Parasurama – The scourge of the kshatriyas


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On one hunting trip in the forest, Kartaviryarjuna was near the ashram of Jamadagni Muni. The sage received the king and his entourage and supplied all their necessities, as he possessed Kamadhenu, the celestial cow which would supply anything its master demanded of it. Hearing about the magical powers of the cow, the rude king wanted it for himself as he considered the holy man more powerful and wealthy by virtue of having it in his ashram.

Since Jamadagni relied on the cow to perform his daily pujas and rituals and more specifically the agnihotra sacrifice, he politely refused to part with the cow. Enraged by this, the king ordered his men to steal the cow and her calf and take them to his capital city.

When Jamadagni’s son, Parasurama returned to the ashram, he heard about what Kartaviryarjuna had done and was enraged. In his anger, he took his axe and a few other weapons and set off in the direction of Mahismati Puri, the capital city of the king. When the king was just about to reach his capital city, he noticed Parasurama pursuing him with weapons. He immediately sent seventeen aksauhinis (armed divisions of his army) to face him.

Parasurama, being well versed in the art of warfare and physical combat easily overcame the king’s army and kept advancing towards him. Then Kartaviryarjuna with his thousand arms took up five hundred bows simultaneously, strung arrows in all of them and unleashed them towards Parasurama. By virtue of his special powers, it took Parasurama only one divine arrow to cut to pieces all of the king’s bows and arrows.

Undaunted, the king uprooted many trees and hills with his bare hands and rushed towards Parasurama, who easily deflected them. He then proceeded to cut off each and every one of Kartaviryarjuna’s arms and finally beheaded him as well. Kartaviryarjuna was therefore put to death in front of his sons, who were a thousand in number.

Parasurama then freed the celestial cow Kamadhenu and her calf and took them home to his father’s ashram. On hearing about the king’s demise, Jamadagni was saddened and told his son that by killing Kartaviryarjuna who was an embodiment of all the demigods, he had committed a grave sin. He then instructed his son of the duty of a brahmana which was to cultivate the quality of forgiveness. Parasurama then proceeded to perform penance and austerities as his repentance for committing the sin of killing the king.


Once when Renuka, Jamadagni’s wife went to the banks of the river Ganga to fetch water for the ashram, she happened to see Chitrartha, the King of Gandharvas in the water in the company of some apsaras. Completely enamored and enchanted with his beauty and countenance, she stood there watching the king enjoying himself. A lot of time passed by and she failed to remember that she had to be back in the ashram, in time for the daily fire sacrifice that Jamadagni performed.

When she returned to the ashram, her husband, by virtue of his divine powers, identified the adultery in her mind and accordingly instructed his sons My dear sons, kill this sinful woman. But the sons, blinded by their maternal love, did not follow his order.

Infuriated with their insolence, the sage then asked his youngest son Parasurama to kill his mother for her sin of adultery and his brothers for their refusal to obey his orders. Knowing fully well the divine powers of his father by virtue of his penance and austerities, Parasurama immediately obeyed the orders and killed his mother and brothers. Pleased with his son’s obedience, when Jamadagni asked him to take any benediction, Parasurama said Father, let my mother and brothers live again and not remember having been killed by me.

When the benediction was granted, Jamadagni’s wife and sons came back to life as if they had just woken up from a deep sleep and did not have any recollection of having being killed by Parasurama at all.

In the meantime, Kartaviryarjuna’s sons were still angry at the death of their father at the hands of Parasurama. They were on the lookout for an opportunity to extract revenge for this insult on their honor. One time when Parasurama and his brothers were not at the ashram, they approached Jamadagni’s ashram and beheaded the holy man who was engaged in performing his holy sacrifices.

Lamenting in grief for the death of her husband, when Renuka beat her chest and cried out O Rama, my dear son Rama, Parasurama immediately heard his mother’s voice and came running back to the ashram. Seeing his dead father, he entrusted the dead body to his brothers and took an oath to end the scourge of Kshatriyas in this world.

Starting with the capital city Mahismati, Parasurama then set off leaving behind a trail of terror for all Kshatriyas on earth. By the time his revenge for his father’s death was complete he had managed to rid all the Kshatriyas from earth twenty one times. He had also created nine lakes with the blood of all his victims.

Thereafter Parasurama joined his father’s head to the dead body, placed it on a bed of kusa grass and began to worship Lord Vishnu. Thus being worshiped by his son and by virtue of his penance and austerities, Jamadagni was brought back to life by Vishnu.

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Parasurama – The story of Jamadagni’s birth


It is a well-known story that the Supreme Personality of God-head annihilated the Kshatriyas on earth twenty-one times in the incarnation of Parasurama. This series of posts tries to narrate the circumstances based on which Lord Vishnu had to take birth as Parasurama and kill the Kshatriyas on earth so many times.

Kartaviryarjuna, the king of the Haihaya dynasty received one thousand arms as a boon from Dattatreya Muni by worshipping him and performing severe austerities. He had also received the boon of unobstructed sensory power, beauty, influence, strength, fame and mystic power due to which he became extremely opulent. He was used to roaming the universe without any opposition.

Due to the lack of resistance from anybody in the three worlds, his pride and arrogance got the better of the king and he wreaked havoc by trampling upon the devas, asuras, rishis and yakshas in all the three worlds. When the troubled beings approached Vishnu for deliverance from the evil tyrant, the good lord promised them that Kartaviryarjuna would be slain by him in due course of time.


On earth, in Kanyakuvja there lived a virtuous ruler, known as Gadhi who had resigned to living in the forest peacefully when he begot a daughter. Her name was Satyavati and she was as beautiful as the nymphs in heaven. The son of sage Bhrigu, Richika asked for her hand in marriage to Gadhi, who stated his only condition to the marriage. As per his family custom, any bridegroom intending to marry his daughter would have to offer a dowry consisting of one thousand brown colored horses which had single sable ears.

Richika agreed to the condition and approached Lord Varuna for assistance Give me a thousand steeds brown in color and each one with a single black ear. I want them as dowry for my marriage. Varuna gifted the horses to the sage’s son who in turn gave them to Gadhi and married Satyavati.

Pleased with his son’s marriage and his daughter-in-law’s devotion and service, sage Bhrigu offered her a boon that she could ask him anything she wished for. She wished that a son be born to both herself and her mother.

The sage granted her the boon and informed her of the following conditions to be fulfilled for it to come to fruition. During the days that your fertile period lasts, you and your mother must take a bath with the ceremony for bringing forth a male child. And then you two must separately embrace two trees – she a peepal tree and you a fig tree. Here, take these two pots of rice and milk, prepared by me with utmost care, with drugs and ingredients sourced from all over the universe. It must be taken as food with great care.

Despite these instructions, the two ladies accidentally interchanged the two pots of rice and milk and also hugged the wrong trees. By virtue of his divine knowledge sage Bhrigu came to the ashram and addressed Satyavati, since you and your mother partook of the wrong pots and also hugged the wrong trees, she will have a son who will be a Kshatriya by birth but will assume a life suitable to that of a saint, and you will be blessed with a son who will be of the priestly caste by birth but will have a character that would be suitable to a military order.

Satyavati then requested her father-in-law please make it so that my grandson and not my son have this character which the sage agreed to.

In due time, Satyavati then gave birth to Jamadagni who was endowed with splendor and grace. As the years went by, he grew in strength, and excelled the other saints in his proficiency of his knowledge. He was easily able to learn the knowledge of military art and other related subjects.

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Vamana Avatar – Part 3 – Bali fulfills his promise


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Angered at Bali not heeding to his warnings, Sukracharya cursed him – Since you are impudent enough to disobey my order, you will very soon be bereft of all your opulence and wealth.

Undaunted by this curse, Bali proceeded to wash Vamana’s feet and fulfill the promise made to him. Vamana then started increasing in size until everything in the universe was within his body, including the earth, the planetary systems, the sky, the directions, the black holes, the seas, the oceans, the birds, the beasts, humans, the devas and the asuras.

Manifesting himself in this manner, Vamana covered the entire surface of the earth with his first footstep and the heavenly planets with his second step.

Angered by the fact that their king was defeated by Lord Vishnu in the form of a young brahmachari, the asuras started fighting with the devas. Noticing this Bali expressly forbade them from doing so.

Vamana then addressed Bali You have promised me three steps of land, but I have occupied the entire universe with just two steps. Now, tell me, where do I place my third step? Because you have been unable to give charity as per your promise, the rule is that you should go down to live in the hellish planets for some time.

Undaunted by the young brahmachari’s words, Bali told him I cannot allow my promise to be false. Please, therefore, place your third footstep on my head.

I don’t fear being deprived of all my possessions, living in a hellish planet or being punished by you as much as I fear being defamed for being called a liar.

Pleased with Bali’s magnanimity and his devotion to being truthful, Vamana then asks him to go live in peace for the rest of his days in the planet Sutala unencumbered by the travails and troubles of being the asura king. Thus, Lord Vishnu delivered the proprietorship of the heavenly planets to Indra and fulfilled the promise that he had made to Aditi, the mother of the devas.


Vamana Avatar – Part 2 – Bali meets Vamana


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Aggrieved with the plight of her sons, the demigods, Aditi, the wife of Kasyapa Muni performed severe penance and practiced austerities with the goal of pleasing the Supreme Personality of God-head. Pleased with her devotion to him, the Supreme Personality of God-head promised to become her son to protect her other sons. He was then born in the form of Vamana, a brahmana dwarf, a brahmachari. During the sacred thread ceremony of Vamanadeva, he was presented with a begging bowl by Kubera, the lord of the yakshas.

Vamana then proceeded to the place where Bali was performing his sacrifices and yagna. Holding in his hands, the rod of a brahmachari, a wooden umbrella and a pot full of water, he entered the arena where the ashwamedha sacrifice was being held. Although he was just a young brahmana boy wearing a belt of straw, a sacred thread, an upper garment of deerskin with matted locks of hair, he generated such radiance and effulgence that everybody in the arena stood up to welcome him there.

Bali then offered him a seat and worshipped him by washing his feet. Being aware of the prevalent religious principles, he also placed his head on the feet of the young brahmachari.

Bali addressed him thus – O son of a brahmana, it appears that you have come here to ask me something. Therefore, whatever you want from me shall be given to you. This is my promise to you.

Pleased with the asura king’s benevolence, Vamana replied O king, I ask you only three paces of land to the measurement of my steps.

When Bali intervened and requested the brahmachari to ask for a more significant offering, Vamana replied O King, even the entire three worlds will not satisfy a person whose senses are uncontrolled. If I were not satisfied with three paces of land then I would surely not be satisfied if you gave me seven islands and more.

Sukracharya who by now suspected that there was more to this young brahmachari than met the eye, took Bali aside and told him – This is the Supreme Personality of God-head, incarnate as the son of Kasyapa Muni and Aditi. He has now appeared here to fulfill the interests of the demigods, and your promise to him has the possibility of bringing great harm to our asura brethren.

Understanding the full import of his spiritual guru’s words, Bali then replied stating that he had made a promise to the young brahmachari and intended to fulfill it, at whatever cost. Being the grandson of Prahlada, how could he go back on his promise to a young brahmana and be accused of being untruthful.

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Vamana Avatar – Part 1 – Bali defeats Indra


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After the churning of the celestial ocean in which Lord Vishnu helped the devas obtain the Amrit, the nectar of immortality all for themselves, the asuras were enraged at this turn of events. They took up arms against the devas and attacked them on the shores of the ocean itself. Led by their commander Maharaja Bali (grandson of Prahlada), the asuras fought valiantly but the devas, who were enthused and enlivened after drinking the nectar managed to parry their attacks bravely.

Bali attacked Indra with all his best weapons and used various techniques of warfare to try and overpower the commander of the devas. Enraged by Bali’s attempts at sorcery and magical techniques to defeat him, Indra used his famed Vajra, the thunderbolt to render the asura commander unconscious, and left him for dead on the battlefield.

It was Sukracharya, a descendant of Bhrigu Muni who resuscitated Bali and nurtured him back to health. Overcome with gratitude for this gesture, Bali became a disciple of Sukracharya and served him with great faith. Pleased with his devotion and faith to his master, the holy men in the ashram suggested that Bali perform the Visvajit yagna, which would help him achieve his ultimate desire of defeating Indra.

When the sacrifice was performed, Bali received a celestial chariot, magical horses, weapons, and an entire army from the sacrificial fire. After offering his thanks and obeisance to his master and the assembled holy men, Bali then marched towards the capital of Indra. He gathered his entire army outside the capital and attacked it from all directions.

Noticing Bali’s renewed strength and disturbed by the same, Indra then approached his spiritual master Brihaspati and asked him the source of Bali’s newfound energy, enthusiasm and vigor. Brihaspati then told Indra about how Bali had managed to please the descendants of Bhrigu Muni and as a result was now equipped with supreme spiritual power, the likes of which could be overcome only by the Supreme Personality of God-head.

Brihaspati then advised Indra that a time would come when Bali would insult brahmanas which would immediately render all the benedictions that he had received from them inconsequential. However, until such a time it would be appropriate for the demi gods to leave the capital and go somewhere else. Taking the advice of their spiritual master, Indra and the demi gods then left their heavenly kingdom and scattered.

Bali, now with the satisfaction of having defeated his nemesis Indra, proceeded to perform one hundred ashwamedha sacrifices.

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