Worship of tools and weapons

A well-known Dussehra tradition is to worship all weapons, tools, instruments, pens and pencils, because they are the means of fighting injustice, ignorance and evil.

On this day, all articles that are used for progress and prosperity of mankind are worshipped. For artisans across India, it is the time to polish the instruments of their profession. All vehicles like cars, trucks and buses are also worshipped by the individuals using them. On Dussehra morning, drivers clean and polish their vehicles with great solemnity and patience, and then perform the puja of the vehicles.

While I do not know when and how this tradition originated, the ancient Rig Vedic people certainly did worship their weapons.

In Hymn 47 of Mandala VI, verses 26 to 28, we find the importance attached to the chariot and that prayers were indeed offered to it.

RV 6.047.26 – 28
Lord of the wood, be firm and strong in body: be, bearing us, a brave victorious hero
Show forth thy strength, compact with straps of leather, and let thy rider win all spoils of battle.

Its mighty strength was borrowed from the heaven and earth: its conquering force was brought from sovrans of the wood.
Honour with holy gifts the Car like Indra’s bolt, the Car bound round with straps, the vigour of the floods.

Thou Bolt of Indra, Vanguard of the Maruts, close knit to Varuna and Child of Mitra,-
As such, accepting gifts which here we offer, receive, O Godlike Chariot, these oblations.

In verse 26, the chariot is exalted to the status of “Lord of the wood”. The worshipper describes the chariot as strong in body and decked in straps of leather and then further urges the chariot to show its strength and let is rider win all spoils of battle.

Verse 27 endows the chariot with a divine characteristics as having mighty strength drawn from the very heavens and all of the earth. In verse 28, the chariot is equated to Indra’s bolt and described as being close to the supreme Varuna and child of the much revered Mitra.

The worshipper honours the chariot with holy gifts (in verse 27) and offers oblations (in verse 28) as he would to any other Vedic God.

Surely, such a practice of revering articles that form an important part of one’s life, must rate as unique in the ancient world. This is the ethos from the Rig Veda that has survived and become the bedrock of Hindu and I dare say Indian culture and life. A practice and heritage that today’s consumerist generation could do well to imbibe.

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2 Responses to Worship of tools and weapons

  1. Srinidhi says:

    Interesting! In fact, it tells us the level of technical awareness of the times. A chariot was surely used by the elite and was very important. I am sure that the makers of the chariots would take care of the quality to the best of thier knowledge, but Brahmins had to have their say! I remember we used to have Ayudha pooja of the machines and keep it idle for the day. My argument was that taking care of the machine everyday was more desirable! They would say it is the job of the maintenance. So there are many things which are special to us!

    • yatin2710 says:

      There is no doubt there were technology advancements even in those times – pls. refer to the Science and Technology post (https://rigvedaanalysis.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/vedic-tools-technology/) for more details. That said, the Dasa and Pani tribes were perhaps more advanced.

      I do remember visiting the factories my dad was a Plant Manager of during Dusshera and how the workers would perform the pujas of the machines – it has left an indelible imprint.

      You are so right – taking care of machines everyday should have been automatic, considering the tradition of respect and reverence that Dusshera teaches us. But alas, that is no more the case. As you mention, it has now been delegated to Plant Maintenance.

      An interesting modern day Maintenance concept is that of TPM and one of the pillar’s is called Jishu Hozen (autonomous or self maintenance). The central idea of Jishu Hozen being, workers are encouraged to create a bond with the machine and through this bond, ensure its well being.

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