What is the Sudarshan Chakra?

Alex Newth

The word “chakra” is used in many Asian etheric and martial arts to refer to the seven points of energy in the human body. The sudarshan chakra, however, is not one of these. Instead, the sudarshan chakra is a weapon used by the Hindu god Vishnu or his avatar and eighth incarnation, Krushna. While not inherently used for healing purposes, many pray to the sudarshan chakra to remove affliction or to release mental trauma.

The sudarshan chakra is used as a weapon by one of the incarnations of the god Vishnu.
The sudarshan chakra is used as a weapon by one of the incarnations of the god Vishnu.

The structure of the sudarshan chakra is said to be a discus with six, 12 or 27 spokes, depending on the story. Each spoke is linked to a feminine or masculine principle. The appearance of the sudarshan chakra is one of powerful light, like the sun. In terms of size, it is said to be small enough to fit on the tip of a leaf and as large as the universe at the same time.

Many stories exist that point to how Vishnu, or Krushna, received the discus. One story says Vishnu combined his energy with that of the gods Brahma and Mahesh to create the weapon. Another story says asuras, or Hindu demons, were attacking the gods, and Vishnu prayed to Shiva for a way to put an end to the attacks. Another story says that when Krushna and Arjun helped Agnidev burn a forest, Agnidev bestowed on Krushna the discus and a mace.

While Vishnu, or Krushna, is most famous for using the discus, there are a few other Hindu deities capable of using this weapon. They are primarily female deities and include Narayani and Vaishnodevi. There are also deities that wield similar discus weapons that contain nearly identical properties.

Though discus in shape, the sudarshan chakra is not tossed or thrown. The discus is held on Vishnu’s finger. When he aims at an enemy, the discus acts according to his will and attacks the enemy. It remains under the control of Vishnu while flying around and will return to Vishnu when the enemy is defeated.

The sudarshan chakra has been used many times. Vishnu is said to have used the discus against the sage Durvas when he needlessly cursed one of Vishnu’s worshipers. Vishnu as Krushna is seen using it more often, both lifting the Govardhan mountain with the sudarshan charka and using it to defeat Shishupal.

Just as the discus is used to defeat enemies, many people pray to the discus to defeat trauma and afflictions. The discus is also sometimes regarded as a shield to protect against negative energies. There are many mantras, or prayers, that ask the discus for help in specific matters.

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