The Vedic Sanatana Dharma has always relied on Shruti and other written literature for guidance and forward movement in life. The ancient seers and sages of Sanatana Dharma have taught us about healthy ways to live life. They have taught us to be prepared for any circumstances in life. In ancient times, when imperialism & expansionism was a reality, war or archery used to be an important part of the life of the people. In order to understand the art of war properly and give it due importance, our ancestors composed the Dhanurveda. We can say, Dhanurveda is another name for the traditional Indian military science. Let us know about the meaning and composition of Dhanurveda and the message that we get from this science.
The Meaning Of Dhanurveda
There are four types of Upveda
We find mention of four Vedas in the scriptures, in the same way, we also get a mention of four Upvedas from the scriptures. Names of the upvedas are
- Shilp veda
- Gandharva Veda
We get all the information about archery from Dhanurveda. However, we do not find the Dhanurveda in its original form in the present times. Dhanurveda is considered to be the Upveda of Yajurveda, wherein the science of bow & arrow is described. The mention of this science proves that the science of archery was well developed in this land even in ancient times. There are various indications that bows & arrows along with vajra were being used in India from ancient times.
Those warriors who used bow & arrow in the best and most effective manner in those days became very well known and famous. It is said that Ganga’s son Bhishma used a six-hand longbow.
The Learning From Dhanurveda
As per the loads of information that we get in the ancient texts (including Dhanurveda), it establishes that archery was a complete science. We also get the description of the effects of the different arrows shot by different types of bows. As per Dhanurveda, arrows could range from simple to monstrous. It is also believed that some of these arrows were as destructive as present-day missiles.
Western scholars also believe that the Indians had developed archery very diligently and patiently. Ancient Indians also held expertise in the practice of using arrows on horseback. As per Dhanurveda teachings, there was this practice of pulling the cord of the bow till the ear.
The Techniques Of Dhanurvidya
Besides Dhanur Veda, there is also a detailed mention of various techniques of archery in Agni Purana. According to these scriptures, any archer should take a bow in his left hand and arrow in his right hand, keep the feathery tip of the arrow on the string and wrap it in such a way that there is a small space between the bow chord and the punishment. After this, the string should be drawn in a straight line to the ear. You should be very careful while releasing the arrow. While aiming the arrow at a particular object, one should stand in a triangular position.
The Archery Positions According To Dhanurveda
– The circle is kept standing in a circular or semicircular position. In this situation, there is more distance between the legs than in the Vaisakh position.
– In the Baishakh position, the claws are kept standing, the thighs remain fixed and there is a short distance between the two legs.
– In the Aleedh position, the left thigh is pulled backwards, keeping the right thigh and knee fixed in the oblique position.
– In a Sampad or standing position, feet, palm, calf and thumb of hands are closely adjacent to each other.
– In the Vikat position, the right leg remains straight.
– In the Pratyaleedh position, it is the position opposite the above position.
– In the Nischal position, the left knee is kept straight and the right knee is bent.
– In Sthanam, the fingers are covered equal to the fingers, not more.
– In the Swastika position, both the legs are straight, and the toes are outward.
– In Samput, both legs are raised and knees bent in the joint.
While shooting the arrow, the bow should be held in a standing position, as it is done even today. The ends of the bow are strengthened by adding a more strong and durable material. The grooves are made at the ends of the bow to maintain the stability of the retractor. Before leaving the arrow, grooves are also made on the arrow to make it easy to climb. There are snares on both ends of the suffix, from which it rests firmly on both ends. The act of turning the bow free, sliding the nozzle upward, and dropping it into the upper groove is called bow tightening.
The bow is usually tightened with a long string so that the height of the string, that is, the distance from the chord to the inner part of the hilt, is equal to the fist with the archer’s open thumb. It depends on the physical structure of the archer, how much distance he keeps.
- Samaveda to Gandharvaveda
According to the Maharshi Visvampayana’s book, Dhanur Veda is the initial spokesperson of Brahma, who preached the one lakh chapters of Dhanurveda to Maharaja Prithu, which was shortened by Rudra to fifty thousand, Indra by twelve thousand, Prakritas by six thousand, and Jupiter by three Thousand, Shukracharya also shortened it to form a thousand-chapter Shukraniti, Bharadwaja Muni seven hundred, Gaurashira five hundred, Vedavyasa three hundred, and Vishvampayana also gave a discourse on the eight-chapter scripture.
Martial art is integral to human civilization. It has always acquired significance as people need to protect themselves against un-social and anti-social elements. Dharnurveda was the book that contained the skills that empowered the people with the abilities of self-defence.