Photo Courtesy: Brahman Sabha, Moti Nagar, New Delhi, India

Today, the 14th May, as per Hindu calendar is Akshay Tritya. That is the birthday of Bhagvan Parshuram. As per Hindu Literature, Bhagvan Parshuram was the 6th Incarnation of Adi-purush Vishnu. He was an incarnation before Bhagvan Rama Chandra and Bhagvan Krishna Chandra, the 7th, and the 8th Incarnations, respectively.

I used two terms above, Bhagvan and Adi- purus. These terms are not in common lexicon these days; therefore, a few words.

Bhagvan is a divine human being born from the womb of a mother. Bhgavan has biological birth and death. Adi- purush is beyond biological birth and death. In Sanskrit called ‘Swayambhu’)

In the Hindu culture, there are three Adi- purush, namely,

  1. Brahma
  2. Vishnu
  3. Mahesh (aka Shiv, Shankar)

Indeed, while Hindu devotees worship three Adi- purush, using their Murtis or Pictures as props, they actually represent three primordial forces, namely,

  1. Generation
  2. Operation
  3. Decay (or Destruction to regenerate)

Anything and everything you observe on this planet and beyond has these three elements, namely, birth, sustenance and decay or death. ‘Adi’ in Sanskrit means the beginning. These three are there from the very beginning of this universe and will be there after all are gone. That is why they are called Adi- purush. They are functionalities of the ‘Purush’.

What or Who is Purush? In Hindu literature, Purush also known as Parmatama or Ishwar is the Supreme Creator of All. He is the beginning and end of All. Adi- purush are the functionalities of the ‘Purush’ phenomenon.

If it is becoming too complex to comprehend, no issues, no surprise. That has been the power of our Rishis (ancient Researchers and Scholars). Let’s appreciate rather than unaccepting or baselessly criticizing in the name of science and modernity.

Indian Sages and Seers tried to answer most complex questions of life like Where do we all come from? And, where do we all go?

Like to have an out of the ordinary experience yourself?

Just think about these two questions: Where do we all come from? And, where do we all go after death?

You will transcend out of your gross body  to thought body. In Hindu literature, every human being has been described to have three bodies, namely, gross or physical body, thought or intellectual body and cause body.

Well, this has to be done to experience. Off the cuff, unaccepting or criticizing these concepts, ideas, and thoughts, without experimenting is no science. The methods of science demand observation, analysis, conclusion, validation, and revalidation. Concluding something without undertaking the initial steps is no science or modernity.

A good hearted friend of mine made a nice lighter of those two questions. He said, in USA, we all come from different parts of the world and end up in USA. He further added that since everyone in this country drives car, USA is truly an in-car- nation.

Now coming back to the term Bhagvan; In addition to being born from the womb of a mother, Bhagvan is like expressing your reverence for those who so distinguishably lived. In Hindu culture, there are 6 qualifications to be satisfied to be called Bhagvan. According to Parashar Muni, a great sage and scholar of ancient times, anybody can be Bhagvan, if he (or she) has six opulences, namely,

  1. Supreme Power,
  2. Supreme Knowledge,
  3. Wealth,
  4. Fame,
  5. Beauty,
  6. Renunciation.

If you review it in modern context, many may meet more than one qualification, but mostly they would fail Renunciation and Supreme Knowledge.

At another level, in Hindu culture, Bhagvan is an acronym of 5 elements of the mother Nature, expressed in Sanskrit as  Bhumi (earth), Agni (fire), Gagan (Space or Ether), Vayu (Air) and Neer (water). Bhagvan is one who combines the qualities of these five elements of nature in one’s daily life. The prime qualities of nature are equity, accommodation, tolerance, supporting others and detachment.

Now having discussed, concepts of Bhagvan, Purush and Adi- purush, let me tell you more about the life of Bhagvan Parshuram. His references are available in Ramayana, Bhagvad Puran, Mahabharata and Ramcharit Manas. All these literature are readily available on

His Father’s name was Rishi Jamdganya. His Mother’s name was Renuka. He was Brahmin by ‘Varna’ (class at birth). He was expected to grow up as a Brahmin (Intellectual, Teacher, Researcher, author), but he grew up and performed the duties of a Kshatriya (Warrior class).

That was the time when some Kings (kshatriyas) of the time had become barbaric and cruel to their subjects. He stood for rights of the common citizens. He fought and killed many such kings and donated all those kingdoms to Rishi Kashyap (academic).

He was the teacher of such illustrious warriors like Bhishama,  Guru Dronacharya and Karan of Mahabharta.

The legend has it that he visited King Janak at the time of Sita Swayamvar (wedding), highly infuriated when he learned that Rama has Broken Shiv Dhanush (Shiva’s Bow) as part of the condition of marriage set up by King Janak. Unfortunately, Based on the dialogue of Bhagvan Parshuram and Lakshmana  as written in Ramcharit Manas,  and dramatized in ‘Ram Leelas’, he has been painted as an Angry Brahmin.

The truth is elsewhere. Ramcharit Manas states (but who cares to read and be excited about positives; negatives sell much better; then and now) that what Rama broke  (defused) in Swayamvar was Shiv Dhanus (the Most Lethal Weapon of the sect of Shaivites, as per legend). At that time there were two sects, Shaivites having Shiv Dhanush and Vaishanvites having Vishnu Dhanush. Shiv Dhanush was in the custody of King Janak and Vishnu Dhanush was in the custody of Bhagvan Parshuram. By defusing Shiv Dhanush, the balance of power between Vaishnavites and Shaivites was disturbed in favor of Vaishanvites. That actually infuriated him. He asked Rama to defuse Vishnu Dhanush also that was in his custody to see that the balance of power is restored. Once done he happily walked away, blessing Rama as the symbol of equity and justice, to Mahendra Parvat (Mountain), now in Kerala. Kerala has been known to be the land of Gods. Kerala is still famous for ancient Ayurveda treatment for wellness.

Bhagvan Parshuram  was also known by other names like Jamdaganya Rama, Bhargav Rama, Veerrama. But he was famous as Parshurama because he had earned Parsa (Farsa) in a  boon from Lord Shiva by offering strictest penance and then killing with that Parsa (Farsa) many barbaric and cruel kings of his time to re-establish rights of the common man.

The traditional celebration of Bhagvan Parshuram Jayanti in India is done by fasting overnight and praying next morning for the wellbeing of the commoners.  You may do that, but it will be worthwhile, if we revisit his life, pick up some good lessons and adopt those in our life. Some important lessons that we may take from Bhagvan Parsuram’s life are:

 1.Be Brave.

2. Protect the rights of common persons.

3. Live as the situation demands rather than living in the conventional mold.

4. Balance of power between adversaries can be achieved either by having equally powerful weapons, or none by both.

5. A ruler who mistreats his subjects has no reason to be a ruler.

6. Yours etc.

Much has now changed since then while principles and values of good life remain by and large the same. We have very few kingdoms, where the position of the King (Ruler) is by birth. We have more Republics. In Republics , there should be no space for Parsa (or bullets). It should be by ballot alone. The elected representatives must no  doubt care for the wellbeing of common citizens more than select few wealthy and their business interests.

Two intriguing questions, before I close:

  1. Why Adi- purush Vishnu’s incarnations?
  2. Why incarnations of Adi-purush Vishnu only?

The answer to the questions when and why incarnation of Adi-purush Vishnu  as divine human being has been readily available in Bhagvad Gita (4/ 7 & 8).

Bhagvad Gita (4/7) states:

यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत |
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् || 7||

yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya tadātmāna

Meaning, Adi-purush Vishnu incarnates himself as Divine Human Being whenever there is decline of righteousness and rise of unrighteosness in the society.

Bhagvad Gita (4/8) states:

परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् |
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे || 8||

paritrāāya sādhūnā vināśhāya cha duhkitām
āpanārthāya sambhavāmi yuge

Meaning, Why Adi-purush Vishnu incarnates as divine human being, from time to time, is to support the good and destroy the evil and thereby re-establish righteousness in the society.

To the question, why incarnation of Vishnu only and not that of Brahma or Mahesh?

In my opinion, it is because Adi- purush Vishnu signify sustenance of life and society. Life and society are a period of time event and transitory. Whenever the goodness declines and evil grips life and society, Adi- purush Vishnu incarnates as Bhagvan to re-establish righteousness in the society. What is the indication of righteousness? That is when citizens live happily and fulfilled.

The functionalities of Brahma (Birth) and Mahesh (Death) are point of time events in the cycle of life; no physical transition to be sustained.

DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.