On Akshaya Tritiya: 21 lesser known facts about lord Parashurama
His many names and roles.
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Today is Akshaya Tritiya, one of the most auspicious days for Hindus and Jains. The word "akshaya" means “undecaying” or “inexhaustible”. "Tritiya" refers to the third date, as the festival falls on the third date of the bright half of "Vaishakha" month.
As per Matsya Purana, charity, yajnas, chanting and fasting on this day yields inexhaustible fruits. The day is believed to be the beginning of "Satya Yuga", and hence considered good to start something new.
The temples of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri also reopen on this day. Besides, the construction of the chariot for Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri, begins on this day. In some parts of India, new audit books are opened and ploughing of fields is started. The day is considered auspicious for weddings, griha pravesh and buying gold (many jewellers have attractive offers for the day).
In fact, Parashurama Jayanti, the birthday of Parashurama, is also celebrated on Akshaya Tritiya. Parashurama is called by many names in Hindu texts and there is even a sahasranama (hymn of 1,000 names) devoted to him.
In this article, 21 names of Parashurama are explained in brief, summarising the life and acts of Parashurama as per the Mahabharata and puranas. The number 21 has a special significance with respect to Parashurama — as per the Puranas, Parashurama fought against Kshatriyas and annihilated them 21 times.
Here are the 21 names:
1. Bhargava (bhārgava/भार्गव), which means a descendant of Bhrigu. Parashurama was born in the clan of Bhrigu. As per the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata, the lineage is Bhrigu→ Chyavana→ Aurva→ Richika→Jamadagni→ Parashurama.
2. Bhrigupati (bhṛgupati/भृगुपति), meaning lord of Bhrigu’s race. This popular name is used by Kalidasa (in Meghaduta), Jayadeva (in Gita Govinda), and Tulasidasa (in Ramacharitamanasa).
3. Rainukeya (raiṇukeya/रैणुकेय), the son of Renuka. Renuka was Jamadagni’s wife and Parashurama’s mother. She was the daughter of King Prasenajit as per the Brahmanda Purana.
4. Konkana-suta (koṅkaṇāsuta/कोङ्कणासुत), the son of Konkana. Parashurama’s mother Renuka is also known as Konkana, meaning born in Konkana country. Parashurama is described as having reclaimed Konkan from the sea in the "Sahyadri Khanda" of the Skanda Purana.
5. Jamadagnya (jāmadagnya/जामदग्न्य), the son of Jamadagni. Jamadagni was Parashurama’s father. As per the Brahmanda Purana, the ashram of Jamadagni and Renuka was on the banks of the Narmada river.
Parasurama killing Sahasrarjuna. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons photo)
6. Rama (rāma/राम), meaning one in whom yogis take delight. Parashurama shares this name with two other Ramas: the son of Dasharatha and the brother of Krishna. To distinguish Parashurama from the other two, he is also often called "Bhargava Rama".
7. Parashudhara (paraśudhara/परशुधर), the wielder of the axe. As per the Brahmanda Purana, Parashurama was given his famous axe, white in colour and having the brilliance of the fire of death, by his guru Shiva.
8. Parashurama (paraśurāma/परशुराम), one who takes delight in the axe. The parashu or axe is Parashurama’s favourite weapon, as portrayed in popular artistic depictions like this painting by Raja Ravi Varma.
9. Khandaparashu (khaṇḍaparaśu/खण्डपरशु), one with the shattering axe. Parashurama shares this name with Shiva (who gave him the axe). As per the Brahmanda Purana, Parashurama’s axe shattered one of the tusks of Ganesha.
10. Urdhvareta (ūrdhvaretā/ऊर्ध्वरेता), meaning celibate. The name literally means “one whose sexual energy flows upwards”. Parashurama is a "brahmachari", hence the name.
11. Matrikacchida (mātṛkacchida/मातृकच्छिद), one who cut off the head of his mother. As per the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata, Parashurama’s mother Renuka was infatuated with the king Chitraratha. Learning this, Jamadagni ordered his sons to behead her. All other sons refused, but Parashurama carried out the order.
12. Matripranada (mātṛprāṇada/मातृप्राणद), one who gave life to his mother. After Parashurama beheaded Renuka, Jamadagni said he would grant him all his wishes. Parashurama asked for Renuka to be brought back to life, loss of memory of the beheading, and his freedom from the sin. Jamadagni obliged.
13. Karttaviryari (kārttavīryāri/कार्त्तवीर्यारि), the enemy of Kartavirya Arjuna. As per the Brahmanda Purana and the Mahabharata, the army of the Kartavirya Arjuna (also known as Sahasrarjuna) snatched Jamadagni’s divine cow and killed the sage. When Parashurama came to know of this, he marched to Mahishmati, the capital of Sahasrarjuna, and killed him in battle.
14. Kshatrantaka (kṣatrāntaka/क्षत्रान्तक), the annihilator of Kshatriyas. As per various Puranas, Parashurama was so angry at the murder of his father that he waged 21 wars on Kshastriya-s, making the earth free of Kshastriyas every time.
15. Nyaksha (nyakṣa/न्यक्ष), one who humiliates. Literally, the name means “one who makes eyes turn downwards”. Parashurama humiliated Kshatriyas by defeating them single-handedly 21 times.
16. Nyastadanda (nyastadaṇḍa/न्यस्तदण्ड), one who has given up the staff. The "danda" here stands for the resolve to punish. After 21 wars, Parashurama retired to Mahendra mountains to perform penance. He thus gave up the "danda".
17. Kraunchari (krauñcāri/क्रौञ्चारि), the enemy of the Krauncha mountain. As per Mallinatha, Parashurama and Karttikeya engaged in competition in which they pierced the Krauncha mountain and created a hole for birds to pass.
18. Brahmarashi (brahmarāśi/ब्रह्मराशि), abounding in penance. Bhishma uses this name in the Udyoga Parva of the Mahabharata, when he narrates his battle with his guru Parashurama.
19. Svamijanghi (svāmijaṅghī/स्वामिजङ्घी), with legs like those of a king. Although born a Brahmin, the valorous Parashurama had the physical might of Kshatriyas.
20. Sahyadrivasi (sahyādrivāsī/सह्याद्रिवासी), one who dwells in the Sahyadris. The Sahyadri-khanda of the Skanda Purana describes the creation of a Parashurama Kshetra by Parashurama along the south-west coast of India.
21. Chiranjivi (cirañjīvī/चिरञ्जीवी), meaning “living forever” or “immortal”. As per the Ananda Ramayana, Parashurama is one of the seven immortals. The other six are Ashvatthama, Bali, Vyasa, Hanuman, Vibhishana, and Kripa.
Well then, Happy Parashurama Jayanti!