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Encyclopedia of Hindu Gods


PARASURAMA


Image from Moor.

Basic Description:  Rama the axe-wielder, or Parasurama, is the sixth incarnation of Vishnu.  He was a great warrior and the defender of the Brahmins in their fight against the Kshatriya caste.

Alternate Names:  Parasurama, Parasuram, Rama.  Parasu means axe, so Parasu-Rama is literally Ramawith Axe.  Parasurama is not the same incarnation as Rama.

 

Mythology:  Vishnu appeared as Parasurama in a time when the Kshatriya kings were corrupt and tyrannizing the Brahmins.  They dominated and subjugated the Brahmins.  Parasurama was born as a militant Brahmin to a hermit father, Jamadagni.

Parasurama is blessed  by his father:  One day Parasurama’s mother saw a couple by the river and had impure thoughts about them.  Jamadagni asked each of his other four sons to kill their mother because of her impurity.  They all refused to obey their father and so he cursed them.  Then Jamadagni asked Parasurama to do it.  Parasurama did as his father asked and cut his mother’s head off with his axe.  As a reward, Jamadagni offered Parasurama whatever he asked of him.  So Parasurama asked for three things.  The first was that his mother be brought back to life with no memory of being killed and that she be purified from her lust.  The second thing Parasurama asked was that his brothers no longer be cursed.  Finally Parasurama asked that he be invincible in single combat and that he have long life.

Parasurama swears vengeance on the Kshatriyas:  Karthavirya was a Kshatriya who, while hunting, stopped at Parasurama’s house.  Only his mother was home and Karthavirya stole a cow.  It is a serious insult for a guest to steal from his host, so when Parasurama found this out, he hunted down Karthavirya and killed him, taking the cow back.  Later Karthavirya’s sons came to Parasurama’s house and finding Jamadagni, they killed him.  He was a helpless old man.  Parasurama then promised to avenge the murder of his father.

Parasurama defeats the Kshatriyas:  The great warrior Parasurama killed all the Kshatriyas in the land during his 21 military campaigns.  He freed the earth of the tyranny of the Kshatriya.  It is said that all Kshatriyas living today are descendants of Brahmin men and Kshatriya women.

Other References on the Karma-to-Grace website:  Is there a savior in Hinduism?

Sources:

Moor, Edward.  The Hindu Pantheon.  Los Angeles: Philosophical research society, 1976.

Thomas, P.  Epics, Myths and Legends of India.  Bombay, India: D. B. Taraporevala Sons & Co. Private Ltd, 1961.


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