Parashurama
Member of Dashavatar and Chiranjivi
Parashurama with axe.jpg
Parashurama by Raja Ravi Varma
Other names
  • Bhargava rama
  • Jamadagnya rama
  • Rambhadra
Devanagariभगवान परशुराम
Sanskrit transliterationParaśurāma Mahar
AffiliationSixth Incarnation of Vishnu, Vaishnavism
WeaponAxe named Vidyudabhi (Parashu)
Personal information
BornThird Day of Vaishaka Shukla Paksha or Parshuram Jayanti (mostly in May & June)
Parents
SiblingsVasu, Viswa Vasu, Brihudyanu and Brutwakanwa
SpouseDharani

Parashurama (Sanskrit: परशुराम, romanizedParaśurāma, lit.'Rama with an axe'), also referred to as Rama Jamadagnya, Rama Bhargava and Veerarama,[1] is the sixth incarnation among the Dashavatara of the god Vishnu in Hinduism. He is believed to be one of the Chiranjeevis (Long-Lived Ones or Immortal Ones), who will appear at the end of the Kali Yuga to be the guru of Vishnu's tenth and last incarnation, Kalki. He carried a number of traits, which included not only aggression, warfare and valor, but also serenity, prudence and patience.

Born to Jamadagni and Renuka, Parashurama was foretold to appear at a time when overwhelming evil prevailed on the earth. The Kshatriya class, with weapons and power, had begun to abuse their power, take what belonged to others by force and tyrannise people. He corrected the cosmic equilibrium by destroying the Kshatriya warriors twenty-one times. He is married to Dharani, an incarnation of Lakshmi, the wife of Vishnu.[2] He is present in the Ramayana due to the conflict with Rama (the protagonist of the Ramayana) over Lord Shiva's broken bow. He is in the Mahabharata as the Guru of Bhisma, Drona, Rukmi and Karna.[3][4]

Legends

Parashurama meet his Pitaras (Ancestors) after his mass killings.
Parashurama meet his Pitaras (Ancestors) after his mass killings.
Parashurama returning with the sacred calf with Jamadagni cautioning him to not be controlled by anger
Parashurama returning with the sacred calf with Jamadagni cautioning him to not be controlled by anger

According to Hindu legends, Parashurama was born to Sage Jamadagni and his Kshatriya wife, Renuka, living in a hut which is believed present day at Janapav.[5] On top of the hills is a Shiva temple where Parshurama is believed to have worshipped Lord Shiva, the Ashram (Abbey) is known as Jamadagni Ashram, named after his father. The place also has a Kund (Pond) that is being developed by the state government.[6] They had a celestial cow called Surabhi, which gives all they desire (Surabhi was the daughter of cow Kamadhenu).[4][7] A king named Kartavirya Arjun (not to be confused with Arjun the Pandava)[8][note 1] – learns about it and wants it. He asks Jamadagni to give it to him, but the sage refuses. While Parashurama is away from the hut, the king takes it by force.[4] Parashurama learns about this crime, and is upset. With his axe in his hand, he challenges the king to battle. They fight, and Parushama defeats and kills the king, according to the Hindu scriptures.[1] The warrior class challenges him, and he kills all his challengers. The legend likely has roots in the ancient conflict between the Brahmin varna, with knowledge duties, and the Kshatriya varna, with warrior and enforcement roles.[3][4][9]

In some versions of the legend, after his martial exploits, Parashurama returns to his sage father with the Surabhi cow and tells him about the battles he had to fight. The sage does not congratulate Parashurama but reprimands him stating that a Brahmin should never kill a king. He asks him to expiate his sin by going on pilgrimage. After Parashurama returns from a pilgrimage, he is told that while he was away, his father was killed by Kartavirya Arjun's Sons seeking revenge. Parashurama again picks up his axe and killed them and also kills many warriors in retaliation. In the end, he relinquishes his weapons and takes up Yoga.

In Kannada folklore, especially in devotional songs sung by the Devdasis he is often referred to as a son of Yellamma. Parasurama legends are notable for their discussion of violence, the cycles of retaliations, the impulse of Krodha (Anger), the inappropriateness of krodha, and repentance.[10][note 2]

Parasurama and origin of western coast (Konkan and Malabar)

Parasurama,surrounded by settlers, commanding Lord Varuna, God of the waters to recede to make land known as 'Parasurama Kshetra' from Gokarna to Kanyakumari for the Brahmins.
Parasurama,surrounded by settlers, commanding Lord Varuna, God of the waters to recede to make land known as 'Parasurama Kshetra' from Gokarna to Kanyakumari for the Brahmins.

There are legends dealing with the origins of the western coast geographically and culturally. One such legend is the retrieval of the West Coast from the sea, by Parasurama, a warrior sage. It proclaims that Parasurama, an Incarnation of MahaVishnu, threw His battle axe into the sea. As a result, the land of the Western coast arose, and thus was reclaimed from the waters. The place from which he threw his axe (or shot an arrow) is on Salher fort (the second highest peak and the highest fort in Maharashtra) in the Baglan taluka of Nashik district of Maharashtra. There is a temple on the summit of this fort dedicated to Parshuram and there are footprints in the rock 4 times the size of normal humans. This fort on a lower plateau has a temple of goddess Renuka, Parshuram's mother and also a Yagya Kunda with pits for poles to erect a shamiyana on the banks of a big water tank.

According to the Sangam classic Purananuru, the Chera king Senkuttuvan conquered the lands between KanyaKumari and the Himalayas.[13] Lacking worthy enemies, he besieged the sea by throwing his spear into it.[13][14] According to the 17th-century Malayalam work Keralolpathi, the lands of Kerala were recovered from the sea by the axe-wielding warrior sage Parasurama, the sixth Incarnation of Vishnu (hence, Kerala is also called Parasurama Kshetram 'The Land of Parasurama'[15]). Parasurama threw his axe across the sea, and the water receded as far as it reached. According to legend, this new area of land extended from Gokarna to KanyaKumari.[16] The land which rose from sea was filled with salt and unsuitable for habitation; so Parasurama invoked the Snake King Vasuki, who spat holy poison and converted the soil into fertile lush green land. Out of respect, Vasuki and all snakes were appointed as protectors and guardians of the land. P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar theorised, that Senguttuvan may have been inspired by the Parasurama legend, which was brought by early Aryan settlers.[17]

In present-day Goa (or Gomantak), which is a part of the Konkan, there is a temple in Canacona in South Goa district dedicated to Lord Parshuram.[18][19][20]

Texts

He is generally presented as the fifth son of Renuka and Rishi Jamadagni.[9] The legends of Parashurama appear in many Hindu texts, in different versions:[21]

Parashurama is described in some versions of the Mahabharat as the angry Brahmin who with his axe, killed a huge number of Kshatriya warriors because they were abusing their power.[23] In some versions, he even kills his own mother because his father asks him to and because to take his test obeisance towards his parents.[8][24] After Parasurama obeys his father's order to kill his mother, his father grants him a boon. Parasurama asks for the reward that his mother be brought back to life, and she is restored to life.[24] Parasurama remains filled with sorrow after the violence, repents and expiates his sin.[8] After his Mother comes back to life, he tries to clean the blood-stained axe but he finds a drop of blood which he was unable to clean and tries cleaning the blood drop in different rivers. This is when he moves towards the south of India in search of any holy river where he could clean his axe, finally, he reaches Tirthahalli village in Shimoga, Karnataka and tries to clean the axe and to his surprise, the axe gets cleaned in the Holy river of Tunga. With respect towards the holy river, he constructs a Shiva linga and performs pooja and the temple is named as Rameshwara temple. The place where Lord Parashurama cleaned his axe is called Ramakunda.

He plays important roles in the Mahabharat serving as mentor to Bhishma (chapter 5.178), Drona (chapter 1.121) and Karna (chapter 3.286), teaching weapon arts and helping key warriors in both sides of the war.[25][26][note 3]

In the regional literature of Kerala, he is the founder of the land, the one who brought it out of the sea and settled a Hindu community there.[3] He is also known as Rama Jamadagnya and Rama Bhargava in some Hindu texts.[1] Parashurama retired in the Mahendra Mountains, according to chapter 2.3.47 of the Bhagavata Puran.[28] He is the only incarnation of Vishnu who never dies, never returns to abstract Vishnu and lives in meditative retirement.[8] Further, he is the only incarnation of Vishnu that co-exists with other Vishnu incarnations Ram and Krishna in some versions of the Ramayana and Mahabharat, respectively.[8][note 4]

Samanta Panchaka

According to the Sangraha Parva, after killing 21 generations of Kshatriyas, he filled their blood in five pools collectively known as the Samantha Panchaka (Sanskrit: समंत पञ्चक). He later atoned for his sin by severe penance. The five pools are considered to be holy.

The Anukramanika Parva says that the Samantha Panchaka is located somewhere around Kurukshetra. It also mentions that the Pandavas performed a few religious rites near the Samantha Panchaka before the Mahabharat War at Kurukshetra.

Parashurama Kshetra

There is much interpretation of 'Parashurama Kshetra' (Land of Parasurama) mentioned in the Puranas.

The region on the western coast of India from Gokarna to Kanyakumari was known as Parashurama Kshetra.[29]

The region of Konkan was also considered as Parashurama Kshetra.[30]

The ancient Saptakonkana is a slightly larger region described in the Sahyadrikhanda which refers to it as Parashuramakshetra (Sanskrit for "The Land Of Parashurama"), Vapi to Tapi is an area of South Gujarat, India. This area is called "Parshuram Ni Bhoomi".[31]

Iconography

Parashurama with his axe (two representations)
Parashurama with his axe (two representations)

The Hindu literature on iconography such as the Vishnudharmottara Purana and Rupamandana describes him as a man with matted locks, with two hands, one carrying an axe. However, the Agni Purana portrays his iconography with four hands, carrying his axe, bow, arrow and sword. The Bhagavata Purana describes his icon as one with four hands, carrying his axe, bow, arrows and a shield like a warrior.[32] Though a warrior, his representation inside Hindu temples with him in war scenes is rare (the Basohli temple is one such exception). Typically, he is shown with two hands, with an axe in his right hand either seated or standing.[32]

Gallery

Temples

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Temples for Parashurama are found at Chiplun in Ratnagiri District, Maharashtra and at Udupi, Karnataka. In Karnataka, there are a group of 7 temples in the stretch of Tulunadu (coastal Karnataka), known as Parashurama Kshetras, namely, Kollur, Koteshwara, Kukke Subrahmanya, Udupi, Gokarna, Anegudde (Kumbhasi) and Shankaranarayana.

There is a temple for Lord Parasurama in Thiruvallam near Thiruvananthapuram Kerala.

The temple called Athyarala in Rajempet, Andhra Pradesh, is dedicated to Parashuram. There is a Parshuram Kund, a Hindu pilgrimage centre in Lohit District of Arunachal Pradesh which is dedicated to the sage Parashurama. Thousands of pilgrims visit the place in winter every year, especially on the Makar Sankranti day for a holy dip in the sacred kund which is believed to wash away one's sins.[33][34] Mahurgad is one of the Shaktipeeth in Maharashtra's Nanded District, where a famous temple of Goddess Renuka exists. This temple at Mahurgad is always full of pilgrims. People also come to visit Parashuram temple on the same Mahurgad. The 108 Shiva Temples in Kerala which are believed to be consecrated by Parasurama.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The Mahabharata includes legends about both Arjuna, one is dharmic (moral) and other adharmic (immoral); in some versions, Arjuna Kartavirya has mixed moral-immoral characteristics consistent with the Hindu belief that there is varying degrees of good and evil in every person.[8]
  2. ^ According to Madeleine Biardeau, Parasurama is a fusion of contradictions, possibly to emphasize the ease with which those with military power tend to abuse it, and the moral issues in circumstances and one's actions, particularly violent ones.[11][12]
  3. ^ The Sanskrit epic uses multiple names for Parashurama in its verses: Parashurama, Jamadagnya, Rama (his name shortened, but not to be confused with Rama of Ramayana), etc.[27]
  4. ^ These texts also state that Parasurama lost the essence of Vishnu while he was alive, and Vishnu then appeared as a complete avatar in Rama; later, in Krishna.[8]

References

  1. ^ a b c Julia Leslie (2014). Myth and Mythmaking: Continuous Evolution in Indian Tradition. Taylor & Francis. pp. 63–66 with footnotes. ISBN 978-1-136-77888-9.
  2. ^ Coulter, Charles Russell; Turner, Patricia (4 July 2013). Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-96390-3.
  3. ^ a b c Constance Jones; James D. Ryan (2006). Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Infobase Publishing. p. 324. ISBN 978-0-8160-7564-5.
  4. ^ a b c d James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: N-Z. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 500–501. ISBN 978-0-8239-3180-4.
  5. ^ "Parashurama | Hindu mythology".
  6. ^ "Janapav to be developed into international pligrim centre". One India. 8 May 2008. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  7. ^ Khazan Ecosystems of Goa: Building on Indigenous Solutions to Cope with Global Environmental Change (Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research) (1995). Khazan Ecosystems of Goa: Building on Indigenous Solutions to Cope with Global Environmental Change. Abhinav Publications. p. 29. ISBN 978-9400772014.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Lynn Thomas (2014). Julia Leslie (ed.). Myth and Mythmaking: Continuous Evolution in Indian Tradition. Routledge. pp. 64–66 with footnotes. ISBN 978-1-136-77881-0.
  9. ^ a b c d Thomas E Donaldson (1995). Umakant Premanand Shah (ed.). Studies in Jaina Art and Iconography and Allied Subjects in Honour of Dr. U.P. Shah. Abhinav Publications. pp. 159–160. ISBN 978-81-7017-316-8.
  10. ^ Thomas E Donaldson (1995). Umakant Premanand Shah (ed.). Studies in Jaina Art and Iconography and Allied Subjects in Honour of Dr. U.P. Shah. Abhinav Publications. pp. 161–70. ISBN 978-81-7017-316-8.
  11. ^ Madeleine BIARDEAU (1976), Études de Mythologie Hindoue (IV): Bhakti et avatāra, Bulletin de l'École française d'Extrême-Orient, École française d’Extrême-Orient, Vol. 63 (1976), pp. 182–191, context: 111–263
  12. ^ Freda Matchett (2001). Krishna, Lord Or Avatara?. Routledge. pp. 206 with note 53. ISBN 978-0-7007-1281-6.
  13. ^ a b Menon, A. Sreedhara (1987). Kerala History and its Makers. D C Books. p. 24. ISBN 978-8126421992.
  14. ^ Ancient Indian History By Madhavan Arjunan Pillai, p. 204[ISBN missing]
  15. ^ S.C. Bhatt, Gopal K. Bhargava (2006) "Land and People of Indian States and Union Territories: Volume 14.", p. 18
  16. ^ Aiya VN (1906). The Travancore State Manual. Travancore Government Press. pp. 210–12. Retrieved 12 November 2007.
  17. ^ Srinivisa Iyengar, P. T. (1929). History of the Tamils: From the Earliest Times to 600 A.D. Madras: Asian Educational Services. p. 515. ISBN 978-8120601451.
  18. ^ Shree Scanda Puran (Sayadri Khandha) -Ed. Dr. Jarson D. Kunha, Marathi version Ed. By Gajanan Shastri Gaytonde, published by Shree Katyani Publication, Mumbai
  19. ^ Gomantak Prakruti ani Sanskruti Part-1, p. 206, B. D. Satoskar, Shubhada Publication
  20. ^ Aiya VN (1906). The Travancore State Manual. Travancore Government Press. pp. 210–212. Retrieved 12 November 2007.
  21. ^ Cornelia Dimmitt (2012). Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas. Temple University Press. pp. 82–85. ISBN 978-1-4399-0464-0.
  22. ^ Thomas E Donaldson (1995). Umakant Premanand Shah (ed.). Studies in Jaina Art and Iconography and Allied Subjects in Honour of Dr. U.P. Shah. Abhinav Publications. pp. 160–161. ISBN 978-81-7017-316-8.
  23. ^ Ganguly KM (1883). "Drona Parva Section LXX". The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa. Sacred Texts. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  24. ^ a b Daniel E Bassuk (1987). Incarnation in Hinduism and Christianity: The Myth of the God-Man. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-349-08642-9.
  25. ^ Kisari Mohan Ganguli (1896). "Mahabaratha, Digvijaya yatra of Karna". The Mahabharata. Sacred Texts. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  26. ^ Lynn Thomas (2014). Julia Leslie (ed.). Myth and Mythmaking: Continuous Evolution in Indian Tradition. Routledge. pp. 66–69 with footnotes. ISBN 978-1-136-77881-0.
  27. ^ Lynn Thomas (2014). Julia Leslie (ed.). Myth and Mythmaking: Continuous Evolution in Indian Tradition. Routledge. pp. 69–71 with footnotes. ISBN 978-1-136-77881-0.
  28. ^ Thomas E Donaldson (1995). Umakant Premanand Shah (ed.). Studies in Jaina Art and Iconography and Allied Subjects in Honour of Dr. U.P. Shah. Abhinav Publications. pp. 174–175. ISBN 978-81-7017-316-8.
  29. ^ L Eck, Diana (27 March 2012). India : A Sacred Geography. Harmony/Rodale. p. 37.
  30. ^ Stanley Wolpert (2006), Encyclopedia of India, Thomson Gale, ISBN 0-684-31350-2, page 80
  31. ^ Chandra, Suresh (1998). Encyclopedia of Hindu Gods & Goddesses. Sarup & Sons. p. 376. ISBN 9788176250399.
  32. ^ a b Thomas E Donaldson (1995). Umakant Premanand Shah (ed.). Studies in Jaina Art and Iconography and Allied Subjects in Honour of Dr. U.P. Shah. Abhinav Publications. pp. 178–180. ISBN 978-81-7017-316-8.
  33. ^ "Thousands gather at Parshuram Kund for holy dip on Makar Sankranti". The News Mill. 13 January 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  34. ^ "70,000 devotees take holy dip in Parshuram Kund". Indian Express. 18 January 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2014.

Bibliography

Regnal titles Preceded byVamana DashavataraTreta Yuga Succeeded byRama