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NITAAI-Veda.nyf > Compiled and Imp Scriptures > Shrimad Bhagavatam > Canto-9 > Lord Parashurama



 Lord Parashurama.



     Six sons were begotten by Pururava in the womb of Urvashi- Ayu, Srutayu, Shatayayu, Raya, Vijaya, and Jaya. In the fourth generation after Vijaya appeared Jahnu, who drank all the water of the Ganga. In the sixth generation after Jahnu was King Gadhi, who had a daughter named Satyavati.

When the brahmana sage Richika asked Gadhi for the hand of his daughter in marriage, the king considered him unfit and so replied, “My dear sir, since I belong to the aristocratic kshatriya dynasty of Kusha, my daughter can only be given away in exchange for some dowry. Therefore, please bring me one thousand horses that are as white as moonshine, with each having one black ear.”

     After hearing this demand, Richika could certainly understand the king’s mind. Still, by approaching the demigod Varuna, Richika was able to get the required horses, so that after delivering them to King Gadhi, he married the beautiful Satyavati.

     Sometime thereafter, both Satyavati and her mother, each desiring a son, requested Richika to prepare oblations that would fulfill their ambitions. For this purpose, Richika Muni prepared one oblation for his wife with a brahmana mantra, and another for his mother-in-law using a kshatriya mantra, and then went to bathe.

     Meanwhile, Satyavati’s mother, reasoning that Richika must have prepared a better oblation for his wife, begged her daughter to trade with her. As a result, Satyavati ate her mother’s oblation, while her mother very happily ate hers.

When the great sage Richika returned home and understood what had happened, he admonished his wife by saying, “You have made a great mistake, and because of this your son will be a fierce kshatriya, whereas your brother will be a learned Vedic scholar.” 

     When the fearful Satyavati pacified him with sweet words, begging that her son may not be a ferocious warrior, Richika replied, “Alright, let your grandson be endowed with the kshatriya spirit.”

     Satyavati later on became the sacred river, Kaushiki, and her son, Jamadagni married Renuka, the daughter of Renu. Through Renuka, Jamadagni begot many sons, the youngest of whom was named Parashurama, and he was an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

     At this time, there was a great kshatriya named Kartaviryarjuna, who was the king of the Haihayas. By the mercy of Dattatreya (the plenary expansion of the Supreme Lord) Kartaviryarjuna received one thousand arms, as well as other benedictions that made him undefeatable and possessed of great sensory power, beauty, influence, fame, and the mystic powers that are achieved by yogis. Having thus become fully opulent, Kartaviryarjuna began roaming over the universe without opposition, just like the wind.

     Once, while enjoying himself in the River Narmada, surrounded by many beautiful women, Kartaviryarjuna displayed his prowess by stopping the flow of the water with his mighty arms. Because the river was made to flow in the opposite direction, it inundated Ravana’s camp, which was situated upstream on the banks of the Narmada near Mahishmati. 

     This was intolerable for the ten-headed Ravana, who was on a tour to gain victory over all directions, and so he went to search for the cause of the unnatural flood. Thereafter, when Ravana retaliated by insulting Kartaviryarjuna in the presence of numerous women, the Haihaya king easily arrested him. After locking up Ravana within his capital, Kartaviryarjuna released him neglectfully.

     Once, as Kartaviryarjuna was hunting in a solitary forest, he happened to come to Jamadagni’s ashram. Actually, the king had no business there, but just to display his importance, he presented himself as a guest. The great sage received Kartaviryarjuna very respectfully, and because of possessing a kamadhenu (cow that could supply anything desired), he was able to lavishly entertain, not only the king, but his ministers, soldiers and carriers as well.

     Upon seeing Jamadagni’s wonderful opulence, in the form of his wish-fulfilling cow, Kartaviryarjuna became envious, considering his own prowess inferior to that of the rishi. Instead of appreciating the nice reception given by Jamadagni, Kartaviryarjuna wanted to possess his kamadhenu, although the sage certainly needed it for his performance of fire sacrifices. Being very puffed-up with his material prowess, Kartaviryarjuna encouraged his men to steal Jamadagni’s kamadhenu, and so they forcibly carried her away, along with her calf, towards their capital, Mahishmati.

     Parashurama had been absent, but when he returned home and heard about Kartaviryarjuna’s nefarious deed, he became as angry as a trampled snake. Taking his fierce chopper, shield, bow and arrows, Lord Parashurama chased Kartaviryarjuna, just as a lion pursues an elephant.

     King Kartaviryarjuna was just about to enter Mahishmati, but when he saw Parashurama coming after him, dressed in black deerskin and having matted locks of hair, he immediately became extremely frightened. Kartaviryarjuna tried to defend himself by sending seventeen akshauhini divisions of soldiers against Parashurama, but the warrior-incarnation of the Lord killed them all single-handedly.

     At first, Parashurama worked with the speed of mind, and then, when he became a little tired, he moved with the speed of wind while slicing the enemy soldiers with his chopper. By using his axe and bow, Parashurama cut to pieces the enemy’s arms, legs, and heads, as well as their elephants, horses, drivers, shields, flags, bows and chariots. Because of this, the entire battlefield became muddy with blood.

     Upon seeing the destruction of his army, the infuriated Kartaviryarjuna rushed at Parashurama while simultaneously fixing arrows onto his five hundred bows with his one thousand hands. However, with just a single bow, Lord Parashurama released enough arrows to cut into pieces all of the arrows and bows that were held in the hands of his adversary. At this, Kartaviryarjuna uprooted many trees and hills with his numerous hands, and again rushed at Parashurama, hoping to kill him. Parashurama then displayed his inconceivable prowess by cutting off all of Kartaviryarjuna’s arms with his axe, just as one might lop off the hoods of a serpent. After accomplishing this feat, Parashurama cut off Kartaviryarjuna’s head, and when the king’s 10,000 sons saw this, they fled in fear.

     Parashurama then went and released his father’s kamadhenu. Bringing it back home, he delivered the kamadhenu to his father. When he described to Jamadagni how he had killed Kartaviryarjuna, the great sage replied, “My dear son, you have unnecessarily killed the king, who is considered to be the embodiment of all the demigods, and thus you have committed a great sin.”

      “We are brahmanas and have become worshipable for the people in general because of our quality of forgiveness. Indeed, it is because of this exalted quality that Lord Brahma has achieved his post, for the Supreme Lord is very pleased with those who are forgiving.”

“My dear son, the act of killing an emperor is more sinful than the killing of a brahmana, but you can atone for it by touring the holy places of pilgrimage in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord.”

     Parashurama immediately accepted his father’s order, and for one full year he travelled to holy places and then returned home.

Once, when Jamadagni’s wife, Renuka, went to the Ganga to fetch some water, she saw Chitraratha, the king of the Gandharvas, sporting there along with some Apsaras.

     Renuka became somewhat captivated by the handsome king, who was nicely decorated with a garland of lotus-flowers, and thus while absorbed in watching him she forgot that the time for her husband’s fire sacrifices was passing. When Renuka finally realized that she had stayed away much too long, she became afraid of her husband’s curse. Therefore, after returning to the ashram, she simply put down the water pot and stood silently before Jamadagni with folded hands. The great sage could understand Renuka’s mental adultery, however, and he very angrily ordered his sons, “Kill this sinful woman!”

     When none of his elder sons complied, Jamadagni ordered Parashurama to kill his disobedient brothers, along with his unfaithful mother. Knowing very well the prowess of his father, Parashurama obediently killed his mother and brothers without hesitation, and so Jamadagni became very pleased with him. When the great rishi asked him to take any benediction he desired, Parashurama requested, “Let my mother and brothers come back to life, without remembering that it was I who killed them.”

      Jamadagni then revived Lord Parashurama’s mother and brothers, and indeed, they appeared to be very happy, as if awoken from a sound sleep. Actually, Parashurama had killed Renuka and her sons because he was confident of his father’s prowess and wisdom.

     Meanwhile, Kartaviryarjuna’s sons could never fell happiness, for they constantly remembered the killing of their father, and their defeat at the hands of Parashurama. Once, when Parashurama had gone to the forest, along with his brothers, Kartaviryarjuna’s took advantage of the situation and approached Jamadagni’s residence, seeking revenge. When they saw the great rishi sitting by the sacrificial fire, absorbed in meditation upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they mercilessly killed him. This was the reaction for Jamadagni’s having ordered his poor wife to be killed for such a minor offense.

Renuka tried to dissuade them with prayers, which she uttered in a very pitiable voice, but the ruthless sons of Kartaviryarjuna cut off Jamadagni’s head and then quickly departed, taking it with them. While the grief-stricken Renuka lamented for the death of her husband, she beat her body with her hands while crying out, “O Rama, my dear son Rama!”

     Although Jamadagni’s sons had gone quite some distance, they could hear their mother’s voice, and so they hastily returned home and found that their father had been murdered. Becoming bewildered by grief, anger, indignation, and lamentation, the sons of Jamadagni cried out, “O father, you have left us and gone to the heavenly planets!”

     Parashurama entrusted his father’s dead body to his brothers, and then picked up his axe, having decided to put an end to all of the kshatriyas on the surface of the earth. First of all going to Mahishmati, Parashurama killed all of Kartaviryarjuna’s sons, thus creating a mountain of severed heads in the middle of the city, as well as a ghastly river of blood that struck fear into the hearts of all the kings who had no respect for brahminical culture.

     Thereafter, on the plea of retaliating for his father’s murder, Lord Parashurama rid the earth of all the kshatriyas twenty-one times, and at the place known as Samanta-panchaka, he created nine lakes filled with their blood.

     Parashurama returned home, and after joining his father’s head to his trunk, he placed the whole body on a kusha grass mat. Parashurama then performed sacrifices for the pleasure of he Supreme Personality of Godhead, and at their completion, he gave away the entire earth to the priests, headed by Kashyapa. After taking his avabhritha-snana, when Lord Parashurama stood on the shore of the great River Sarasvati, cleared of all sins, he appeared just like the sun in a cloudless sky.

     This shows that even an empowered incarnation of the Lord has to account for his sins, such as the killing of Kartaviryaruna. At that time, Jamadagni was brought back to life with full remembrance. In the next manvantara, Lord Parashurama will become one of the seven great rishis, who are foremost propounders of Vedic knowledge. Even now, he resides at the Mahendra Mountain, after having given up his weapons.