Lord Parshuram is famous in the pantheon of Indian
gods as the fiery WORLD god who thrice cleansed the world off cruel
Kshatriya kings.He is often described as the god with the Parsu or the
Parentage And Ancestry
or Bhargava (his real name) is considered an avatar of Vishnu. He was
the youngest son of the great sage Jamadagni of the Bhrigu vansha and
his wife Renuka, once a Suryavanshi princess. He belonged to an
illustrious family: his grand mother a Chandravanshi princess of
Kanyakubja and his maternal uncle the great Rishi Vishvamitra.
Gurus The lord of destruction, Shiva, is believed to have trained
Parshuram in the art of archery, while sage Kashyap imparted him the
knowledge of Vedas.
is a Chiranjeevin, who fought the advancing ocean back thus saving the
lands of Konkan and Malabar (Maharashtra – Karnataka – Kerala
coastal area of Kerala state along with the Konkan region, i.e.,
coastal Maharashtra and Karnataka, is known as Parashurama Kshetra
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.
- 1 Birth
- 2 The Killing of Jamadagni and Parashurama’s revenge
- 3 Haihaya-Kshatriya Background
- 4 Extermination of the Haihaya-kshatriya caste
- 5 Legends
- 6 Shiva’s Bow
- 7 The Mahabharata
- 8 The Sixth Avatara
- 9 Kalki Purana
- 10 Parashurama and Deities’ Temples
- 11 Parshurama Ksethras
- 11.1 Further Kshetra Legend
- 11.2 Formation of Konkan (coastal Maharashtra) & Kerala
- 12 Other Names
- 13 References
was the Great Grandson of Bhrugu Rishi, after whom the “Bhruguvansh”
has been named. Bhrugu’s Son, Richeek, 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
married Renuka, daughter of King Prasenjit. They had five Sons,
Parashurama being the eldest, the others being Rukmvan, Sushen, Vasu
and Vishvasu. 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
haihay 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 Surabhi. 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.
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.
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
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.
to numerous Puranas, the military corporations of the Shakas, Yavanas,
Kambojas, Pahlavas and Paradas, known as five hordes (panca-ganah), had
militarily supported the Haihaya and Talajunga Kshatriyas in depriving
Ikshvaku King Bahu (the 7th king in descent from Harishchandra) of his Ayodhyakingdom.
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 changing their hair-styles
and turning them into degraded Kshatriyas.
Extermination of the Haihaya-kshatriya caste
enmity between the Haihaya and the Bhargavas are mentioned in the
Mahabharata Hindu text numerous times. In the Srimaa Bhagavatam SB
9.8.5-6, the Haihaya are mentioned as “the uncivilized”.
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.
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.
had a very famous incident with Lord Rama’s father during one of those
raids on the Haihaya-kshatriya clans. When Parashurama had visited
Ayodhya to annihilate Dasharatha, then the latter had actually prepared
for a certain death, knowing that Parashurama had the blessing of the
almighty and also that it is not honourable for a kshatriya to show his
back to a challenger. But at that time the king had no progeny. So his
queens refused to let him go to the battlefield and disguised him as a
woman. Irritated after a long wait, Parashurama searched everywhere in
the king’s palace, then entered the queen’s quarters (antahpuram).
There he found the king in women’s garments. Parashurama discarded
Dasharatha from a challenge saying that the latter had himself proved
lacking of virility! This tale is often told to youngsters that it is
often better to face an insult instead of facing a certain death.
is said that when Parashurama created Kerala 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.
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
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 thred
and hide in forest 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 house in kerala come from them)
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.
one such version, played in ramlilas across India, Parshurama arrived
after hearing the sound of the bow of Shiva breaking. The kshatriyas
were afraid to confront the sage, but Sita approached the sage. He
blessed her, saying “Saubhagyawati bhavah”, literally meaning “be thou
blessed with good luck”. So when he turned to confront Rama, the
destroyer of Shiva’s bow, he could not pick up his axe to do so. This
was so because, as he blessed Sita with good luck, he could not cause
any harm to her husband. At the same time, he recognised Rama for what
he truly was, namely, the avatar of Vishnu.
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 birth, and gave him the knowledge of the
extremely powerful Brahmastra weapon. But an incident would render the
Brahmastra almost useless to Karna.
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 Kshatriya, 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.
was the guru of both Bheeshma (Devavrata) and Dronacharya. Also, the
Sudarshan chakra (or Sudarshan Vidya) is said to be given by
Parashurama to Krishna.
The Sixth Avatara
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.
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.
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
are several Parshurama temples throughout the western coast of India as
well as North India, but especially more in the costal areas from
Bharuch 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
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
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.Parashurama trained Ayyappa just as Parashurama had trained
Karna in the Mahabharata and is believed will train the future Kalki.
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
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.
are “Seven Mukti Stalas” of Karnataka, which were created by
Parashurama and some of the above such as Kollur belong to them.
- Kumbhasi (Annegadda)
Further Kshetra Legend
is a legend that in one of the kshetras a King Ramabhoja, who
worshipped Lord Parashurama. He was the ruler of the lands between
Gokarna and Cape Comorin and was proclaimed king of the entire
Parasurama Kshetra. Once he was intending on performing 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.
Formation of Konkan (coastal Maharashtra) & Kerala
to legend no Konkan & Kerala existed before Parashurama threw his
axe into the sea. The god of the sea Varuna respected him and retreated
to a position beyond where the axe had fallen. Thus Konkan & Kerala
is also the Panhala Fort founded by Raja Bhoja in the late 12th century
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
is the karmabhumi of Parashurama (the land founded by him), but very
few people know about his janmabhumi (birthplace). His birthplace was
in Mahur, which is at the border of Marathwada and Vidharbha of
Maharastra. At the left side of Renuka Mata temple there is a temple
which is believed to be Parashurama’s birthplace. It was very beautiful
at the time of construction, but is now in very bad condition.
hearing this, the son of the king came back and killed Jamdagni. This
sparked a flaming rage in fiery Parshuram who went on a rampage to
avenge the death of his father. Wielding his invincible axe, he went on
a killing spree.
were not only weak against Parshuram’s most powerful weapon; they were
also duty bound. They didn’t want to commit the inexcusable crime of
killing a Brahmin sage (The pap of Brahm-hatya). He almost killed all
the Kshatriyas in the 21 battles.
sane Brahmin Rishis of that time realised that Parshuram’s temper was
mercurial and he would ultimately calm down. They sheltered some
Kshatriya children in their homes as their own children to protect them
from this enraged sage. These Brahmin families treated their
houseguests just like their own children so that no one could notice
the difference. Parshuram was not easily fooled; he went to these
Brahmin houses hunting for the hiding Kshatriyas. He new that Brahmins
may do everything to protect them, except break their caste code by
sharing the same plate (patra) for their meals. Therefore, at the
mealtime Parshuram forced them to use a common patra. If they were all
Brahmins children as they claimed, then they would not hesitate. If
they were not, then they would be breaking the caste code and be
excommunicated from their supreme caste.
shelter-giving Brahmins had to obey their sage. What they cleverly did
was to use plantain leaves (kele ke patte) as the Patras for their
meals. The main central stem in the leaves served as the dividing line
between the two castes. The Brahmins and the Kshatriyas sat opposite to
each other using their own segment only. The enraged sage was fooled
and Kshatriyas were saved from extinction.
these events, the distinct demarcation between Brahmin’s function and
Kshatriya’s function in the society fuzzed to some extent.
to tremendous shortage of Kshatriyas in the society, the Brahmins had
to increasingly play more of Kshatriya’s roles. They had to take up
arms, join the armed forces, the police force, and general
administration. These Brahmins were called Raj Rishis. Most of them
were those families that sheltered the Kshatriyas. They had natural
affinity towards their Kshatriya brothers as they grew-up together. On
the other hand, those Kshatriyas who grew up with Brahmins families
developed more Rishi like traits. They formed a separate sub-caste of
Vishnu’s next avatar was Lord Ram. This time, as we all know, he was
born in a Kshatriya family of King Dashrath of Ayodhya. During Lord
Ram’s period, the relations between the two castes had improved
significantly. Brahmin Rishis like Vishvamitra and Vashist were all
getting involved with many administrative matters relating to good
governance by the Kshatriya kings. They had tremendous influence on the
rulers and this period called Ram Rajya became synonymous with good
is significant to note that this avatar came to destroy an arrogant and
powerful Brahmin ruler called Ravan. Lord Ram had to do a special
penance at Rameshwaram (Lord Shiva’s Temple) because in destroying
Ravan, he had committed Brahm-hatya.
Krishna was the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu. In this yug of
Mahabharat, we have many warrior-Brahmins like Dronacharya,
Kirpacharya, and Ashwasthama. In this yug, the two major castes are
present on both sides of the warring clans.MOHYALS, THE RAJ-RISHIS
Brahmins draw their heritage from the mythology of Parshuram. Till this
day many of them have remained true to their traditions. They have
proudly served many rulers, not all of them were Kshatriyas, as
commanders, warriors, and administrators, and protectors of lives and
properties of people in their community.
is a place called Renuka, near Nahan in Himachal Pradesh, where there
is a temple of Lord Parshuram, his mother Renuka and father Jamdagni.
Many Mohyal make a pilgrimage to this idyllic place. Some Mohyal
families, who came to India after the partition have settled near this
place (Kala Amb) and have invested in farming estates.