Rama Gets the Parashu

Rama Gets the Parashu

Rama Gets the Parashu

In the last post, in the story from Brahmanda Purana, Shiva appeared before Parashurama in the form of a hunter. But Parashurama wasn’t yet sure that this was Shiva.

Parashurama said, “Who are you? Please tell me. You are no ordinary man. Hearing your extremely wonderful words, I take you to be omniscient. Yet, I can see the class that you have been born into and that causes a doubt in my mind. It is heard that Bhagavan Vishnu Purushottma is adept in the use of maya. You have come to me in this form. Please tell me who you are. Are you the omniscient Parameshvara, the lord of the universe? Are you the paramatman from whom all atmans originate? Are you the eternal one who brings bliss to the atman? Are you Bhagavan Shiva who pervades the universe and roams around as he pleases? Given this body, you cannot be anyone else. There is no one else in the world who possesses such a powerful body. The words that have emerged from your lips are excellent and extensive in meaning. I think Hara has assumed this form, driven by affection towards his devotee. I suspect that he has directly manifested himself in front of me, so as to test me. A mere hunter will not possess a form like this. Therefore, I prostrate myself before you. Show me your beautiful and excellent form. Reveal your body, full of great qualities, to me. Show me your favours. I have many doubts in my mind. Let those be destroyed. In every kind of way, show me your form now and destroy the delusion in my intelligence. Destroy it by merely resorting to your own form. Prostrating my head, I am beseeching you. I have clasped my hands in salutation. Who are you? Reveal yourself to me.”

Having said this, he seated himself on the ground and immersed himself in dhyana. He was seated in padmasana. He was silent and controlled his words, body and mind. He controlled the movement of his prana. Pervasive in intelligence, he remained in this state for a very long time. He controlled the aggregate of his senses and fixed his mind in his heart. Using the sight of dhyana, he thought of the lord of devas, the preceptor of the universe. As he used this sight to search within his atman, he saw the lord of the universe. The one who is compassionate towards his devotees had assumed the form of a hunter of animals. At this, Bhargava swiftly got up and opened his eyes. He saw the divinity standing in front of him, in that body.

When he saw this, there were tears of joy in Rama’s eyes. Full of devotion towards him, the immensely intelligent one fell on the ground, at his feet. His words choked as a result of respect and he spoke in faltering words. He said, “O Sharva! O Shankara! Be my refuge.” At this, satisfied at his devotion, Shambhu assumed his own form. Rama had prostrated himself on the ground and he raised him up. With his own hands, the creator of the universe raised up the extender of the Bhrigu lineage. He joined his hands in salutation and praised the divinity, the lord of devas, standing in front of him.

Rama said, “I prostrate myself before the lord of devas, Shankara, whose form is primordial. I prostrate myself before Sharva, the serene one. I prostrate myself before the eternal one. I bow down. I prostrate myself before the one who is blue in the throat, the one with the form of Nilalohita. I prostrate myself before the lord of beings. I prostrate myself before the abode of beings. Your forms are manifest and not manifest. You are Mahadeva Midha. You are Shiva, with many forms. I prostrate myself before the one with three eyes. I bow down. O Sharva! Be my refuge. O lord of the universe! I am your devotee. You are the refuge for those who have no other refuge. O divinity! O Shankara! I have behaved badly towards you and have used harsh words. O Bhagavan! I did that in my ignorance and you should pardon me. Your form cannot be known to anyone else, even virtuous ones. What need be said about a mere man? O lord of everything! Other than you yourself, no one is capable of knowing you properly. O Shankara! Therefore, be pleased with me in every possible way. I have no destination other than you. I prostrate myself before you. I prostrate myself repeatedly. I bow down.” In this way, he joined his hands, with cupped palms, and worshipped the one who stood in front of him.

Bhagavan, who permeates the universe, was pleased. Bhagavan replied, “O son! I am pleased with your present austerities. Your devotion is without blemish. I shall give you everything that you ask for. You are extremely devoted to me. O child! Right now, you do not possess the power to sustain terrible weapons. Therefore, you must again undertake terrible austerities. Travel everywhere on earth and in all the tirthas. Bathe there and purify your body.

After that, you will obtain all the weapons.” Having said this, while Rama looked on, the lord and divinity, who determines the destiny of the earth, disappeared instantly from the spot.

At the time, there was a battle between devas and asuras which went on for a very long time. The extremely strong asuras defeated devas in that battle. Vasava and all the other devas went and sought refuge with Shankara. Shambhu instructed Mahodara, one of his attendants, to bring Parashurama there. Mahodara quickly brought Rama to Shambhu’s presence. They swiftly reached Kailasa, supreme among mountains. The best of the Bhargava lineage saw Shankara, affectionate towards his devotees, along with all the bhutas and Indra, and the other immortals. He was being praised by Narada and the other sages, stores of austerities. Beautiful gandharvas sang and large numbers of apsaras danced. Attired in a garment made out of elephant-hide, the lord of devas was being worshipped. He was three-eyed and had the moon on his crest. All his limbs were smeared with ashes. He had a mass of tawny and matted hair and he was decorated in ornaments made out of nagas. His arms and lips were long. His amiable and pleased face resembled a lotus. In an assembly of gods, he was seated on a golden slab.

Joining his hands in salutation, the noble Bhargava slowly approached the lord of devas. With his body wet with tears of joy, he approached Hara’s presence. He spoke reverential words, full of devotion, and his words choked because of his joy. He fell down and touched the feet of Tripura’s destroyer with his head. In the midst of the large number of devas, Shiva was pleased. With a delighted face that resembled a lotus, he raised Rama, as devas looked on. He smiled and affectionately addressed him in sweet words. “These gods have been attacked by large numbers of daityas and have been dislodged from their own positions. They are unable to kill them and have approached me. O Rama! Therefore, wishing to do something agreeable for devas, follow my command. Slay all the daityas. It is my view that you are capable.” With his hands joined in salutation, Rama prostrated himself before Sharva. He replied in these humble words. “O lord! You are in all atmans and are omniscient. What is not known to you? Nevertheless, please listen to the words I submit. Shakra and all the other immortals are incapable of killing the enemy. How can I do that alone? O lord of devas! I do not know about weapons. I am not skilled in fighting. Without weapons, how can I kill all the enemies of the gods?” Thus addressed, the lord of devas gave the great-souled one his brilliant energy, which was full of all of Shiva’s weapons and was as radiant as the fire of destruction. He gave him his own parashu (battle-axe), which was capable of subduing all weapons. He spoke to Rama. “Through my favours, you will slay all the enemies of the gods. You will possess a power that all enemies will find impossible to resist. With this weapon alone, go and fight with the enemies.” Rama prostrated himself before Shambhu. He accepted and raised up Shiva’s parashu, meant for the enemies of the gods. Rama, born from a portion of Vishnu’s energy, was radiant. Combined with devotion towards Rudra, he dazzled like the sun at mid-day. He took the permission of the three-eyed one. Along with all the devas, he proceeded, having made up his mind to fight and kill the asuras. Thereafter, there was a battle between devas and asuras again. In that battle, the mighty-armed Rama was extremely terrible. He used the parashu to angrily kill the great asuras. All the daityas and danavas were killed by Rama. All those who were not killed saw Rama and were filled with fear.

Originally published on the Open Magazine
Reproduced here with permission from Dr Bibek Debroy