Parashurama

Parashurama, a Brahman (Sanskrit: परशुराम) or Parasurama ("Axe-wielding Rama"), the sixth avatar of Vishnu, belongs to the Treta yuga, and is the son of Jamadagni and Renuka. Parashu means axe, hence his name literally means Rama-with-the-axe. He received an axe after undertaking a terrible penance to please Shiva, from whom he learned the methods of warfare and other skills. He fought the advancing ocean back thus saving the lands of Konkan and Malabar (Maharashtra - Karnataka - Kerala coastline). The coastal area of Kerala state along with the Konkan region, i.e., coastal Maharashtra and Karnataka, is known as Parashurama Kshetra (Parashurama's area). Some say it extends all the way to Mumbai in Maharashtra. Parashurama is said to be a "Brahma-Kshatriya" (of the duty between a Brahmana and a Kshatriya), the first warrior saint and a descendant of the Brahmarshi Vishvamitra.

Parashurama

Parashurama has been mentioned in several scriptures - Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and Bhagavata and Kalki Puranas. He is famous for killing the Haihaya-Kshatriyas on the earth 21 times for their Ahankara (pride/arrogance). He wanted to spread & preserve the Vedic culture on Earth. Major parts of India & Indian villages have been said to be built by him. He was the most obedient descendants of the Bhargava gotra, who always followed the teachings & orders of his Gurus & parents. He respected the elders (jeshtas) and never insulted them. His Bhaava(emotion) was to keep this jeev shrishti(earth) alive with its beauty of nature. He requested the Ocean to recede so that he can build a place to live for the growing population situated in modern day Konkan. He wanted this earth to stay alive for Jeev shrishti like Birds, animals, Trees, Fruits & whole of Nature. He explained that Dharma of Raja was to spread Vedic life & not empowering its praja through kingdom. He was born a Brahmin but is Kshatriya by Karma, or deeds. He is also known as Bhargava.

It is also learned that Parashurama had learned most of the vidyas in his balyaavastha (the education given to children under 8 years or age) with his mothers teachings. He understood & spoke to the animals. Even the wildest of all animals became his friends after he touched them.

He always taught the military arts only to Brahmins. However, there were exceptions.His well known students are -
1. Bhishma
2.) Drona, the teacher of the Pandus and Kurus, father of Ashwatthama
3.) Karna: Because Karna lied to Parashurama about being a Brahmin to earn tutelage under Parashurama, once Parashuram found out the truth of Karna's Kshatriya birth, he cursed Karna that he will forget all that he learned at a critical point when he needs it the most. Thus, when Karna and Arjuna square off on Kurukushetra, Karna loses to Arjuna simply because he could not remember the vital mantra to invoke a weapon.

Shri Parashurama had been blessed by the teachings of Gurus & Gurumata likeMaharshi Jamdagni (his father, fondly called as "Da")Jagatmata Renuka devi (his mother, fondly called as "Ma")Maharshi KashyapaGurumata AditiBrahmasrhi VishwamitraMaharshi RutvijMaharshi atriGurumata AnsuyaMaharshi Vasishtha

Birth

Parashurama was the Great Grandson of Bhrugu Rishi, after whom the "Bhruguvansh" has been named. Bhrugu's Son, Rucheek, married King Gadhi's daughter, Satyavati. One day, Satyavati requested Bhrugu for a Son for herself and her mother. Bhrugu prescribed separate regimens for the two ladies in terms of worshipping a particular kind of tree, keeping in mind that Satyavati was married to a Brahmin and Her mother to a kshatriya. However, the two ladies got confused - Satyavati followed the regimen of her mother and Vice Versa. Consequently, Bhrugu foretold that Satyavati's son will display Kshatriya traits and her mother's son will display Brahmin Traits. After some pleading, Satyavati convinced Bhrugu to have this effect, not on her son (Jamadagni) but her Grandson (Parashurama)

Jamadagni married Renuka, daughter of King Prasenjit. They had five Sons, Parashurama being the youngest, the others being eldest of all Som,then Krutvu,Turvasu and Megh. As Bhrugu had foretold, Parashurama, despite of being born in a Brahmin family, had Kshatriya traits in terms of aggression, warfare and valour, as was displayed after Haihaya King Sahasrarjuna killed his father Jamadagni.

The Killing of Jamadagni and Parashurama's revenge

A haihaya King Kartavirya Arjuna (Sahasrarjuna - purported to possess a thousand arms) and his army visited Jamadagni, a Brahmin sage, who fed his guest and the whole army with his divine cow Kamadhenu. The king demanded the magical cow. Jamadagni refused because he needed the cow for his religious ceremonies. King Kartavirya Arjuna (Sahasrarjuna) took the cow forcibly and devastated the ashram. Angered at this, Parashurama killed the king's entire army and, after cutting each one of his thousand arms, the king himself with his axe. As a revenge, the King's sons killed Jamadagni in Parashurama's absence.

Furious at his father's murder, Parashurama killed all sons of Sahasrajuna and their aides. His thirst for revenge unquenched, he went on killing every adult Kshatriya on earth, not once but 21 times, filling five ponds with blood. These are the actions which highlight his warrior characteristics. Ultimately, his grandfather, Richeek Rishi appeared and stopped him. Subsequently, he donated the whole of the earth won from the Kshatriyas to Brahmins. Drona reaped the benefit of this donation by Parashurama; he went to Parashurama and requested for Parashurama's warfare skills. Parashurama agreed.

Haihaya-Kshatriya Background

It appears that the Haihayas may have been enemies and at war with several groups, including other Kshtriyas themselves. For example the Haihayas sacked Kashi during the reigns of King Haryaswa and King Sudeva (whom they killed), King Divodas and his son Pratarddana (who finally expelled them outside of the Vatsa Kingdom). All these kings were born in the Kingdom of the Ikshvaku, a solar clan and the Haihayas were a lunar clan.

The hostile Haihaya King Arjuna Kartavirya also defeated the Naga Kshatiryas, defeated Karkotaka Naga and made Mahishmati (present day Maheshwar) the capital of his own kingdom.

All the five Haihaya clans called themselves together as Talajangha (Vishnu Purana IV.11).

According to numerous Puranas, the military corporations of the Shakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Pahlavas and Paradas, known as five hordes ("pānca-ganah"), had militarily supported the Haihaya and Talajunga Kshatriyas in depriving Ikshvaku King Bahu (the 7th king in descent from Harishchandra) of his Ayodhya kingdom.

A generation later, Bahu's son, Sagara recaptured Ayodhya after totally destroying the Haihaya and Talajangha Kshatriyas in the battle. King Sagara had punished these foreign hordes by ordering their 'heads shaved' (a common practice used to humiliate and shame the enemy in the ancient and modern world; e.g. used on French women collaborators after the defeat of Nazi-Vichy rule at the end of world war II) and turning them into "degraded Kshatriyas". [Harivamsa 14.1-19]

Extermination of the Haihaya-kshatriya caste

The enmity between the Haihaya and the Bhargavas are mentioned in the Mahabharata Hindu text numerous times. In the Srimad Bhagavatam SB 9.8.5-6, the Haihaya are mentioned as "the uncivilized" [ Srimad Bhagavatam B 9.8.5-6] .

Once, when Parashurama returned home, he found his mother crying hysterically. When asked why she was crying, she beat her chest 21 times. In a rage, Parashurama vowed to exterminate the world's Haihaya-Kshatriyas 21 times. He killed the entire clan of Kartavirya Arjuna (or Sahasrarjuna), thus conquering the entire earth. He offered his dead father's soul tarpana with the blood of the kings and warriors he slew. He then conducted the Ashvamedha sacrifice, done only by sovereign kings, and gave the entire land he owned to the priests who performed at the "yagya", viz. Kashyapa.

Parashurama then became responsible for killing the world's corrupted Haihaya kings and warriors who came to attack him in revenge for the killing of Kartavirya Arjuna, to prevent a Brahmin from being emperor and threatening their position. The Ashvamedha demanded that the kings either submit to Parashurama's imperial position or thwart the sacrifice by defeating him in battle. They did neither and were killed. Parashurama exterminated the world's Haihaya-Kshatriyas 21 times, thus fulfilling his vow.

Legends

It is said that when Parashurama saved and reclaimed Kerala, he settled Kerala from the retreat of the sea, that was the beginning of the Kollam Era (AD 825) (possibly named after the city Kollam) for the Malayalam Calendar. [ [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-58742/chronology#523199.hook Encyclopedia Britannica] ]

According to one legend, Parashurama also went to visit Shiva once but the way was blocked by Ganesha. Parashurama threw the axe at him and Ganesha, knowing it had been given to him by Shiva, allowed it to cut off one of his tusks.

There is an interesting side to Parashurama's conquest of Kshatriyas. After one his conquests, he returns to Aihole (Badami Taluka, Bagalkot district in Karntaka) which, some say was where he lived. Those who know Aihole would know that the river Malaprabha does a near 180 degree turn there. While Parashurama washed his blood soaked axe upriver, beyond the bend, there were village belles washing clothes downriver. The axe was so bloody that it turned the entire river red. This, the women washing clothes saw and exclaimed "Ai hole!" (oh, what a river!). The name stuck and the village is now known as Aihole.There is an another legend that Nairs (Nagas)of Kerala removed their sacred thread and hid in the forests to avoid Parasuramas revenge against Kshatriyas. Parasuram donated the land to Nambuthiri Brahimns and Nambuthiris denied the Nairs Kshatriya status (though they did Kshatriya duties and almost all the royal houses in Kerala come from them)

hiva's Bow

In the Ramayana, Parashurama came to the betrothal ceremony of the seventh Avatara, Rama, to the princess Sita. As a test of worthiness the suitors were required to lift and string the bow of Shiva, given to the King Janaka by Parshurama. Rama successfully strung the bow, but in the process it broke in two, producing a tremendous noise that reached the ears of Parashurama.

In one such version, played in "ramlilas" across India, Parshurama arrived after hearing the sound of the bow of Shiva breaking. The kshatriyas were adviced by brahmarishi vasistha not to confront the sage, but Sita approached the sage. He blessed her, saying "Saubhagyawati bhavah", literally meaning "you will have your husband alive for your lifetime, you wont see his death". So when he turned to confront Rama, the destroyer of Shiva's bow, he could not pick up his axe to do so as he pacifies by the brilliance of rama (vishnuavatara). This was also because, as he blessed Sita with good luck, he could not cause any harm to her husband which was a part of his own (Shri Vishnu). After recognising Rama for what he truly was, namely, the avatar of Vishnu as his bow fent flying in the hands of Lord Rama.

The Mahabharata

When Amba came to Parasurama for help because Bhishma refused to marry her. He decided to slay Bhishma and fought with him for twenty three days. It was a long and equal combat between the two greatest men-at-arms of the age, but in the end Parasurama had to acknowledge defeat because Bhishma was Immortal. He told Amba: "I have done all that I could and I have failed. Throw yourself on the mercy of Bhishma. That is the only course left to you."

Parasurama was giving away his earning and wealth of a life time to brahmanas, Drona approached him. Unfortunately by the time Drona arrived, Parasurama had given away all his belongings to other brahmanas. Taking pity upon the plight of Drona, Parasurama said you can choose any of my weapons, which one would you like to have? The clever Drona said I will like to have your weapons with their mantars as and when I need them. Parasurama said so be it. In other words Drona decided to impart his knowledge of combat which made him supreme in science of arms.

In the Mahabharata, Parashurama was the instructor of the warrior Karna, born to a Kshatriya mother but raised as the son of a charioteer, or lower class of Kshatriyas. Karna came to Parashurama after being rejected from the school of Drona, who taught the five Pandava and one hundred Kaurava princes. Parashurama agreed to teach Karna, believing him to not be of Kshatriya birthFact|date=May 2007, and gave him the knowledge of the extremely powerful Brahmastra weapon. But an incident would render the Brahmastra almost useless to Karna.

One day, Parashurama was sleeping with his head resting on Karna's thigh, when a beetle crawled up and bit Karna's thigh, boring into it. In spite of the bleeding and the pain, he neither flinched or uttered a cry so that his teacher could continue his rest. However, the blood trickled down, reaching Parashurama and awakening him. Convinced that only a Kshatriya could have borne such pain in silence and that Karna had therefore lied in order to receive instruction, he cursed Karna that his knowledge of the Brahmastra would fail him when he needed it most. Later, during the Kurukshetra war, Karna had a dream at night when he thought of his guru and asked him to take back the curse he had warranted years back. Parashurama explained that he knew that the day would come; he knew that Karna was a KshatriyaFact|date=June 2007, but deemed him to be a worthy student and instructed him nevertheless. However, the outcome of the war would have left the world in ruins if Duryodhana were to rule, as opposed to Yudhishthira. For that reason, Parashurama requested that Karna accept the curse and fall at the hands of Arjuna, inadvertently saving the world.Fact|date=June 2007

Parashurama was the guru of both Bheeshma (Devavrata) and DronacharyaFact|date=May 2007. Also, the Sudarshan chakra (or Sudarshan Vidya) is said to be given by Parashurama to Krishna.

The Sixth Avatara

The purpose of the sixth incarnation of Vishnu is considered by religious scholars to be to relieve the earth's burden by exterminating the sinful, destructive and irreligious monarchs that pillaged its resources, and neglected their duties as kings.

Parashurama is of a martial Shraman ascetic. However, unlike all other avatars, Parashurama still lives on earth, even today. Secondly, he is an Avesha Avatara, a secondary type of Avatara. In such an Avatara, Vishnu does not directly descend as do Rama or Krishna but instead enters the soul of a man with His form. Accordingly, unlike Rama and Krishna, Parashurama is not worshipped. But in South India, at the holy place Pajaka, there exists one major temple commemorating Parashurama.

Parshurama, the creator of the Konkan coast, is also worshipped in a temple at Lote Parshurama in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri district.The people of the Konkan call their land 'Parshurama Bhoomi' or "the land of Parshurama" in accordance with the legend that the sage reclaimed the land from the sea.

There are several Parashurama temples throughout the western coast of India as well as North India, but especially more in the costal areas from Bharuch(ancient name of Bharuch is Bhrugu Kutchchh) in the west Indian state of Gujarat right up to Kerala, the southern tip of India. One can see a Parshurama Temple with a Agni Mandir in Shivpuri - Akkalkot, Khopoli in Maharashtra and Fort Songadh in Gujarat.

A temple of Parshurama is also situated at Akhnoor, 18 km away from Jammu city, J&K.Every year, in the month of May, an enormous fete in the form of a parade, referred as Parshuram Jayanti, with hundreds of tableaux, thronged through the main city of Jammu. Local community leaders and followers arrange for the celebrations and it is celebrated with great enthusiasm.

Kalki Purana

The Kalki Purana states Parashurama will be the martial guru of Sri Kalki, the 10th and final avatar of Lord Vishnu. It is he who instructs Kalki to perform a long penance to Shiva to receive celestial weaponry.

Parashurama and Deities' Temples

In the Kanyakumari Temple in Kanyakumari town, Parasurama installed the Idol made of blue stone. Parashurama installed the idol of Dharma Sastha (Ayyappa) on the peak on the Sabarimala Hill in the forest. [http://www.indiayogi.com/content/indgods/ayyapan1.asp] Parashurama trained Ayyappa [http://www.ayyappaa.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19] just as Parashurama had trained Karna in the Mahabharata and is believed will train the future Kalki.

He created a temple of worship right after he resurfaced Kerala from the sea. He placed statues of various deities in 108 different places and introduced martial arts ("Kalari Payattu") to protect the temple from the evils. [http://www.fistindia.com/martial.html]

Also, while the other pilgrimages created by Parashurama are devoted to Lord Shiva, Lord Subramanya and Lord Ganesha, Kollur is the only one devoted to goddess Parvati. [http://www.sathyasaitourist.com/pilgrims.htm]

There are "Seven Mukti Stalas" of Karnataka, which were created by Parashurama and some of the above such as Kollur belong to them.

Parashurama Kshetras

Eight kshetras are popularly known as Parashurama kshetras and a.k.a. 'Parashurama Srishti'. They are:

#Chiplun
#Udupi
#Subramanya
#Kollur
#Shankaranarayana
#Koteshwara
#Kumbasi (Annegudde)
#Gokarna

Further Kshetra Legend

There is a legend that in one of the kshetras a King called Ramabhoja worshipped Lord Parashurama [http://www.ourkarnataka.com/states/udupi/udupitemple.htm] He was the ruler of the lands between Gokarna and Cape Comorin and was proclaimed king of the entire Parasurama Kshetra. [http://www.chennaionline.com/hotelsandtours/Placesofworship/2006/01temple72.asp] Once he decided to perform the aswamedha yajna and plowed the land but mistakenly killed a serpent. However the serpent was a demon. To repent this sin, King Rambhoja was directed by Lord Parasurama to build a big silver pedestal with the image of a serpent at each of its four corners and to worship Him who would be seated in spirit on the pedestal and also to distribute gold equal to his own weight (Tulabhara) to deserving persons. Rambhoja did likewise and performed the ashwamedha yajna successfully. At its conclusion, Lord Parasurama appeared and declared that he was pleased with the Yajna and that henceforth the sacrificial land 'Roopya Peetha' ("silver pedestal") would become a famous centre of pilgrimage. This land is also known as 'Thoulava' land and because Rambhoja performed 'Tulabhara'. This is in brief is the legend of the land.

Reclamation of Konkan (coastal Maharashtra) & Kerala

There is also the Panhala Fort founded by Raja Bhoja in the late 12th century [ [http://www.tourismsouthasia.com/India/west_india/maharashtra/forts_2.asp Tourism in Maharashtra] ] which Chhatrapati Shivaji had used and is said to be the only fort in which he stayed for 500 days! This fort is said to have a connection with Parashurama.Konkan is the "karmabhumi" of Parashurama (the land founded by him), but very few people know about his "janmabhumi" (birthplace). there is one view that his birthplace was Mahoor gadh, which is at the border of Marathwada and Vidharbha of Maharastra. At Mahoor on the left hand side of main Renuka Mata temple there is a temple which is believed to be Parashurama's birthplace. However, there is also one belief that the birthplace of Lord Parashurama is Janapao or Jaana pau in present day Madhya Pradesh, a central Indian State [ "Dainik Bhaskar - Indore edition July 2007 ] .

Parasurama Dhyana Sloka

The following is a "sloka" (hymn) in praise of Parasurama

"Devam naumi ramapathim ranapatum baswath kireedanchitham,

Kodandam sasaram karena dadhtatham vamena chanyena cha,

Aartha thrana patum kutaramasatham kandacchidam bhasuram,

Smasru prasphurithananam surathanum ramam sada saswatham."

I salute that immortal Parasurama, who is worshiped by the Devas,

Who is the consort of Lakshmi, who is an expert in war, who has a shining crown,

Who holds a bow in his right hand and a white axe in his left

Which protects the oppressed and destroys the bad,

Who has a great shine on his face and is praised by the Devas.parshurama was a bhramin and a avtar lord vishnu.

Other Names

*Bhrigupati
*BhargavaA temple of "THE GOD PARSHU-RAM" is also near cHIPLUN, District : Ratnagiri, in Maharashtra State.

References

* [http://www.srivaishnavam.com/stotras/dasavatharam_meaning.htm#PARASURAMA Meaning of Parushama, an Avesha avatar]
* Ramayashogatha - M.S. alias Baburaoji Parkhe. Written and Published Marathi (1975), Hindi edition (2008). [http://www.srivaishnavan.com/ans_iswara.html#67 Types of Avatars]
* [http://himachal.us/2007/04/19/%e0%a4%ad%e0%a4%97%e0%a4%b5%e0%a4%be%e0%a4%a8-%e0%a4%aa%e0%a4%b0%e0%a4%b6%e0%a5%81%e0%a4%b0%e0%a4%be%e0%a4%ae-%e0%a4%9c%e0%a4%af%e0%a4%a8%e0%a5%8d%e0%a4%a4%e0%a5%80-%e0%a4%b5%e0%a4%bf%e0%a4%b6%e0%a58/1816/news/joshi More details about Lord Parshurama on myHimachal blog]
* Bhagwan Parashuram(Hindi) : Jayant Potdar
* History of North Malabar : Nandakumar Koroth

ee also

*Avatars
*Haihayas
*Heheya Kingdom
*Kalachuri Kingdom


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