Parasurama Avatar - Rama with the Axe - Brief description about Lord Vishnu's 6th Avatar

Parasurama Avatar -
Legends, they say, are hyperbolic versions of historical events. Yet, they remain immensely more popular than authentic verifiable history. Throughout the world, stories of legends occupy more mind-share than the lives of historically documented people.

The exploits of Robin Hood and King Arthur are arguably more popular than those of Churchill or Thatcher from Great Britain and the labours of Hercules and Hanuman excite more children in Greece and India respectively than those of Alexander or Chandragupta. As the title of my next book suggests, this as well is an effort to bring to my readers one such powerful legend - the Axe-Man (X-Man for the sake of alphabetical continuity) - Parshu-Raam.

Parasurama Avatar -
the Axe-Man (X-Man for the sake of alphabetical continuity) - Parshu-Raam.
Parshu-Raam is recognized, and even dreaded as the man who decimated the entire ruling class in a bygone age. His name was whispered in hushed tones by Kshatriya Kings till not very long ago and the Bhaagvat Puraan mentions him as a Shaktyavesh Avatar of Lord Vishnu – a human invested with special powers of the Supreme Lord.

You may have heard of him from your grandparents or seen a brief glimpse in some television mythological but seldom is his life story detailed to an extent that it could become an epic in itself. The purpose of this book is not to harp about his later achievements that many are aware of, but to bring in front of readers the events from before his birth that slowly but surely lead this simple Brahmin boy to become the legend that fate forced him to become. His footsteps have marked the length and the breadth of the country from Arunachal Pradesh in the East to Maharashtra in the West and Himachal in the North to Kerala in the South!

Since a protagonist’s story does not get a complete perspective till it is compared with that of the antagonist or the anti-hero, this book shall also be incomplete without the inclusion of the travels and travails of his arch enemy, the man who, according to scriptures, was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu’s Sudarshan Chakra himself!

Hardly anyone would have heard of him before, but I must mention that this extra-ordinary man is considered one of the very first humans to rule over a Global Empire - a dream many colonial powers dreamed of in a previous century and few harbor even today.

The struggle between the two is a reflection of the tussle between two differing ideologies believed by two different classes. The fight for supremacy between two powerful classes of ancient India – Brahmins and Kshatriyas, is reflected even today especially in countries where the intelligentsia and military exist at loggerheads. Even as you read this, some military leader somewhere in the world is surely planning a coup to snatch power from the bureaucrats while somewhere else, the literati is preparing for a protest against the authoritarian regime in their country.

The struggle has played itself many a different times in many a different ways and this book shall introduce you to the clash that completely transformed India’s social structure in a bygone age. I have merged some true stories about the Lord of Lanka taken from the Ramayan to help me arrive at this sequence of events and you may be surprised to know that Ravan was also defeated by someone other than Shri Raam.

Like the demon king Ravan and his own grand-uncle Vishwamitra, Parshu-Raam also makes appearance in that grand epic although for a brief instance. When Shri Raam breaks Shiva’s bow in the Swayamvar for Sita, Parshu-Raam arrives at the scene like a storm and challenges the prince for a duel. As far as I am aware, this is the only instance where two different incarnations of Lord Vishnu have come face to face as adversaries!
Parasurama, from the Sanskrit parasu ("axe") and rama ("man"), is the sixth avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. The religion of Hinduism teaches that whenever humanity is threatened by extreme social disorder and wickedness, Vishnu will descend into the world as an avatar to restore righteousness, establish cosmic order, and redeem humanity from danger. Parasurama is said to have appeared during the Krita Yuga, in the form of a man wielding an axe, to restore the Hindu social order that was being disturbed by the arrogant and usurping Kshatrya caste.

Parasurama was born to Rishi Jamadhagni and his wife Renuka, as the fifth boy.He was initially named Bargava Rama and later on when he took to great penance ,lasting over 10 years in the Himalayas ( Kailash) , Bargava Rama was renamed Parasurama by Lord Siva himself , who gave him his Siva Dhanus and the Parasu (the Axe) as the boons for his deep penance and devotion and blessed him toachieve his objectives with the help of those gadgets . Parasurama , primarily did the penance to Lord Siva, only to get enough powers to avenge the kshatriyarulers , who were harming the sages.

Vasugi sage jamadhagni's wife was very devoted to her husband and her children and looked after all the students with kindness and great care. Everday she used to go to the river closed by very early in the morning to bathe. After taking bath she would make an earthern pot and fetch water for the family. One day as she was making the pot a 'gandharva' ( celestial beings) passed over-head in the sky. She saw the reflection of the gandharva in the river water and was struck by the handsome features just for a moment.

That wavering of the mind was considered being untrue to her husband. As a result that day however much she tried she could not make the pot. It broke every time she shaped it. Vasugi was unnerved by this and was afraid to go home. Sage Jamadhagni sensed this through his mental powers and became incensed that his wife admired the beauty of some one other than her husband. Wanting to punish her he ordered Parasurama to behead his mother. Being an obedient son he immediately carried out his father's order.
However Parasurama was overcome with great grief and also felt very angry towards his father. He developed a cruel nature though he remained a sage all his life.

Parashuram and sage jamadhagni
Parashuram and sage jamadhagni
In Vaikuntam , Mahavishnu and Mahalakshmi were talking to each other. Goddess Lakshmi
questions her husband Mahavishnu , how He could take an avatar like that in the world , where He is forced to cut His own mother’s head based on theorders of His father and how can He give word to His father without understanding the details of the wishes of His father. Was it not an act of arrogance or immature behaviour ? She says she was unable to understand the significance of this Avatar. While this may look a bit strange , actually Goddess Lakshmi wanted the Lord Himself to convey to the world , the significance of this Avatar .

As usual Lord Vishnu then replies calmly and says that, He wanted to prove to the world how even a well read and accomplished person can succumb to the ego , if he does not have self control. While the saying "Pithru Devo Bhava" is to be observed , so also the saying "Mathru Devo Bhava" , which is equally important.When He talks of Mathru here , the Lord covers all the Women folk in the universe.He even says , because of the impulsive action of Parasurama , in only desiring to fulfill his promise to his father , he engaged himself in such acruel action , which when goes in history , is not going to bring him a big fame and despite all his other achievements and accomplishments it would remain as ablemish in his life history. Also the path chosen by any one to achieve his objectives should be bounded by the laid down laws of the universe. Moreover ,persons should never be self centered and impulsive in their actions . Persons should use their head more than their heart whiletaking crucial decisions in life .

The Hindu avatar doctrine presents a view of divinity that is compatible with evolutionary thinking because it depicts a gradual progression of avatars from amphibian through mammal to later human and godly forms. Parasurama was the first avatar to appear in fully developed human form. While the stories of the previous avatars operated in a more fantastic mythological mode, the stories of Parasurama are more worldly, often reflecting political and economic struggles that may have been based upon actual events that occurred in ancient Indian history. Parasurama represents an early stage in the development of the homo sapien, one which is still reliant upon tools and weapons in order to subsist and survive, and so he leaves room for future avatars such as Rama and Krishna to improve the social, intellectual, and spiritual sensibilities of humankind.

Believed to be the incarnation of Vasudeva, he was named as Rama (Parasurama) and considered the 6th avatar of the Lord.  The tejas of this Rama was such that no ordinary being could look up at him.  Only those who did Japa / Homa daily like Sage Vashishta could look at Parasurama’s face; such was the Brahmavarchas on his forehead.  He was considered part manifestation of Lord Vasudeva.

Swami Desikan in his “Dasavatara Stotram” describes Parasuram as “Rusha Rama”.  His was described as “Ferocious” Avatar.  Parasuraman the grandson of Sage Rchika and Satyavati and the son of Jamadagni and Renuka.  On the request of Satyavati desirous of having sons, Sage Rchika prepared a rice preparation called Charu which he divided into two portions – one for his wife Satyavati and the other for his mother-in-law.  The Sage while going for his morning bath asking Satyavati to give her portion of Charu to her and the one meant for the mother Satyavati drank.  Thus the two portions got exchanged.  Sage Rchika knowing what had happened was in rage and told Satyavati that she will get a cruel son.  On Satyavati imploring Sage Rchika said then your grandson will be cruel.  Parasuram was this grandson of Satyavati, the youngest son of the number of sons of Renuka and Jamadagni.

While Karthaveeryarjuna (ruler of Haihayas) was entertained in the hermitage of Jamadagni, he saw the cow of plenty (Nandini), which was the chief cause of affluence of the hermitage.  He without seeking the permission of the sage, ordered that this cow may be taken away to his capital Mahismati.  When Parasuram returned to the hermitage he learnt what had happened.  He at once flew into a rage, picked up his formidable axe, set out to avenge the insult meted out to his father Jamadagni.  Karthaveeryarjuna seeing from a distance sent out a part of his army to confront this ferocious foe.  But Parasuram was all too powerful and killed his assailants.  Then he chopped the thousand hands and the head of Karthaveeryarjuna.  Parasuram then drove back the cow of plenty to his father’s hermitage and reported what had happened.  Jamadagni was full of remorse on hearing what had happened.  He asked Parasuram to go on a pilgrimage to atone for his sins.  He came back after a year.

But Karthaveeryarjuna’s sons who had not forgotten the way their father’s head was cut off and waited for an opportunity to avenge his death.  They went to Jamadagni’s hermitage when he was alone.  Inspite of the entreaties of his wife Renuka not to harm Jamadagni, they cut off his head.  Renuka called out “Rama, Rama, Please come here”.  Parasuraman who was nearby, hearing his mother’s cry of distress came running and saw the chopped head of his father.  Immediately he vowed that he would destroy the Kshatriya race and thus he did 21 times and at Kurukshetra filled the tanks with blood of Kshatriyas.  Karthaveeryarjuna, a Kshatriya was so powerful that he held all 10 heads of Ravana between his thumb and the pointing finger and dragging him put him in exile for same time and then released him out of sheer pity.

Parasurama defeated this Raja Karthaveeryarjuna also, so one can imagine the ferociousness of this Rama!

After the mass killing he gave away his possessions – Eastern quarter to Hota, west of Adhwarya, South to Brahma, North to Updata and Central part to Sage Kashyapa.  He then returned to Mount Mahendra.

In the meanwhile when Lord Sri Rama was returning from Janakpuri along with his wife Sitadevi, his brother, then wives and king Dasaratha Sage Vashishtar saw Parasurama coming towards them with his bow and arrow.  He thought “Oh, Why is he coming now, when he has already rid the earth of the Kshatriya race and returned to the Mount thereafter?”

Parasurama on seeing Lord Rama spoke thus “I have heard about your exploits and the breaking of Siva Dhanus”.  So I have come to test your strength and valour.  If you take my bow and strike with the arrow I should accept your strength.  You are aware that Vishwakarma made two bows and arrows – Shiva Dhanus and Vishnu Dhanus.  Shiva Dhanus you broke.  This Vishnu Dhanus was handed over to Rishikeshar who handed it over to Jamadagni and that is how I got the bow.  When Jamadagni returned having given up all weapons Kartaveeryarjuna gave maximum trouble and he was ultimately beheaded.  So I took revenge on the Kshatriya race.  If you are a real Kshatriya and if you can terminate your enemies, then take this Vishnu Dhanus and shoot your arrows.

Dasartha who was standing by hearing this conversation pleaded with Parasuraman not to drag Sri Rama in this combat as he was still young.  Dasaratha continued stating that “I heard you returned to Mount Mahendra relinquishing all your weapons and kingdom to Sage Kashyapa in front of Indra.  Then why have your come back!”  But this fell on deaf ears.  The Serengeti it may be noted, of Dasaratha did not yield any remits as he had no powers to grant any boon.

Sri Rama who was silent addressed Parasurama thus “I have heard all your exploits and your courageous feats.  That does not mean I am afraid and that I have no courage and valour.  Give me the Vishnu Dhanus”, and put his arrow to the bow.  It was such a wonderful scene that Brahma with other devas and rishis stood in amazement and prostrated to HIM.  When Sri Rama looked at Parasuramar all the “Shakti” of Parasuraman got transferred to Sri Rama and Parasuraman stood totally subdued here of all his powers.  Once the arrow leaves bow, Rama said, “It will take away your legs, you will not be able to travel anywhere or else you give up all the “Punya” you have earned so far and the Mokshaloka you have earned through your tapas.

Parasuraman with folded hands appealed to Sri Rama, “Take away my Mokshaloka but not my legs as I have to return to Mount Mahendra.  I don’t come to earth and even if I come I don’t stay overnight.  Sri Rama, please shoot the arrow.  I am aware that you are Lord Vishnu and all the devathas are waiting to have your Darshan.”  When the arrow was shot by Sri Rama it took away the Mokshaloka and Parasuraman returned to Mount Mahendra.  Thus ended the Parasurama avatar of the Lord.

Aum Shanti: Shanti: Shanti:
Aum Shanti: Shanti: Shanti:

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