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parashurama | Hindu FAQs

Parshuram a.k.a Parashurama, Parashuraman  is the sixth avatar of Vishnu. He is son of Renuka and the saptarishi Jamadagni. Parshurama is one of the seven Immortals. Lord Parashuram was the Great Grandson of Bhrugu Rishi, after whom the “Bhruguvansh” has been named. He lived during the last Dvapara Yuga, and is one of the seven immortals or Chiranjivi, of Hinduism. He received an parashu(axe) after undertaking terrible penance to please Shiva, who in turn taught him the martial arts.

parashurama | Hindu FAQs
parashurama

Parashurama is most known for ridding the world of kshatriyas twenty-one times over after the mighty king Kartavirya killed his father. He played important roles in the Mahabharata and Ramayana, serving as mentor to Bhishma, Karna and Drona. Parashurama also fought back the advancing seas to save the lands of Konkan, Malabar and Kerala.

Renuka devi and the clay pot
Parshurama’s parents were great spiritual achievers his Mother Renuka devi had  command over  the water elments and his father Jamadgani over fire. its even said that Renuka devi could fetch water in the even in a wet clay pot. Once Rishi Jamadgani asked Renuka Devi to fetch water in the clay pot, some how Renuka Devi was distracted from the thought of being a women and the clay pot broke. Seeing Renuka Devi wet the enraged Jamadgani  called his son Parshurama. He ordered Parshurama to cut Renuka devi’s head. Parshuram obeyed his father. Rishi Jamadgani was so pleased with his son that he asked him for a boon. Parshurama asked Rishi Jamadgani to restore the breaths of his mother, thus Rishi Jamadgani who was the owner of Divya Shakties (divine Powers) brought back the life of Renuka Devi.
Kamdhenu Cow

Parshurama | Hindu FAQs
Parshurama

Rishi Jamadgani and Renuka Devi both were blessed not only for having Parshuram as their son but they were also given the Kamdhenu Cow. Once Rishi Jamadgani went out from  his Ashram and in the mean while some Kshatriyas (worriers) arrived at their Ashram. They were in search of food, the Ashram Devies gave them food they were so surprised to see the magical cow Kaamdhenu, the cow would give any Dish she asked for.  They were so amused and they put up the purposal of buying the cow for their king Kartavirya Sahasrarjuna, but all the Ashram sahadus (sages) and Devies refused. they forcefuly took away the cow. Parshurama killed the entire army of King Kartavirya Sahasrarjun and restored the magical cow. In Revenge Kartavirya Sahasrarjun’s son killed Jamadgani. When ParshuRama returned to the ashram he saw his father’s body . He noticed the 21 scars on Jamadgani’s body and took the pledge to kill all unjust kshatriyas 21 time on this earth. he killed all the sons of king.

Shri Parashuram left home to do devout austerities to please Lord Shiva. Considering his extreme devotion, intense desire and unmoved and perpetual meditation, Lord Shiva was pleased with Shri Parashuram. He presented Shri Parashuram with Divine weapons. Included was His unconquerable and indestructible axe shaped weapon, Parashu. Lord Shiva advised him to go and liberate the Mother Earth from felons, ill-behaved people, extremists, demons and those blind with pride.

Lord Shiva and Parshuram
Once, Lord Shiva challenged Shri Parashuram to a battle to test his skills in warfare. The spiritual master Lord Shiva and the disciple Shri Parashuram were locked in a fierce battle. This dreadful duel lasted for twenty one days. While ducking to avoid being hit by the Trident (Trishul) of Lord Shiva, Shri Parashuram vigorously attacked Him with his Parashu. It struck Lord Shiva on the forehead creating a wound. Lord Shiva was very pleased to see the amazing warfare skills of His disciple. He passionately embraced Shri Parashuram. Lord Shiva preserved this wound as an ornament so that the reputation of his disciple remained imperishable and insurmountable. ‘Khanda-parshu’ (wounded by Parashu) is one of the thousand names (for the salutation) of Lord Shiva.

Parshurama and Shiva | Hindu FAQs
Parshurama and Shiva

Vijaya Bow
Shri Parashuram, clipped the thousand arms of Sahasrarjun, one by one, with his Parashu and killed him. He repelled his army by showering arrows on them. The whole country greatly welcomed the destruction of Sahasrarjun. The king of Deities, Indra was so pleased that he presented His most beloved bow named Vijaya to Shri Parashuram. Lord Indra had destroyed demon dynasties with this bow. By the fatal arrows shot with the help of this Vijaya bow, Shri Parashuram destroyed the miscreant Kshatriyas twenty one times. Later Shri Parashuram presented this bow to his disciple Karna when he was pleased with his intense devotion to the Guru. Karna became unconquerable with help of this bow Vijaya presented to him by Shri Parashuram

In Ramayana
In Valmiki Ramayana, Parashurama stops the journey of Sri Rama and his family after his marriage to Sita. He threatens to kill Sri Rama and his father, King Dasharatha, begs him to forgive his son and punish him instead. Parashurama neglects Dasharatha and invokes Sri Rama for a challenge. Sri Rama meets his challenge and tells him that he does not want to kill him because he is a Brahmin and related to his guru, Vishwamitra maharshi. But, he destroys his merit earned through penances. Thus, Parashurama’s arrogance gets diminished and he returns to his normal mind.

Mentorship of Drona
At the end of his time in the Vedic period, Parashurama was renouncing his possessions to take sanyasi. As the day progressed, Drona, then a poor Brahmin, approached Parashurama asking for alms. By that time, the warrior-sage had already given the Brahmins his gold and Kasyapa his land, so all that was left were his body and weapons. Parushurama asked which Drona would have, to which the clever Brahmin responded:

“O son of Bhrigu, it behoveth thee to give me all thy weapons together with the mysteries of hurling and recalling them.”
—Mahabharata 7:131

Thus, Parashurama gave all his weapons unto Drona, making him supreme in the science of arms. This becomes crucial as Drona later became the guru to both the Pandavas and the Kauravas who fought against each other in the Kurukshetra War. It is said that Lord Parashurama carried Lord Vishnu’s “Sudharshana Chakra” and “Bow” and Lord Balram’s “Gadha” while they fulfill their education with Guru Sandeepani

Ekadanta
According to Puranas, Parashurama travelled to the Himalayas to pay respect to his teacher, Shiva. While travelling, his path was blocked by Ganesha, son of Shiva and Parvati. Parashurama threw his axe at the elephant-god. Ganesha, knowing the weapon had been given to Parashurama by his father, allowed it to sever his left tusk.

His mother Parvati was infuriated, and declared she would cut off the arms of Parashurama. She took the form of Durgama, becoming omnipotent, but at the last moment, Shiva was able to pacify her by making her see the avatar as her own son. Parashurama also asked her forgiveness, and she finally relented when Ganesha himself spoke on behalf of the warrior-saint. Parashurama then gave his divine axe to Ganesha and blessed him. Another name for Ganesha because of this encounter is Ekadanta, or ‘One Tooth’.

Beating back the Arabian Sea
Puranas write that the western coast of India was threatened by tumultuous waves and tempests, causing the land to be overcome by the sea. Parashurama fought back the advancing waters, demanding Varuna release the land of Konkan and Malabar. During their fight, Parashurama threw his axe into the sea. A mass of land rose up, but Varuna told him that because it was filled with salt, the land would be barren.

Parshurama Beating back the Arabian Sea | Hindu Faqs
Parshurama Beating back the Arabian Sea

Parashurama then did a tapasya for Nagaraja, the King of Snakes. Parashurama asked him to spread serpents throughout the land so their venom would neutralize the salt filled earth. Nagaraja agreed, and a lush and fertile land grew. Thus, Parashurama pushed back the coastline between the foothills of the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, creating modern day Kerala.

The coastal area of Kerala, Konkan, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, are today also known as Parashurama Kshetra or Land of Parashurama in homage. Puranas record that Parashurama placed statues of Shiva at 108 different locations throughout the reclaimed land, which still exist today. Shiva, is the source of kundalini, and it around his neck that Nagaraja is coiled, and so the statues were in gratitude for their baneful cleansing of the land.

Parshurama and Surya:
Parashurama once became annoyed with the sun god Surya for making too much heat. The warrior-sage shot several arrows into the sky, terrifying Surya. When Parashurama ran out of arrows and sent his wife Dharani to bring more, the sun god then focused his rays on her, causing her to collapse. Surya then appeared before Parashurama and gave him two inventions that have since been attributed to the avatar, sandals and an umbrella

Kalaripayattu The indian Martial Arts
Parashurama and the saptarishi Agastya are regarded as the founders of kalaripayattu, the oldest martial art in the world. Parashurama was a master of shastravidya, or the art of weaponry, as taught to him by Shiva. As such, he developed northern kalaripayattu, or vadakkan kalari, with more emphasis on weapons than striking and grappling. Southern kalaripayattu was developed by Agastya, and focuses more on weaponless combat. Kalaripayattu is known as the ‘mother of all martial arts’.
Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism, also practiced kalaripayattu. When he traveled to China to spread Buddhism, he brought the martial art with him, which in turn was adapted to become the basis of Shaolin Kung Fu

Unlike other incarnations of Vishnu, Parashurama is a Chiranjivi, and is said to still be doing penance today in Mahendragiri. The Kalki Purana writes that he will reemerge at the end of Kali Yuga to be the martial and spiritual guru of Kalki, the tenth and final avatar of Vishnu. It is foretold that he will instruct Kalki to perform a difficult penance to Shiva, and receive the celestial weaponry needed to bring about end time.

Parashurama as per Theory Of Evolution:
The sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu was Parashuram, a rugged primitive warrior with a battle axe. This form could be a symbol of the cave-man stage of evolution and his usage of the axe could be seen as man’s evolution from the stone age to the iron age. Man had learnt the art of using tools and weapons and exploit the natural resources available to him.

Temples:
Parashurama is worshipped as mool purush, or founder, of the Bhumihar Brahmin, Chitpavan, Daivadnya, Mohyal, Tyagi, Shukla, Awasthi, saryupareen, Kothiyal, Anavil, Nambudiri bhardwaj and gaud Brahmin communities.

Parshurama Temple, Chiplun Maharashtra | Hindu FAQs
Parshurama Temple, Chiplun Maharashtra

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Image credits to the original Artist and Photographer

Shakuni's revenge against the kuru dynasty - hindufaqs.com

One of the greatest (if not the greatest) revenge story has to be that of Shakuni taking revenge on the entire Kuru dynasty of Hastinapur by forcing them into Mahabharata.

Shakuni’s sister Gandhari, the princess of Gandhar (modern day Kandahar between Pakistan and Afghanistan) was married to Vichitraveerya’s eldest blind son Dhritrashtra. The kuru elder Bheeshma proposed the match and despite having objections Shakuni and his father were not able to refuse it.

Gandhari’s horoscope showed that her first husband would die and leave her a widow. To avert this, on an astrologer’s advice, Gandhari’s family married her to a goat and then killed the goat to fulfil the destiny and assumed that she could now go ahead and marry a human and since the person technically be her second husband, no harm will come to him.

As Gandhari was married to a blind man she made a vow to remain blindfolded the rest of her life.The marriage against his and his father’s wishes had been an insult to the kingdom of Gandhar. However, due to the might of Bheeshma and the strength of the Hastinapur kingdom father and son were forced to acquiesce to this marriage.

Shakuni and Duryodhana playing Dice Game with Pandavas
Shakuni and Duryodhana playing Dice Game with Pandavas


However, in the most dramatic fashion, the secret about Gandhari’s first marriage to the goat came out and this made both Dhritrashtra and Pandu really angry at Gandhari’s family – because they did not tell them that Gandhari was technically a widow.
To avenge this, Dhritrashtra and Pandu imprisoned all of Gandhari’s male family – including her father and her 100 brothers. Dharma did not allow killing prisoners of war, so Dhritrashtra decided to starve them slowly to death and would give only 1 fistful of rice for the entire clan everyday.
Gandhari’s family soon realised that they will mostly starve to death slowly. So they decided that the entire fistful of rice will be used to keep the youngest brother, Shakuni, alive so that he can take revenge on Dhritrashtra later. In front of Shakuni’s eyes, his entire male family, starved to death and kept him alive.
His father, during his last days, told him to take the bones from the dead body and make a pair of dice which would always obey him. This dice would later be instrumental in Shakuni’s revenge plan.

After the death of the rest of relatives, Shakuni did as he was told and created a dice that contained his father’s bones’ ashes

To achieve his goal Shakuni came to live with his sister in Hastinapur and never returned to Gandhar. Gandhari’s eldest son Duryodhana served as the perfect means for Shakuni to achieve this purpose. He poisoned Duryodhana’s mind against the Pandavas from an early age and goaded into schemes such as poisoning Bhima and throwing him in the river, the Lakshagraha (House of Lacquer) episode, the games of Chausar with the Pandavas that led to Draupadi’s disrobing and insult and eventually to the 13 year banishment of the Pandavas.

Finally, when the Pandavas returned Duryodhana, with Shakuni’s support, prevented Dhritrashtra from returning the kingdom of Indraprastha to the Pandavas, which precipitated into the war of Mahabharata and the deaths of Bheeshma, the 100 kaurava brothers, the sons of the Pandavas from Draupadi and even shakuni himself.

Credits:
Photo Credits: Wikipedia

When Arjun and Duryodhan, had both gone to meet Krishna before Kurukshetra, the former went in later, and seeing the latter at his head, he sat at Krishna’s feet. Krishna woke up and then gave them the choice of either his entire Narayana Sena, or he himself as charioteer on a condition, that he would neither fight nor hold any weapon. And he gave Arjun, the chance to select first, who then choose Krishna as his charioteer. Duryodhan could not believe his fortune, he had wanted the Narayana Sena, and he got it on a platter, he felt Arjun was plain foolish. Little did Duryodhan realize that while he got the physical powers, the mental and spiritual power was with Arjun. There was a reason why Arjun choose Krishna, he was the person who provided the intelligence,the guidance, and he knew the weakness of every warrior in the Kaurava camp.

Krishna as charioteer of Arjuna
Krishna as charioteer of Arjuna

Apart from that the bonding between Arjun and Krishna, goes a long way back too. The entire concept of Nar and Naryana, and the former needing the guidance from the latter. While Krishna had always been the well wisher of the Pandavas, guiding them at all times, he had a special bonding with Arjun, both being great friends. He guided Arjun during the Khandava Dahanam, in his battle with the Gods, and later he ensured his sister Subhadra was married to Arjun, when his brother Balaram wanted to marry her to Duryodhan.


Arjun was the best warrior in the Pandava side, Yudhistir while being the most wise among them, was not exactly a “great warrior”, who could take on Bheeshma, Drona, Kripa, Karna, it was only Arjun who was an equal match to them. Bheem was all brute force, and while that was needed, for physical and mace combat with the likes of Duryodhan and Dushashan, he could not have been effective in handling Bheeshma or Karna. Now while Arjun was the finest warrior ever, he also needed strategic advice, and that was where Krishna came in. Unlike physical combat, battle in archery needed quick reflexes, strategic thought, planning, and this is where Krishna was an invaluable asset.

Krishna as saarthi in mahabharata

Krishna knew that only Arjun could face Bheeshma or Karna or Drona on equal terms, but he also knew that he like any other human beings, had this internal conflict. Arjun faced an internal conflict over fighting with his beloved grandsire Bheeshma or his Guru Drona, to kill or not kill, and that is where Krishna came up with the entire Gita, the concept of Dharma, destiny and doing your duty. In the end it was Krishna’s guidance that made the entire difference to the Kurukshetra war.

There is an incident when Arjuna goes overconfident and then Krishna tells him – “Hey Parth, don’t be overconfident. If I was not here, your chariot would have been blown away long ago due to the damage done by Bheesma, Drona and Karna. You are facing the best athimaharathis of all times and they do not have the armor of Narayana”.

More trivia

Krishna was always closer to Arjuna than Yudishtra. Krishna made his sister marry Arjuna, not Yudishtra, when Balarama planed to have her married to Druyodana. Also, when Aswathama asked for the Sudarshana Chakra from Krishna, Krishna told him that even Arjuna, who was his dearest person in the world, who was even dearer to him than his wives and kids, never asked that weapon. This shows Krishna’s closeness to Arjuna.

Krishna had to protect Arjuna from Vaishnavastra.  Bhagadatta had the Vaishnavastra which would kill the enemy for sure. When Bhagadatta sent that weapon to Kill Arjuna, Krishna stood up and took that weapon around his neck as a Garland. (It was Krishna who gave that Vaishnavastra, the personal astra of Vishnu to Bhagadatta’s mother after Killing Narakasura, who was the father of Bhagadatta.)

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karna from Mahabharata

Karna attaches an arrow to his bow, pulls back and releases – the arrow is aimed at Arjun’s heart.  Krishna, Arjun’s Charioteer, drives by sheer force the chariot into the ground several feet.  The arrow hits Arjun’s headgear and knocks it off. Missing its target – Arjuna’s heart.
Krishna yells, “Wow! Nice shot, Karna.”
Arjuna asks Krishna, ‘Why are you praising Karna?’
Krishna tells Arjun, ‘Look at you! You have Lord Hanuman on the flag of this chariot. You have me as your charioteer. You received the blessings of Ma Durga and your Guru, Dronacharya before the battle, have a loving Mother and an aristocratic heritage. This Karna has nobody, his own charioteer, Salya belittles him, his own Guru (Parusurama) cursed him, his Mother abandoned him when he was born and he has no known heritage.  Yet, look at the battle he’s giving you. Without me and Lord Hanuman on this chariot, where would you be?’

karna
Comparison between Krishna and Karna
on various occasions. Some of them are Myths while some are pure facts.


1. Immediately after Krishna’s birth, he was transported across the river by his father, Vasudeva to be brought up by his step-parents – Nanda & Yasoda
Immediately after Karna’s birth, his Mother – Kunti placed him in a basket on the river. He was transported to his step-parents – Adhiratha & Radha – by the watchful eye of his father, Surya Dev

2.  Karna’s given name was – Vasusena
– Krishna was also called – Vasudeva

3. Krishna’s mother was Devaki, his Step-Mother – Yasoda, His Chief Wife – Rukmini, yet he is remembered mostly for his lila with Radha. ‘Radha-Krishna’
– Karna’s birth mother was Kunti, and even after finding out she was his mother – He told Krishna that he will not be called – Kaunteya – son of Kunti, but will be remembered as Radheya – Son of Radha. Till date, the Mahabharata refers to Karna as ‘Radheya’

4.  Krishna was asked by his people – Yadavas- to become, King. Krishna refused and Ugrasena was King of the Yadavas.
– Krishna asked Karna to become Emperor of India (BharataVarsha- Extending to Pakistan, Bangladesh & Afghanistan at the time), thereby preventing the MahaBharat War.  Krishna argued that Karna being elder to both Yudhisthira & Duryodhana – he would be the rightful heir to the throne. Karna refused the Kingdom on account of principle

5. Krishna broke his vow of not picking up a weapon during the War, when he impulsively rushed at Bhishma Dev with his Chakra.

Krishna rushing towards Bhishma with his Chakra

6. Krishna vowed to Kunti that all 5 Pandavas were under his protection
–          Karna vowed to Kunti that he would spare the lives of 4 Pandavas and battle Arjuna (In the War, Karna had a chance to kill – Yudhisthira, Bhima, Nakula & Sahadeva at different intervals. Yet, he spared their lives)

7. Krishna was born in the Kshatriya caste, yet he played the role of Arjuna’s charioteer in the War
–          Karna was raised in the Suta (Charioteer) caste, yet he played the role of a Kshatriya in the War

8. Karna was cursed to his Death by his Guru – Rishi Parusharam for deceiving him for being a Brahmin (In actuality, Parusharam knew about Karna’s true heritage – however, he also knew the big picture that was to be played out later. Aside from that – along w/ Bhishma Dev, Karna was his favorite disciple)
–          Krishna was cursed to his Death by Gandhari as she felt he allowed the War to unfold and could have done more to prevent it.

9. Draupadi called Krishna her Sakha (Brother) & loved him openly. (Krishna cut his finger from the Sudarshan Chakra and Draupadi immediately tore a piece of cloth from her favorite sari that she was wearing, soaked it in water and  rapidly wrapped it around his finger to stop the bleeding. When Krishna said, ‘That is your favorite Sari!’. Draupadi smiled and shrugged her shoulders as if it was no big deal. Krishna was touched by this – hence when she was being stripped by Dushashana in the Assembly Hall – Krishna by his maya supplied Draupadi with never ending Saris.)
–          Draupadi loved Karna secretly. He was her hidden crush. When Dushashana strips  Draupadi of her sari in the Assembly Hall.  Which Krishna replenished one by one (Bhima had once told Yudhisthira, ‘Brother, do not give Krishna your sins. He multiplies everything.’)

10. Prior to the War, Krishna was looked upon with great respect and reverence.  Even among the Yadavas, they knew Krishna was great, nay The Greatest…yet, they didn’t know his Divinity.  Very few knew for sure who Krishna was. After the War, many Rishis and people were angry with Krishna as they felt he could have prevented the atrocity and millions of deaths.
–          Prior to the War, Karna was looked upon as an instigator and right-hand man of Duryodhana – jealous of the Pandavas. After the war, Karna was looked upon with reverence by the Pandavas, Dhritarashtra & Gandhari. For his endless sacrifice & they were all sad that Karna had to face such ignonimity his whole life

11. Krishna/Karna had an enormous amount of respect for each other.  Karna somehow knew about Krishna’s divinity and surrendered himself to his Lila.  Whereas, Karna surrendered to Krishna & gained glory – Ashwattama could not accept the manner in which his father, Dronacharya was slayed and unleashed a vicious guerrilla warfare against the Panchalas – men, women & children. Ending up being a bigger villain than Duryodhana.

12.  Krishna asked Karna how he knew the Pandavas would Win the MahaBharat War.  To which Karna responded, ‘Kurukshethra is a sacrificial field. Arjuna is the Head Priest, You-Krishna are the presiding deity. Myself (Karna), Bhishma Dev, Dronacharya and Duryodhana are the sacrifice.’
Krishna ended their conversation by telling Karna, ‘You are the best of the Pandavas.’

13. KARNA is the creation of Krishna to show the world the true meaning of sacrifice and to accept your fate. And in spite of all the bad luck or bad times you come across maintain: Your Spirituality, Your Generosity, Your Nobility, Your Dignity and Your Self- Respect and Respect for others.

Arjuna killing Karna Arjuna killing Karna

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