Parasurama (An Incarnation of Visnu)

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Item Code: IDK515
Author: Shantilal Nagar
Publisher: B.R. Publishing Corporation
Language: English
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 9788176464826
Pages: 114
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 8.7" X 5.7"
Weight 260 gm
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Book Description

About the Book

Parasurama happens to be the sixth incarnation of Visnu, whose main job had been to destroy the Ksatriyas besides the severing of the arms of Sahasrarjuna or other such events. But his importance is reduced to not, after his encounter with Rama. The book, besides glimpses of the other events of his life, quite briefly.

About the Author

Shantilal Nagar, a graduate of the Punjab University, served in the curatorial capacity in the Central Asian Antiquities Museum, New Delhi, the Archaeological Museum, Nalanda, and Archaeological Section of the Indian Museum, Calcutta for a number of years. He has to his credit the scientific documentation of over fifty thousand antiquities, in these museums, representing the rich cultural heritage of the country and comprising of sculptures, bronzes, terracottas, beads, seals and sealing, ancient Indian numismatics, wood work, miniatures and paintings, textiles and Pearce collection of gems, ranging from the earliest times to the late medieval period. He was awarded, in 1987, a fellowship, for his monograph on the temples of Himachal Pradesh, by the Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi. He has authored more than fifty books.


(Markandeya, Bali, Vyasa, Hanuman, Vibhisana, Parasurama, Krpacarya and Asvatthama-the son of Dronacarya, are all eternal having long life.)

Parasurama happens to be the sixth incarnation of Visnu, who had a ferocious as well as the benevolent character besides being a great warrior. He was perhaps the only incarnation of Visnu, who did not retire to Vaikuntha but preferred to remain on earth, in preference to his return to his eternal abode, because he prayed to Rama to destroy his path to heaven, when Rama asked him the aim of the arrow to be shot from the bow provided by Parasurama to Rama. Of all the incarnations of Visnu, he is perhaps the only one, whose divine energy is said to have been transferred to Rama during the life time of Parasurama. This would indirectly mean that he shed his divine personality as an incarnation and became an ordinary human being. This is the unique feature of the character. Moreover, the very aim of his incarnation on earth, has been testified by the texts to destroy not the demons, by the great Ksatriya race, who had become wild following the demonic ways. Another prominent feature of his character has been that he received training in archery from Lord Siva himself, which had been of great advantage to him. However the main events relating to his life are given hereunder-

1. Family Background-He is an incarnation of Mahavisnu, as man. Descending in order from Mahavisnu- Brahma-Bbrgu-Cyavana-Urva-Rcika-Jamadagni- Parasurama.

2. Cause for Incarnation-Once god Agni went to Karttivirya Arjuna and begged for food. The king allowed him to take from his vast territory as much food as he wanted from anywhere he liked. Agni started burning forests and mountains and consuming them. Deep inside one of the forests a sage named Apava was performing penance and the fire burnt the asrama of Apava also. Enraged at this the sage cursed thus, "Karttavirya Arjuna is at the root of this havoc. The arrogance of Ksatriyas has increased beyond limits. Mahavisnu would therefore be born on earth as Parasurama to destroy this arrogance of the Ksatriyas." Accordingly Mahavisnu was born as Parasurama in the Bhargava race. (Chapter 40, Harivamsa). Brahmanda Purana gives another version-Visnu promised Bhumidevi (Mother earth) that he would be born on earth as Parasurama when Bhumidevi went to him in the form of a cow and complained to him about the atrocities of the wicked Ksatriya kings.

3. Birth-Parasurama was born as the son of sage Jamadagni of his wife Renuka. Their asrama was on the shores of the Narmada river. Renuka, mother of Parasurama, was the daughter of king Prasenajit. She had four sons even before the birth of Parasurama.

4. Childhood and Educatien-Parasurama spent his boyhood with his parents in the asrama. An important event in his life then was his slaying his mother at the behest of his father. (See under Jamadagni, Para). Though Parasurama was a Brahmana there is nothing on record to show that he did study the Vedas. Perhaps he might have had the Vedic instructions from his father during his life with him. He had even from the beginning shown an interest in learning dhanurvidya (archery). For obtaining proficiency in archery he went to the Himalayas and did penance to please Siva for many years. Pleased at his penance Siva on several occasions extolled the virtues of Parasurama. At that time the asuras (demons) acquired strength and attacked the devas. The devas complained to Siva. Siva called Parasurama and asked him to fight with and defeat the demons. Parasurama was without weapons and he asked Siva how he could go and fight the demons without weapons. Siva said, "Go with my blessings and you will kill your foes."

Parasurama did not wait for a moment. When Siva thus assured him of success, on he went straight to fight with the demons. He defeated the asuras and came back to Siva when the latter gave him many boons and divine weapons. Till that time his name was only Rama and he became Parasurama because among the weapons given to him by Siva was a weapon named Parasu (axe). There is a story behind this weapon Parasu. Once Siva was not invited for a yaga conducted by Daksa. An angered Siva threw his spike into the Yagasala (sacrificial hall). The spike spoiled the yaga and smashed the hall and after that roamed about aimlessly for sometime and then turned towards Badaryasrama where at that time Nara-Narayanas were engaged in penance. The spike went straight to the heart of sage Narayana, Narayana made the defiant sound 'hum' (humkara) and the spike turned away. Siva felt angry for thus showing disrespect to his spike and he attacked the sage. At once Nararsi plucked a grass and reciting a mantra threw it at Siva. The grass became a Parasu (axe) and it attacked Siva. Siva broke it into two. Then Nara-Narayanas bowed before him and worshipped him. Thereafter the two pieces of the Parasu remained with Siva. It was one of these that Siva gave to Parasurama. When Parasurama was returning happy and glorious with boons and weapons he got on his way a disciple named Akrtavarna. (See under Akrtavarna). Guru and disciple lived in an asrama and Parasurama became a noted Guru in dhanurvidya (archery).

5. Lessons in Archery-According to Puranas, Parasurama did not spend his life as an instructor in archery. There are statements, however, mentioning that Kama and Drona took instructions from him.

Pretending to be a Brahmana, Karna commenced taking instructions in archery from Parasurama. When his education was complete Parasurama taught him Brahmastra. One day tired after a long walk in the forests Parasurama took rest placing his head on the lap of Karna and soon fell asleep. At that time a beetle came and started sucking blood from the thigh of Karna). Karna remained still, bearing the pain, lest any movement of his body should disturb the sleep of his Guru. Blood was oozing from his thighs and it slowly made the body of the Guru also wet. Parasurama woke up and the sight of the bleeding thigh and the calm demean our of Karna raised doubts in him. He questioned Karna saying that no Brahmana could ever bear such a pain with such calmness and Kama had to tell the truth. Then Parasurama cursed him for deceit against his Guru saying that he would never be able to remember the Brahmastra when the time to use it came.

There is a story behind Alarka, the beetle that bit Karna. This beetle was in his previous birth a demon named Damsa. Damsa once tried to molest the wife of the sage Bhrgu. The Maharsi cursed him and made him into a beetle. On this request for mercy he said he would get release from the curse by Parasurama. So the beetle became the Raksasa again and left the place. Karna took leave of Parasurama and went to Hastinapur. Another famous disciple of Parasurama was Drona. There is a story behind Drona getting dhanurvidya from Parasurama. After travelling throughout the world exterminating the Ksatriya race, Parasurama gave all his wealth to Kasyapa. On hearing that Parasurama was giving away all his riches as gifts to Brahmanas Drona rushed to Mahendraparvata to see Parasurama. By then Parasurama had distributed all his wealth excepting dhanurvidya. Parasurarna called Drona to his side and said that only two things remained with him, his body and dhanurvidya. Drona, he added, could take anyone of the two and then Drona took dhanurvidya from him. After that Parasurama went to Maharanya for the sake of penance. There are some apparent inconsistencies in the above stories. It is said Drona taught dhanurvidya to Karna, Drona was the last person to receive dhanurvidya from Parasurama because the latter, surrendering his dhanurvidya in entire, left for the forests for doing penance. Then, when did Karna learn dhanurvidya from Parasurama? Could it be before Drona went to Parasurama? Then it must be accepted that Drona had not studied under Parasurarna when he was teaching the Pandavas and Kauravas. He learnt it from some where before he became the preceptor of the Pandavas, Karna after studying under Drona for some time went to Parasurama for higher studies and Drona approached Parasurama after Karna had left him.



1 Introduction 1-15
  Family Background, (2) Cause for Incarnation, (3) Birth, (4) Childhood and Education, (5) Lessons in Archery, (6) Achievements-(i) Family Enmity, (ii) Curse of the Sage, (iii) Varuna's Ridicule, (iv) Causes of the War (immediate), (v) Victory March; (7) Samantapancaka Nirmana, (8) Other Activities-(i) Meets Sri Rama, (ii) Parasurama and Sri Krsna, (iii) Present the Sabha of dharmaputra, (iv) Presence at Sabha of Kauravas, (v) As a Teacher, (vi) As a Mediator, (vii) Military Genious, (viii) Large Hearted One, (ix) As an Avatara.  
2 Struggle with Ksatriyas 16-39
  Cause of the Ksatriya Nature of Parasurama- (a) Encounters with Karttavirya Arjuna, (b) Encounter with Vinayaka, (c) Killing and revival of Renuka, (d) Killing of Jamadagni and the reaction, (e) Encounter with Varuna.  
3 Profile in Literature 40-93
  Encounter with Rama-the son of Dasaratha-(a) The Causes, (i) Valmiki Ramayana, (ii) Adhyatma Ramayana, (iii) Ananda Ramayana, (iv) Narasimha Purana, (v) Ramakirti Mahakavya (Cambodia), (vi) Rama Nataka, (vii) Mahaviracarita, (viii) Madhava Kandali Ramayana, (ix) Prasanna-raghava, (x) Ramacaritamanasa and Krttivasa Ramayana, (xi) Ranganatha Ramayana. (b) Epics-(i) Valmiki Ramayana, (ii) Mahabharata (1) Khotani Ramayana (8th Century A.D.), (2) Kamba Ramayana (9th Century A.D.), (3) The Ranganatha Ramayana (13th Century A.D.), (5) Seri Rama (14th Century A.D.), (7) The Madhava Kandali Ramayana (14th Century A.D.), (8) Torvey Ramayana (14th Century A.D. Kannada), (9) Malla Ramayana (14th Century A.D., Telugu), (10) The Krttivasa Ramayana (15th Century A.D., Bengali), (11) Jagamohana Ramayana (15th Century A.D., Oriya), (12) Ramakein (15th Century A.D., Oriya), (14) Ramacaritamanasa or Tulasidasa (16th Century A.D., Hindi), (15) Sri Ramavijaya (17th Century A.D., Marathi), (16) Kausika Ramayana (Kannada), (17) Girdhara Ramayana (19th Century A.D., Gujarati), (18) Karabi Ramayana (Assamese), Repentance of Parasurama.  
  Classical Sanskrit Literature-(1) Raghuvamsa (11.64-66, 4th Century A.D.), (2) Bhattikavya, (3) Mahaviracarita, (4) Prasannaraghava, (5) Ramavijaya Not (15th Century A.D., Sanskrit and Assamese), (6) Harivamsa Purana.  
4 The Incarnation 94-100
  Cause of Incarnation  
5 Multifarious Personality 101-106
6 The Race of Bhrgu 107-110
7 Projection in Art 111-114
  Parasurama in Foreign Lands, Description.  

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