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Lord Parasurama

Lord ParasuramaLord Parasurama is considered to be an empowered incarnation (saktivesa avatara) of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This means that he has been endowed by a specific potency of the Lord for a specific purpose. In this category of saktivesa avataras are great personalities like Narada Muni (devotional potency or bhakti-sakti), King Prthu (ruling potency or palana-sakti), the four Kumaras (knowledge or jnana-sakti), Lord Brahma (creative or srsti-sakti) etc. Lord Parasurama appeared endowed with the potency to punish the rogues and demons (dusta-damana-sakti). At the time the world was overrun by demons posing as kings and rulers (ksatriyas), who were puffed up with pride, arrogance and were behaving contradictory to the Vedic injunctions. Lord Parasurama appeared to free the world of these demons disguised as ksatriyas.

Dynasty of Lord Parasurama
In the dynasty of the Ailas was a great king named Gadhi. His daughter Satyavati was chaste and beautiful. The king was approached by sage Rcika for the hand of his daughter. King Gadhi did want to refuse a Brahman, but at the same time did not consider him a fit match for his daughter. So he fixed a dowry for his daughter, of at least one thousand horses, brilliant as the sunshine, with one ear black and the other white. The great sage understanding the mind of the king, procured this from Varuna, the demigod of the ocean, and thus was married to Satyavati.

Soon Satyavati and her mother both approached sage Rcika and requested him to perform a yajna (sacrifice) so that they could have a son. The great sage performed the yajna and prepared two oblations, one for his wife, Satyavati and one for her mother. Since he was a Brahman, he instructed his wife to eat the oblation prepared to induce Brahmanical qualities in the child. The oblation for the mother-in-law was prepared with Ksatriya mantra since she belonged to the ruling class.

The mother of Satyavati thinking that the oblation for her daughter was superior to her, requested it from her daughter and ate it, while Satyavati ate the oblation prepared for her mother. When the great sage Rcika found out about this, he first declared that while Satyavati would have a fierce son on Ksatriya qualities, her mother would have a learned son of Brahmanical qualities. However, appeased by his remorseful wife, he later decreed that while Satyavati would have a Brahmanical son, the son of this son would be a fierce warrior.

Thus was set the stage for the appearance of Lord Parasurama. In accordance with the decree of sage Rcika, Satyavati had Jamadagni as a son, who was a gentle pious Brahman. The mother of Satyavati, the wife of King Gadhi had a son, who though born in a ksatriya family would later become a great Brahman rishi called Vishwamitra.

The chaste Satyavati later became the sacred river Kausika, to purify the entire world. Her son Jamadagni married Renuka, the daughter of Renu. He had several sons headed by Vasuman. The youngest of his son was called Rama. Because of his fondness of parusa (metal chopper) as a weapon he was later called Parasurama.

King Kartaviryarjuna
Kartaviryarjuna was a powerful king of the Haihayas. After pleasing Lord Dattatreya, the plenary expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, by severe austerities he received many benedictions, including the boon of one thousand hands. He acquired all forms of mystic opulence and divine weapons which made him invincible in battle and he traveled the universe to establish his supremacy. Once while enjoying the waters of river Narmada, the puffed up king reversed the flow of water with his arms. This flooded the camp of the ten-headed Ravana who was camped up stream and greatly angered him. However the powerful Kartaviryarjuna easily defeated Ravana in battle, contemptuously captured him and then just as negligently released him.

Once the king while travelling in the forest came upon the camp of sage Jamadagani who was engaged in performing austerities. Considering the guests worshippable, the great sage welcomed the king and his entire army with great opulence made possible by a kamadhenu (desire fulfilling cow) that the sage had received in benediction from Lord Brahma. However the king instead of being grateful to his host became envious and forcibly took the kamadhenu cow and her calf with him to his palace.

Parasurama angered
When Parasurama came to know of this nefarious deed, he became exceedingly angry. Taking his chopper and other weapons he went to Mahismati Puri the capital of Kartaviryarjuna. On seeing Parasurama approach the city, Kartaviryarjuna sent seventeen full aksauhinis of soldiers to check Parasurama. The Mahabharata (Adi parva, chapter 2) describes that one aksauhini contains 21,870 chariots and elephants, 109,350 infantry soldiers and 65,610 horses. Lord Parasurama killed them all, first moving at the speed of mind and when he tired, moving at the speed of wind.

Seeing the annihilation of his army the greatly angered Kartaviryarjuna rushed to attack Parasurama. With five hundred bows he shot arrows, but Parasurama cut of all his hands and finally killed him. When Kartaviryarjuna's ten thousand sons saw their father killed, they all fled in fear. Then Parasurama, having killed the enemy, released the kamadhenu, which had undergone great suffering, and brought her back with the calf to his residence, where he gave it to his father, Jamadagni.

When sage Jamadagani heard about the exploits of his son, he gave him several instructions on the most important Brahmanical quality, forgiveness. In order to purify himself of the sins of killing, Lord Parasurama on the instructions of his father went on a one year pilgrimage of many holy places and then returned to the ashram of his father.

Jamadgani offended
Once Renuka, the wife of Jamadgani, while fetching waters from Ganges saw Citraratha, the king of the Gandharavas, a celestial race famous for their beauty, sporting with many maidens. The sight of the handsome king momentarily attracted the mind of Renuka and in this she forgot that the time for the fire sacrifice had passed.

When Renuka returned the great sage Jamadgani understood the adultery she had committed with her mind and in great anger ordered his sons to kill their mother. But the sons did not carry out the order. Jamadagni then ordered his youngest son, Parasurama, to kill his brothers, who had disobeyed this order, and his mother, who had mentally committed adultery. Lord Parasurama, knowing the power of his father, who was practiced in meditation and austerity, killed his mother and brothers immediately.

Jamadagni, was very much pleased with Parasurama and asked him to take any benediction he liked. Lord Parasurama replied, "Let my mother and brothers live again and not remember having been killed by me. This is the benediction I ask." Thereafter, by the benediction of Jamadagni, Lord Parasurama's mother and brothers immediately came alive and were very happy, as if awakened from sound sleep. Lord Parasurama had killed his relatives in accordance with his father's order because he was fully aware of his father's powers.

Jamadagni was certainly very powerful due to his austerities, but because of a slight offense by his poor wife, Renuka, he ordered that she be killed. This certainly was a sinful act, and therefore the stage was set for him to bear the consequences of his actions.

The ten thousand sons of Kartaviryarjuna could never forget the killing of their father. So one day when Parasurama and his brothers were not in the ashram, they attacked Jamadgani while he was performing his meditation and killed him. They cut his head and took it with them. Having committed the greatest offense of killing a Brahman, they were now doomed to die.

Lord Parasurama on returning to the ashram saw his mother in a pitiable condition, lamenting for the loss of her husband. In great distress she repeatedly struck her body with her hands.

Lord Parasurama annihilates the ksatriyas
A furious Lord Parasurama then went to Mahismati, which was already doomed by the sinful killing of a Brahman. In the midst of that city he made a mountain of heads, severed from the bodies of the sons of Kartaviryarjuna. With the blood of the bodies of these sons, Lord Parasurama created a ghastly river, which brought great fear to the kings who had no respect for brahminical culture. Because the ksatriyas, the men of power in government, were performing sinful activities, Lord Parasurama, on the plea of retaliating for the murder of his father, rid all the ksatriyas from the face of the earth twenty-one times. Indeed, in the place known as Samanta-pancaka he created nine lakes filled with their blood.

Thereafter, Parasurama joined his father's head to the dead body and placed the whole body and head upon kusa grass. By offering sacrifices, he began to worship Lord Vasudeva, who is the all-pervading Supersoul of all the demigods and of every living entity. After completing the sacrifice, Lord Parasurama gave away in charity all that he had conquered to Brahmans and priests. Thereafter, having completed the ritualistic sacrificial ceremonies, Lord Parasurama took the bath known as the avabhrtha-snana. Standing on the bank of the great river Sarasvati, cleared of all sins, Lord Parasurama appeared like the sun in a clear, cloudless sky. Thus Jamadagni, being worshiped by Lord Parasurama, was brought back to life with full remembrance, and he became one of the seven sages (the other six are Kasyapa, Atri, Vasistha, Visvamitra, Gautama, and Bharadvaja).

All glories to Lord Parasurama
In this way the Supreme Personality of Godhead, descended as an incarnation in the Bhrigu dynasty (Brahmans) and released the universe from the burden of undesirable kings by killing them many times.

Lord Parasurama still lives as an intelligent Brahman in the mountainous country known as Mahendra. Completely satisfied, having given up all the weapons of a ksatriya, he is always worshiped, adored and offered prayers for his exalted character and activities by such celestial beings as the Siddhas, Caranas and Gandharvas. In the next manvantara Lord Parasurama, the son of Jamadagni, will be a great propounder of Vedic knowledge. In other words, he will be one of the great seven sages.

Ref: Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 9 Chapter 15-16.


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