Parashurama avatar
   Parashurama was an incarnation of VISHNU who fought the warrior class, who had tried to lord it over the Brahmins. It is said that Parasurama has wielded his fierce axe 22 times in different eras to destroy all the warriors on Earth—however, a few always managed to escape. Parashurama is also associated with the founding of the areas demar-cated by the Indian state of Kerala.
   The story goes that ARJUNA, hero of the MAHABHARATA, seized a cow from Jamadagni, the father of Parashurama. When the son returned to his father’s hermitage, he became furious and went out after the great hero. In a dreadful and bloody battle he eventually beheaded Arjuna.
   The sons of Arjuna, bent on revenge, went to the hermitage and killed Jamadagni. The furious Parasurama determined to extirpate the war-rior race once and for all. This is when he first launched his 22 campaigns.
   In another story, Parasurama’s mother went to fetch water and became enamored of a king bath-ing there. So enthralled was she that she forgot to return to do her requisite sacrifices. When she finally returned, Jamadagni ordered his sons to kill their mother. When they refused, he ordered Para-shurama to kill both his brothers and his mother. Knowing the power of his father, he did as ordered and received a boon in return. His wish, ironically, was that his brothers and mother be restored to life and that he forget all that had occurred. His father agreed. Other versions of this matricidal story are found in Indian folk tradition.
   Further reading: Cornelia Dimmitt and J. A. B. van Buitenen, Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978); John Dowson, A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion, Geography, History, and Literature, 12th ed. (Ludhiana: Lyall Book Depot, 1974); Swami Bangovind Parampanthi, Bhagawan Parshuram and Evolution of Culture in North-East India (Delhi: Daya Publishing House, 1987).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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