“DASAAVATAARA STOTRAM OF SWAMI DESIKA- PARASURAMA AVATARAM (RAMA WITH THE AXE) - Anbil Ramaswamy SLOKAM 7 KrOdha agnim jamadagni peeTana bhavam sam tharpayishyan kramaath a-kshathraam iha santhathas cha ya imaam tri:sapta kritva kshithim / Dathvaa karmaNi dakshiNaam kvachana thaam aaskandhya sindhum vasan Abrahmanyam apaa karOthu bhagavaan aabrahma keeTam munih // MEANING: “ When the fire of the fury of the Lord as a Sage was roused by a king who killed his father Jamadagni, He wiped out with a vengeance 21 generations of the Royal clan from the face of the earth. Later He gave away the earth in a Yagjna and retired to a land, which He reclaimed, from the Sea. Let this Lord rid the miseries of the world right from the four faced Brahma to the lowest of creatures” BACKGROUND STORY: KARTHAVEERYARJUNA, the ruler of HEHAYA was a great king. He got boons from Datta AatrEya and other deities to become invincible. Puffed with ego due to the newfound powers acquired by him, he became tyrannical and began tormenting every one. Once, he even tried to confront Ravana, the ruler of Lanka but was defeated and so he made truce with him. With a thousand arms, with weapons and power, with a powerful ally in Ravana, nothing could stop him from his evil ways. It is to quell Karthaveerya and his ilk and to protect the righteous from his claws that Lord Vishnu descended down to earth and was born as BHARGAVA RAMA the youngest of the five sons of Jamadagni and Renuka. Jamadagni's father was RISHIKAN who married a Kshatriya girl SATYAVATI, daughter of one KHADI. Because of this Varna sangaraha (mixing up of castes) and other circumstances, BHARGAVA Rama though born as a Brahmin exhibited Kshatriya traits and had a liking for weapons, archery etc. Indeed, his favorite weapon was an axe, which he got as a gift from Siva. Parasu means Axe. Hence, he was called PARASU RAMA. Once, when the five brothers had gone out, Karthaveeryaarjuna entered the hermitage of Jamadagni and demanded food for himself and his retinue. With the help of Kaamadhenu, Jamadagni got food prepared for the host of guests. Karthaveerya knowing this demanded Kaamadhenu. But, Jamadagni would not part with it. The king forcibly took away the cow and the calf. When PARASU RAMA learnt of the incident, he marched towards MAHISHMATI, the capital of the king. The king dispatched 17 battalions of Ratha (Chariots) Gaja (elephantry), Turaga (Cavalry) and Pathadhi (infantry) each one called an Akshouhini. Single-handed, PARASURAMA destroyed the entire lot and then cut off the thousand arms of Kaarthaveerya and killed him with his axe. Retrieving Kaamadhenu and her calf, he returned to the hermitage where life was proceeding peacefully for some time. On another occasion, Renuka who went to fetch water from a nearby river happened to see some celestial Devas playing. Since her attention was distracted, it became too late when she returned with the water required. Jamadagni got angry and asked his sons to behead her. But, none would carry out his commands. Then entered PARASU RAMA when his father ordered him to behead not only Renuka but also his brothers. Without hesitation, PARASU RAMA carried out the orders. Pleased, the father asked what boons he wanted. All that PARASU RAMA wanted was that his mother and brothers should come alive and be oblivious of whatever had happened. Jamadagni granted the boon and they did come alive and life was again peaceful at the hermitage.But, not for long. Kaarthaveerya's sons stormed the hermitage to avenge the death of their father Only Jamadagni and Renuka were there at that time, Ignoring the pleadings of Renuka, they cut off the head of Jamadagni who was deep in meditation. Renuka was beside with grief and was crying aloud as PARASU RAMA returned. She beat her breast 21 times. PARASU RAMA vowed that he would wipe out 21 generations of Kshatriyas and proceeded to do the
Samskaras' for his father. Jamadagni gained the realm of the seven Rishis (Saptarishi mandalam). PARASU RAMA carried out his vow, wrested the land and properties of Kshatriyas and finally gave them away to sage KASYAPA and retired to the southwest corner of India. Swami Sri Vedanta Desika describes him as 'ROSHA RAMA' (Indignant Rama) When, Parasu Rama confronted Dasaratha who was returning from Mithila after the wedding of Rama and Sita, RAMA the AVATAR took back all the powers of PARASURAMA since the purpose of PARASURAMA AVATAR was completed.Parasurama threw his axe into the western ocean. The ocean receded upto the point where the axe fell and the land so reclaimed is known as Parasurama Kshetram. Scholars say that modern Kerala is this Kshetram. This Avatar is not a direct Avatar. Lord Vishnu entered the soul of a Brahmin son of Jamadagni (By Avesa or Anupravesa). Of the 10 Avatars, except Parasurama avatar all the others are Amsa avatars (i.e.) Direct descent of Lord Vishnu COMMENTS: 1. We can find shells called “Kilinjals” in Kerala even today to substantiate this event. 2. It may be noted that in the entire Stotra, this is the only one having some details of the story. 3. Abhramanyam apaakarothu: = This is the shrill call usually signaled whenever anything was noticed against the SAtvika Brahmins in those days. Amaram says- “Abhrahmanyam avadhyokthaih” 4. This story shows that gifting landed property (Bhoo daanam) was the greatest gift. 5. It also shows that Brahmins are born not only take Daanam but they also give Daanam. 6. Yet another lesson is that one should not desire to stay on land already gifted away. 7. Sam tharpayishyan = This refers “Tarpanam” made with blood (Kurudhi Tarpanam) 8. Tris sapta krutva = 3 x 7= 21 times his mother beat her breasts and he vowed to destroy 21 generations of Kshatriyas. 9. Bhagavaan Munih = Nowhere else has this peculiar expression of “Muni” employed. Why? To denote that this was not a Poorna Avatara but only an AavEsa Avatara, in which the Lord entered the soul of a Muni. 10. In 12th Sloka, SD refers to this Avatara as “ROsha Rama”. “ROsham” does not mean mere anger but the spirit of revenge for injustice, which is a natural instinctive response of a Kshatriya. As will be seen from the story, though he was born in a Brahmin household, due to some circumstances, he acquired the characteristics of a Kshatriya.