Pāñcajanya

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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Pancajanya, PAJcajanya, Paaycajanya


Pāñcajanya (‘[the conch’] derived from Pañcajana’)

In the olden days, a śañkha or a conch was as much an appendage for the kṣattriya warriors as it was for the brāhmaṇas in their ritualistic worship. It was used, like a horn, to blow, signifying a challenge for a fight, the beginning and the end of a battle (every day) and so on.

Famous warriors usually gave special names to their weapons and śaṅkhas. Kṛṣṇa’s śaṅkha was known as Pāñcajanya, Yudhiṣṭhira’s as Anantavijaya, Arjuna’s as Devadatta and Bhīma’s as Pauṇḍra.

Pañcajana was a fierce demon who lived in a miniscule form inside a śaṅkha at the bottom of the sea. Once he abducted the only son of the sage Sāndīpani and ate him up.

After completing their education under Sāndīpani, when Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma requested him to accept their gurudakṣiṇā (honorarium paid generally at the end of education) he expressed a desire to get back his lost son.

Coming to know all the details regarding the boy’s disappearance, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma dived into the sea, killed the demon Pañcajana, usurped the śaṅkha in which he was dwelling and later got the boy back from Yamaloka, the world of Yama (the god of death).

Since this śaṅkha was obtained from Pañcajana, it was named Pāñcajanya.

Pāñcajanya was also the name of a forest near the Raivataka mountain.


References

  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

OLD CONTENT

Pāñcajanya (‘[the conch’] derived from Pañcajana’) In the olden days, a śañkha or a conch was as much an appendage for the kṣattriya warriors as it was for the brāhmaṇas in their ritualistic worship. It was used, like a horn, to blow, signifying a challenge for a fight, the beginning and the end of a battle (every day) and so on. Famous warriors usually gave special names to their weapons and śaṅkhas. Kṛṣṇa’s śaṅkha was known as Pāñcajanya, Yudhiṣṭhira’s as Anantavijaya, Arjuna’s as Devadatta and Bhīma’s as Pauṇḍra. Pañcajana was a fierce demon who lived in a miniscule form inside a śaṅkha at the bottom of the sea. Once he abducted the only son of the sage Sāndīpani and ate him up. After completing their education under Sāndīpani, when Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma requested him to accept their gurudakṣiṇā (honorarium paid generally at the end of education) he expressed a desire to get back his lost son. Coming to know all the details regarding the boy’s disappearance, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma dived into the sea, killed the demon Pañcajana, usurped the śaṅkha in which he was dwelling and later got the boy back from Yamaloka, the world of Yama (the god of death). Since this śaṅkha was obtained from Pañcajana, it was named Pāñcajanya. Pāñcajanya was also the name of a forest near the Raivataka mountain.