Born to warrior princess Renuka and Brahmin Sage Jamadagni (one of the Saptarishi), Lord Parashurama is the sixth incarnation in the Dasavatara list of Lord Vishnu. He was the fifth son of the couple and was named Rambhadra. (Rama, who is Gracious).
If you have read or watched Ramayana and Mahabharata, you may already know that Parshuram is one of the greatest warriors in Hindu history.
Let’s have a look at some of the interesting and lesser-known facts about Lord Parshuram
1. The reason behind the name Parshuram
The word Parashurama is derived from two words parashu (परशु) meaning ‘axe’ and Rama (राम). The word Parshuram means ‘Rama with an axe’.
His other names include:
- Ramabhadra – Gracious Rama
- Bhargava – Descendant of Bhrigu
- Bhrigupati – Lord of Bhrigu dynasty
- Bhriguvanshi – He who belongs to Bhrigu lineage
- Jamadagnya – Son of Jamadagni
2. Shiva Dhanus and Parashurama
According to Ramayana, Lord Parshuram was upset with Lord Rama, who broke the bow that belonged to his Guru, Lord Shiva. Angry warrior sage gave Sharanga (Bow passed by Lord Vishnu) to Rama and challenged him to string and shoot him.
Rama took the bow and arrow from Parasurama, easily fit the arrow in the bow, drew it to its fullest extent, and asked the sage, ” Where shall I discharge this deadly arrow? As you are my superior, I cannot aim it at you.
Impressed and astonished, Parasurama immediately realized that this was no ordinary Kshatriya standing there in front of him. You surely must be Lord Vishnu himself. I accept defeat, but I am not ashamed as you are indeed the lord of all the worlds.
You have already divested me of all my power and my pride. Please release this arrow on my desires for heavenly pleasures and burn them to ashes. The only thing that I now desire is to become your eternal servant.
Saying so, Parasurama bowed down before Rama, who released the arrow. The sage immediately vanished along with the arrow. Varuna, the god of the water, then appeared before Rama and gave him the celestial bow to keep on behalf of all the gods.
3. The Immortal One – Chiranjeevi
There are many immortals, according to Hindu scriptures and stories. In Sanskrit, Chiranjeevi means a long-lived person, Chiram (means long), and Jivee (means lived). The word is also known as Amaratva or Immortality.
Parshuram is considered one of the Astha Chiranjeevi (Eight Immortals) who has lived from one Satyayuga to another. They will remain alive through Kali Yuga and wait for the next Satya Yuga. Lord Parshuram appears in Mahabharata and Ramayana stories, events from two different Yugas, Mahabharata in Dwapara and Ramayana in Tetra Yuga. He will reappear in Kali Yuga to instruct Lord Kalki in Astra and Sastra Vidya.
According to Vishnu Purana, he was trained by Lord Shiva himself and was initiated with Rudramsha (Element of Lord Shiva himself). Only Shiva himself can kill those who received Rudramsha. That is why he is immortal, and according to Kalki Purana, he will reappear in Kali Yuga to instruct Lord Kalki in Astra and Sastra Vidya.
4. Parshuram Killed Kartavirya Arjuna, One with 1000 hands
King Kartavriya Arjuna was the reason why Parshuram was vengeful of the Kshatriyas.
Sage Jamadagni had a divine cow gifted by Lord Indra, which could feed any number of people with delicious food within seconds. The Kshatriya king, Kartavirya Arjuna, stole the cow from his hermitage. Parashuram killed Kartavirya to rescue the cow. To take revenge, King Kartavirya’s son killed Jamadagni. During those days, the Kshatriyas were becoming atrocious. Therefore, Parashuram took a vow to destroy the evil-minded Kshatriyas of his time to restore peace on the earth and kept roaming with his axe to kill the unlawful ones on the way.
According to Vayu Purana, King Kartavirya invaded Lanka and took Ravana as a prisoner, but later, he was killed by Parshuram, and Ravana was rescued from Kartavirya. There are multiple stories of different Puranas on how King Kartavirya was killed, but all the stories mention that it was Lord Parshuram.
Bhagawan Sri Krishna, Balarama, Kamsa, Ugrasena, Vasudeva, Sini, Satyaki, Hridaka, Kritaverma, Pradyumna, Charudeshna, Samba, Aniruddha, etc. are notable descendants of King Kartavirya.
5. Lord Ganesha’s Broken Tusk
After Lord Parshuram defeated King Kartavirya Arjuna and helped Ravana (devotee of Lord Shiva), he wanted to meet Lord Shiva on Mount Kailasha. Parshurama went to Mount Kailash to pay his obeisances to Shiva, but Lord Ganesha stopped Him.
Parshuram was enraged by his nature that he was being prevented from seeing Lord Shiva, so he started fighting Lord Ganesha. Parshuram threw His Axe at Ganesha during the fight, and one of his Tusk was broken. Ganesha didn’t defend himself because the axe was a gift from Shiva.
(Note: There is another story regarding Lord Ganesha’s broken Tusk. Ganesha broke his own Tusk to write Mahabharata, told by Sage Vyasa)
6. Parashurama in Mahabharata
The reference to Parashurama appears in the epic Mahabharata a few times. Parashurama taught the art of war to Bhishma and Dronacharya. He also gave knowledge of Brahmastra to Karna.
Karna lied to Parashuram to become his disciple, telling him that he was a Brahmin. Parshurama cursed him that he would forget the knowledge Parshuram had given him at the time when he would need it most.
Parshuram also had to fight a small war with Bhishma, his disciple, over the controversy of princess Amba, in which Bhishma defeated Parashuram.