Paraśurāma, the Lord’s Warrior Incarnation
From the womb of Urvaśī came six sons, named Āyu, Śrutāyu, Satyāyu, Raya, Jaya and Vijaya. The son of Śrutāyu was Vasumān, the son of Satyāyu was Śrutañjaya, the son of Raya was Eka, the son of Jaya was Amita, and the son of Vijaya was Bhīma. Bhīma’s son was named Kāñcana, the son of Kāñcana was Hotraka, and the son of Hotraka was Jahnu, who was celebrated for having drunk all the water of the Ganges in one sip. The descendants of Jahnu, one after another, were Puru, Balāka, Ajaka and Kuśa. The sons of Kuśa were Kuśāmbu, Tanaya, Vasu and Kuśanābha. From Kuśāmbu came Gādhi, who had a daughter named Satyavatī. Satyavatī married Ṛcīka Muni after the muni contributed a substantial dowry, and from the womb of Satyavatī by Ṛcīka Muni, Jamadagni was born. The son of Jamadagni was Rāma, or Paraśurāma. When a king named Kārtavīryārjuna stole Jamadagni’s desire cow, Paraśurāma, who is ascertained by learned experts to be a saktyāveśa incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, killed Kārtavīryārjuna. Later, he annihilated the kṣatriya dynasty twenty-one times. After Paraśurāma killed Kārtavīryārjuna, Jamadagni told him that killing a king is sinful and that as a brāhmaṇa he should have tolerated the offense. Therefore Jamadagni advised Paraśurāma to atone for his sin by traveling to various holy places.
ṣaḍ āsann ātmajā nṛpa
āyuḥ śrutāyuḥ satyāyū
rayo ’tha vijayo jayaḥ
śrī-bādarāyaṇiḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; ailasya—of Purūravā; ca—also; urvaśī-garbhāt—from the womb of Urvaśī; ṣaṭ—six; āsan—there were; ātmajāḥ—sons; nṛpa—O King Parīkṣit; āyuḥ—Āyu; śrutāyuḥ—Śrutāyu; satyāyuḥ—Satyāyu; rayaḥ—Raya; atha—as well as; vijayaḥ—Vijaya; jayaḥ—Jaya.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī continued: O King Parīkṣit, from the womb of Urvaśī, six sons were generated by Purūravā. Their names were Āyu, Śrutāyu, Satyāyu, Raya, Vijaya and Jaya.
śrutāyor vasumān putraḥ
satyāyoś ca śrutañjayaḥ
rayasya suta ekaś ca
jayasya tanayo ’mitaḥ
bhīmas tu vijayasyātha
kāñcano hotrakas tataḥ
tasya jahnuḥ suto gaṅgāṁ
gaṇḍūṣī-kṛtya yo ’pibat
śrutāyoḥ—of Śrutāyu; vasumān—Vasumān; putraḥ—a son; satyāyoḥ—of Satyāyu; ca—also; śrutañjayaḥ—a son named Śrutañjaya; rayasya—of Raya; sutaḥ—a son; ekaḥ—by the name Eka; ca—and; jayasya—of Jaya; tanayaḥ—the son; amitaḥ—by the name Amita; bhīmaḥ—by the name Bhīma; tu—indeed; vijayasya—of Vijaya; atha—thereafter; kāñcanaḥ—Kāñcana, the son of Bhīma; hotrakaḥ—Hotraka, the son of Kāñcana; tataḥ—then; tasya—of Hotraka; jahnuḥ—by the name Jahnu; sutaḥ—a son; gaṅgām—all the water of the Ganges; gaṇḍūṣī-kṛtya—by one sip; yaḥ—he who (Jahnu); apibat—drank.
The son of Śrutāyu was Vasumān; the son of Satyāyu, Śrutañjaya; the son of Raya, Eka; the son of Jaya, Amita; and the son of Vijaya, Bhīma. The son of Bhīma was Kāñcana; the son of Kāñcana was Hotraka; and the son of Hotraka was Jahnu, who drank all the water of the Ganges in one sip.
jahnos tu purus tasyātha
balākaś cātmajo ’jakaḥ
tataḥ kuśaḥ kuśasyāpi
kuśāmbus tanayo vasuḥ
kuśanābhaś ca catvāro
gādhir āsīt kuśāmbujaḥ
jahnoḥ—of Jahnu; tu—indeed; puruḥ—a son named Puru; tasya—of Puru; atha—thereafter; balākaḥ—a son named Balāka; ca—and; ātmajaḥ—Balāka’s son; ajakaḥ—of the name Ajaka; tataḥ—thereafter; kuśaḥ—Kuśa; kuśasya—of Kuśa; api—then; kuśāmbuḥ—Kuśāmbu; tanayaḥ—Tanaya; vasuḥ—Vasu; kuśanābhaḥ—Kuśanābha; ca—and; catvāraḥ—four (sons); gādhiḥ—Gādhi; āsīt—there was; kuśāmbujaḥ—the son of Kuśāmbu.
The son of Jahnu was Puru, the son of Puru was Balāka, the son of Balāka was Ajaka, and the son of Ajaka was Kuśa. Kuśa had four sons, named Kuśāmbu, Tanaya, Vasu and Kuśanābha. The son of Kuśāmbu was Gādhi.
tasya satyavatīṁ kanyām
ṛcīko ’yācata dvijaḥ
varaṁ visadṛśaṁ matvā
gādhir bhārgavam abravīt
sahasraṁ dīyatāṁ śulkaṁ
kanyāyāḥ kuśikā vayam
tasya—of Gādhi; satyavatīm—Satyavatī; kanyām—the daughter; ṛcīkaḥ—the great sage Ṛcīka; ayācata—requested; dvijaḥ—the brāhmaṇa; varam—as her husband; visadṛśam—not equal or fit; matvā—thinking like that; gādhiḥ—King Gādhi; bhārgavam—unto Ṛcīka; abravīt—replied; ekataḥ—by one; śyāma-karṇānām—whose ear is black; hayānām—horses; candra-varcasām—as brilliant as the moonshine; sahasram—one thousand; dīyatām—please deliver; śulkam—as a dowry; kanyāyāḥ—to my daughter; kuśikāḥ—in the family of Kuśa; vayam—we (are).
King Gādhi had a daughter named Satyavatī, whom a brāhmaṇa sage named Ṛcīka requested from the King to be his wife. King Gādhi, however, regarded Ṛcīka as an unfit husband for his daughter, and therefore he told the brāhmaṇa, “My dear sir, I belong to the dynasty of Kuśa. Because we are aristocratic kṣatriyas, you have to give some dowry for my daughter. Therefore, bring at least one thousand horses, each as brilliant as moonshine and each having one black ear, whether right or left.”
The son of King Gādhi was Viśvāmitra, who was said to be a brāhmaṇa and kṣatriya combined. Viśvāmitra attained the status of a brahmarṣi, as explained later. From the marriage of Satyavatī with Ṛcīka Muni would come a son with the spirit of a kṣatriya. King Gādhi demanded that an uncommon request be fulfilled before the brāhmaṇa Ṛcīka could marry his daughter.
ity uktas tan-mataṁ jñātvā
gataḥ sa varuṇāntikam
ānīya dattvā tān aśvān
iti—thus; uktaḥ—having been requested; tat-matam—his mind; jñātvā—(the sage) could understand; gataḥ—went; saḥ—he; varuṇa-antikam—to the place of Varuṇa; ānīya—having brought; dattvā—and after delivering; tān—those; aśvān—horses; upayeme—married; vara-ānanām—the beautiful daughter of King Gādhi.
When King Gādhi made this demand, the great sage Ṛcīka could understand the King’s mind. Therefore he went to the demigod Varuṇa and brought from him the one thousand horses that Gādhi had demanded. After delivering these horses, the sage married the King’s beautiful daughter.
sa ṛṣiḥ prārthitaḥ patnyā
caruṁ snātuṁ gato muniḥ
saḥ—he (Ṛcīka); ṛṣiḥ—the great saint; prārthitaḥ—being requested; patnyā—by his wife; śvaśrvā—by his mother-in-law; ca—also; apatya-kāmyayā—desiring a son; śrapayitvā—after cooking; ubhayaiḥ—both; mantraiḥ—by chanting particular mantras; carum—a preparation for offering in a sacrifice; snātum—to bathe; gataḥ—went out; muniḥ—the great sage.
Thereafter, Ṛcīka Muni’s wife and mother-in-law, each desiring a son, requested the Muni to prepare an oblation. Thus Ṛcīka Muni prepared one oblation for his wife with a brāhmaṇa mantra and another for his mother-in-law with a kṣatriya mantra. Then he went out to bathe.
tāvat satyavatī mātrā
sva-caruṁ yācitā satī
śreṣṭhaṁ matvā tayāyacchan
mātre mātur adat svayam
tāvat—in the meantime; satyavatī—Satyavatī, the wife of Ṛcīka; mātrā—by her mother; sva-carum—the oblation meant for herself (Satyavatī); yācitā—asked to give; satī—being; śreṣṭham—better; matvā—thinking; tayā—by her; ayacchat—delivered; mātre—to her mother; mātuḥ—of the mother; adat—ate; svayam—personally.
Meanwhile, because Satyavatī’s mother thought that the oblation prepared for her daughter, Ṛcīka’s wife, must be better, she asked her daughter for that oblation. Satyavatī therefore gave her own oblation to her mother and ate her mother’s oblation herself.
A husband naturally has some affection for his wife. Therefore Satyavatī’s mother thought that the oblation prepared for Satyavatī by the sage Ṛcīka must have been better than her own oblation. In Ṛcīka’s absence, the mother took the better oblation from Satyavatī and ate it.
tad viditvā muniḥ prāha
patnīṁ kaṣṭam akāraṣīḥ
ghoro daṇḍa-dharaḥ putro
bhrātā te brahma-vittamaḥ
tat—this fact; viditvā—having learned; muniḥ—the great sage; prāha—said; patnīm—unto his wife; kaṣṭam—very regrettable; akāraṣīḥ—you have done; ghoraḥ—fierce; daṇḍa-dharaḥ—a great personality who can punish others; putraḥ—such a son; bhrātā—brother; te—your; brahma-vittamaḥ—a learned scholar in spiritual science.
When the great sage Ṛcīka returned home after bathing and understood what had happened in his absence, he said to his wife, Satyavatī, “You have done a great wrong. Your son will be a fierce kṣatriya, able to punish everyone, and your brother will be a learned scholar in spiritual science.”
A brāhmaṇa is highly qualified when he can control his senses and mind, when he is a learned scholar in spiritual science and when he is tolerant and forgiving. A kṣatriya, however, is highly qualified when he is fierce in giving punishment to wrongdoers. These qualities are stated in Bhagavad-gītā (18.42–43). Because Satyavatī, instead of eating her own oblation, had eaten that which was meant for her mother, she would give birth to a son imbued with the kṣatriya spirit. This was undesirable. The son of a brāhmaṇa is generally expected to become a brāhmaṇa, but if such a son becomes fierce like a kṣatriya, he is designated according to the description of the four varṇas in Bhagavad-gītā (cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ [Bg. 4.13]). If the son of a brāhmaṇa does not become like a brāhmaṇa, he may be called a kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra, according to his qualifications. The basic principle for dividing society is not a person’s birth but his qualities and actions.
maivaṁ bhūr iti bhārgavaḥ
atha tarhi bhavet pautro
jamadagnis tato ’bhavat
prasāditaḥ—pacified; satyavatyā—by Satyavatī; mā—not; evam—thus; bhūḥ—let it be; iti—thus; bhārgavaḥ—the great sage; atha—if your son should not become like that; tarhi—then; bhavet—should become like that; pautraḥ—the grandson; jamadagniḥ—Jamadagni; tataḥ—thereafter; abhavat—was born.
Satyavatī, however, pacified Ṛcīka Muni with peaceful words and requested that her son not be like a fierce kṣatriya. Ṛcīka Muni replied, “Then your grandson will be of a kṣatriya spirit.” Thus Jamadagni was born as the son of Satyavatī.
The great sage Ṛcīka was very angry, but somehow or other Satyavatī pacified him, and at her request he changed his mind. It is indicated here that the son of Jamadagni would be born as Paraśurāma.
sā cābhūt sumahat-puṇyā
reṇoḥ sutāṁ reṇukāṁ vai
jamadagnir uvāha yām
tasyāṁ vai bhārgava-ṛṣeḥ
yavīyāñ jajña eteṣāṁ
rāma ity abhiviśrutaḥ
sā—she (Satyavatī); ca—also; abhūt—became; sumahat-puṇyā—very great and sacred; kauśikī—the river by the name Kauśikī; loka-pāvanī—purifying the whole world; reṇoḥ—of Reṇu; sutām—the daughter; reṇukām—by the name Reṇukā; vai—indeed; jamadagniḥ—Satyavatī’s son, Jamadagni; uvāha—married; yām—whom; tasyām—in the womb of Reṇukā; vai—indeed; bhārgava-ṛṣeḥ—by the semen of Jamadagni; sutāḥ—sons; vasumat-ādayaḥ—many, headed by Vasumān; yavīyān—the youngest; jajñe—was born; eteṣām—among them; rāmaḥ—Paraśurāma; iti—thus; abhiviśrutaḥ—was known everywhere.
Satyavatī later became the sacred river Kauśikī to purify the entire world, and her son, Jamadagni, married Reṇukā, the daughter of Reṇu. By the semen of Jamadagni, many sons, headed by Vasumān, were born from the womb of Reṇukā. The youngest of them was named Rāma, or Paraśurāma.
yam āhur vāsudevāṁśaṁ
triḥ-sapta-kṛtvo ya imāṁ
cakre niḥkṣatriyāṁ mahīm
yam—whom (Paraśurāma); āhuḥ—all the learned scholars say; vāsudeva-aṁśam—an incarnation of Vāsudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead; haihayānām—of the Haihayas; kula-antakam—the annihilator of the dynasty; triḥ-sapta-kṛtvaḥ—twenty-one times; yaḥ—who (Paraśurāma); imām—this; cakre—made; niḥkṣatriyām—devoid of kṣatriyas; mahīm—the earth.
Learned scholars accept this Paraśurāma as the celebrated incarnation of Vāsudeva who annihilated the dynasty of Kārtavīrya. Paraśurāma killed all the kṣatriyas on earth twenty-one times.
dṛptaṁ kṣatraṁ bhuvo bhāram
phalguny api kṛte ’ṁhasi
dṛptam—very proud; kṣatram—the kṣatriyas, the ruling class; bhuvaḥ—of the earth; bhāram—burden; abrahmaṇyam—sinful, not caring for the religious principles enunciated by the brāhmaṇas; anīnaśat—drove away or annihilated; rajaḥ-tamaḥ—by the qualities of passion and ignorance; vṛtam—covered; ahan—he killed; phalguni—not very great; api—although; kṛte—had been committed; aṁhasi—an offense.
When the royal dynasty, being excessively proud because of the material modes of passion and ignorance, became irreligious and ceased to care for the laws enacted by the brāhmaṇas, Paraśurāma killed them. Although their offense was not very severe, he killed them to lessen the burden of the world.
The kṣatriyas, or the ruling class, must govern the world in accordance with the rules and regulations enacted by great brāhmaṇas and saintly persons. As soon as the ruling class becomes irresponsible in regard to the religious principles, it becomes a burden on the earth. As stated here, rajas-tamo-vṛtaṁ, bhāram abrahmaṇyam: when the ruling class is influenced by the lower modes of nature, namely ignorance and passion, it becomes a burden to the world and must then be annihilated by superior power. We actually see from modern history that monarchies have been abolished by various revolutions, but unfortunately the monarchies have been abolished to establish the supremacy of third-class and fourth-class men. Although monarchies overpowered by the modes of passion and ignorance have been abolished in the world, the inhabitants of the world are still unhappy, for although the qualities of the former monarchs were degraded by taints of ignorance, these monarchs have been replaced by men of the mercantile and worker classes whose qualities are even more degraded. When the government is actually guided by brāhmaṇas, or God conscious men, then there can be real happiness for the people. Therefore in previous times, when the ruling class was degraded to the modes of passion and ignorance, the brāhmaṇas, headed by such a kṣatriya-spirited brāhmaṇa as Paraśurāma, killed them twenty-one consecutive times.
In Kali-yuga, as stated in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (12.2.13), dasyu-prāyeṣu rājasu: the ruling class (rājanya) will be no better than plunderers (dasyus) because the third-class and fourth-class men will monopolize the affairs of the government. Ignoring the religious principles and brahminical rules and regulations, they will certainly try to plunder the riches of the citizens without consideration. As stated elsewhere in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (12.1.40):
Being unpurified, neglecting to discharge human duties properly, and being influenced by the modes of passion (rajas) and ignorance (tamas), unclean people (mlecchas), posing as members of the government (rājanya-rūpiṇaḥ), will swallow the citizens (prājas te bhakṣayiṣyanti). And in still another place, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (12.2.7–8) says:
Human society is naturally grouped into four divisions, as stated in Bhagavad-gītā (cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ [Bg. 4.13]). But if this system is neglected and the qualities and divisions of society are not considered, the result will be brahma-viṭ-kṣatra-śūdrāṇāṁ yo balī bhavitā nṛpaḥ: the so-called caste system of brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra will be meaningless. As a result, whoever somehow or other becomes powerful will be the king or president, and thus the prajās, or citizens, will be so harassed that they will give up hearth and home and will go to the forest (yāsyanti giri-kānanam) to escape harassment by government officials who have no mercy and are addicted to the ways of plunderers. Therefore the prajās, or the people in general, must take to the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement, which is the sound incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Kali-kāle nāma-rūpe kṛṣṇa-avatāra: Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, has now appeared as an incarnation by His holy name. Therefore, when the prajās become Kṛṣṇa conscious, they can then expect a good government and good society, a perfect life, and liberation from the bondage of material existence.
kiṁ tad aṁho bhagavato
kṛtaṁ yena kulaṁ naṣṭaṁ
śrī-rājā uvāca—Mahārāja Parīkṣit inquired; kim—what; tat aṁhaḥ—that offense; bhagavataḥ—unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead; rājanyaiḥ—by the royal family; ajita-ātmabhiḥ—who could not control their senses and thus were degraded; kṛtam—which had been done; yena—by which; kulam—the dynasty; naṣṭam—was annihilated; kṣatriyāṇām—of the royal family; abhīkṣṇaśaḥ—again and again.
King Parīkṣit inquired from Śukadeva Gosvāmī: What was the offense that the kṣatriyas who could not control their senses committed before Lord Paraśurāma, the incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for which the Lord annihilated the kṣatriya dynasty again and again?
bāhūn daśa-śataṁ lebhe
lokeṣu pavano yathā
śrī-bādarāyaṇiḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī replied; haihayānām adhipatiḥ—the King of the Haihayas; arjunaḥ—by the name Kārtavīryārjuna; kṣatriya-ṛṣabhaḥ—the best of the kṣatriyas; dattam—unto Dattātreya; nārāyaṇa-aṁśa-aṁśam—the plenary portion of the plenary portion of Nārāyaṇa; ārādhya—after worshiping; parikarmabhiḥ—by worship according to the regulative principles; bāhūn—arms; daśa-śatam—one thousand (ten times one hundred); lebhe—achieved; durdharṣatvam—the quality of being very difficult to conquer; arātiṣu—in the midst of enemies; avyāhata—undefeatable; indriya-ojaḥ—strength of the senses; śrī—beauty; tejaḥ—influence; vīrya—power; yaśaḥ—fame; balam—bodily strength; yoga-īśvaratvam—controlling power gained by the practice of mystic yoga; aiśvaryam—opulence; guṇāḥ—qualities; yatra—wherein; aṇimā-ādayaḥ—eight kinds of yogic perfection (aṇimā, laghimā, etc.); cacāra—he went; avyāhata-gatiḥ—whose progress was indefatigable; lokeṣu—all over the world or universe; pavanaḥ—the wind; yathā—like.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: The best of the kṣatriyas, Kārtavīryārjuna, the King of the Haihayas, received one thousand arms by worshiping Dattātreya, the plenary expansion of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nārāyaṇa. He also became undefeatable by enemies and received unobstructed sensory power, beauty, influence, strength, fame and the mystic power by which to achieve all the perfections of yoga, such as aṇimā and laghimā. Thus having become fully opulent, he roamed all over the universe without opposition, just like the wind.
strī-ratnair āvṛtaḥ krīḍan
vaijayantīṁ srajaṁ bibhrad
rurodha saritaṁ bhujaiḥ
strī-ratnaiḥ—by beautiful women; āvṛtaḥ—surrounded; krīḍan—enjoying; revā-ambhasi—in the water of the River Revā, or Narmadā; mada-utkaṭaḥ—too puffed up because of opulence; vaijayantīm srajam—the garland of victory; bibhrat—being decorated with; rurodha—stopped the flow; saritam—of the river; bhujaiḥ—with his arms.
Once while enjoying in the water of the River Narmadā, the puffed-up Kārtavīryārjuna, surrounded by beautiful women and garlanded with a garland of victory, stopped the flow of the water with his arms.
nāmṛṣyat tasya tad vīryaṁ
viplāvitam—having been inundated; sva-śibiram—his own camp; pratisrotaḥ—which was flowing in the opposite direction; sarit-jalaiḥ—by the water of the river; na—not; amṛṣyat—could tolerate; tasya—of Kārtavīryārjuna; tat vīryam—that influence; vīramānī—considering himself very heroic; daśa-ānanaḥ—the ten-headed Rāvaṇa.
Because Kārtavīryārjuna made the water flow in the opposite direction, the camp of Rāvaṇa, which was set up on the bank of the Narmadā near the city of Māhiṣmatī, was inundated. This was unbearable to the ten-headed Rāvaṇa, who considered himself a great hero and could not tolerate Kārtavīryārjuna’s power.
Rāvaṇa was out touring to gain victory over all other countries (dig-vijaya), and he had camped on the bank of the Narmadā River near the city of Māhiṣmatī.
gṛhīto līlayā strīṇāṁ
mukto yena kapir yathā
gṛhītaḥ—was arrested by force; līlayā—very easily; strīṇām—of the women; samakṣam—in the presence; kṛta-kilbiṣaḥ—thus becoming an offender; māhiṣmatyām—in the city known as Māhiṣmatī; sanniruddhaḥ—was arrested; muktaḥ—released; yena—by whom (Kārtavīryārjuna); kapiḥ yathā—exactly as done to a monkey.
When Rāvaṇa attempted to insult Kārtavīryārjuna in the presence of the women and thus offended him, Kārtavīryārjuna easily arrested Rāvaṇa and put him in custody in the city of Māhiṣmatī, just as one captures a monkey, and then released him neglectfully.
sa ekadā tu mṛgayāṁ
vicaran vijane vane
saḥ—he, Kārtavīryārjuna; ekadā—once upon a time; tu—but; mṛgayām—while hunting; vicaran—wandering; vijane—solitary; vane—in a forest; yadṛcchayā—without any program; āśrama-padam—the residential place; jamadagneḥ—of Jamadagni Muni; upāviśat—he entered.
Once while Kārtavīryārjuna was wandering unengaged in a solitary forest and hunting, he approached the residence of Jamadagni.
Kārtavīryārjuna had no business going to the residence of Jamadagni, but because he was puffed-up by his extraordinary power, he went there and offended Paraśurāma. This was the prelude to his being killed by Paraśurāma for his offensive act.
tasmai sa naradevāya
munir arhaṇam āharat
tasmai—unto him; saḥ—he (Jamadagni); naradevāya—unto King Kārtavīryārjuna; muniḥ—the great sage; arhaṇam—paraphernalia for worship; āharat—offered; sa-sainya—with his soldiers; amātya—his ministers; vāhāya—and the chariots, the elephants, the horses or the men who carried the palanquins; haviṣmatyā—because of possessing a kāmadhenu, a cow that could supply everything; tapaḥ-dhanaḥ—the great sage, whose only power was his austerity, or who was engaged in austerity.
The sage Jamadagni, who was engaged in great austerities in the forest, received the King very well, along with the King’s soldiers, ministers and carriers. He supplied all the necessities to worship these guests, for he possessed a kāmadhenu cow that was able to supply everything.
The Brahma-saṁhitā informs us that the spiritual world, and especially the planet Goloka Vṛndāvana, where Kṛṣṇa lives, is full of surabhi cows (surabhīr abhipālayantam [Bs. 5.29]). The surabhi cow is also called kāmadhenu. Although Jamadagni possessed only one kāmadhenu, he was able to get from it everything desirable. Thus he was able to receive the King, along with the King’s great number of followers, ministers, soldiers, animals and palanquin carriers. When we speak of a king, we understand that he is accompanied by many followers. Jamadagni was able to receive all the King’s followers properly and feed them sumptuously with food prepared in ghee. The King was astonished at how opulent Jamadagni was because of possessing only one cow, and therefore he became envious of the great sage. This was the beginning of his offense. Paraśurāma, the incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, killed Kārtavīryārjuna because Kārtavīryārjuna was too proud. One may possess unusual opulence in this material world, but if one becomes puffed up and acts whimsically he will be punished by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is the lesson to learn from this history, in which Paraśurāma became angry at Kārtavīryārjuna and killed him and rid the entire world of kṣatriyas twenty-one times.
sa vai ratnaṁ tu tad dṛṣṭvā
saḥ—he (Kārtavīryārjuna); vai—indeed; ratnam—a great source of wealth; tu—indeed; tat—the kāmadhenu in the possession of Jamadagni; dṛṣṭvā—by observing; ātma-aiśvarya—his own personal opulence; ati-śāyanam—which was exceeding; tat—that; na—not; ādriyata—appreciated very much; agnihotryām—in that cow, which was useful for executing the agnihotra sacrifice; sa-abhilāṣaḥ—became desirous; sa-haihayaḥ—with his own men, the Haihayas.
Kārtavīryārjuna thought that Jamadagni was more powerful and wealthy than himself because of possessing a jewel in the form of the kāmadhenu. Therefore he and his own men, the Haihayas, were not very much appreciative of Jamadagni’s reception. On the contrary, they wanted to possess that kāmadhenu, which was useful for the execution of the agnihotra sacrifice.
Jamadagni was more powerful than Kārtavīryārjuna because of performing the agnihotra-yajña with clarified butter received from the kāmadhenu. Not everyone can be expected to possess such a cow. Nonetheless, an ordinary man may possess an ordinary cow, give protection to this animal, take sufficient milk from it, and engage the milk to produce butter and clarified ghee, especially for performing the agnihotra-yajña. This is possible for everyone. Thus we find that in Bhagavad-gītā Lord Kṛṣṇa advises go-rakṣya, the protection of cows. This is essential because if cows are cared for properly they will surely supply sufficient milk. We have practical experience in America that in our various ISKCON farms we are giving proper protection to the cows and receiving more than enough milk. In other farms the cows do not deliver as much milk as in our farms; because our cows know very well that we are not going to kill them, they are happy, and they give ample milk. Therefore this instruction given by Lord Kṛṣṇa—go-rakṣya—is extremely meaningful. The whole world must learn from Kṛṣṇa how to live happily without scarcity simply by producing food grains (annād bhavanti bhūtāni) and giving protection to the cows (go-rakṣya). Kṛṣi-go-rakṣya-vāṇijyaṁ vaiśya-karma svabhāvajam [Bg. 18.44]. Those who belong to the third level of human society, namely the mercantile people, must keep land for producing food grains and giving protection to cows. This is the injunction of Bhagavad-gītā. In the matter of protecting the cows, the meat-eaters will protest, but in answer to them we may say that since Kṛṣṇa gives stress to cow protection, those who are inclined to eat meat may eat the flesh of unimportant animals like hogs, dogs, goats and sheep, but they should not touch the life of the cows, for this is destructive to the spiritual advancement of human society.
havirdhānīm ṛṣer darpān
narān hartum acodayat
te ca māhiṣmatīṁ ninyuḥ
sa-vatsāṁ krandatīṁ balāt
haviḥ-dhānīm—the kāmadhenu; ṛṣeḥ—of the great sage Jamadagni; darpāt—because of his being puffed up with material power; narān—all his men (soldiers); hartum—to steal or take away; acodayat—encouraged; te—the men of Kārtavīryārjuna; ca—also; māhiṣmatīm—to the capital of Kārtavīryārjuna; ninyuḥ—brought; sa-vatsām—with the calf; krandatīm—crying; balāt—because of being taken away by force.
Being puffed up by material power, Kārtavīryārjuna encouraged his men to steal Jamadagni’s kāmadhenu. Thus the men forcibly took away the crying kāmadhenu, along with her calf, to Māhiṣmatī, Kārtavīryārjuna’s capital.
The word havirdhānīm is significant in this verse. Havirdhānīm refers to a cow required for supplying havis, or ghee, for the performance of ritualistic ceremonies in sacrifices. In human life, one should be trained to perform yajñas. As we are informed in Bhagavad-gītā (3.9), yajñārthāt karmaṇo ’nyatra loko ’yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ: if we do not perform yajña, we shall simply work very hard for sense gratification like dogs and hogs. This is not civilization. A human being should be trained to perform yajña. Yajñād bhavati parjanyaḥ [Bg. 3.14]. If yajñas are regularly performed, there will be proper rain from the sky, and when there is regular rainfall, the land will be fertile and suitable for producing all the necessities of life. Yajña, therefore, is essential. For performing yajña, clarified butter is essential, and for clarified butter, cow protection is essential. Therefore, if we neglect the Vedic way of civilization, we shall certainly suffer. So-called scholars and philosophers do not know the secret of success in life, and therefore they suffer in the hands of prakṛti, nature (prakṛteḥ kriyamāṇāni guṇaiḥ karmāṇi sarvaśaḥ [Bg. 3.27]). Nonetheless, although they are forced to suffer, they think they are advancing in civilization (ahaṅkāra-vimūḍhātmā kartāham iti manyate). The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is therefore meant to revive a mode of civilization in which everyone will be happy. This is the motive of our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Yajñe sukhena bhavantu.
atha rājani niryāte
rāma āśrama āgataḥ
śrutvā tat tasya daurātmyaṁ
atha—thereafter; rājani—when the King; niryāte—had gone away; rāmaḥ—Paraśurāma, the youngest son of Jamadagni; āśrame—in the cottage; āgataḥ—returned; śrutvā—when he heard; tat—that; tasya—of Kārtavīryārjuna; daurātmyam—nefarious act; cukrodha—became extremely angry; ahiḥ—a snake; iva—like; āhataḥ—trampled or injured.
Thereafter, Kārtavīryārjuna having left with the kāmadhenu, Paraśurāma returned to the āśrama. When Paraśurāma, the youngest son of Jamadagni, heard about Kārtavīryārjuna’s nefarious deed, he became as angry as a trampled snake.
ghoram ādāya paraśuṁ
satūṇaṁ varma kārmukam
mṛgendra iva yūthapam
ghoram—extremely fierce; ādāya—taking in hand; paraśum—a chopper; sa-tūṇam—along with a quiver; varma—a shield; kārmukam—a bow; anvadhāvata—followed; durmarṣaḥ—Lord Paraśurāma, being exceedingly angry; mṛgendraḥ—a lion; iva—like; yūthapam—(goes to attack) an elephant.
Taking up his fierce chopper, his shield, his bow and a quiver of arrows, Lord Paraśurāma, exceedingly angry, chased Kārtavīryārjuna just as a lion chases an elephant.
tam āpatantaṁ bhṛgu-varyam ojasā
yutaṁ jaṭābhir dadṛśe purīṁ viśan
tam—that Lord Paraśurāma; āpatantam—coming after him; bhṛgu-varyam—the best of the Bhṛgu dynasty, Lord Paraśurāma; ojasā—very fiercely; dhanuḥ-dharam—carrying a bow; bāṇa—arrows; paraśvadha—chopper; āyudham—having all these weapons; aiṇeya-carma—blackish deerskin; ambaram—the covering of his body; arka-dhāmabhiḥ—appearing like the sunshine; yutam jaṭābhiḥ—with locks of hair; dadṛśe—he saw; purīm—into the capital; viśan—entering.
As King Kārtavīryārjuna entered his capital, Māhiṣmatī Purī, he saw Lord Paraśurāma, the best of the Bhṛgu dynasty, coming after him, holding a chopper, shield, bow and arrows. Lord Paraśurāma was covered with a black deerskin, and his matted locks of hair appeared like the sunshine.
tā rāma eko bhagavān asūdayat
acodayat—he sent for fighting; hasti—with elephants; ratha—with chariots; aśva—with horses; pattibhiḥ—and with infantry; gadā—with clubs; asi—with swords; bāṇa—with arrows; ṛṣṭi—with the weapons called ṛṣṭis; śataghni—with weapons called śataghnis; śaktibhiḥ—with weapons called śaktis; akṣauhiṇīḥ—whole groups of akṣauhiṇīs; sapta-daśa—seventeen; ati-bhīṣaṇāḥ—very fierce; tāḥ—all of them; rāmaḥ—Lord Paraśurāma; ekaḥ—alone; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; asūdayat—killed.
Upon seeing Paraśurāma, Kārtavīryārjuna immediately feared him and sent many elephants, chariots, horses and infantry soldiers equipped with clubs, swords, arrows, ṛṣṭis, śataghnis, śaktis, and many similar weapons to fight against him. Kārtavīryārjuna sent seventeen full akṣauhiṇīs of soldiers to check Paraśurāma. But Lord Paraśurāma alone killed all of them.
The word akṣauhiṇī refers to a military phalanx consisting of 21,870 chariots and elephants, 109,350 infantry soldiers and 65,610 horses. An exact description is given in the Mahābhārata, Ādi parva, Second Chapter, as follows:
“One chariot, one elephant, five infantry soldiers and three horses are called a patti by those who are learned in the science. The wise also know that a senāmukha is three times what a patti is. Three senāmukhas are known as one gulma, three gulmas are called a gaṇa, and three gaṇas are called a vāhinī. Three vāhinīs have been referred to by the learned as a pṛtanā, three pṛtanās equal one camū, and three camūs equal one anīkinī. The wise refer to ten anīkinīs as one akṣauhiṇī. The chariots of an akṣauhiṇī have been calculated at 21,870 by those who know the science of such calculations, O best of the twice-born, and the number of elephants is the same. The number of infantry soldiers is 109,350, and the number of horses is 65,610. This is called an akṣauhiṇī.”
yato yato ’sau praharat-paraśvadho
tatas tataś chinna-bhujoru-kandharā
nipetur urvyāṁ hata-sūta-vāhanāḥ
yataḥ—wherever; yataḥ—wherever; asau—Lord Paraśurāma; praharat—slashing; paraśvadhaḥ—being expert in using his weapon, the paraśu, or chopper; manaḥ—like the mind; anila—like the wind; ojāḥ—being forceful; para-cakra—of the enemies’ military strength; sūdanaḥ—killer; tataḥ—there; tataḥ—and there; chinna—scattered and cut off; bhuja—arms; ūru—legs; kandharāḥ—shoulders; nipetuḥ—fell down; urvyām—on the ground; hata—killed; sūta—chariot drivers; vāhanāḥ—carrier horses and elephants.
Lord Paraśurāma, being expert in killing the military strength of the enemy, worked with the speed of the mind and the wind, slicing his enemies with his chopper [paraśu]. Wherever he went, the enemies fell, their legs, arms and shoulders being severed, their chariot drivers killed, and their carriers, the elephants and horses all annihilated.
In the beginning, when the army of the enemy was full of fighting soldiers, elephants and horses, Lord Paraśurāma proceeded into their midst at the speed of mind to kill them. When somewhat tired, he slowed down to the speed of wind and continued to kill the enemies vigorously. The speed of mind is greater than the speed of the wind.
dṛṣṭvā sva-sainyaṁ rudhiraugha-kardame
nipātitaṁ haihaya āpatad ruṣā
dṛṣṭvā—by seeing; sva-sainyam—his own soldiers; rudhira-ogha-kardame—which had become muddy due to the flow of blood; raṇa-ajire—on the battlefield; rāma-kuṭhāra—by the axe of Lord Paraśurāma; sāyakaiḥ—and by the arrows; vivṛkṇa—scattered; varma—the shields; dhvaja—the flags; cāpa—bows; vigraham—the bodies; nipātitam—fallen; haihayaḥ—Kārtavīryārjuna; āpatat—forcefully came there; ruṣā—being very angry.
By manipulating his axe and arrows, Lord Paraśurāma cut to pieces the shields, flags, bows and bodies of Kārtavīryārjuna’s soldiers, who fell on the battlefield, muddying the ground with their blood. Seeing these reverses, Kārtavīryārjuna, infuriated, rushed to the battlefield.
athārjunaḥ pañca-śateṣu bāhubhir
dhanuḥṣu bāṇān yugapat sa sandadhe
rāmāya rāmo ’stra-bhṛtāṁ samagraṇīs
tāny eka-dhanveṣubhir ācchinat samam
atha—thereafter; arjunaḥ—Kārtavīryārjuna; pañca-śateṣu—five hundred; bāhubhiḥ—with his arms; dhanuḥṣu—on the bows; bāṇān—arrows; yugapat—simultaneously; saḥ—he; sandadhe—fixed; rāmāya—just to kill Lord Paraśurāma; rāmaḥ—Lord Paraśurāma; astra-bhṛtām—of all the soldiers who could use weapons; samagraṇīḥ—the very best; tāni—all the bows of Kārtavīryārjuna; eka-dhanvā—possessing one bow; iṣubhiḥ—the arrows; ācchinat—cut to pieces; samam—with.
Then Kārtavīryārjuna, with his one thousand arms, simultaneously fixed arrows on five hundred bows to kill Lord Paraśurāma. But Lord Paraśurāma, the best of fighters, released enough arrows with only one bow to cut to pieces immediately all the arrows and bows in the hands of Kārtavīryārjuna.
punaḥ sva-hastair acalān mṛdhe ’ṅghripān
utkṣipya vegād abhidhāvato yudhi
bhujān kuṭhāreṇa kaṭhora-neminā
ciccheda rāmaḥ prasabhaṁ tv aher iva
punaḥ—again; sva-hastaiḥ—by his own hands; acalān—hills; mṛdhe—in the battlefield; aṅghripān—trees; utkṣipya—after uprooting; vegāt—with great force; abhidhāvataḥ—of he who was running very forcefully; yudhi—in the battlefield; bhujān—all the arms; kuṭhāreṇa—by his axe; kaṭhora-neminā—which was very sharp; ciccheda—cut to pieces; rāmaḥ—Lord Paraśurāma; prasabham—with great force; tu—but; aheḥ iva—just like the hoods of a serpent.
When his arrows were cut to pieces, Kārtavīryārjuna uprooted many trees and hills with his own hands and again rushed strongly toward Lord Paraśurāma to kill him. But Paraśurāma then used his axe with great force to cut off Kārtavīryārjuna’s arms, just as one might lop off the hoods of a serpent.
kṛtta-bāhoḥ śiras tasya
gireḥ śṛṅgam ivāharat
hate pitari tat-putrā
ayutaṁ dudruvur bhayāt
kṛtta-bāhoḥ—of Kārtavīryārjuna, whose arms were cut off; śiraḥ—the head; tasya—of him (Kārtavīryārjuna); gireḥ—of a mountain; śṛṅgam—the peak; iva—like; āharat—(Paraśurāma) cut from his body; hate pitari—when their father was killed; tat-putrāḥ—his sons; ayutam—ten thousand; dudruvuḥ—fled; bhayāt—out of fear; agnihotrīm—the kāmadhenu; upāvartya—bringing near; sa-vatsām—with her calf; para-vīra-hā—Paraśurāma, who could kill the heroes of the enemies; samupetya—after returning; āśramam—to the residence of his father; pitre—unto his father; parikliṣṭām—which had undergone extreme suffering; samarpayat—delivered.
Thereafter, Paraśurāma cut off like a mountain peak the head of Kārtavīryārjuna, who had already lost his arms. When Kārtavīryārjuna’s ten thousand sons saw their father killed, they all fled in fear. Then Paraśurāma, having killed the enemy, released the kāmadhenu, which had undergone great suffering, and brought it back with its calf to his residence, where he gave it to his father, Jamadagni.
sva-karma tat kṛtaṁ rāmaḥ
pitre bhrātṛbhya eva ca
varṇayām āsa tac chrutvā
sva-karma—his own activities; tat—all those deeds; kṛtam—which had been performed; rāmaḥ—Paraśurāma; pitre—unto his father; bhrātṛbhyaḥ—unto his brothers; eva ca—as well as; varṇayām āsa—described; tat—that; śrutvā—after hearing; jamadagniḥ—the father of Paraśurāma; abhāṣata—said as follows.
Paraśurāma described to his father and brothers his activities in killing Kārtavīryārjuna. Upon hearing of these deeds, Jamadagni spoke to his son as follows.
rāma rāma mahābāho
bhavān pāpam akāraṣīt
avadhīn naradevaṁ yat
rāma rāma—my dear son Paraśurāma; mahābāho—O great hero; bhavān—you; pāpam—sinful activities; akāraṣīt—have executed; avadhīt—have killed; naradevam—the king; yat—who is; sarva-deva-mayam—the embodiment of all the demigods; vṛthā—unnecessarily.
O great hero, my dear son Paraśurāma, you have unnecessarily killed the king, who is supposed to be the embodiment of all the demigods. Thus you have committed a sin.
vayaṁ hi brāhmaṇās tāta
yayā loka-gurur devaḥ
pārameṣṭhyam agāt padam
vayam—we; hi—indeed; brāhmaṇāḥ—are qualified brāhmaṇas; tāta—O my dear son; kṣamayā—with the quality of forgiveness; arhaṇatām—the position of being worshiped; gatāḥ—we have achieved; yayā—by this qualification; loka-guruḥ—the spiritual master of this universe; devaḥ—Lord Brahmā; pārameṣṭhyam—the supreme person within this universe; agāt—achieved; padam—the position.
My dear son, we are all brāhmaṇas and have become worshipable for the people in general because of our quality of forgiveness. It is because of this quality that Lord Brahmā, the supreme spiritual master of this universe, has achieved his post.
kṣamayā rocate lakṣmīr
brāhmī saurī yathā prabhā
kṣamiṇām āśu bhagavāṁs
tuṣyate harir īśvaraḥ
kṣamayā—simply by forgiving; rocate—becomes pleasing; lakṣmīḥ—the goddess of fortune; brāhmī—in connection with brahminical qualifications; saurī—the sun-god; yathā—as; prabhā—the sunshine; kṣamiṇām—unto the brāhmaṇas, who are so forgiving; āśu—very soon; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; tuṣyate—becomes pleased; hariḥ—the Lord; īśvaraḥ—the supreme controller.
The duty of a brāhmaṇa is to culture the quality of forgiveness, which is illuminating like the sun. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Hari, is pleased with those who are forgiving.
Different personalities become beautiful by possessing different qualities. Cāṇakya Paṇḍita says that the cuckoo bird, although very black, is beautiful because of its sweet voice. Similarly, a woman becomes beautiful by her chastity and faithfulness to her husband, and an ugly person becomes beautiful when he becomes a learned scholar. In the same way, brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras become beautiful by their qualities. Brāhmaṇas are beautiful when they are forgiving, kṣatriyas when they are heroic and never retreat from fighting, vaiśyas when they enrich cultural activities and protect cows, and śūdras when they are faithful in the discharge of duties pleasing to their masters. Thus everyone becomes beautiful by his special qualities. And the special quality of the brāhmaṇa, as described here, is forgiveness.
vadho brahma-vadhād guruḥ
rājñaḥ—of the king; mūrdha-abhiṣiktasya—who is noted as the emperor; vadhaḥ—the killing; brahma-vadhāt—than killing a brāhmaṇa; guruḥ—more severe; tīrtha-saṁsevayā—by worshiping the holy places; ca—also; aṁhaḥ—the sinful act; jahi—wash out; aṅga—O my dear son; acyuta-cetanaḥ—being fully Kṛṣṇa conscious.
My dear son, killing a king who is an emperor is more severely sinful than killing a brāhmaṇa. But now, if you become Kṛṣṇa conscious and worship the holy places, you can atone for this great sin.
One who fully surrenders to the Supreme Personality of Godhead is freed from all sins (ahaṁ tvāṁ sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi). From the very day or moment he fully surrenders to Śrī Kṛṣṇa, even the most sinful person is freed. Nonetheless, as an example, Jamadagni advised his son Paraśurāma to worship the holy places. Because an ordinary person cannot immediately surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is advised to go from one holy place to another to find saintly persons and thus gradually be released from sinful reactions.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Ninth Canto, Fifteenth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “Paraśurāma, the Lord’s Warrior Incarnation.”
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