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 of 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 belongs to his Guru, Lord Shiva. Angry warrior sage gave Sharanga (Bow passed by Lord Vishnu) to Rama and challenged him to strings and shoot at him.
Rama took the bow and arrow from Parasurama, easily fit the arrow in the bow and 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 as one of the Astha Chiranjeevi (Eight Immortals) who has lived from one Satyayuga to another, i.e are alive on our earth and they will remain alive through Kali Yuga and wait for 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.
He was trained by Lord Shiva himself and was initiated with Rudramsha (Element of Lord Shiva himself) according to Vishnu Purana. 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. In order 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 destroy the unlawful ones on the way.
According to Vayu Purana, King Kartavirya invaded Lanka, and there took Ravana as a prisoner, but later he was killed by Parshuram and Ravana was rescued from Kartavirya. There are multiple stories mentioned of different Puranas on how King Kartavirya was killed but all the stories mention that it was Lord Parshuram.
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 in Mount Kailasha. Parshurama went to Mount Kailash to pay his obeisances to Shiva, but Lord Ganesha stopped Him.
By his nature, Parshuram was enraged that he was being prevented from seeing Lord Shiva, and so he started fighting Lord Ganesha. During the fight, Parshuram threw His Axe at Ganesha 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 of 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 but Karna lied to him telling that he was a Brahmin, so he cursed him that he would forget the knowledge Parshuram had given to him at the time when he would need it most. Parshuram also had to fight a small war with Bhishma, his own disciple, over the controversy of princess Amba, in which Parashuram was defeated by Bhishma.(Last Updated On: July 1, 2020)