BY: SUN STAFF
Jamdagni Rishi reporting Kartavirya Arjuna's misdeeds to Parasurama
Illustration from Kalyana Kalpataru
Sep 02, 2014 CANADA (SUN) A study of the famous Rishis and Munis of Vedic literature.
Jamdagni Rishi is another of the Great Sages included among the Saptarishis in the seventh and current Manvantara. He is also the father of Parashurama, the sixth Visnu incarnation among the dasavatara. Jamadagni, like other Saptarishis, was a descendant of Sage Bhrigu who is a topmost Prajapati created by Lord Brahma.
Jamadagni had five children with his wife Renuka, and Parasurama was the youngest among them. Without having formal instruction, Jamadagni was well versed in sastra and weaponry.
Rishi Jamadagni's wife Renuka was the embodiment of great chastity. Such was her devotion to her husband that daily, she fetched water from the river in a pot made of unbaked clay, which held together only by the power of her devotion to Jamadagni.
One day while at the river, a group of Gandharvas passed overhead in their sky chariot. Filled with desire for only a moment, the unbaked pot that she was carrying dissolved into the river. Afraid to go back to her husband, she waited at the river bank. Waiting for his wife's return, Jamdagni used his yogic powers to see what had taken place with his wife, and he became very angry. One by one, the rishi ordered each of his sons to take up their weapon and end their mother's life. None would do the horrible task except Parasurama, who picked his axe and beheaded her.
Being pleased with his son's dutiful nature, Jamdagni Rishi offered two boons to Parashurama. The son first asked that his mother's head be restored and she be brought back to life; and second, that his brothers, who had been turned to stone by their father upon refusing his orders, also be returned to their bodies. All the family members were restored to life without having memory of experiencing their deaths. In this way, Jamadagni and Parasuram demonstrated dharma between son and father.
Later on, Jamadagni was visited by the Haihaya king, Kartavirya Arjuna, whom he served a feast using a divine calf. Wanting the animal for himself, the demon king decapitated Jamadagni. Enraged, Parasurama killed the king in turn, retrieving his father's head for cremation. Parasurama then began a protracted campaign of killing the kshatriyas, all across Bharata and for the next twenty-one generations. Such was his anger over the death of Rishi Jamdagni.
In the Buddhist text, Vinaya Pitaka, Mahavagga (I.245), the Buddha offers respects to Jamadagni by declaring that the Vedas in their true form were revealed to the original Vedic rishis, including Jamadagni.
Parasurama prepares to kill the many-armed demon king, Kartavirya Arjuna
Company School, Patna, 19th c.
British Museum Collection
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The Pali-English Dictionary, Thomas William Rhys Davids, William Stede
Vinaya piṭakaṃ, Hermann Oldenberg
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