All sorts of vehicles, which are in use, are decorated with vermilion, garlands, mango leaves and banana sapling and worshipped. During Aayudha Pooja and Vaahana Pooja a white pumpkin is decorated with vermilion and turmeric and smashed in front before the worship starts as a custom to get rid of all sorts of evils, symbolic of an animal sacrifice, an ancient tradition.   
With modern science making a lasting impact on the scientific knowledge and industrial base in India, the ethos of the old religious order is retained extending it to the most recent powerful information scientific tool, the worship of computers which has revolutionized the modern industry, a cross cultural development, during the Aayudha Pooja, in the same manner as practiced in the past for weapons of warfare.   
In South India most calendars mark Saraswati Pooja along with Ayudha Pooja on Navami Day.  However according to most Dharma Saastras, Saraswati Pooja during Navratri on Poorva Aashaadha Nakshatra day is considered sacred.
All tools and implements of vocation are first cleaned. All the tools, machines, vehicles and other devices are then painted or well-polished after which they are smeared with turmeric paste, sandalwood paste in the form of a tilak (insignia or sacred mark) and Kumkum (vermillion). Then, in the evening, previous to the pooja day, they are placed on an earmarked platform and decorated with flowers. In the case of weapons of war, they are also cleaned, bedecked with flowers and tilak and placed in a line, adjacent to a wall. On the morning of the puja that is on the Navami day, they are all worshipped along with the images of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Durga. Books and musical instruments are also placed on the pedestal for worship. On the day of the pooja, these are not to be disturbed. The day is spent in worship and Bhajans.  In Kerala this Pooja is known as Pujaveppu, meaning the start of the worship. The closing day festival on Vijaya Dasmi Day is called poojae-eduppu or close of the worship. Tools are not disturbed after the commencement Pooja till the closing Pooja is completed. Aayudha poojaa also starts with the breaking of a white pumpkin decorated with vermilion, turmeric and burning camphor after invoking the presiding deity or Ganesha for the success of the worship warding off all sorts of evils. Cocoanut is also similarly broken. After the closing Pooja machines are started crushing a lemon between any running part or gear system in the machine again to ward off evil.  Kalasa pooja and special prayer to tools and machines are the essential part of the worship, usually conducted by the priest or the establishment owner or a senior-most worker. In Kerala Aayudha pooja is observed with great reverence and several martial art forms and folk dances are also performed that day being an industrial holiday with all round participation of labor and management.
Karnataka is known for its Dasara Procession on Vijayadasami Day. In the erstwhile Mysore state of the Maharajas of Mysore, the ancient Dussehara festival started as a family tradition within the precincts of the palace. The Royal family performs the Aayudh Pooja as a part of the Dussehara Rituals and Festivals, inside the palace grounds. The rituals observed are first to worship the weapons on the Mahaanavami day (9th day), followed by the tradition of breaking a pumpkin (Kooshmaanda) in the palace grounds. After this, weapons are carried in a golden palanquin to the Bhuvaneshwari temple for worship. The tradition of the festival is traced to the Vijayanagara Empire (1336 A.D. to 1565 A.D.), when it became a Naada Habba (or people's festival). Raja Wodeyar I (1578–1617) who was viceroy to the Vijayanagar ruler, with his seat of power in Mysore, reintroduced the Vijayanagar practice of celebrating the Dasara festival, in 1610 A.D. He set standards on how to celebrate the Navaratri with devotion and grandeur. After a gala nine days of durbar, the Maharaja performs a pooja in a temple in the palace precincts, which is followed by a grand procession through the main thoroughfares of the Mysore city to the Bannimantap on a caparisoned elephant. The Banni-mantap is the place where the Maharaja worships the traditional Shami or Banni Tree (Prosopis spicigera); the legend of this tree is traced to the Mahabharata legend of Arjuna (where he had hidden his weapons of war). The significance of the Shami tree worship is to seek blessings of the tree (where Lord Rama is also said to have worshipped) for success in the desired avocations (including war campaigns). This festival is also celebrated with lot of fanfare throughout the state including  all villages. In the rural areas, every village and community observes this festival with fervor but there have been conflicts on several occasions as to which community has the first right to perform the Pujas. Generally, the Aayudha pooja in villages begins with sacrifice of sheep and smearing the bullock carts with sheep blood. Maharajas have vanished but the grandeur of Dasara celebrations continues. Durga idol has replaced Maharaja on the caparisoned elephant.
The principal Shakti goddesses worshipped during the Aayudha pooja are Saraswati (the Goddess of wisdom, arts and literature), Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth) and Durga, the   Formidable (the divine mother), apart from various types of equipment. It is on this occasion soldiers worship their weapons and artisans revere the tools on which they depend. The Pooja is considered a meaningful custom, which focuses specific attention to one’s profession.  The presiding deity for Aayudhapooja during Navaratri is Goddess Durga. The presiding Deity for the worship of musical instruments, tools employed in arts and crafts is Saraswati. Aayudhapooja on Viswakarma Day is presided over by Lord Viswakarma who is none other than the Creator. The Pooja is considered significant which focuses specific attention to one’s profession and related tools and connotes that a divine force is working behind it to perform well and to reap the best benefit. The idea in worshiping a vehicle on this day is the divine force behind it    ensures safety and best performance behind the wheels. In fact a vehicle pooja is conducted whenever a new vehicle is bought praying for road safety and efficient service. The social fabric in India, more so in the South and specifically in Kerala, is so knitted that no celebration or work   or even activity ever starts without invoking the divine.
All Hindu religious festivals are associated with Hindu mythology and Puraanic stories. The demons have extra-ordinary strength during nights. So the Divine Mother fought with Bhandasura for nine nights and killed him. After his annihilation Devi had no use for these formidable weapons and so bid Farewell to Arms bringing peace and tranquility.  This incidence of farewell to arms is celebrated as Aaayudha Pooja.  In Karnataka this is associated with the battle of Chamundeswari against Mahishaasura that culminated in his death after whom the City of Mysore is named as per his death wish. Mysore is the corrupted version of Mahishapura or Buffalo city. We are all familiar how the ending of World War II was celebrated as a Great Day of Farewell to Arms. Sri Rama before fighting Ravana invoked Goddess Durga to get Her blessings for the success of his powerful weapons in the war fought against the formidable enemy. Ravana had boons granted by Brahma with extra-ordinary immunity against weapons and powerful enemies. Rama worshiped Durga on the Aayudhapoojaa Day.
It is said that Arjuna, third of the five Pandava brothers, retrieved his weapons of war from the hole in the Samee  tree where he had hidden them including Gandeeva in a dead corpse to scare away thieves from stealing,  before proceeding on to the forced exile. After completing his exile period of 13 years which included one year of Ajnyaatavaasa (living incognito) before embarking on the war path against the Kauravas he retrieved his weapons. In the Kurukshetra war that ensued, Arjuna was victorious. Pandavas returned on Vijayadasami day to their normal lives after being victorious by vanquishing Kaurava and his formidable army. Duryodhana earlier suspecting Pandavas to be hiding in Viraata Nagara launched on a provocative war by stealing away the entire cow wealth of Virata. He never realized that Pandavas by then had fulfilled their promise a day before. It was his wrong calculation; probably being poor in math but strong in muscles. Since then it is believed that Vijayadasmi day is auspicious to begin any new venture. This successful culmination of Ajnyaatavasa and recovery of weapons from the hiding and their worship by Arjuna is commemorated as Aayudhapooja celebration by Hindus, a day prior to the festival day of Vijayadasami.
Another legend speaks of a pre-battle ritual involving human sacrifice as part of the Aayudha Pooja (considered a sub-rite of Dussehra festival that starts after the rainy season and is propitiated before launching military campaigns). This practice is no more prevalent. Now, instead of a human sacrifice, buffalo or sheep sacrifice is in vogue, in some Hindu lower communities. The past practice is narrated in the Tamil version of Mahabharata epic. In this ritual, prevalent then in Tamil Nadu, ‘Kalapalli’ was a “sacrifice to the battlefield”, which involved human sacrifice before and after battles. Duryodhana, the Kaurava chief was advised by his astrologer, Sahadeva that the propitious time for performing Kalapalli was on Amavasya day (New Moon day), one day before the start of Kurukshetra war.  Iravan (son of Arjuna), also called Aravan, had agreed to be sacrificed. But Krishna, the benefactor of Pandavas smelt trouble and he devised a plan to persuade Iravan to be the representative of the Pandavas and also of the Kauravas. Krishna stuck at a compromise that Yudhishtira being the eldest among both the parties, to perform the sacrifice of Aravan to goddess Kali as part of Aayudha Pooja. The outcome of this sacrifice was Kaali blessed Pandavas alone for the victory in the Kurukshetra war.  This practice continued for long in Karnataka but came to an end when human sacrifice was altogether abolished like Sati.
Typical Mantras used for Aaayudhapooja and Kalas pooja read as follows;
.Aayudha prārthana -
sarvāyudhānāṁ prathamaṁ nirmitāsi pinākinā |
śūlāyudhān viniṣkr̥tya kr̥tvā muṣṭhigrahaṁ śubhaṁ |
churike rakṣamāṁ nityaṁ śāṁtiṁ yacca namōstu tē |

Svasankalpakalaa-kalair-aayudhaesvarah |
Jushtah shoedasabhir-divyair-jushatam vah  parah  pumaan ||
[May that Supreme Person, Lord of all weapons, associated with sixteen divine weapons which are comparable to his thoughts, bless you! ]

Astragraamyasya kritsnasya prasootimyam prachakshatae |
Soe-avyaat Sudarsanoe viswam aayudhaih Shodasaayudhah ||
[May the sixteen-weaponed Sudarsana, who is said to be the source of all kinds of weapons, protect the world! ]

Kalaśa prārthana -
dēvadānavasaṁvādē madhyamānāṁ mahōdadhau |
utpannōsi tadā kuṁbha vidhr̥tō viṣṇu svayaṁ |
tvayi tiṣṭaṁti bhūtāni tvayi prāṇā: pratiṣṭitā: |
tvatprasādāt imaṁ yajñaṁ kartumihē jalōd ||

Gange cha yamune chaiva godaavari sarsvati |
Narmade sindhu kaaveri jale-asmin sannidhim kuru ||

Imam may gange  yamune sarsvati sutudristoemagam sachataa purishniyaa |
Asakniyaa marudvridhe vitasyarjikeeye srinuhaa sushoemayaa ||
[Oh Ganga, Yamuna, Sarasvati, Shutudri, Marud-vriddhaa along with the river Parushni, Aarjikeeye along with Asikni, do come here along with Vitasta and Sushoema river. Having come upon here, please listen to this prayer in praise offered by me!]
Aayudha Pooja is considered as auspicious worship of the tools, invoking the deity for the industrial progress, industrial peace and success of business. Business houses and industrial units celebrate it ardently and reverentially. It is a declared paid holiday for all workers in all Southern States. Workers also often pampered with Bonus or cash/clothing rewards and receive liberal mouth-watering prasaadam (blessed food) parcels to carry home.
What started as the worship of the weaponry and worship of presiding deities of powerful weaponry by early Hindu warrior devotees got extended to all tools, equipment and machinery of common man invoking the blessings of their favorite deities for their effective use, safety and usefulness for life and health of the industry culminating in the worship of most recent and vital tool Computer. It may not be out of place to mention here that efficacy of a powerful weapon like Brahmaasatra depended on the proper invocation of the mantra to the presiding deity of the Astra before discharge to fulfill its function. Even a blade of Kusa grass made the grass as sharp as a steel blade to cut through the body capable of killing by a powerful mantra as we learn from Puraanas. Worship of tools had the blessings of great saints and religious scholars as seen in Panchaayudha Stotra and Shoedsaayudha Stotra of Vedanta Desika and several slokas and mantras on Vishnu’s discus Sudarsan. Vishnu’s discus is often personified and worshiped, both as an Aaayudha Purusha and as an independent deity. Sudarsana is referred as Lord of Weapons and he is supposed to wield 16 weapons, himself being a formidable weapon. Krishna sought Sudarsana’s help several times during his life time in his task of protecting the innocent and annihilating the evil (paritraanaaya sadhoonaam vinaasaayacha dushkritaam). It is believed that Sudarsana assisted by his 16 weapons is protecting the world. Krishna even thought of using it as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) to wipe out the entire Kaurava army but was wisely prevented by Bheeshama. The first atomic bomb exploded in Hiroshima brought an end to World war II, USA playing the role of big daddy if not God, supposedly to  save the world.  Many weapons were named after the god celebrities useful for protecting Dharma when needed.  Hence Weapon Worship as part of Aayudhapooja is popular and traditional from days of yore. One often wonders why Sudarsana is not invoked as the presiding deity of Aayudhapooja in Hindu Temples.  All the weapons including Trident of Siva and the goad of Gnesha are born out of Sudarsana as mentioned in Shoedsaayudha Stotra. It seems Siva learnt the mantra for the effective use of his trident born out of Sudarsana from Sudarsana alone as revealed in Ahirbudhnaya Samhita.

Purushasookta of Rigveda describes Viswakarma as Virat purusha   in the following hymn Viswakarmanahs  samamavartataadri |  tasya tvashtaa vidhaad roopameti”—  Virat Purusha born out of the greatness of Parampuruasha, Viswakarma, the Creator. The Paramapurusha known as Tvashtaa engaged himself in the act of creating.
Puraanas say Viswakarma is a divine celebrity born during Samudra Mathana, churning of the ocean along with Lakshmi. Sthapatya Veda, the science of mechanics and architecture is attributed to him. The temple architects in South India are known as Stapathis and are graced with temple honors first while inaugurating a New Temple after its construction with special Kumbhaabhishekam Pooja.   Viswakarma is also said to be Lord of Creation and Universal Architect. He is hailed as Divine Carpenter who sculpted Lord Jagannatha and Puri Temple. Puranas hail him as the architect of Lanka, Hastinapura, Indraprastha, and Dwaraka.  He was there during Rama,s wedding for the erection of wedding stage of the warrior brothers. He was the architect of the magical hall Maya to the envy of Kauravas in Indraprastha. According to Lalitapurana Viswakarma, the engineer of the Gods built Sripura on the Mount Meru for her sake where she resides with her spouse Kaameswara. Aiyappan temple in Sabarimali is said to have been built by Viswakarma. In Puri Jagannath he sculpted the icons which he left unfinished. He is the designer of various weapons to Gods. He is in fact believed to be the Designer of the entire Universe.  Nala the famous builder of Setu in Ramayana is his son trained in father’s profession.
Viswakarma means, one who is responsible for all activities and accomplishments. He is more often than not identified as Brahman as the Viswakarma idol reveals. ` Brahma is the source, the seed of all that is. He is, as his very name indicates, boundless immensity, from which space, time and causation originates names and forms spring up. Philosophically he is the first stage of manifestation of the notion of individual existence (Ahankaara). Theologically, he is the uncreated creator (Svyambhu), the self-born person. He has several designations which are as instructive as they are interesting. From the cosmological point of view he is the Golden Embryo hailed in Vedas as Hiranyagarbha, the ball of fire (Aaditya) from which the universe develops. Since all created beings are his progeny, he is Prajaapati, the Lord of progeny, as also Pitaamaha, the patriarch. He is Vidhi, the ordinator, and Lokesa, the master of the worlds, as well as Dhaatri, the sustainer. He is also Viswakarma the architect of the World. 
In spite of the fact that Brahma is God, the Supreme in creative aspect, an important member of Trinity, there are no temples except in Pushkara in Rajasthan in India. Crude reasons are given in Puranaas as to his loss of prestige and Aaagamas in the South have neglected him. Scholars opine that Brahma tradition was predominant in the pre-vedic Hinduism and was suppressed by the later Siva-Vishnu traditions. The Sakta Concept projects that each of the gods Siva and Vishnu are having his Sakti and Power as his consort; creation proceeds out of the combination of the God and his Sakti.  These powerful lobbies have made Brahma superfluous and ridiculous in Puraanas.
In Temples exclusively dedicated to Brahma, his aspect as Viswakarma, the architect of the Universe is adopted. In this form he is shown as having four heads, four arms holding the rosary, the book, the Kusa and the sacrifice ladles and the water pot, and riding on his swan. Those who diplomatically dismissed him from temple worship however were afraid to completely discard him and face his wrath. Every temple, be it Siva or Vishnu, must have a niche in the northern wall for Brahma, and his image must receive worship every day since he is an important Parivaaradevataaa (attendant of the Chief–deity) hence there should be no inhibition as to his worship even by strict followers of Aaagam or Sakta form of worship.   He was the first known priest for all sacrifices mentioned in Vedas. It is customary to respect presiding priest in all Hindu rituals as Brahma (Brahmatvam) himself. He was the first Braahmana and all priests are supposed to be called Brahmanas. They do not get that title by mere birth right but by gaining proficiency in the study of Vedas.
Brahma, the Creator and Sarasvati, his consort, are subject to several stories in our Puraanas which can be summarized briefly as follows:
1.      Brahma was born out of Hiranyagarbha (Golden egg) in the boundless waters. His consort was Sarasvati his own manifestation. From their union were born all creatures of the world.
2.      Brahma represents Vedas and Sarasvati their meaning and spirit. All knowledge para and Apara (secular and spiritual) emerged from them.
3.      Brahma became a wild boar and raised the earth from the waters and created the world, the sages and Prajapati.  Vaishnavites made it an act of Vishnu, a minor deity of Vedic period who was raised to the present day status.
4.      The forms of fish and tortoise have been attributed Brahma which were later considered as Avatars of Vishnu.
5.      The great rishis are his mind-born children (Atri, Angeerasa, Mareechi etc.)
6.      Manu, the first man, the Adam of the Aryan race is his grand-son.
7.      He is the inventor of Theatrical art, Music, Dance and Stage-craft.
8.      He was the chief priest who performed the marriage of Siva and Parvati.
9.      He is the God the Supreme in the creative aspect and equally important member of Trinity.
10.  He is Viswakarma the architect of the Universe and responsible for all accomplishments as the name suggests (Viswa=all; karma=doings)
Pushakara, the holy city where Brahma is worshiped is hailed in many Puraanas and Epics--Mahaabhaarata, Vanapuraana, Padmapuraana, Aadikhaanda etc. Once while Brahma, the Creator, was moving in a forest with lotus in hand, he found a demon Vajra-naabha by name whom he killed with his lotus, after converting it into a formidable weapon through mantras. Hence the place came to be known as Pushkara meaning lotus. The lotus in his hand rebounded at three places before killing the demon. All these three places became lakes, respectively known as Jyeshta Pushkara, Madhya Pushkara and Kanishtha Pushkara whose presiding deities are Brahmaa, Visnhnu and Siva indicating these are Vyaahritis (emanations) of Parabrahman. Similar to Durga legend the weapon of Brahma is propitiated in special worship on special days. In fact all weapons in use are worshipped for prosperity, to be helpful and protective on AayudhaPooja day. During Navartatri Aayudha Pooja Day the presiding deity is Durga and during Viswakarma Day the presiding deity is the Creator himself as the designer and custodian of weapons for all purposes and end uses.
The popular Viswakarma Day is celebrated by many traditions in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Bengal, Jharkand, Tripura etc.,   It is celebrated in the same pattern as Aayudha pooja in temples, homes and industrial premises but on a grand scale with obeisance to Creator, besides tools and machinery with active labor participation with Bhajans all day long enjoying the holiday in September. UP and some other States in India celebrate this on Balipaadyami Day during Diwali festival Week. Followers of Lunar Hindu calendar celebrate this significant day on September 17th every year, the same month as Labor Day in USA which celebrates it on first Monday of September. As we all know this day is celebrated with all merriment and reverence more so in factories and industrial areas, like Aayudhapooja celebrated on the eighth-day of Navaratri Celebrations at homes and industrial establishments. It is also customary to fly kites on this day in order to make the Universe of his creation colorful and significant. Workers on this day worship all their tools and installations pleading for industrial safety, smooth running of plant and machines throughout the year and industrial welfare and prosperity.  
Worshiping tools of every day need stretching to computers of recent origin, started with the worship of the powerful weapon Sudarsana Chakra and Trident. These are used rarely even by the Lord unless warranted to preserve Dharma, destroying the evil and to protect the helpless. Sudarsana-Chakra is personified as guardian-angel and Aayudha-purusha protecting the World. Ganesha does it in a small capacity with his goad. America living in a Material World has not lagged behind. It acts as a guardian-angel, preserver of peace by its own creation of Atom bomb. The first bomb brought the end to World War II and since then world dictators have not made bold to start World War III even though there are threats in pockets for long. Even America is afraid morally if not physically. It is not a bad idea to venerate our tools once a year and conduct special worship in temples. It is much more meaningful to follow the North Indian Tradition of worshiping the Creator, tools and industrial installations together on a National Holiday with house cleaning and annual maintenance praying for industrial peace, progress and prosperity.
India along with 80 other countries celebrates Labor Day honoring labor force and dignity of labor on Mauy 1 every year. This has not caught the imagination of Hindu worship in temples in India. Nor do churches and mosques.  USA celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of September based on the practice of its labor union CLU. This day is a National Holiday. Christian churches conduct mass prayers for industrial safety, labor welfare, industrial peace and prosperity on this day. Strangely Hindu Temples in America do not celebrate Aayudha Puja in Temples and also at homes by and large. But they do celebrate Sarasvati Pooja worshiping books and musical instruments. Many Hindu Americans do not fail to worship their new Vehicles with special prayers in temples, particularly South Indians. Probably this is extended to their computers too as this has become a part and parcel of their lives.  Hindu American Temple Complexes keep open all day and even conduct special worship with mouth-watering Prasadam to attract holiday crowds on the Labor Day.  It makes it therefore more sense to dedicate this memorable day to the Creator and pay our obeisance honoring Viswakarma and the tools as is done in many States of India in September. This day could also be combined on the Labor Day Day.  Since Viswakarma day falls on different days with different tradition.  American Hindus may start to celebrate the same on Labor Day joining the local culture of mass worship in churches supplementing with mass worship in Hindu Temple complexes. For Aayudha Pooja if celebrated during Navaraatri Celebrations, Sudarsana could be the presiding deity as Aayudha Purusha.  Sudarsana Homa is the most popular sacred Homa in all Vishnu Temples like Ganesha Homa in Siva temples. As temple complexes cater to different traditions both Homas could be performed invoking Viswa Shanti (Peace on Earth) on Labor Day.
Hindus worship weapons, tools in South India (Aayudha Pooja. It is a Labor Holiday In South India under Shops and Establishments Act.  Worship of Universal Crafts Person (Viswakarma) is  in the North  and is a declared holiday for all factories and shops. Declaration of these two days as a holiday for labor force in India ties up strongly with Labor Day worship in Hindu temples of America.  Let us examine these celebrations broadly.
In North India, Labor Day and Aayudha Pooja Day concepts are combined together   prominence being given to the Universal Man behind the tools--Viswakarma with his tools. He is a favorite of labor force and considered as their Guru if not the leader. His  Murtis (icons) match with that of Brahma. So He and the working tools are worshiped together. This worship extends to factories and machines as in Aaydhapooja in the South.
In the South commercial enterprises largely remain in the hands of non -Vaishnavites. Majority   labor force is Saivism oriented. Hence Ganesha is elevated as the the presiding deity on Aayudhapooja days. Ganesha is popularly seen with his powerful tool, goad used to drive elephants. Symbolically this represents the tool to goad people out of their ego. Thus Ganesa represents Viswakarma, his goad represents tools.   Sudarsana who is hailed as Aayudha Purusha and is in control of all Aayudhas in the World has gone to the background, who remains popular with Vaishnavites who are mostly study oriented. But many do not know that Sudarsana is the origin of goad which is in the hands of Ganesa. There are many powerful slokas on Sudarsana and he is a popular deity on Rathanvedi in Jagannatha Temple in Orissa too.  Education oriented South Indian Brahmins however have taken to Saraswati worship restricting their worship to books, and, musical and art instruments which are tools for artists. May be computer will join them too! Labor is honored by declaring Aayudhapooja Day and Viswakarma Day as Regional Labor Holiday for all factories industrial establishments and shops in India.
However highly educated or materialistic a Hindu American may be, he never fails to rush to a temple to get a pooja done for his new car. Many Hind Americans fix their chosen deity-icon on the panel in front of the steering wheel. They start driving only after paying due reverence and prayer to the deity  with the hope that the Good Lord  will take care of their safety on the road. He starts working on his new computer only after a pooja, may be also before starting his work daily, if he is not an atheist. Hindu Temples Complexes in America though have their reasoning, do not fail to keep the temple open all day long with special worship on Labor Day which is a National Holiday which all American Hindus celebrate and enjoy. The concept of Aayudha (Tool) and Labor thinking together cannot be easily dismissed. Hindu Americans however do not observe separate Aayudha pooja during Navaratri Celebrations as they rarely own commercial and industrial units which remain with Western culture or dominated by their culture. So they combine Aayudhapooja with Sarasvati Pooja as indirect or casual worship restricting to musical instruments, artists’ tools and perhaps computers and I-pads.  Why not then combine all these concepts and celebrate Labor Day in Hindu Temples dedicating the Day to Lord Viswakarma or the Creator? This will appeal to all traditions; to South Indians as Ayudha Pooja and to North Indians as Viswakarma Pooja. This will help blending with the major culture of the land. While Christians have Labor Day Mass worship in churches Hindus will have special Labor Day Worship in their temples.  We show the way to other cultures too to pitch in as Labor is everybody’s concern. People of Orissa origin will be thrilled to remember Viswaakrma's hands in shaping Jagannath's icon to pay their obeisance on this day, so also Aiyappa worshipers who owe their temple to him! There are a number of temples and deities in India associated with him including cities like Hastinapura, Indraprastha Dwaraka etc. Sudarsana is the inspiration and origin for  all kinds of weapons you see with other Gods—Axe, Spear(Vel), Baton, Goad, Satavakraagni, Sword, Sakti, Paanchajanya, Sarnga Dhanus, Sudarsana, Plough, Thunderbolt, Kaumodaki, Musala (pestle), Trident. The first eight weapons are in his right hand and the  remaining eight on his left hand.  Your attention is also drawn to full text of  Shoedasha-ayudha Stotra  by Vedanta Desika in which he has glorified all the weapons as nothing but Vyahriti of Sriman Narayana.  I have quoted in this discourse only  the sloka that refers to Sudarsana. Sudarsana Homa on this day will be meaningful and significant appealing to Farewell to Arms and seeking Universal Peace. (see slokas below). In modern days Peaceful Nations after having invented atomic bomb have joined together to totally ban the indiscriminate use of nuclear bomb for Human destruction, a self imposed discipline. In Puranic days such mass destruction weapons were in the hands of Gods who knew when to use them but unfortunately nuclear weapons are in the hands of wicked Nations  today  who are bent on human destruction for self preservation.

Though Puranas have reduced Viswakarma to a Devata status as divine architect, Svetasvatara Upanishad says: Esha Devo Visawakarmaa mahaatma sadaa janaanaam hridaye sannivishthahThis   great Lord (Deva) Viswakarma  who is the creator of the universe is always residing in the hearts of the people.  Viswakarma is visualized as Ultimate reality (later developed as Viswa Brahman) in the Rig Veda,  from whose navel all visible things Hiranyagarbha emanate. The same imagery is seen in Yajurveda purusha sukta, in which the divine smith Tvastar emerging from Viswakarma.

Vidhartaaram havaamahey vasoeh kuvidvaanaati nah |Savitaaram nrichakshasam ||
We invoke the Creator of the Universe
Who sustains the creation in many ways and
Who witnesses the thoughts and deeds of men
May He grant us plenty of excellent wealth!
--Mahaanaaraayana Upanishad

Viswakarmaayaa vidmahe | chaturmukhaaya dheemahi | tannoe brahmaaprachoedayaat||
[Let us know Viswakarma. For that, may we meditate upon the Four-faced One. May Brahma impel us towards him!]

Ananyaya-anvaya-bhaktaanaam rundhan-naasaa-matangajaan |
Anankusavihaaroe vah paatu heteesvara-ankusah ||
[May the goad (of Lord Ganesa) of unobstructed movement which prevents the base desires (comparable to elephants in rut) in the devotees who always think of the Lord protect you!]
Soolivrishta-manoer-vaachyoe yena soolayati dvishah |
Bhavataam tena bhavataat trisoolena visoolata ||
[May the Trident with which Sudarsana, who is the import of the mantra discovered by Siva (in the Ahirbudhya Samhitaa), destroys enemies, render you free of all diseases!}
Astragraamsya kritsnasya prasootim yam prachakshate |
Soe- avyaat  sudarsanoe visvam aayudhaih shoedasaayudhah ||
[May the sixteen-weaponed Sudarsana, who is said to be the birthplace of all kinds of weapons, protect the World!]
Sudarsanaaya vidmahe |Mahaajwaalaaya dheemahi | tannah chakrah prachoedayaat ||
[Let us know Sudarsana (the disc of Vishnu)! For that we meditate on Mahaajwaala (the great sacred blaze). May Chakra (the disc) invigorate us!
--Shoedasaayudha Stotra
1.      Swami Harshananda, Hindu Pilgrim Centers,   Sri Ramakrishna Math, Banglore, India.
2.      Swami Sivananda, Hindu Fasts and Festivals, Divine Life Society, Uttranchal, India.
3.      Swami Harshananda, Hindu Gods and Goddesses, Seri Ramakrishna math, Mylapore, Chennai, India
4.      Dr. M. Narasimhachary, Sri Vedanta Desika’s Stotras,  Sripad Trust, Chennai, India
5.      Srinivasn N.R., Navaratri, kolu (festival of Dolls0 and dussera, Hindu Reflections, Internet.
6.      Srinivasan, N.R., Hindu American Way of Labor Day Celebration, Hindu Reflections, Internet.

7.      Anantrangaacharya, N.S., Principal Upanishads, Bengaluru, India.


The Divine Weapons of the Puranas
Posted by Hari Ravikumar | Oct 20, 2015 | IndiaDivine.Org
Astra is a general term that refers to celestial weapons in Hinduism. The astras are transcendental, supernatural weapons created by the Lord, and presided over by a specific Deity. In order to summon or use an astra, one must have the required knowledge, i.e., the specific mantra that will arm, direct, and disarm the astra.
The presiding deity, once properly invoked, endows the weapon, making it essentially impossible for foes to counter its potency through regular means. As described in sastra, specific conditions existed involving the usage of various astras, and the violation of proper protocol could be fatal. Because of the power involved, the knowledge involving use of an astra was passed from guru to disciple by word of mouth alone, and only the most qualified students were made privy to the information. Certain astras had to be handed down directly from the presiding deity himself, as having knowledge of the mantras alone was insufficient.
The importance of astras is described in particular detail in the Ramayana and Mahabharata, which describes their use in epic battles. Various pastimes describe the use of astras by archers such as Rama, Arjuna, and Bhisma. They generally invoked the astras into arrows, although they could potentially be used with anything. For example, Ashwatthama invoked an astra using a blade of grass as his weapon.
Following are the primary astras mentioned in Ramayana and Mahabharata:
Aindra Astra:
Presiding Deity: Indra, the god of weather
Weapon’s Effect: Would bring about a shower of arrows from the sky.
Counter Weapon: Antardhana Astra – illusion weapon with several functions. This weapon affected the mind of the opponent and caused things to disappear from his field of vision. It also dispelled illusions caused by other astras.
Agneya Astra:
Presiding Deity: Agni, the god of fire
Weapon’s Effect: The weapon discharged would emit flames inextinguishable through normal means.
Counter Weapon: Varuna Astra
Varuna Astra:
Presiding Deity: Varuna, the god of water
Weapon’s Effect: The weapon discharged would release torrential volumes of water. This weapon is commonly mentioned as used to counter the Agneyastra.
Naga Astra:
Presiding Deity: The Nagas
Weapon’s Effect: The weapon would have an un-erring aim and take on the form of a snake, proving deadly upon impact.
Counter Weapon: Garuda Astra – as the natural enemy of the Naga, Garuda astra was designed to break Naga astra in flight.
Naga Paasha:
Presiding Deity: The Nagas
Weapon’s Effect: Upon impact, this weapon would bind the target in coils of living venomous snakes. In the Ramayana, it was used against Lord Rama and Lakshmana by Indrajit.
Vayu Astra:
Presiding Deity: Vayu, the god of wind
Weapon’s Effect: Bring about a gale capable of lifting armies off the ground.
Vajra Astra:
Presiding Deity: Indra
Weapon’s Effect: Target would be struck with bolts of lightning (vajra referring to Indra’s thunderbolt).
Mohini Astra:
Presiding Deity: Mohini, Vishnu avatar
Weapon’s Effect: Dispel any form of maya or sorcery in the vicinity.
Surya Astra: 
Presiding Deity: Surya, the sun god
Weapon’s Effect: Create a dazzling light that would dispel any darkness about.
Twashtar Astra:
Presiding Deity: Twashtri, the heavenly builder
Weapon’s Effect: When used against a group of opponents (such as an army), would cause them to mistake each other for enemies and fight each other.
Sammohana / Pramohana Astra:
Weapon’s Effect: Would cause entire hosts/armies to collapse in a trance. It is described as a weapon that can deprive warriors of their senses.
Counter Weapon: Prajna Astra – weapon that revitalized the mind and restored senses. In Mahabharata it is sometimes mentioned as Pragna Astra.
Parvata Astra:
Weapon’s Effect: Would cause a Parvata/mountain to fall on the target from the skies.
Brahma Astra:
Presiding Deity: Brahma, the Creator
Weapon’s Effect: Would destroy entire hosts at once. Could also counter most other astras.
Considered the most deadliest weapon of all, there was no anecdote for Brahma Astra.
Brahmasirsha Astra:
Presiding Deity: Brahma, the Creator
Weapon’s Effect: Capable of killing devas. It was used by Ashwatthama on Parikshit.
Narayana Astra:
Presiding Deity: Vishnu, the Preserver
Weapon’s Effect: Would create showers of arrows and discs. The astra’s power would increase with the resistance offered to it. This weapon had to be obtained from Vishnu directly, and could be used only once. If it was invoked twice in the same battle, the astra was said to shower arrows on the invoker’s own army.
Vaishnava Astra:
Presiding Deity: Visnu, the Preserver
Weapon’s Effect: Would destroy target completely, irrespective of target’s nature. Infallible. This weapon had to be obtained from Vishnu directly.
Pashupata Astra:
Presiding Deity: Shiva, the Destroyer
Weapon’s Effect: One of the most famous and infallible astra, it would destroy the target completely, irrespective of target’s nature. This weapon had to be obtained from Shiva directly.
Brahma Astra:
Brahma Astra is one of the most powerful celestial weapons in Hindu mythology. It is typically associated with Lord Brahma the Creator, but there is no textual evidence that he actually used the weapon and he rarely takes destructive actions in Hindu mythology. It is more likely that “Brahma” in this context refers to “to expand, grow, swell, or enlarge” and therefore Brahma Astra refers to an expanding celestial weapon of immense destruction.
Brahma Astra can be obtained only through intense meditation and accumulation of ascetic merit. A worthy individual receives a mantra to invoke the weapon, and the Brahma Astra can only be used once in a lifetime unless the wielder knows a separate mantra to withdraw it. Discharging the weapon requires intense mental discipline and concentration and must be used against a worthy individual or army. Improper use of the weapon, either against a weak individual or without specific intent could cause the destruction of the entire universe. When used properly, the Brahma Astra is a counter to most other astras while at the same time there is no defense or counter to it; the target of this weapon will be completely annihilated.
Anecdotal evidence also indicates that the Brahma Astra causes environmental damage on a massive scale. The land on which the weapon is used becomes barren and cracked, all life withers and dies in the surrounding area and not even rain will fall, causing drought-like conditions. It is also said that men and women near the vicinity of the blast become infertile. In modern times the Brahma Astra has been compared to a nuclear device but based on the description, it is far more powerful. While the entire stockpile of nuclear weapons could at best destroy the world, the Brahma Astra is capable of destroying the entire universe (again, only when used improperly).
The Brahma Astra has been invoked several times in literature. In the Ramayana, Rama uses the Brahma Astra to deal the final blow against the rakshasa Ravana during their battle on the island of Lanka. Bharata tried to use the Brahma Astra against Lava and Kusa, but they both fired their Brahma Astras first, killing him and most of his army. In the Mahabharata, Pradyumna used the Brahma Astra on Salwa, but he survived.
As described in the sastra, a Brahmastra is an astra, or celestial weapon created by Lord Brahma. It is sometimes known as the Brahma Astra (astra referring to ‘missile weapon’). As described in a number of the Puranas, Brahmastra is considered to be the very deadliest of weapons. When a Brahmastra is discharged, neither a counterattack nor a defense of any kind can stop it.
The Brahmastra never misses its mark and must be used with very specific intent against an enemy, whether an individual or army, as the target will face complete annihilation. Brahmastra is said to be obtained by meditating on Lord Brahma, and can be used only once in a lifetime. The user would have to display immense amounts of mental concentration in order to get sanction to arm and use the weapon. Since Brahma is the Creator in Sanatana Dharma, it is understood that Brahmastra was created by him for the purpose of upholding Dharma and Satya.
According to sastra, the Brahmastra is invoked by a key mantra that is bestowed upon the user when he is given the weapon. By properly chanting the mantra, the user can call upon the weapon and deploy it with annhiliative force against his adversary.
The Brahmastra also causes severe environmental damage. The land where the weapon is used becomes barren for eons, and all life in and around that area ceases to exist. Women and men become infertile. There is severe decrease in rainfall and the land develops cracks, like in a drought.
List of Astras :
. Agni Astra
. Aindra Astra
Antardhana Astra
Bhauma Astra
Brahma Astra
Brahmasirsha Astra
Garuda Astra
. Mohini Astra
. Naga Astra
Narayana Astra
Parjanya Astra
Parvata Astra
Pashupata Astra
Prajna Astra
Shakti Astra
Sammohana Astra
Surya Astra
Vaishnava Astra
Vajra Astra
Varuna Astra
Vayu Astra
Visoshana Astra
Of these Astras, the Following Were Considered the Most Deadliest:
Pashupata Astra
Brahma Astra
Bramasirsha Astra
Vajra Astra
Agneya Astra
Naga Astra, and
Shakti Astra