Lord Paraśurāma Destroys the World’s Ruling Class
When Jamadagni’s wife, Reṇukā, went to bring water from the Ganges and saw the King of the Gandharvas enjoying the company of Apsarās, she was captivated, and she slightly desired to associate with him. Because of this sinful desire, she was punished by her husband. Paraśurāma killed his mother and brothers, but later, by dint of the austerities of Jamadagni, they were revived. The sons of Kārtavīryārjuna, however, remembering the death of their father, wanted to take revenge against Lord Paraśurāma, and therefore when Paraśurāma was absent from the āśrama, they killed Jamadagni, who was meditating on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. When Paraśurāma returned to the āśrama and saw his father killed, he was very sorry, and after asking his brothers to take care of the dead body, he went out with determination to kill all the kṣatriyas on the surface of the world. Taking up his axe, he went to Māhiṣmatī-pura, the capital of Kārtavīryārjuna, and killed all of Kārtavīryārjuna’s sons, whose blood became a great river. Paraśurāma, however, was not satisfied with killing only the sons of Kārtavīryārjuna; later, when the kṣatriyas became disturbing, he killed them twenty-one times, so that there were no kṣatriyas on the surface of the earth. Thereafter, Paraśurāma joined the head of his father to the dead body and performed various sacrifices to please the Supreme Lord. Thus Jamadagni got life again in his body, and later he was promoted to the higher planetary system known as Saptarṣi-maṇḍala. Paraśurāma, the son of Jamadagni, still lives in Mahendra-parvata. In the next manvantara, he will become a preacher of Vedic knowledge.
In the dynasty of Gādhi, the most powerful Viśvāmitra took birth. By dint of his austerity and penance, he became a brāhmaṇa. He had 101 sons, who were celebrated as the Madhucchandās. In the sacrificial arena of Hariścandra, the son of Ajīgarta named Śunaḥśepha was meant to be sacrificed, but by the mercy of the Prajāpatis he was released. Thereafter, he became Devarāta in the dynasty of Gādhi. The fifty elder sons of Viśvāmitra, however, did not accept Śunaḥśepha as their elder brother, and therefore Viśvāmitra cursed them to become mlecchas, unfaithful to the Vedic civilization. Viśvāmitra’s fifty-first son, along with his younger brothers, then accepted Śunaḥśepha as their eldest brother, and their father, Viśvāmitra, being satisfied, blessed them. Thus Devarāta was accepted in the dynasty of Kauśika, and consequently there are different divisions of that dynasty.
śrī-śukaḥ uvāca—Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī said; pitrā—by his father; upaśikṣitaḥ—thus advised; rāmaḥ—Lord Paraśurāma; tathā iti—let it be so; kuru-nandana—O son of the Kuru dynasty, Mahārāja Parīkṣit; saṁvatsaram—for one complete year; tīrtha-yātrām—traveling to all the holy places; caritvā—after executing; āśramam—to his own residence; āvrajat—returned.
Śukadeva Gosvāmī said: My dear Mahārāja Parīkṣit, son of the Kuru dynasty, when Lord Paraśurāma was given this order by his father, he immediately agreed, saying, “Let it be so.” For one complete year he traveled to holy places. Then he returned to his father’s residence.
kadācid reṇukā yātā
kadācit—once upon a time; reṇukā—Jamadagni’s wife, the mother of Lord Paraśurāma; yātā—went; gaṅgāyām—to the bank of the River Ganges; padma-mālinam—decorated with a garland of lotus flowers; gandharva-rājam—the King of the Gandharvas; krīḍantam—sporting; apsarobhiḥ—with the Apsarās (heavenly society girls); apaśyata—she saw.
Once when Reṇukā, the wife of Jamadagni, went to the bank of the Ganges to get water, she saw the King of the Gandharvas, decorated with a garland of lotuses and sporting in the Ganges with celestial women [Apsarās].
udakārthaṁ nadīṁ gatā
homa-velāṁ na sasmāra
vilokayantī—while looking at; krīḍantam—the King of the Gandharvas, engaged in such activities; udaka-artham—for getting some water; nadīm—to the river; gatā—as she went; homa-velām—the time for performing the homa, fire sacrifice; na sasmāra—did not remember; kiñcit—very little; citraratha—of the King of the Gandharvas, known as Citraratha; spṛhā—did desire the company.
She had gone to bring water from the Ganges, but when she saw Citraratha, the King of the Gandharvas, sporting with the celestial girls, she was somewhat inclined toward him and failed to remember that the time for the fire sacrifice was passing.
kālātyayaṁ taṁ vilokya
āgatya kalaśaṁ tasthau
kāla-atyayam—passing the time; tam—that; vilokya—observing; muneḥ—of the great sage Jamadagni; śāpa-viśaṅkitā—being afraid of the curse; āgatya—returning; kalaśam—the waterpot; tasthau—stood; purodhāya—putting in front of the sage; kṛta-añjaliḥ—with folded hands.
Later, understanding that the time for offering the sacrifice had passed, Reṇukā feared a curse from her husband. Therefore when she returned she simply put the waterpot before him and stood there with folded hands.
vyabhicāraṁ munir jñātvā
patnyāḥ prakupito ’bravīt
ghnataināṁ putrakāḥ pāpām
ity uktās te na cakrire
vyabhicāram—adultery; muniḥ—the great sage Jamadagni; jñātvā—could understand; patnyāḥ—of his wife; prakupitaḥ—he became angry; abravīt—he said; ghnata—kill; enām—her; putrakāḥ—my dear sons; pāpām—sinful; iti uktāḥ—being thus advised; te—all the sons; na—did not; cakrire—carry out his order.
The great sage Jamadagni understood the adultery in the mind of his wife. Therefore he was very angry and told his sons, “My dear sons, kill this sinful woman!” But the sons did not carry out his order.
rāmaḥ sañcoditaḥ pitrā
bhrātṝn mātrā sahāvadhīt
prabhāva-jño muneḥ samyak
samādhes tapasaś ca saḥ
rāmaḥ—Lord Paraśurāma; sañcoditaḥ—being encouraged (to kill his mother and brothers); pitrā—by his father; bhrātṝn—all his brothers; mātrā saha—with the mother; avadhīt—killed immediately; prabhāva-jñaḥ—aware of the prowess; muneḥ—of the great sage; samyak—completely; samādheḥ—by meditation; tapasaḥ—by austerity; ca—also; saḥ—he.
Jamadagni then ordered his youngest son, Paraśurāma, to kill his brothers, who had disobeyed this order, and his mother, who had mentally committed adultery. Lord Paraśurāma, knowing the power of his father, who was practiced in meditation and austerity, killed his mother and brothers immediately.
The word prabhāva jñaḥ is significant. Paraśurāma knew the prowess of his father, and therefore he agreed to carry out his father’s order. He thought that if he refused to carry out the order he would be cursed, but if he carried it out his father would be pleased, and when his father was pleased, Paraśurāma would ask the benediction of having his mother and brothers brought back to life. Paraśurāma was confident in this regard, and therefore he agreed to kill his mother and brothers.
vareṇa cchandayām āsa
vavre hatānāṁ rāmo ’pi
jīvitaṁ cāsmṛtiṁ vadhe
vareṇa cchandayām āsa—asked to take a benediction as he liked; prītaḥ—being very pleased (with him); satyavatī-sutaḥ—Jamadagni, the son of Satyavatī; vavre—said; hatānām—of my dead mother and brothers; rāmaḥ—Paraśurāma; api—also; jīvitam—let them be alive; ca—also; asmṛtim—no remembrance; vadhe—of their having been killed by me.
Jamadagni, the son of Satyavatī, was very much pleased with Paraśurāma and asked him to take any benediction he liked. Lord Paraśurāma replied, “Let my mother and brothers live again and not remember having been killed by me. This is the benediction I ask.”
uttasthus te kuśalino
pitur vidvāṁs tapo-vīryaṁ
rāmaś cakre suhṛd-vadham
uttasthuḥ—got up immediately; te—Lord Paraśurāma’s mother and brothers; kuśalinaḥ—being happily alive; nidrā-apāye—at the end of sound sleep; iva—like; añjasā—very soon; pituḥ—of his father; vidvān—being aware of; tapaḥ—austerity; vīryam—power; rāmaḥ—Lord Paraśurāma; cakre—executed; suhṛt-vadham—killing of his family members.
Thereafter, by the benediction of Jamadagni, Lord Paraśurāma’s mother and brothers immediately came alive and were very happy, as if awakened from sound sleep. Lord Paraśurāma had killed his relatives in accordance with his father’s order because he was fully aware of his father’s power, austerity and learning.
ye ’rjunasya sutā rājan
smarantaḥ sva-pitur vadham
lebhire śarma na kvacit
ye—those who; arjunasya—of Kārtavīryārjuna; sutāḥ—sons; rājan—O Mahārāja Parīkṣit; smarantaḥ—always remembering; sva-pituḥ vadham—their father’s having been killed (by Paraśurāma); rāma-vīrya-parābhūtāḥ—defeated by the superior power of Lord Paraśurāma; lebhire—achieved; śarma—happiness; na—not; kvacit—at any time.
My dear King Parīkṣit, the sons of Kārtavīryārjuna, who were defeated by the superior strength of Paraśurāma, never achieved happiness, for they always remembered the killing of their father.
Jamadagni was certainly very powerful due to his austerities, but because of a slight offense by his poor wife, Reṇukā, he ordered that she be killed. This certainly was a sinful act, and therefore Jamadagni was killed by the sons of Kārtavīryārjuna, as described herein. Lord Paraśurāma was also infected by sin because of killing Kārtavīryārjuna, although this was not very offensive. Therefore, whether one be Kārtavīryārjuna, Lord Paraśurāma, Jamadagni or whoever one may be, one must act very cautiously and sagaciously; otherwise one must suffer the results of sinful activities. This is the lesson we receive from Vedic literature.
sabhrātari vanaṁ gate
ekadā—once upon a time; āśramataḥ—from the āśrama of Jamadagni; rāme—when Lord Paraśurāma; sa-bhrātari—with his brothers; vanam—into the forest; gate—having gone; vairam—revenge for past enmity; siṣādhayiṣavaḥ—desiring to fulfill; labdha-chidrāḥ—taking the opportunity; upāgaman—they came near the residence of Jamadagni.
Once when Paraśurāma left the āśrama for the forest with Vasumān and his other brothers, the sons of Kārtavīryārjuna took the opportunity to approach Jamadagni’s residence to seek vengeance for their grudge.
jaghnus te pāpa-niścayāḥ
dṛṣṭvā—by seeing; agni-āgāre—at the place where the fire sacrifice is performed; āsīnam—sitting; āveśita—completely absorbed; dhiyam—by intelligence; munim—the great sage Jamadagni; bhagavati—unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead; uttama-śloke—who is praised by the best of selected prayers; jaghnuḥ—killed; te—the sons of Kārtavīryārjuna; pāpa-niścayāḥ—determined to commit a greatly sinful act, or the personified sins.
The sons of Kārtavīryārjuna were determined to commit sinful deeds. Therefore when they saw Jamadagni sitting by the side of the fire to perform yajña and meditating upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is praised by the best of selected prayers, they took the opportunity to kill him.
prasahya śira utkṛtya
ninyus te kṣatra-bandhavaḥ
yācyamānāḥ—being begged for the life of her husband; kṛpaṇayā—by the poor unprotected woman; rāma-mātrā—by the mother of Lord Paraśurāma; ati-dāruṇāḥ—very cruel; prasahya—by force; śiraḥ—the head of Jamadagni; utkṛtya—having separated; ninyuḥ—took away; te—the sons of Kārtavīryārjuna; kṣatra-bandhavaḥ—not kṣatriyas, but the most abominable sons of kṣatriyas.
With pitiable prayers, Reṇukā, the mother of Paraśurāma and wife of Jamadagni, begged for the life of her husband. But the sons of Kārtavīryārjuna, being devoid of the qualities of kṣatriyas, were so cruel that despite her prayers they forcibly cut off his head and took it away.
nighnanty ātmānam ātmanā
rāma rāmeti tāteti
reṇukā—Reṇukā, the wife of Jamadagni; duḥkha-śoka-artā—being very much aggrieved in lamentation (over her husband’s death); nighnantī—striking; ātmānam—her own body; ātmanā—by herself; rāma—O Paraśurāma; rāma—O Paraśurāma; iti—thus; tāta—O my dear son; iti—thus; vicukrośa—began to cry; uccakaiḥ—very loudly; satī—the most chaste woman.
Lamenting in grief for the death of her husband, the most chaste Reṇukā struck her own body with her hands and cried very loudly, “O Rāma, my dear son Rāma!”
tad upaśrutya dūrasthā
hā rāmety ārtavat svanam
dadṛśuḥ pitaraṁ hatam
tat—that crying of Reṇukā; upaśrutya—upon hearing; dūra-sthāḥ—although staying a long distance away; hā rāma—O Rāma, O Rāma; iti—thus; ārta-vat—very aggrieved; svanam—the sound; tvarayā—very hastily; āśramam—to the residence of Jamadagni; āsādya—coming; dadṛśuḥ—saw; pitaram—the father; hatam—killed.
Although the sons of Jamadagni, including Lord Paraśurāma, were a long distance from home, as soon as they heard Reṇukā loudly calling “O Rāma, O my son,” they hastily returned to the āśrama, where they saw their father already killed.
hā tāta sādho dharmiṣṭha
tyaktvāsmān svar-gato bhavān
te—all the sons of Jamadagni; duḥkha—of grief; roṣa—anger; amarṣa—indignation; ārti—affliction; śoka—and lamentation; vega—with the force; vimohitāḥ—bewildered; hā tāta—O father; sādho—the great saint; dharmiṣṭha—the most religious person; tyaktvā—leaving; asmān—us; svaḥ-gataḥ—have gone to the heavenly planets; bhavān—you.
Virtually bewildered by grief, anger, indignation, affliction and lamentation, the sons of Jamadagni cried, “O father, most religious, saintly person, you have left us and gone to the heavenly planets !”
vilapyaivaṁ pitur dehaṁ
nidhāya bhrātṛṣu svayam
pragṛhya paraśuṁ rāmaḥ
kṣatrāntāya mano dadhe
vilapya—lamenting; evam—like this; pituḥ—of his father; deham—the body; nidhāya—entrusting; bhrātṛṣu—to his brothers; svayam—personally; pragṛhya—taking; paraśum—the axe; rāmaḥ—Lord Paraśurāma; kṣatra-antāya—to put an end to all the kṣatriyas; manaḥ—the mind; dadhe—fixed.
Thus lamenting, Lord Paraśurāma entrusted his father’s dead body to his brothers and personally took up his axe, having decided to put an end to all the kṣatriyas on the surface of the world.
gatvā māhiṣmatīṁ rāmo
teṣāṁ sa śīrṣabhī rājan
madhye cakre mahā-girim
gatvā—going; māhiṣmatīm—to the place known as Māhiṣmatī; rāmaḥ—Lord Paraśurāma; brahma-ghna—because of the killing of a brāhmaṇa; vihata-śriyam—doomed, bereft of all opulences; teṣām—of all of them (the sons of Kārtavīryārjuna and the other kṣatriya inhabitants); saḥ—he, Lord Paraśurāma; śīrṣabhiḥ—by the heads cut off from their bodies; rājan—O Mahārāja Parīkṣit; madhye—within the jurisdiction of Māhiṣmatī; cakre—made; mahā-girim—a great mountain.
O King, Lord Paraśurāma then went to Māhiṣmatī, which was already doomed by the sinful killing of a brāhmaṇa. In the midst of that city he made a mountain of heads, severed from the bodies of the sons of Kārtavīryārjuna.
tad-raktena nadīṁ ghorām
hetuṁ kṛtvā pitṛ-vadhaṁ
kṛtvā niḥkṣatriyāṁ prabhuḥ
śoṇitodān hradān nava
tat-raktena—by the blood of the sons of Kārtavīryārjuna; nadīm—a river; ghorām—fierce; abrahmaṇya-bhaya-āvahām—causing fear to the kings who had no respect for brahminical culture; hetum—cause; kṛtvā—accepting; pitṛ-vadham—the killing of his father; kṣatre—when the whole royal class; amaṅgala-kāriṇi—was acting very inauspiciously; triḥ-sapta-kṛtvaḥ—twenty-one times; pṛthivīm—the entire world; kṛtvā—making; niḥkṣatriyām—without a kṣatriya dynasty; prabhuḥ—the Supreme Lord, Paraśurāma; samanta-pañcake—at the place known as Samanta-pañcaka; cakre—he made; śoṇita-udān—filled with blood instead of water; hradān—lakes; nava—nine.
With the blood of the bodies of these sons, Lord Paraśurāma created a ghastly river, which brought great fear to the kings who had no respect for brahminical culture. Because the kṣatriyas, the men of power in government, were performing sinful activities, Lord Paraśurāma, on the plea of retaliating for the murder of his father, rid all the kṣatriyas from the face of the earth twenty-one times. Indeed, in the place known as Samanta-pañcaka he created nine lakes filled with their blood.
Paraśurāma is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and his eternal mission is paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām [Bg. 4.8]—to protect the devotees and annihilate the miscreants. To kill all the sinful men is one among the tasks of the incarnation of Godhead. Lord Paraśurāma killed all the kṣatriyas twenty-one times consecutively because they were disobedient to the brahminical culture. That the kṣatriyas had killed his father was only a plea; the real fact is that because the kṣatriyas, the ruling class, had become polluted, their position was inauspicious. Brahminical culture is enjoined in the śāstra, especially in Bhagavad-gītā (cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ [Bg. 4.13]). According to the laws of nature, whether at the time of Paraśurāma or at the present, if the government becomes irresponsible and sinful, not caring for brahminical culture, there will certainly be an incarnation of God like Paraśurāma to create a devastation by fire, famine, pestilence or some other calamity. Whenever the government disrespects the supremacy of the personality of Godhead and fails to protect the institution of varṇāśrama-dharma, it will certainly have to face such catastrophes as formerly brought about by Lord Paraśurāma.
pituḥ kāyena sandhāya
śira ādāya barhiṣi
ātmānam ayajan makhaiḥ
pituḥ—of his father; kāyena—with the body; sandhāya—joining; śiraḥ—the head; ādāya—keeping; barhiṣi—upon kuśa grass; sarva-deva-mayam—the all-pervading Supreme Personality of Godhead, the master of all the demigods; devam—Lord Vāsudeva; ātmānam—who is present everywhere as the Supersoul; ayajat—he worshiped; makhaiḥ—by offering sacrifices.
Thereafter, Paraśurāma joined his father’s head to the dead body and placed the whole body and head upon kuśa grass. By offering sacrifices, he began to worship Lord Vāsudeva, who is the all-pervading Supersoul of all the demigods and of every living entity.
dadau prācīṁ diśaṁ hotre
brahmaṇe dakṣiṇāṁ diśam
adhvaryave pratīcīṁ vai
udgātre uttarāṁ diśam
kaśyapāya ca madhyataḥ
sadasyebhyas tataḥ param
dadau—gave as a gift; prācīm—eastern; diśam—direction; hotre—unto the priest known as hotā; brahmaṇe—unto the priest known as brahmā; dakṣiṇām—southern; diśam—direction; adhvaryave—unto the priest known as adhvaryu; pratīcīm—the western side; vai—indeed; udgātre—unto the priest known as udgātā; uttarām—northern; diśam—side; anyebhyaḥ—unto the others; avāntara-diśaḥ—the different corners (northeast, southeast, northwest and southwest); kaśyapāya—unto Kaśyapa Muni; ca—also; madhyataḥ—the middle portion; āryāvartam—the portion known as Āryāvarta; upadraṣṭre—unto the upadraṣṭā, the priest acting as overseer to hear and check the mantras; sadasyebhyaḥ—unto the sadasyas, the associate priests; tataḥ param—whatever remained.
After completing the sacrifice, Lord Paraśurāma gave the eastern direction to the hotā as a gift, the south to the brahmā, the west to the adhvaryu, the north to the udgātā, and the four corners—northeast, southeast, northwest and southwest—to the other priests. He gave the middle to Kaśyapa and the place known as Āryāvarta to the upadraṣṭā. Whatever remained he distributed among the sadasyas, the associate priests.
The tract of land in India between the Himalaya Mountains and the Vindhya Hills is called Āryāvarta.
reje vyabbhra ivāṁśumān
tataḥ—thereafter; ca—also; avabhṛtha-snāna—by bathing after finishing the sacrifice; vidhūta—cleansed; aśeṣa—unlimited; kilbiṣaḥ—whose reactions of sinful activities; sarasvatyām—on the bank of the great river Sarasvatī; mahā-nadyām—one of the biggest rivers in India; reje—Lord Paraśurāma appeared; vyabbhraḥ—cloudless; iva aṁśumān—like the sun.
Thereafter, having completed the ritualistic sacrificial ceremonies, Lord Paraśurāma took the bath known as the avabhṛtha-snāna. Standing on the bank of the great river Sarasvatī, cleared of all sins, Lord Paraśurāma appeared like the sun in a clear, cloudless sky.
As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (3.9), yajñārthāt karmaṇo ’nyatra loko ’yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ: “Work done as a sacrifice for Viṣṇu has to be performed, otherwise work binds one to this material world.” Karma-bandhanaḥ refers to the repeated acceptance of one material body after another. The whole problem of life is this repetition of birth and death. Therefore one is advised to work to perform yajña meant for satisfying Lord Viṣṇu. Although Lord Paraśurāma was an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he had to account for sinful activities. Anyone in this material world, however careful he may be, must commit some sinful activities, even though he does not want to. For example, one may trample many small ants and other insects while walking on the street and kill many living beings unknowingly. Therefore the Vedic principle of pañca-yajña, five kinds of recommended sacrifice, is compulsory. In this age of Kali, however, there is a great concession given to people in general. Yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair yajanti hi sumedhasaḥ: [SB 11.5.32] we may worship Lord Caitanya, the hidden incarnation of Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa-varṇaṁ tviṣākṛṣṇam: although He is Kṛṣṇa Himself, He always chants Hare Kṛṣṇa and preaches Kṛṣṇa consciousness. One is recommended to worship this incarnation by chanting, the saṅkīrtana-yajña. The performance of saṅkīrtana-yajña is a special concession for human society to save people from being affected by known or unknown sinful activities. We are surrounded by unlimited sins, and therefore it is compulsory that one take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness and chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra.
sva-dehaṁ jamadagnis tu
ṛṣīṇāṁ maṇḍale so ’bhūt
sva-deham—his own body; jamadagniḥ—the great sage Jamadagni; tu—but; labdhvā—regaining; saṁjñāna-lakṣaṇam—showing full symptoms of life, knowledge and remembrance; ṛṣīṇām—of the great ṛṣis; maṇḍale—in the group of seven stars; saḥ—he, Jamadagni; abhūt—later became; saptamaḥ—the seventh; rāma-pūjitaḥ—because of being worshiped by Lord Paraśurāma.
Thus Jamadagni, being worshiped by Lord Paraśurāma, was brought back to life with full remembrance, and he became one of the seven sages in the group of seven stars.
The seven stars revolving around the polestar at the zenith are called saptarṣi-maṇḍala. On these seven stars, which form the topmost part of our planetary system, reside seven sages: Kaśyapa, Atri, Vasiṣṭha, Viśvāmitra, Gautama, Jamadagni and Bharadvāja. These seven stars are seen every night, and they each make a complete orbit around the polestar within twenty-four hours. Along with these seven stars, all the others stars also orbit from east to west. The upper portion of the universe is called the north, and the lower portion is called the south. Even in our ordinary dealings, while studying a map, we regard the upper portion of the map as north.
jāmadagnyo ’pi bhagavān
āgāminy antare rājan
vartayiṣyati vai bṛhat
jāmadagnyaḥ—the son of Jamadagni; api—also; bhagavān—the Personality of Godhead; rāmaḥ—Lord Paraśurāma; kamala-locanaḥ—whose eyes are like lotus petals; āgāmini—coming; antare—in the manvantara, the time of one Manu; rājan—O King Parīkṣit; vartayiṣyati—will propound; vai—indeed; bṛhat—Vedic knowledge.
My dear King Parīkṣit, in the next manvantara the lotus-eyed Personality of Godhead Lord Paraśurāma, the son of Jamadagni, will be a great propounder of Vedic knowledge. In other words, he will be one of the seven sages.
āste ’dyāpi mahendrādrau
āste—is still existing; adya api—even now; mahendra-adrau—in the hilly country known as Mahendra; nyasta-daṇḍaḥ—having given up the weapons of a kṣatriya (the bow, arrows and axe); praśānta—now fully satisfied as a brāhmaṇa; dhīḥ—in such intelligence; upagīyamāna-caritaḥ—being worshiped and adored for his exalted character and activities; siddha-gandharva-cāraṇaiḥ—by such celestial persons as the inhabitants of Gandharvaloka, Siddhaloka and Cāraṇaloka.
Lord Paraśurāma still lives as an intelligent brāhmaṇa in the mountainous country known as Mahendra. Completely satisfied, having given up all the weapons of a kṣatriya, he is always worshiped, adored and offered prayers for his exalted character and activities by such celestial beings as the Siddhas, Cāraṇas and Gandharvas.
evaṁ bhṛguṣu viśvātmā
bhagavān harir īśvaraḥ
avatīrya paraṁ bhāraṁ
bhuvo ’han bahuśo nṛpān
evam—in this way; bhṛguṣu—in the dynasty of Bhṛgu; viśva-ātmā—the soul of the universe, the Supersoul; bhagavān—the Supreme Personality of Godhead; hariḥ—the Lord; īśvaraḥ—the supreme controller; avatīrya—appearing as an incarnation; param—great; bhāram—the burden; bhuvaḥ—of the world; ahan—killed; bahuśaḥ—many times; nṛpān—kings.
In this way the supreme soul, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord and the supreme controller, descended as an incarnation in the Bhṛgu dynasty and released the universe from the burden of undesirable kings by killing them many times.
gādher abhūn mahā-tejāḥ
samiddha iva pāvakaḥ
tapasā kṣātram utsṛjya
yo lebhe brahma-varcasam
gādheḥ—from Mahārāja Gādhi; abhūt—was born; mahā-tejāḥ—very powerful; samiddhaḥ—inflamed; iva—like; pāvakaḥ—fire; tapasā—by austerities and penances; kṣātram—the position of a kṣatriya; utsṛjya—giving up; yaḥ—one who (Viśvāmitra); lebhe—achieved; brahma-varcasam—the quality of a brāhmaṇa.
Viśvāmitra, the son of Mahārāja Gādhi, was as powerful as the flames of fire. From the position of a kṣatriya, he achieved the position of a powerful brāhmaṇa by undergoing penances and austerities.
Now, having narrated the history of Lord Paraśurāma, Śukadeva Gosvāmī begins the history of Viśvāmitra. From the history of Paraśurāma we can understand that although Paraśurāma belonged to the brahminical group, he circumstantially had to work as a kṣatriya. Later, after finishing his work as a kṣatriya, he again became a brāhmaṇa and returned to Mahendra-parvata. Similarly, we can see that although Viśvāmitra was born in a kṣatriya family, by austerities and penances he achieved the position of a brāhmaṇa. These histories confirm the statements in śāstra that a brāhmaṇa may become a kṣatriya, a kṣatriya may become a brāhmaṇa or vaiśya, and a vaiśya may become a brāhmaṇa, by achieving the required qualities. One’s status does not depend upon birth. As confirmed in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.11.35) by Nārada:
“If one shows the symptoms of being a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra, even if he has appeared in a different class, he should be accepted according to those symptoms of classification.” To know who is a brāhmaṇa and who is a kṣatriya, one must consider a man’s quality and work. If all the unqualified śūdras become so-called brāhmaṇas and kṣatriyas, social order will be impossible to maintain. Thus there will be discrepancies, human society will turn into a society of animals, and the situation all over the world will be hellish.
putrā eka-śataṁ nṛpa
madhyamas tu madhucchandā
madhucchandasa eva te
viśvāmitrasya—of Viśvāmitra; ca—also; eva—indeed; āsan—there were; putrāḥ—sons; eka-śatam—101; nṛpa—O King Parīkṣit; madhyamaḥ—the middle one; tu—indeed; madhucchandāḥ—known as Madhucchandā; madhucchandasaḥ—named the Madhucchandās; eva—indeed; te—all of them.
O King Parīkṣit, Viśvāmitra had 101 sons, of whom the middle one was known as Madhucchandā. In relation to him, all the other sons were celebrated as the Madhucchandās.
In this connection, Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura quotes this statement from the Vedas: tasya ha viśvāmitrasyaika-śataṁ putrā āsuḥ pañcāśad eva jyāyāṁso madhucchandasaḥ pañcāśat kanīyāṁsaḥ. “Viśvāmitra had 101 sons. Fifty were older than Madhucchandā and fifty younger.”
putraṁ kṛtvā śunaḥśephaṁ
devarātaṁ ca bhārgavam
ājīgartaṁ sutān āha
jyeṣṭha eṣa prakalpyatām
putram—a son; kṛtvā—accepting; śunaḥśepham—whose name was Śunaḥśepha; devarātam—Devarāta, whose life was saved by the demigods; ca—also; bhārgavam—born in the Bhṛgu dynasty; ājīgartam—the son of Ajīgarta; sutān—to his own sons; āha—ordered; jyeṣṭhaḥ—the eldest; eṣaḥ—Śunaḥśepha; prakalpyatām—accept as such.
Viśvāmitra accepted the son of Ajīgarta known as Śunaḥśepha, who was born in the Bhṛgu dynasty and was also known as Devarāta, as one of his own sons. Viśvāmitra ordered his other sons to accept Śunaḥśepha as their eldest brother.
yo vai hariścandra-makhe
vikrītaḥ puruṣaḥ paśuḥ
stutvā devān prajeśādīn
yaḥ—he who (Śunaḥśepha); vai—indeed; hariścandra-makhe—in the sacrifice performed by King Hariścandra; vikrītaḥ—was sold; puruṣaḥ—man; paśuḥ—sacrificial animal; stutvā—offering prayers; devān—to the demigods; prajā-īśa-ādīn—headed by Lord Brahmā; mumuce—was released; pāśa-bandhanāt—from being bound with ropes like an animal.
Śunaḥśepha’s father sold Śunaḥśepha to be sacrificed as a man-animal in the yajña of King Hariścandra. When Śunaḥśepha was brought into the sacrificial arena, he prayed to the demigods for release and was released by their mercy.
Here is a description of Śunaḥśepha. When Hariścandra was to sacrifice his son Rohita, Rohita arranged to save his own life by purchasing Śunaḥśepha from Śunaḥśepha’s father to be sacrificed in the yajña. Śunaḥśepha was sold to Mahārāja Hariścandra because he was the middle son, between the oldest and the youngest. It appears that the sacrifice of a man as an animal in yajña has been practiced for a very long time.
yo rāto deva-yajane
devair gādhiṣu tāpasaḥ
deva-rāta iti khyātaḥ
śunaḥśephas tu bhārgavaḥ
yaḥ—he who (Śunaḥśepha); rātaḥ—was protected; deva-yajane—in the arena for worshiping the demigods; devaiḥ—by the same demigods; gādhiṣu—in the dynasty of Gādhi; tāpasaḥ—advanced in executing spiritual life; deva-rātaḥ—protected by the demigods; iti—thus; khyātaḥ—celebrated; śunaḥśephaḥ tu—as well as Śunaḥśepha; bhārgavaḥ—in the dynasty of Bhṛgu.
Although Śunaḥśepha was born in the Bhārgava dynasty, he was greatly advanced in spiritual life, and therefore the demigods involved in the sacrifice protected him. Consequently he was also celebrated as the descendant of Gādhi named Devarāta.
ye madhucchandaso jyeṣṭhāḥ
kuśalaṁ menire na tat
aśapat tān muniḥ kruddho
mlecchā bhavata durjanāḥ
ye—those who; madhucchandasaḥ—sons of Viśvāmitra, celebrated as the Madhucchandās; jyeṣṭhāḥ—eldest; kuśalam—very good; menire—accepting; na—not; tat—that (the proposal that he be accepted as the eldest brother); aśapat—cursed; tān—all the sons; muniḥ—Viśvāmitra Muni; kruddhaḥ—being angry; mlecchāḥ—disobedient to the Vedic principles; bhavata—all of you become; durjanāḥ—very bad sons.
When requested by their father to accept Śunaḥśepha as the eldest son, the elder fifty of the Madhucchandās, the sons of Viśvāmitra, did not agree. Therefore Viśvāmitra, being angry, cursed them. “May all of you bad sons become mlecchas,” he said, “being opposed to the principles of Vedic culture.”
In Vedic literature there are names like mleccha and yavana. The mlecchas are understood to be those who do not follow the Vedic principles. In former days, the mlecchas were fewer, and Viśvāmitra Muni cursed his sons to become mlecchas. But in the present age, Kali-yuga, there is no need of cursing, for people are automatically mlecchas. This is only the beginning of Kali-yuga, but at the end of Kali-yuga the entire population will consist of mlecchas because no one will follow the Vedic principles. At that time the incarnation Kalki will appear. Mleccha-nivaha-nidhane kalayasi kara-bālam. He will kill all the mlecchas indiscriminately with his sword.
sa hovāca madhucchandāḥ
sārdhaṁ pañcāśatā tataḥ
yan no bhavān sañjānīte
tasmiṁs tiṣṭhāmahe vayam
saḥ—the middle son of Viśvāmitra; ha—indeed; uvāca—said; madhucchandāḥ—Madhucchandā; sārdham—with; pañcāśatā—the second fifty of the sons known as the Madhucchandās; tataḥ—then, after the first half were thus cursed; yat—what; naḥ—unto us; bhavān—O father; sañjānīte—as you please; tasmin—in that; tiṣṭhāmahe—shall remain; vayam—all of us.
When the elder Madhucchandās were cursed, the younger fifty, along with Madhucchandā himself, approached their father and agreed to accept his proposal. “Dear father,” they said, “we shall abide by whatever arrangement you like.”
jyeṣṭhaṁ mantra-dṛśaṁ cakrus
tvām anvañco vayaṁ sma hi
viśvāmitraḥ sutān āha
ye mānaṁ me ’nugṛhṇanto
vīravantam akarta mām
jyeṣṭham—the eldest; mantra-dṛśam—a seer of mantras; cakruḥ—they accepted; tvām—you; anvañcaḥ—have agreed to follow; vayam—we; sma—indeed; hi—certainly; viśvāmitraḥ—the great sage Viśvāmitra; sutān—to the obedient sons; āha—said; vīra-vantaḥ—fathers of sons; bhaviṣyatha—become in the future; ye—all of you who; mānam—honor; me—my; anugṛhṇantaḥ—accepted; vīra-vantam—the father of good sons; akarta—you have made; mām—me.
Thus the younger Madhucchandās accepted Śunaḥśepha as their eldest brother and told him, “We shall follow your orders.” Viśvāmitra then said to his obedient sons, “Because you have accepted Śunaḥśepha as your eldest brother, I am very satisfied. By accepting my order, you have made me a father of worthy sons, and therefore I bless all of you to become the fathers of sons also.”
Of the one hundred sons, half disobeyed Viśvāmitra by not accepting Śunaḥśepha as their eldest brother, but the other half accepted his order. Therefore the father blessed the obedient sons to become the fathers of sons. Otherwise they too would have been cursed to be sonless mlecchas.
eṣa vaḥ kuśikā vīro
devarātas tam anvita
eṣaḥ—this (Śunaḥśepha); vaḥ—like you; kuśikāḥ—O Kuśikas; vīraḥ—my son; devarātaḥ—he is known as Devarāta; tam—him; anvita—just obey; anye—others; ca—also; aṣṭaka—Aṣṭaka; hārīta—Hārīta; jaya—Jaya; kratumat—Kratumān; ādayaḥ—and others.
Viśvāmitra said, “O Kuśikas [descendants of Kauśika], this Devarāta is my son and is one of you. Please obey his orders.” O King Parīkṣit, Viśvāmitra had many other sons, such as Aṣṭaka, Hārīta, Jaya and Kratumān.
evaṁ kauśika-gotraṁ tu
tad dhi caivaṁ prakalpitam
evam—in this way (some sons having been cursed and some blessed); kauśika-gotram—the dynasty of Kauśika; tu—indeed; viśvāmitraiḥ—by the sons of Viśvāmitra; pṛthak-vidham—in different varieties; pravara-antaram—differences between one another; āpannam—obtained; tat—that; hi—indeed; ca—also; evam—thus; prakalpitam—ascertained.
Viśvāmitra cursed some of his sons and blessed the others, and he also adopted a son. Thus there were varieties in the Kauśika dynasty, but among all the sons, Devarāta was considered the eldest.
Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Ninth Canto, Sixteenth Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “Lord Paraśurāma Destroys the World’s Ruling Class.”
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