Parashurama (Sanskrit: , IAST: Paraurma, lit. Rama with an axe) is the sixth avatar of Vishnu in Hinduism. Like other avatars of Vishnu, he appears at a time when overwhelming evil prevailed on earth. The warrior class, with weapons and power, had begun to abuse their power, take what belonged to others by force and tyrannize people. Parashurama corrects the cosmic equilibrium by destroying these evil warriors.
Parashurama with his axe (two representations) Other names Bhrgava rma Jamadagnya rma Devanagari Sanskrit transliteration Paraurma Tamil script Affiliation Vaishnavism, Shaivism Weapon Axe (parau) Personal Information Parents Jamadagni (father) Renuka (mother)
Parashurama is not found in Vedic literature, and the earliest mention of his character is found in the Mahabharata but with different names. There he is represented as an accomplished warrior-sadhu , a sage and teacher of martial arts, but there is no mention of him being an avatar of Vishnu. He evolves into an avatar in the Puranas. According to Adalbert Gail, the word Parasurama is also missing in the Indian epics and Kalidasa's works, and appears for the first time in Indian literature around 500 CE. Before then, he is known by other names such as Rama Jamadagnya.
According to Hinduism, Parashurama was the son of sage Jamadagni and his wife Renuka, living in a hut. They have a celestial cow called Surabhi who produces all they desire. A king named Arjuna Kartavirya not to be confused with Arjuna Pandava[note 1] learns about it and wants it. He asks Jamadagni to give it to him, but the sage refuses. While Parashurama is away from the hut, the king takes it by force. Parashurama learns about this crime, and is upset. With his axe in his hand, he challenges the king to battle. They fight, and Parushama kills the king, according to the Hindu mythology. The warrior class challenges him, and he kills all his challengers. The legend, states James Lochtefeld, likely has roots in the ancient conflict between the Brahmin caste with religious duties and the Kshatriya caste with warrior and enforcement role. However, the Hindu texts are not consistent, and there has been a dispute on whether he was a Kshatriya or a Brahmin.
In some versions of the legend, after his martial exploits, Parashurama returns to his sage father with the Surabhi cow and tells him about the battles he had to fight. The sage does not congratulate Parashurama, but reprimands him stating that a Brahmin should never kill a king. He asks him to expiate his sin by going on pilgrimage. After Parashurama returns from pilgrimage, he is told that while was away, his father was killed by warriors seeking revenge. Parashurama again picks up his axe and kills many warriors in retaliation. In the end, he relinquishes his weapons and takes up Yoga.
Parasurama legends are notable for their discussion of violence, the cycles of retaliations, the impulse of krodha (anger), the inappropriateness of krodha, and repentance. According to Madeleine Biardeau, Parasurama is a mythical character constructed in ancient Hindu thought as a fusion of contradictions, possibly to emphasize the ease with which those with military power tend to abuse it, and the moral issues in circumstances and one's actions, particularly violent ones.
In chapter 6 of the Devi Bhagavata Purana, he is born from the thigh with intense light surrounding him that blinds all warriors, who then repent their evil ways and promise to lead a moral life if their eyesight is restored. The boy grants them the boon.