Tale of Parashurama
Come on in and sit down, westerner, and I shall spin you my tale of my beginning and one of my great battles I have won. My birth was a normal one to the Brahman priest Jamadagni and the princess Renuka. I was born on the same day as Vishnu was born though I didn’t know it initially. I happen to be Vishnu’s sixth avatar. What that essentially means is that Vishnu was reincarnated in me. This has had its perks in many of my battles. It makes me more than a man.
My home life was one of learning lessons and becoming a man with my other four siblings. My father was a hard man but at the same time was a man that sought peace both inside and outside. He instilled this same way of living in me, or well, he tried to. I happened to be a pretty rebellious son going a bit further than he would have liked many a time.
This leads me to the story of the hour. There was once a time when king Kartavirya and his men were on a hunting trip. These men had been away from their homes for quite some time and happened to come upon our ashram to get some water and food. When they got to our house seeking refreshments my father welcomed them in with open arms. He fed them and gave them plenty to drink. The king was curious as to how my father was able to fashion such a feast and to be able to sustain living out where we do. My father being a kind and honest man answered the king saying, “We have a holy cow named Kamadhenu that supplies us with endless milk.” Upon hearing this the king thought to himself that the cow should be his for he was the king. I must add here this is where I get a deep-rooted hate for all kings and men of power. They like to take what is not theirs simply because they want it. Anyway, back to my story, the king ordered his men to spirit away the cow in the dead of night. My father and I slept well, trusting the honor of our guests to wake up the next day to find our wonderful animal gone, taken from us when we slept.
My father then sent me to go in search of the men and our cow. I was in such a rage, mind you, that when I did catch up with him, I left not a man alive. I slaughtered the lot of them with my bare hands. I returned to my father covered in the paint of war and eyes full of death. He looked upon me with sadness and told me to go find myself, atoning for the death I had caused. So, I wandered the earth in search of wisdom and peace. I met many great sages and warriors along my path. One of those which I learned under was none other than the god of death himself Shiva. He taught me how to use the axe he blessed me with. Its name is Vidyudabhi. It was a very special axe that did great damage for it had four cutting edges. I learned much on my journey for atonement but was awoken out of my peace to many cries from my mother. I heard her voice carried on the wind screaming my name. She screamed twenty-one times to me as I ran as fast as I could home.
When I arrived home, I found her draped over the body of my dead father. He lay in a pool of his own blood as cold as ice. I reached for her, comforting her, giving her my shoulder to cry on. When her wails ended, I asked her what had happened to my father. She while sobbing told me he had been slain in revenge for the death of the king Kartaviya. I kneeled by my father putting my hand to his chest. I promised revenge for the wounds he had endured and for the cries my mother had cried. His body bore twenty-one marks that were the cause of his painful death. I stood up and wiped my tears understanding the battle that was to take place. I knew in my heart that I was ready and that those that took my father from me were about to taste my axe and paint me red with their blood.
I set out the next day in route to the city of the Kshatriyas. It took me but a few days before I arrived and slaughtered every Kshatriya in sight. Everyone that crossed my path met their own end. I killed and killed and killed some more by the end of the night. I looked up at the sun as it rose high in the sky understanding this was just the beginning. Every day for a great while I sought out and killed all Kshatriyas I could find. I of course could not kill them all and generations were born after generations. In total at the end of this crusade of mine I killed all I could find twenty-one times before my oath was up. The promise I had made to my father was complete and I could rest.
This leads to today which is some number of birthdays that I have lost count of. I will be leaving the world today in meditation. I cannot die but I can lose myself in meditation and prayer. I have decided that I have experienced to much death that I should spend the rest of time atoning for this. I should think it good that at least one knows the truth of my life and can tell future generations. Goodbye, traveler, and thank you for listening to a very old man’s tale.
Authors Note: I thought long and hard on how to do this story justice, so I spun it as a retelling by the main character Parashurama. I kept most of it the exact same as the original story about the cow being taken and him going to retrieve it and killing the king. I also added that he killed all of the people the king was with not just the king. I added that he heard his mother’s voice on the wind crying to him. There were several different sources that spoke of differing variations of twenty-one being the reason he killed the Kshatriya twenty-one times. One source mentioned it being the number of cries his mother wailed that he heard, another said it was the cuts to the body that his father received. I decided to put these two together so that the reader can get a real sense of the importance of twenty-one, and why he killed the Kshatriya so many times. I also added the bit at the end where he will go into a state of meditation and prayer atoning for the death he caused in his life.
Bibliography: Parashurama Avatar, Parashurama Wiki, Why Did Parashurama Kill the Kshatriyas
Picture Information: The Legend of Parashurama Avatar of Lord Vishnu by Tentaran