Thursday, April 3, 2008

The birth of Parasurama

We have briefly narrated the story of Parasurama (Rama with the axe as weapon) in Samskruthi. The following is the interesting story of his birth as told by Krishna to Yudhishthira as they traveled to meet Bhishma lying on his bed of arrows.

There was a king by name Kusika (kuSika), a descendant of Yayati in the lunar dynasty. He had a son by name Gathi (gaathi). The latter had a daughter by name Satyavati.

Rceeka was a Brahmin who was a descendant (great grandson) of the famous sage, Bhrigu. This Bhrigu was one of the sons of Brahma, the creator. Gaathi married his daughter, Satyavati, to Rceeka acknowledging the powers from meditation of the young Brahmin. The sage was pleased with the devotion he received from him wife and wanted to bless her with a son. He made an offering in fire by chanting suitable Mantras and gave the left over (Caru) to his wife. He told her. “You partake this and you shall be blessed with a son with great meditative powers”.

As was the life style in those days, his mother-in-law, Satyavati, was also young enough to bear children. Rceeka wanted to pay tribute to his mother-in-law through a similar reward. The sage prepared a separate Caru by invoking different Mantras this time and gave it to his wife, saying, “you take this to your mother. She shall, in due course, beget a child who will become a powerful warrior of great repute”. The obedient wife did accordingly.

But, Satyavati must have thought that Rceeka had used a better recipe in preparing the Caru for his wife and cleverly interchanged hers with that of her daughter. The two ladies soon got in the family way.

Rceeka observed his wife one day and remarked. “I can see just looking at your belly that you are going to give birth to a son full of valour. He will rise to the rank of a world renowned warrior by waging several great wars and cruel killings. He will have none of the composure (satva guna) of a Brahmin. There must have been some mix up. I have no doubt about it. How did this happen?”.

Satyavati was perplexed and approached her mother. She finally got the secret of the exchange from her mother and reported that to Rceeka. She pleaded with her husband. “I have no role in this exchange. Kindly forgive me. I do not want a warrior son. You have the powers to change the whole world. Please give me a son who will be more like you. ”

Rceeka thought for a while and said. “I cannot nullify the effect of the powerful Caru. But, I can keep its action pending. Let it be your grandson who will be born with the effect of the Caru”.


Sage Gathi soon got a son by name Viswamitra. He became a great sage in due course and rose to the rank of a Vedic seer. The most famous of the Mantras, the Gayatri of the sun (Savita), is attributed to Viswamitra. Every time it is chanted the name of the sage (Rishi) is remembered as Viswamitra, the son of Gathi (Gathino Viswamitrah rishih). Viswamitra is also referred often as the descendant of Kusika (kauSika viSwamitra).

The birth of Jamadagni and Parasurama

Satyavati gave birth to Jamadagni who became a reputed sage in time. Jamadagni married Renuka who gave birth to the celebrated Parasurama. We have already learnt many of the pursuits of Parasurama.

We know how closely linked is the main story of Mahabharata with that of the powerful Rama with the axe.


Melissa said...

So both ladies were named Satyavati? Or am I confused?

Kunjunny said...

Yes, it is a valid confusion. She was Satyavati, but, different from the grandmother of Dhritarashtra and Pandu. There are a large number of such recurring names in the epics. That is why the names are usually qualified with that of the father or of one of the famous ancestors.