Parashurama (Sanskrit: परशुराम, Paraśurāma), is the sixth avatar of Vishnu and belongs to the Treta yuga, and is the son of a Brahmin fatherJamadagni and a Kshatriya mother Renuka. He received an axe after undertaking a terrible penance to please Shiva, from whom he learned the methods of warfare and other skills. He fought the advancing ocean back thus saving the lands of Konkan and Malabar. The coastal area of Kerala state along with the Konkan region, i.e., coastal Maharashtra and Karnataka, is also sometimes called Parashurama Kshetra (Parashurama's country). Parashurama is said to be a Brahmakshatriya ("warrior Brahman"), the first warrior saint. His mother is a descendant of the KshatriyaSuryavansha clan that ruled Ayodhya to which Rama also belonged .
Parashu means axe in Sanskrit, hence the name Parashurama literally means 'Rama with the axe'. He is also known as Parasurama, Bhṛgupati, Bhargava, Bhargava Rāma, and Jamadagnya (Sanskrit:जामदज्ञ्य़ as Jamadagni's son). Variations of his name include the following.
§ Tamil: Parachuraman
§ Khmer: Ramaparamasur
§ Thai: Ramasun
§ Malay: Pusparama
Parashurama belonged to Srivatsa Gotra. It appears that the Haihayas may have been enemies and at war with several groups, including other Kshatriyas 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 Solar Dynasty and the Haihayas were a Lunar Dynasty.
The hostile Haihaya King Arjuna Kartavirya also defeated the Nāga Kshatiryas led by Karkotaka Naga and made Mahishmati (present day Maheshwar) the capital of his own kingdom.
According to numerous Puranas, the military corporations of the Shakas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Pahlavas and Paradas, known as five hordes (pānca-ganah), had militarily supported the Haihaya and Talajunga Kshatriyas in depriving Ikshvaku King Bahu (the 7th king in descent from Harishchandra) of his Ayodhya kingdom.
A 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 ordering their 'heads shaved' (a common practice used to humiliate and shame the enemy in the ancient and modern world) and turning them into degraded Kshatriyas.
Extermination of the Haihaya-kshatriya caste
The enmity between the Haihaya and the Bhargavas is mentioned in the Mahabharata Hindu text numerous times. In the Bhagavata Purana SB 9.8.5-6, the Haihaya are mentioned as "the uncivilized".
Once, when Parashurama returned home, he found his mother crying hysterically. When asked why she was crying, she said his father had been killed mercilessly by Kartavirya Arjuna. She beat her chest 21 times in sorrow and anguish at her husband's death. 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 then conducted the Ashvamedha sacrifice, done only by sovereign kings, and gave the entire land he owned to the head-priest who performed at the yagya, viz. Kashyapa.
Parashurama 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.
It is said that when Parashuram saved and reclaimed some coastal parts of 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.
According 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 his tusks. The goddess Parvati (wife of Shiva) on finding her son's tusk being cut by Parashurama fills with rage and declares that if Parashurama's thirst for Kshatriya's blood is still not over, she will put a stop on this and will teach him a final lesson. She will severe both of his arms and will kill him. The Goddess Parvati, then takes a form of Shakti (Goddess Durga) becomes the ultimate source of Power and no other divine power can resist or match to her Supreme power. Luckily, Shiva arrived at the scene and pacified Parvati after a lot of convincing to not to harm Parashurama as he is also like her son in a way and she should forgive him as a Mother on her child’s mistake. Parashurama also asks for her forgiveness. Parvati finally forgives Parashurama at the request of Ganesha. Parashurama then gifts his divine axe weapon to Ganesha and blesses him.
There is another interesting legend with regards to Parashurama's retreat of the seas. It is said that he fired an arrow from his mythical bow that landed in Goa, at a place called Benaulim(Konkani:Banavali or बाणावाली) creating what is known locally as "Salkache Tollem", literally meaning "lotus Lake".
There is an interesting side to Parashurama's conquest of Kshatriyas. After one of his conquests, he returns to Aihole (Badami Taluka, Bagalkot district in Karnataka) which, some say was where he lived. 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 another legend that Nairs (Nagas)of Kerala removed their sacred thread and hid in the forests to avoid Parasuramas revenge against Kshatriyas. Parashurama donated the land to Nambuthiri Brahmins and Nambuthiris denied the Nairs Kshatriya status though they did Kshatriya duties and almost all the royal houses in Kerala come from them.
Evidence in the Mahabharata of conflict spanning generations
Reflections of Aurva, the Great-Grandfather of Parashurama (Mahabharata, Book 1, Chapter 182) While lying unborn, I heard the doleful cries of my mother and other women of the Bhrigu race who were then being exterminated by the Kshatriyas. When those Kshatriyas began to exterminate the Bhrigus together with unborn children of their race, it was then that wrath filled my soul. My mother and the other women of our race, each in an advanced state of pregnancy, and my father, while terribly alarmed, found not in all the worlds a single protector. Then when the Bhrigu women found not a single protector, my mother held me in one of her thighs.
(Mahabharata, Book 13, Chapter 153) The mighty Kshatriya Talajangala was destroyed by a single Brahmana. viz., Aurva. (Mahabharata, Book 1, Chapter 2) In the interval between the Treta and Dwapara Yugas, Rama (the son of Jamadagni) great among all who have borne arms, urged by impatience of wrongs, repeatedly smote the noble race of Kshatriyas. And when that fiery meteor, by his own valour, annihilated the entire tribe of the Kshatriyas, he formed at Samanta-panchaka five lakes of blood.
(Mahabharata, Book 1, Chapter 64) The son of Jamadagni (Parasurama), after twenty-one times making the earth bereft of Kshatriyas wended to that best of mountains Mahendra and there began his ascetic penances. Mahendra Mountains are in central India, the northern end of the Eastern Ghats of India, situated in the western part of Orissa. (Mahabharata, Book 1, Chapter 104) In olden days, Rama, the son of Jamadagni, in anger at the death of his father, slew with his battle axe the king of the Haihayas. Haiheya was a central Indian kingdom in Madhya Pradesh of India, on the banks ofNarmada River. Its capital was Mahishmati, the modern day town named Maheswar. (Mahabharata, Book 3, Chapter 85) One proceeds to Surparaka, where Jamadagni’s son (Parasurama) had formerly dwelt. Surparaka also is in central India with the modern name Sopara.
(Mahabharata, Book 3, Chapter 115) Akritavrana (a disciple of Parashurama) said, ‘With pleasure shall I recite that excellent history, of the godlike deeds of Rama, the son of Jamadagni, who traced his origin to Bhrigu’s race. I shall also relate the achievements of the great ruler of the Haihaya tribe. That king, Arjuna by name, the mighty lord of the Haihaya tribe was killed by Rama. By the favour ofDattatreya he had a celestial car made of gold. (Mahabharata, Book 3, Chapter 117) Rama, the leader, thrice smote down all the Kashatriya followers of Kartavirya’s sons. And seven times did that powerful lord exterminate the military tribes of the earth.
The above shown extracts from Mahabharata shows the conflict between the Bhargavas and the Kshatriyas spanning at least for four generations.
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.
In one such version, played in ramlilas across India, 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 "Dheergha Sumangali bhavah", literally meaning "you will have your husband alive for your lifetime, you won't 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 (Vishnu avatara). This was also because, as he blessed Sita with good luck, he could not cause any harm to her husband which was a part of his own (Shri Vishnu). After recognising Rama for what he truly was, namely the avatar of Vishnu, as his bow went flying in the hands of Lord Rama.
When Amba came to Parashurama for help because Bhishma refused to marry her, he decided to slay Bhishma and fought with him for twenty three days. It was a long and fierce combat between the two greatest men-at-arms of the age. Bhishma had knowledge of one divine and the most deadly weapon namely "Parshwapastra". Parashurama had no knowledge of this weapon. When Bhishma was about to use it against Parashurama, all Gods rushed to Bhishma and requested him not to use this weapon against Parshurama as it will humiliate Parshurama. Bhishma refrained from using it. Parashurama's father, Jamadagni and grandfather, Richika, then appeared before Parashurama ordering, O son, never again engage in battle with Bhishma or any other Kshatriya. Heroism and courage in battle are the qualities of a warrior (Kshatriya), and study of the Vedas and the practice of austerities are the wealth of the brahmanas. Previously you took up weapons to protect the brahmanas, but this is not the case now. Let this battle with Bhishma be your last. The sages once again spoke to Rama, O son of the Bhrigu race, it is not possible to defeat Bhishma. In the end Pitris (a class of demigods) appeared on the scene and obstructed the chariot of Rama. They forbade him to fight any longer. In the end, all Gods and Parshuram himself showered praise on Bhishma and acknowledged that Bhishma is truly invincible. Parshurama then told Amba: "I have done all that I could and I have failed. Throw yourself on the mercy of Bhishma. That is the only course left to you."
Parashurama was giving away his earning and wealth of a lifetime to brahmanas, Drona approached him. Unfortunately by the time Drona arrived, Parashurama had given away all his belongings to other brahmanas. Taking pity upon the plight of Drona, Parashurama said you can choose any of my weapons, which one would you like to have? The clever Drona said I will like to have your weapons with their mantras as and when I need them. Parashurama said so be it. In other words Drona decided to impart his knowledge of combat which made him supreme in the science of arms.
In 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, who said he was a brahmin, and gave him the knowledge of the extremely powerful Brahmastra weapon. But an incident would render the Brahmastra almost useless to Karna.
One day, Parashurama was sleeping with his head resting on Karna's thigh, when a scorpion 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 Duryodhanawere 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.
In the later life of Parashurama, he gave up violence, became an ascetic and practiced penances, mainly on the Mahendra Mountains. The territories he received from the Kshatriyas he slew, were distributed among a clan of Brahmins called the Bhumihar. They ruled these lands for many centuries. The kingdoms like Dravida, Karnata and Konkana were among them. Parashurama also retrieved from the sea a virgin-land which was a stretch of coastal-area to the west of Western Ghats of India, giving rise to the myth of Parashurama, saving a part of the land of Kerala from the sea. This happened in Surparaka Kingdom (Coastal Area of Southern Gujarat), from where the myth spread to Kerala, by migration. This land also was given to Brahmin rulers.
The 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.
Parashurama is of a martial Shraman ascetic. However, unlike all other avatars, Parashurama still lives on earth, even today accoding to Hindu belief.Accordingly, unlike Rama and Krishna, Parashurama is not worshipped. But in South India, at the holy place Pajaka near Udupi, there exists one major temple commemorating Parashurama.
Parshurama, the creator of the Konkan coast, is also worshipped in a temple at Parashurama, Chiplun in Maharashtra's Ratnagiri district.The people of the Konkan call their land 'Parshurama Bhoomi' or the land of Parashurama in accordance with the legend that the sage reclaimed the land from the sea.
There are several Parashurama temples throughout the western coast of India as well as North India, but especially more in the costal areas from Bharuch(ancient name of Bharuch is Bhrugu Kutchchh) in the west Indian state of Gujarat right up to Kerala, the southern tip of India. One can see a Parashurama Temple with a Agni Mandir in Shivpuri - Akkalkot,Khopoli in Maharashtra and Fort Songadh in Gujarat.
A temple of Parashurama is also situated at Akhnoor, 18 km away from Jammu city, J&K. Every year, in the month of May, an enormous fete in the form of a parade, referred as Parshuram Jayanti, with hundreds of tableaux, thronged through the main city of Jammu. Local community leaders and followers arrange for the celebrations and it is celebrated with great enthusiasm.
According to Jain version of Parashurama, he was killed by Chakravati Subhoum. Subhoum was the son of Sahasrarjun and 8th Chakravarti (Emperor)of the total 12 Chakravartis. The Jain version is available in Trishasti Shalaka Purush, the famous Jain book on 63 great people of ancient times.
The 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.
In the Kanyakumari Temple in Kanyakumari town, Parashurama 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 he had trained Karna in the Mahabharata and is believed will train the future Kalki.
He 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 the evils.
Also, 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.
There are "Seven Mukti Sthalas" of Karnataka, which were created by Parashurama and some of the above such as Kollur belong to them.
According to mythologyParashurama is chiranjeevi and still doing penance in Mahendragiri in Eastern Ghats.
There is a temple of Parashurama in the village of Painguinim in Canacona, Goa.
Recently in 2010 a big statue of Bhagwan Parashurama is developed in Phalodi(Jodhpur-Rajasthan) near Shivsar Talao(POND).
Eight kshetras are popularly known as Parashurama kshetras and a.k.a. 'Parashurama Srishti'.
"Seven Mukti Sthalas"
6. Kumbasi (Annegudde)
Further Kshetra Legend
There is a legend that in one of the kshetras a King called Ramabhoja worshipped Lord Parashurama He was the ruler of the lands between Gokarna and Kanyakumari and was proclaimed king of the entire Parashurama Kshetra. Once he decided to perform 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 Parashurama 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 Parashurama appeared and declared that he was pleased with the Yajna and that henceforth the sacrificial land 'Roupya Peetha' (silver pedestal) ( present day Udupi ) would become a famous centre of pilgrimage. This land is also known as 'Thoulava' land and because Rambhoja performed 'Tulabhara'. This is, in brief, the legend of the land.
Reclamation of Konkan coast (coastal Maharashtra, Karnataka) & Kerala
There 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 with Parashurama.
Konkan is the karmabhumi of Parashurama (the land founded by him), but very few people know about his janmabhumi(birthplace). there is one view that his birthplace was Mahoor gadh, which is at the border of Marathwada and Vidharbha in Maharastra. AtMahur on the left hand side of main Renuka Mata temple there is a temple which is believed to be Parashurama's birthplace. However, there is also one belief that the birthplace of Lord Parashurama is Janapao or Jaana pau in present day Madhya Pradesh, a central Indian State.Parashurama had spent most of his childhood time in and around the Mandagni Parvath near Vajreshwari in Maharashtra. You can see a Bala Parashurama temple believed to be built by Bhima on the edge of the Mandagni Parvath.There is also a temple for Renuka devi and Sage Jamadagni.This makes us to believe that the birth place of Lord Parashurama could be around this place.
There is also a famous quarterly magazine available called Parashurama Patrika-by Mr.K.K.Thanvi.