Parashuram-The Sixth Avatar Of Lord Vishnu
Hindu mythology and various epics speak of multiple immortals. Parashuram, the sixth Avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu, is one of them. He is one the most interesting and colourful characters as well in Hindu mythology. He is also mentioned in Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The Appearance Of Parashuram
Sage Jamadagni and his wife Renuka had five sons. They were Vasu, Viswa Vasu, Brihudyanu, Brutwakanwa and Bhadrarama, later known as Parashuram. Parashuram was their youngest child. He is also referred to as Rama Jamadagnya, Rama Bhargava and Veerarama. There are various stories about the birth of Parashuram. According to the Bhagavata Purana, at one time the influence of Kshatriya kings in the society increased a lot. Exhausted by their oppression, everyone complained to Brahma and Vishnu. Parashuram was born to Brahma and Vishnu to punish the Kshatriyas. According to another story, the earth itself took the form of a cow and told Vishnu about its misery. Then Vishnu promised the world that he would be born as Parashuram and remove this misery. On the auspicious day of Akshay Tritiya, Parashuram, appeared on earth. So, this day is also marked as Parashuram Jayanti.
The First Warrior Brahmin
When the other children of Maharshi Jamadagni were engaged in the practice of Veda-Vedanta in his ashram, Parashuram had no interest in it, but was more interested in learning the technique of archery. Since his birth Parashuram had known that he was born to punish the bad Kshatriyas. From an early age he became arrogant, angry and vindictive. He started severe austerities with the aim of collecting weapons from the gods. He satisfied Brahma with his austerities, and obtained a number of weapons from him (Brahma).
After pleasing Mahadeva (Shiva), he got the axe weapon. From then on he was named Parashuram. As mentioned above, his real name was Bhadrarama. He killed many demons with this weapon under the direction of Mahadev. Gradually he became a mighty warrior. So even though Parashuram was born to a Brahmin family, he became a Kshatriya in action. When he started his mission to kill bad Kshatriyas, many Brahmins abandoned their priestly duties and joined his army. He was the first warrior Brahmin in the world.
One day sage Jamadagni was busy organizing Yajna. His wife, Renuka went to the river to fetch water. At that time a king named Chitrarath was sailing in the river with his wives. Seeing that, Renuka fell in love with the king, and she did not return to the cottage. Jamadagni became very angry when he knew his wife’s condition. He immediately ordered his sons to kill their mother. Maternal murder is a great sin. For this reason, the first four children of the sage did not agree to obey the father’s order. Then the sage cursed his four children with inertia. In the end, when the sage gave the same order to his youngest child Parashuram, Parashuram beheaded his mother with his axe.
Jamadagni was very pleased with his son for obeying his father. The sage asked Parashuram to ask for any boon. Then Parashuram prayed for the rebirth of his mother, liberation of the inertia of his brothers, longevity and invincibility of his own. In the meanwhile the anger of Jamadagni towards his wife and children also subsided a bit and he fulfilled all the prayers of his son. But the axe remained in Parashuram’s hand for the sin of maternal murder. He could not get the axe out of his hand. Parashuram wanted to know the reason from his father. The father told him that the axe would not be detached from his hand until he was freed from the sin of murder. After bathing in Brahmakunda at the behest of his father, he was freed from the sin of maternal murder and the axe was severed from his hand.
Parashuram’s Vindictiveness Towards Khatriyas
In ancient time, there was a king named Kartavirya. His real name was Kartabhirarjuna. Once he came with his sons to visit the ashram of Maharshi Jamadagni. He was so impressed by the Kamadhenu (the divine wish-fulfilling cow goddess) in the ashram that he stole it in the dark of night and brought it to his kingdom. On learning the matter, Parashuram killed the king and brought the Kamadhenu back to the ashram. Meanwhile, the sons of Kartavirya raided the ashram of Jamadagni in the dark of night to take revenge. They brutally killed the meditating Jamadagni. Being angered at seeing his father’s horrible corpse in the ashram hut, Parashuram killed all the sons of Kartavirya alone.
Later, he became so vindictive towards the Kshatriyas that he removed male Kshatriyas from the earth twenty-one successive times. It is mentionable that the wives of the Khatriyas survived each time and gave birth to new generations. If we want to know how Parshuram did it, we have to take a little idea about the social system of that time. In the society of that time, one’s caste was determined on the basis of one’s actions. Those who were engaged in state administration and war were considered Kshatriyas. However, in some cases there were exceptions.
By killing the Kshatriyas, Parashuram made five lakes with their blood. But then he was very sorry. He prayed to his ancestors to forgive him and do something so that the five lakes might be considered sacred. His ancestors freed him from sin and the five blood lakes together became known as Samantapanchaka or Kurukshetra.
Parashuram As A Great Teacher
Parashuram was the weapon guru of Kuru’s grandfather Bhishma and Karna. Once Bhishma kidnapped Kashiraj’s three daughters for the marriage of his honest brother Bichitravirya. Kashiraj’s eldest daughter Amba said that it was not possible for her to marry Bichitravirya as she had already accepted Shambharaj as her husband. Then Bhishma sent Amba to Shambharaj. But when Shambharaj did not accept Amba anymore, Amba returned to Bhishma and requested him to marry her. Amba then prayed to Parashuram for justice. Parashuram also failed to persuade Bhishma to marry her. Then Bhishma’s fierce battle with Parashuram started. Even after 23 days of fighting, Parashuram failed to defeat Bhishma and vowed never to give knowledge of weapons to any Kshatriya again. Then Parashuram became a novice in the severe austerities of Mahadev (Shiva) on Mahendra Parvat.
After a few days, Mahavira Karna came to Parashuram for arms training. Karna knew that he would not give arms training to any person of Kshatriya descent. So Karna hid his identity and took arms training from Parashuram and established himself as a great archer. He learned the technique of using different weapons from his guru. But one day Parashuram could find out about Karna’s deception. He became very angry with Karna for getting arms training with false identity. He cursed Karna that at the last moment Karna would forget the strategy of using the big weapons he got from Parashuram. That is why Karna died tragically in Kurukshetra.
By Krishna Das