Parasurama is also known as Bhrigupati, Bhargava, Bhargava Rama, Jamadagnya. He is Jamadagni’s son, a Brahmin, the sixth avatar of Vishnu, belongs to the Treta yuga (Second Age), and is the son of Jamadagni and Renuka. Parashu means “axe”, hence his name literally means Rama-of-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.
Parasurama is said to be a “Brahma-Kshatriya” (with the duties between a Brahmana and a Kshatriya), the first warrior saint. His mother is descended from the Kshatriya Suryavamsam clan that ruled Ayodhya and Lord Rama also belonged to.
A haihaya King Kartavirya Arjuna (Sahasrarjuna – purportedly with 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.
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 Parashurama. Rama successfully strung the bow, but in the process it broke in two, producing a tremendous noise that reached the ears of Parashurama.
Parashurama arrived after hearing the sound of the bow of Shiva breaking. The Kshatriyas were advised 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). After recognising Rama for what he truly was, namely, the avatar of Vishnu as his bow went flying in the hands of Lord Rama.
In Dwapara Yuga,
There is also another incident relating to Dwapara Yuga (Third Age). In 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. One day, Parashurama was sleeping with his head resting on Karna’s thigh, when an insect 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. This was one of the reasons of Karna’s Death.
In Kali Yuga,
When Vishnu incarnated as Rama (the hero of Ramayana), Parasurama had to submit before him as his avataara-kaarya (mission) was over. He then became an ordinary saint, and is said to be still living on Mahendra parvata, spending time in penance, as he is a Chiranjeevi (Immortal). It is said that Parasurama will become one of the Saptarishis (seven great saints who will direct the mankind towards dharma) in the next Manvantara.
However, unlike all other avatars, Parashurama still lives on earth, even today. The Kalki Purana states Parashurama will be the martial guru of Sri Kalki, the 10th and final avatar of Lord Vishnu. This is going to happen in Kali Yuga (Fourth Age, The present one). It is he who instructs Kalki to perform a long penance to Shiva to receive celestial weaponry.
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