Parashurama – Hindu Warriors


Parashurama is the sixth avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism. He is the son of Renuka and one of the saptarishis, Jamadagni. He lived during the last Treta and Dvapara Yugas and is one of the Chiranjivi (immortals) of Hinduism. Parashurama, a Brahmin, received his famous axe after undertaking terrible penance to please Shiva, who in turn taught him Kalaripayattu (the mother of all martial arts).

Parashurama is most known for ridding the world of kshatriyas twenty-one times over after the mighty king Kartavirya Arjuna killed his father. He plays important roles in the Mahabharata and Ramayana, serving as mentor to Bhishma, Drona and Karna.

Parashurama and Indrajit (Ravana’s son) are believed to be the only humans who ever possessed the three ultimate weapons: the Brahmanda astra, Vaishnava astra and Pashupatastra. Parashurama was a disciple of Shiva and learned the scriptures and the arts of warfare from Shiva. He then acquired celestial weapons from Shiva and the other gods on Shiva’s instructions. Shiva personally trained Parashurama for decades in the art of warfare.The Bhargavastra was his personal celestial weapon and vijaya was his personal bow which was gifted by Shiva. Parashurama also fought back the advancing seas to save the lands of Konkan and Kerala.

Parashurama is worshipped as mulapuru?a, or male ancestral founder, of the Dravida, Niyogi, Bhumihar, Chitpavan, Devrukhe, Daivadnya, Mohyal, Tyagi, Anavil and Nambudiri Brahmin communities. Along with the sages Vyasa, Kripa and Drona’s son Ashwatthama, Parashurama is considered to be foremost among the rishis in the Kaliyuga.Parashurama will also become one of the saptarishi in the 8th Manvantara. Parashurama is a mighty Maharathi and he will reappear as the martial instructor of Vishnu’s 10th avatar Kalki.

The exact location of Bhargav’s birth is contested, although puranas claim that he was born at Renuka Tirth as the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. His father, Jamadagni, was a direct descendant of Brahma. Renuka gave birth to four sons before Parashurama: Vasu, Visva Vasu, Brihudyanu and Brutvakanva. Before the birth of their fifth son, Jamadagni meditated with his wife Renuka at Tape Ka Tiba near Renuka lake for divine providence. With the blessing of Lord Shiva, Vishnu answered their wishes and was born from the womb of Renuka as their fifth and youngest son, whom they named Rambhadra.

2.Renuka & The Clay Pot
Goddess Renuka was known for her chastity and devotion to her husband. Such was her faith, that she was able to fetch water from the river in a pot of unbaked clay, with the pot held together only by the strength of her devotion.

One day while at the river, a group of Gandharvas in a chariot passed by in the sky above. Filled with desire for only a moment, the unbaked pot she held dissolved in the river. Afraid to return to her husband, she waited at the river bank, uncertain of what to do next. Meanwhile, Jamadagni noticed his wife had not returned. Through his yogic powers, he divined all that had taken place and was enraged. The rishi called his eldest son, handed him an axe and asked the boy to kill his mother. Horrified, the boy refused and so Jamadagni turned him to stone. He then asked each of his sons and as they refused, one by one, he turned them to stone. Finally only his youngest son, Parashurama was left. Ever obedient, the boy beheaded his mother.

Pleased Jamadagni then offered two boons to Parashurama. The boy asked that his mother be brought back to life and his brothers to be returned from stone to flesh and they should not remember anything about the incident happened. Impressed by the affection and devotion of his son, Jamadagni granted his request.

3.Meeting Akritavana
On his way home, Parashurama saw a Brahmin boy chased by a tiger. Parashurama plucked a grass blade and burnt the tiger to ashes. The boy recovered and decided to follow Parashurama as a friend and disciple. Since he was unwounded, he was called Akritavana. The duo first went to Bhrigu, then Chyavana, then Aurva, then Richika and then Jamadagni and told them about their adventures.

4.Getting Vijaya Bow From Lord Indra
Shri Parashurama, clipped the thousand arms of Kartavirya Arjuna (Sahastrarjun), one by one, with his Parshu and killed him. He repelled his army by showering arrows on them. The whole country greatly welcomed the destruction of Kartavirya Arjuna (Sahastrarjun). The king of Deities, Indra was in possession of Lord Shiva’s Vijaya Dhanusha. Indra was so pleased that he presented this most beloved Vijaya (bow) to Shri Parashurama on instruction from Lord Shiva. Dev Indra had destroyed demon dynasties with this bow. By the fatal arrows shot with the help of this Vijaya bow, Shri Parashurama destroyed the miscreant Kshatriyas twenty one times.

Later Shri Parashurama presented the Vijaya bow to his disciple Karna when he was pleased with his intense devotion to the Guru. Karna used this bow to fight on the 17th day of the Kurukshetra war. Karna become unconquerable with help of the Vijaya.

5.Request To Shiva
According to Hindu tradition, Parshurama reclaimed the land of Konkan after donating the earth to Maharshi Kashyap. Then he requested different Gods and Goddesses to settle in the newly created land and to take responsibility of various clans. Parshuram, being a devotee of Shiva, requested Shiva to give him audience everyday, while he is living in the newly created land. Lord Shiva accepted his request. Lord Parshuram also brought 60 ‘Vipras’ to settle in Konkan. One such Vipra named ‘Vyad’ installed a Shivalinga at Guhagar. In this era, since evil thoughts are supposed to prevail, Gods are to remain in their invisible forms. Accordingly, Lord Shiva decided to remain invisible in the Shivalinga installed by Vyad Muni. This same Shivalinga is the well known Vyadeshwar. Thus, Lord Shiva stays at Guhagar in the ‘Vyadeshwar’ Shivalinga from those years thereto now. According to another history, in the era of King Sakuran, the Vyadeshwar Shivalinga was re-invented and the Temple, which we see today, was constructed.

Kshetra scripture has a legend in which a king named Ramabhoja worshipped Parashurama. He was the ruler of the lands between Gokarna and Kanyakumari and was proclaimed king of the entire Parashurama Kshetra. While performing aswamedha yajna, he was plowing the land, but mistakenly killed a snake that was a raksha in disguise. In repentance, Rambhoja was directed by Parashurama to build a rajathatpeetha or large silver pedestal, with the image of a serpent at its four corners in obeisance. Parashurama also ordered that he distribute gold to the needy equal to his own weight as Tulabhara.

Rambhoja performed the ashwamedha yajna successfully and Parashurama appeared before him again, declaring that he was pleased. To this day, the silver pedestal remains a center of pilgrimage. The surrounding land is known as Thoulava, in remembrance of the Tulabhara of Rambhoja.

Parashurama once became annoyed with the sun god Surya for making too much heat. The warrior-sage shot several arrows into the sky, terrifying Surya. When Parashurama ran out of arrows and sent his wife Dharani to bring more, the sun god then focused his rays on her, causing her to collapse. Surya then appeared before Parashurama and gave him two inventions that have since been attributed to the avatar, sandals and an umbrella.

8.Sanyasi & End Time
By the end of the Vedic period, Parashurama had grown weary of bloodshed and became a sannyasi, giving up his possessions to practice penance. The first book of the Mahabharata writes:

The son of Jamadagni, after twenty-one times making the Earth bereft of Kshatriyas, wended to that best of Mountains Mahendra and there began his ascetic penance.

He traveled to central India at the northern end of the Eastern Ghats and Western Odisha and ascended the Mahendra Mountains. Before he left, Parashurama distributed the territories he conquered among a clan of Brahmins called the Bhumihar, who ruled for many centuries. Kingdoms included Kerala, Mushika, Karnata and Konkana.

Unlike other incarnations of Vishnu, Parashurama is a Chiranjivi and is said to still be doing penance today in Mahendragiri. The Kalki Purana writes that he will reemerge at the end of Kali Yuga to be the martial and spiritual guru of Kalki, the tenth and final avatar of Vishnu. It is foretold that he will instruct Kalki to perform a difficult penance to Shiva, and receive the celestial weaponry needed to bring about end time.

Along with the sages Vyasa, Kripa and Ashwatthama, Parashurama is considered to be foremost among the rishis in Kaliyuga. Parashurama will also become one of the Saptarishi in the 8th Manvantara along with sages Vyasa, Kripa and Ashwatthama.

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