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Life of Shri Parshuram

Lord Parshuram is believed to be the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. There is no separate text available on the life of Shri Parshuram in the ancient writings. However, there is lot of references to his life in the epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. Moreover, there are legends and stories in Puranas about him. The life story of his life can be reconstructed only through the available writings, as follows.
In the Vedic period, there were lot of prestigious Kulas (Families) known to have ruled in various India States. Bhrugukula was one of the important and distinguished families. This clan was named after the strong patron saint Maharshi Bhrugu. Parshuram was born in the seventh generation of the family. The glorious family tradition starts with Maharshi Bhrugu, Chyavan, Aapravan, Aurva, Ruchik, and Jamadagni and finally Shri Parshuram.


 All of them were known to be great Rishis (saints) and Gurus (teachers). None of them were rulers. Rather, Bhrugukul was referred as Brahmankul because they were teachers and not rulers. In fact, the four tier system of the Vedic period did not exist during the time. A person could choose any Varna (class) depending on the personal choice or the choice of the family. The women from the important Kulas (Families or clans) like Ikshwaku, Yadav, Puru, Panchal, Chandravansha, Atri etc. married the Rishis from Brahmankula. Moreover, the parents could choose the Varna (Social class) for their child. Accordingly, the women were fed a particular type of food (called Charu). This system has a strong influence on the life of Lord Parshuram.   
 Lord Parshuram’s grandfather was married to Satyavati from the Ikshwaku clan. She was the daughter of King Gaadhi of the clan. The King desired a son. He discussed the problem with Ruchik Rishi. Accordingly, Ruchik Rishi he prepared two Charus, one for the queen and one for the daughter Satyavati. The Charus were charmed so that Satyavati will have a Brahman son and the Queen will have a Kshatriya (warrior) son. However the Queen exchanged the Charus. Ruchik Rishi came to know about it. Satyavati insisted upon having a Brahman son. However, Ruchik Rishi denied the possibility. Now Satyavati requested to have at least the grandson should have the Brahman qualities if not the son. As a result of the exchange, the Queen begot a saint-like son Vishwamitra and Satyavati gave birth to Jamadagni. Jamadagni was a born in Bhrugu clan so he spent his life in pious activities but he became hot tempered like a Kshatriya. His son Lord Parshuram had qualities of both the families. He is supposed to have both Brahma and Tej (Knowledge and Power).
 Maharshi Ruchik stayed at Kotitirtha, on the banks of river Godavari (Andhra Pradesh State). He spent several years praying and meditating at his Ashram there. Afterwards he travelled north and continued his Tapa (Meditation) on the banks of river Ganga. The region was under the rule of King Renu. Maharshi Ruchik advised the King to arrange a swayanvara for his daughter Renuka. Many Kings and Gods were present for the wedding, seeking Princess Renuka through the marriage. However, she selected Rishi Jamadagni and married him. Renuka received many precious gifts from the King of gods, Lord Indra, which included Kalpa Vriksha, Chintamani, Kamadhenu along with others. Kalpa Vriksha, Chintamani and Kamadhenu were divine gifts with special powers. The holy cow Kamadhenu played a crucial role in Lord Parshuram’s life.
 It so ensued that Jamadagni was assigned the task of managing the Ashramas, by his father. The establishments were scattered all over the country. So he stayed in one Ashrama on the banks of river Malaprabha. (Which is now in the state Karnataka, near Belgaum-Saundatti). This Ashrama was looked after by Mata Renuka. And Jamdagni travelled to other Ashramas. The couple had five sons- Vasu, Vishwavasu, Bruhadbhanu, Bruhatkanva and Bhargavram (Parshuram). Parshuram’s original name was only Ram but he is also known by the names Jamdagnya Ram, Bhargavram, and Renukanandan. He spent the first 12 years of his life with his parents and then went to Kailas Manas Sarovar for Tapa (meditation).
During his stay in Kailas Manas Sarovar, he received Shankarvidya from Lord Shiva himself. Lord Shiva taught him several Vidyas and gave him knowledge in Dhanurvidya (Archery), Sammohan vidya (Hypnotism). He also gifted him with Vayavyastra, Pashupatastra, and the most powerful weapon Brahmastra. Lord Parshuram also worshipped Lord Ganesha. He prayed long and hard. The lord blessed him with a divine Parashu ( an Axe). Therefore he is known as Parshuram.
 During this period, Parshuram went through lot of hardships. He did Panchagnisadhana, which included praying with the scorching heat of the Sun on your head and fire from all the sides. He also acquired the Yatividya during the time. This knowledge enables a person to teleport himself to any place and time.
 Rishi Jamadagni, at that time was staying with his wife Renuka in the Ashrama at Nirmund in Himlayas. One day she saw the Gandharvas (Demi-gods) bathing in the river. She was late to come back home. Rishi Jamadagni was infuriated and killed all the Gandharvas. He asked his sons to kill their mother but they denied. He also summoned Parshurama to kill Mata Renuka and the brothers. Lord Parshuram appeared before his father through Yatividya. He obeyed his father and killed his motherand his brothers. Rishi Jamadagni was pleased and Parshuram was blessed with two Varas (wishes) by him. Lord Parshuram asked his mother’s and brothers’ life through one wish. Then he wished that his mother and brothers should not have any memory of the event. The wishes were granted but Parshuram remained guilty of killing his mother and brothers. He had sinned!
 Another important event in the life of Lord Parshuram involves the holy cow, Kamadhenu. (Kama-desire ; dhenu-cow) The cow could fulfill any wish of the owner. There was a kingdom named Mahishmati on the banks of river Narmada. It was ruled by the King Kartveerya Sahastrarjuna who was born in Daitya (Asura) clan. Devarshi Narada (the divine rishi who stayed in heaven and could move in any place) described the magnificent life of Rishi Jamadagni. He reached the Ashrama at Saundatti to verify. He was treated by the Rishi Jamadagni and Mata Renuka with splendor of a king. The king came to know that the secret of the prosperity was Kamadhenu. He asked Jamadagni for Kamadhenu. Rishi Jamadagni was ready to give Kamadhenu as a donation but the King wanted to buy the Holy cow. When Jamadagni denied it, the king took the cow forcibly from him. The Ashrama lost its precious gift.
 Lord Parshuram received the news and attacked the King Kartveerya immediately. After defeating him he killed him. Then he proceeded to his abode for meditation and atonement for the sin. In the meantime, King’s sons attacked the Ashrama and killed Jamadagni to avenge their father’s death. Mata Renuka ordered her brave son Parshuram to kill all the Kshatriyas on the earth. Lord Parshuram killed all the 21 Kshatriya kings on his mother’s orders.
 After defeating the Kshatriyas, Parshuram performed a Yadnya near Kachha (in Gujrat) and donated all the land won in the war to Rishi kashyap. He left the region and went to south towards Konkan with his mother and brothers, since he no longer owned any land.
 Lord Parshuram established his realm in the narrow strip of land near the coast from Bharuch in Gujrat to Kanyakumari in southernmost part. This land was not considered to be part of Prithvi (a land under cultivation, according to the ancient concept). This region was called Aparant. Parshuram brought 64 families of his disciples and engaged them in cultivation and farming. A lot of small temples were built and villages were established. The Banaganga Talav (Lake Banaganga) in Mumbai, Kanyakumari temple are believed to have been built by Lord Parshuram.

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