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Ancient Mythological War Formations

Discussion in 'Military History & Tactics' started by divya, Jan 10, 2011.

  1. divya

    divya BANNED

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    Hi

    I am using the section Pakistan Military History because the region whcih was used in the wars also included the part of Pakistan


    At various times during battle, the supreme commander of either army ordered special formations ("vyuhas"). Each formation had a specific purpose; some were defensive while others were offensive. Each formation had its specific strengths and weaknesses. Mahābhārata' list the following:
    Krauncha vyuha (heron formation)
    Makara vyuha (crocodile formation)
    Kurma vyuha (tortoise or turtle formation)
    Trishula vyuha (the trident formation)
    Chakra vyuha (wheel or discus formation)
    Kamala vyuha or Padma vyuha (lotus formation)
    Garud vyuha (Eagle formation)
    Oormi vyuha (Ocean formation)
    Mandala vyuha (Galactic formation)
    Vajra vyuha (diamond/ thunderbolt formation)
    Shakata vyuha (Box/Cart formation)
    Asura vyuha (Demon formation)
    Deva vyuha (Divine formation)
    Soochi vyuha (Needle formation)
    Sringataka vyuha (Horned formation)
    Chandrakala vyuha (Crescent/ Curved Blade formation)
    Suchi vyuha - Needle formation
    Chayana vyuha - Hawk formation
    Mala vyuha - Garland formation

    The last but not the least imfamous Chakravyuha



    I will be updating the details of each war formation shortly
     
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  2. divya

    divya BANNED

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    Padmavyuha/Chakravyuha


    Background

    The Chakravyuh/Padmavyuh, is a multi-tier defensive lotus-like formation, used by Dronacharya, commander-in-chief of the Kaurava army after the injury of Bhishma Pitamah. The formation is likened to a blooming lotus, since when viewed from the top, the warriors at each interleaving position would be in an increasingly tough position to fight.
    The various vyuhas (military formations) were studied by the Kauravas and Pandavas alike. Most of them can be beaten using a counter-measure targetted specifically against that formation. It is important to observe that in the form of battle described in the Mahabharata, it was important to position the powerful fighters in positions where they would inflict the maximum damage on the opposing force or defend against the attacks of key warriors of the opposition.
    [edit]Formation

    The Chakravyuha/Padmavyuha was a special formation and only a few exclusive Pandava warriors, namely, Abhimanyu, Arjuna, Krishna, Aniruddha and Pradyumna, knew how to lead an offensive against it. However to the Pandavas disappointment, Aniruddha and Pradyumna did not participate in the Mahabharata war. Additionally, Arjuna's son Abhimanyu knew how to penetrate the Padmavyuha but not how to exit the formation. He learned the techniques to enter the formation when he was still inside the womb of his mother, Subhadra since her Husband, Arjuna was discussing the formation and its conquest with her. Ironically, Subhadra fell asleep while Arjuna was explaining, and Arjuna was called away by Krishna for the Khandava forest extermination in the middle of his lesson. Thus, Arjuna could not finish explaining Subhadra how to escape the Padmavyuha.
    Consequently, Abhimanyu was unaware how to escape from the Padmavyuha. He was thus killed, Kurukshetra War trying to break free from the Padmavyuha. Mahabharata also has references wherein the rules of war were broken by Kauravas to kill Abhimanyu. After Abhimanyu penetrated the sixth tier of spiral formation, all the Kaurava warriors attacked him in unison, though the main killer was Jayadratha. It was against the rules of Dharmayuddha, which stated that multiple warriors should not attack a single warrior.



    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
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  3. divya

    divya BANNED

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    Krauncha Vyuha:​



    the crane-shaped formation of an army; forces are distributed to form spanning wing-sides, with a formidable, penetrating center depicting the crow's head and break.


    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Asian

    Asian FULL MEMBER

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    A few more are: Sarpa Vyuha: Winding Snake Formation.
    Makara Vyuha: Crocodile Formation
    Sakata Vyuha: Cart Formation
    Shukar Vyuha: Pig Formation
     
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  5. GodlessBastard

    GodlessBastard FULL MEMBER

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    Since divya has been banned, I think I will hijack this thread :)

    The formations I will discuss are NOT, however, mythological. Rather, they are actual formations used by ancient Indian armies during the Maurya Empire, as described by Chanakya in his masterpiece Arthashastra.

    Chanakya describes four basic varieties of formations:
    1. Danda - the staff-like array
    2. Bhoga - the snake-like array
    3. Mandala - the circle-like array
    4. Asamhata - the detached order

    Each of these four varieties, in turn, has its own variations. I will try to describe as many of these variations as possible, using direct information from the Arthashastra.

    I will also provide illustrations to better depict these formations. All images are my own work (hence the low-quality, LOL)
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    First, let us discuss the danda, or "staff-like array". According to Chankaya, this is a formation in which all the constituents of the army stand abreast. This would make it the most simple type of array.

    [​IMG]


    The pradara is a variant of the danda. The purpose of this formation is to break the enemy's formation. To achieve this, the flanks are made to project forward, and generally consist of "shock" units such as war elephants, heavy chariots, and armored cavalry.

    The pradara can be countered by means of the dridhaka.

    [​IMG]


    The dridhaka (which means "firm") is a defensive variant of the danda, and is meant as a counter to the pradara. The flanks and wings are stretched back, and are designed to absorb the blow of a frontal attack. The dridhaka typically consists of sturdy mail- and plate-armored infantry.

    The dridhaka can be countered by the asayha.

    [​IMG]


    The next variant is the "irresistible" formation, or asayha. It conists of elongated wings designed to envelop the enemy. The wings usually conist of fast and maneuverable units like light and medium cavalry (and sometimes chariots or elephants). It is most useful against compact formations like the dridhaka.

    The asayha can be countered by means of the Syena vyuha.

    [​IMG]


    The Syena vyuha ("eagle formation") of Mahabharat lore can be dscribed as a variant of the danda as well as the asayha. The Syena vyuha consists of a projected front in addition to elongated wings. It is designed for a "comprehensive attack" by all constituents of the army; it can shatter the enemy's center while simultaneously conducting an enveloping attack on its flanks and rear. As with the asayha, it is most useful against compact formations.

    The Syena vyuha can be countered by means of the sanjaya formation.

    [​IMG]
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------


    I will post more formations and their details when I have time. Comments are highly appreciated.
     
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  6. jamal18

    jamal18 FULL MEMBER

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    Love it! I read a lot of Roman history, and you realise formations , and drill were so important.

    The ancients weren't ignorant rabble who simply charged at each other.
     
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  7. GodlessBastard

    GodlessBastard FULL MEMBER

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    Yep, formations were as important back then as they are now.

    In fact, they were probably more important, given the lack of technology. Clever tactics had to make up for relatively simple weapons.
     
  8. rubyjackass

    rubyjackass SENIOR MEMBER

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    Bastard your post was awesome. Please continue and post sources also.
     
  9. Dalai Lama

    Dalai Lama SENIOR MEMBER

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    Lol at bastard part! :rofl:
     
  10. GodlessBastard

    GodlessBastard FULL MEMBER

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    Jackass, my one and only source is the Arthashastra by Chanakya. As far as I know, it is the only surviving text with in-depth information on ancient Indian warfare.

    The Mahabharat mentions the different formations but doesn't go into detail.
     
  11. KS

    KS ELITE MEMBER

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    You guys surely know how to address each other. :lol:
     
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  12. third eye

    third eye ELITE MEMBER

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    Quite right.

    One can hardly tell if they are being friendly or upset !
     
  13. rockstarIN

    rockstarIN SENIOR MEMBER

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    Continue guys,, its good to know these...
     
  14. metro

    metro BANNED

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    this is great. if im not wrong then its just recently when medical science has actually been able to discover that a child can listen to what its mother is listening even when it is inside the womb.
    What medical science has able to find out now has been documented in our texts thousands of years before.
    Great thread.
     
  15. Alternative

    Alternative FULL MEMBER

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    The images displayed are missleading, and are contrary to the discription as told in MahaBharata. These images are found in many places in and out of subcontinent, and ALberuni in his Kitab-ul-hind produces a similar looking design and assign it as plan of Ravana's fort in Lanka.
    Please visit the following website for more info. Indian Labyrinths