By Swami Harshananda
Gadā literally means ‘mace or club’.
The gadā or the mace is one of the ancient weapons used in direct fighting. It is frequently mentioned in the two great epics and the purāṇas. Fighting with the gadā, gadā-yuddha, had been developed into a well-developed art. The experts in wielding this weapon were:
The gadās of famous warriors had their special names. Viṣṇu’s mace was called ‘Kaumodakī’. It had been prepared by Viśvakarma, the celestial artisan, from the bones of an exceedingly strong demon Gadāsura. Sometimes Kaumodaki is picturized as a goddess standing on the right side of Viṣṇu.
The gadās are of various sizes and shapes. They are made out of hard wood or iron. Gadādhara is one of the names of Viṣṇu since he holds the gadā named Kaumodaki. He used it to kill the demon Heti. The form of Viṣṇu presiding in the pilgrim center of Gayā is also ‘Gadādhara’ or ‘Ādi-gadādhara’.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore