1. Lord Parashuram, meaning ‘Rama with an ax’, was the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The word ‘Parashu’ means ax. He was the son of Renuka and Sage Jamadagni, one of the Saptrishis and also one of the immortals of Hindu mythology. According to legends, he is still believed to be living at Mahendragiri mountain peak in Orissa. Here are a few interesting stories about Parashuram.
2. Parashuram obtained his famous ax after he did strict penance to please Lord Shiva. Parashuram performed thousands of Ashwamedha yagnas and then handed over all the land he conquered as alms to Sage Kashyap.
3. Once, the Kshatriya king, Kartavirya Arjuna, visited Sage Jamadagni’s ashram and stole a divine cow that had been given to the rishi as a gift by Lord Indra. The cow could produce delicious food for many people at a time. The enraged Parashuram killed Kartavirya and recovered the cow. In order to avenge Kartavirya’s slaying, his son killed Sage Jamadagni. In retaliation, Parashuram killed all the male Kshatriyas 21 times and also filled five lakes with their blood.
4. He played an important role in the Hindu epic, Ramayana, as it was he who gave the bow of Shiva to Janaka for Sita’s swayamvara.
5. He also plays a role in the epic, Mahabharata, as a mentor to Bhishma, Drona, and Karna.
6. The son who killed his mother – His mother was Renuka, a woman who was known for her chastity and devotion to her husband. Her devotion was so great that she could fetch water in an unbaked clay pot. One day, when she was at the river, she saw a handsome gandharva. For a fleeting moment, she was overcome by desire and, when this happened, the unbaked pot dissolved. Her husband Jamadagni found out what had happened due to his yogic powers, and he became enraged. He called his sons and gave them an ax, with a command that they kill their mother. But all refused, and they were turned to stone. But Parashuram was the only son who agreed, and he immediately beheaded his mother. He was given two boons for his obedience, and he asked that his mother and his brothers be restored back to life.
7. His fight with Shiva – Once Shiva challenged Parashuram for a battle in order to test his skills in warfare. They engaged in a fierce battle which went on for 21 days. One day, he attacked Shiva with his ax, which struck him on the forehead. Impressed by his great skill, Shiva embraced him. For this reason, Shiva is also called Khanda- Parshu.
8. Parashuram once cursed Karna that he would forget his skills when he needed them the most. Karna once went to Dronacharya and asked him to teach him how to use the Brahmastra and how to release and withdraw it. Dronacharya taught the Brahmastra only to Arjuna and a little bit to his own son, Ashwathama. So he was not willing to teach Karna. Then Karna approached Parashuram, the guru of Dronacharya. But Parashuram only taught Brahmins, and Karna was a Kshatriya. Thus, Karna lied to Parashuram, saying that he was a Brahmin. Parashuram took him as a student and trained him. Finally, he declared that Karna was his equal in warfare and archery. He even taught him all about the Brahmastra. One day, a scorpion bit Karna when Parashuram was asleep on his lap, but he did not cry out in pain as he did not want to wake up his guru. When Parashuram woke up and realized what happened, he knew that only a Kshatriya would be able to bear the agony for so long. Thus, he discovered that Karna had lied to him.
9. Once, Parashuram was annoyed with Surya (Sun God). He shot several arrows at the sky, and when he ran out of the arrows he had with him, he told his wife to bring some more. The Sun God, however, focused his rays on her, and it caused her to collapse. Surya then came before Parashuram and gave him a pair of slippers and an umbrella.
10. Once he went to Mount Kailash to meet Shiva, but Ganesha stopped him. Furious, Parashuram threw his ax on him. But Ganesha knew that the ax had been given to him by his father, and he allowed it to cut off his left tusk. Thus, he got the name Ekdante. Later, he returned the divine ax and blessed him.