Mahabharata : Vana Parva Part 5

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The story of Parashurama and Kartaviryarjuna
Now, there lives a very powerful warrior called Kartaviryarjuna, of the Haihaiya clan. He has many sons. He is called the thousand-armed. He has a thousand arms and nobody can defeat him. It is said of him that he even defeated Ravana. Kartaviryarjuna is so powerful that he has defeated everybody on earth and he is the lord of the earth, and hence, he has grown arrogant. His sons too, have grown arrogant. Everywhere he goes, Kartaviryarjuna treats everyone condescendingly. He does not respect the brahmanas, he does not respect the devas, and he does not even respect the rishis. He has no respect for anybody because he is extremely powerful. Hence he needs to be taught a lesson. Destiny arranges this. It is decided that Bhargava Rama would do away with him.

The story of Bhargava Rama’s birth goes like this. Rama’s father is the great rishi Jamadagni, whose father is Rishi Richika. Richika marries Satyavati(not to be confused with Satyavati, the wife of Shantanu) and Richika’s grandfather, Maharishi Bhrigu, appears and blesses their marriage. Satyavati serves Bhrigu very faithfully and hence Bhrigu is pleased. He gives her a boon. Satyavati says, “Let my mother and I have exceptional sons. “Bhrigu says, “So be it. “ On a particular day, Bhrigu tells her, “I have prepared this payasam. You and your mother should have it. You should tie the knot to a fig tree and your mother should tie the knot to a peepul tree”. A fig tree, Ashwattha, is associated with spiritual sciences. It is an extremely religious tree, while a peepul tree is supposed to be a ruling tree, a kingly tree. Such an instruction is given by Bhrigu because Satyavati’s mother desires that a powerful kshatriya be born to her, while Satyavati wishes for a very religious, pious son.

But, as per the poor advice of her mother, they exchange their instructions. When Bhrigu comes to know of this, Satyavati asks for his pardon. Bhrigu says, “You have misused what I had given you. Hence, you shall have a son who is exceptionally rajasica, a kshatriya , a ruler of men. And your mother will have a saint of a man. “ Satyavati does not want this, because her husband is a great rishi. She does not want a kshatriya to be born to her. What will the world think of her? So she begs of Bhrigu, “Let my son be a very pious person and let the son of my son be a warrior, an awesome warrior”. Bhrigu says, “So be it. “And hence, Satyavati gives birth to Jamadagni, who is an extremely pious person, although he is a master of all sciences, including the science of war and weapons.

Jamadagni marries Renuka, and they have five children, the fifth one being Parasurama, or simply called Rama. He is also called Bhargava Rama, because he is born in the line of Bhrigu, and hence is a Bhargava, a descendant of Bhrigu. Bhargava Rama is different from Dasharatha Rama-the great Rama, the hero of Ramayana. Yet, both are incarnations of Lord Vishnu. ’Rama ‘ is one who attracts all beings, who delights all beings. Many people are bored because they cannot delight in their own Self. That is why Dasharatha Rama is also called Atma Rama, because he was a person who delighted within Himself-in his own Atma. So a delightful being is called Rama. Even Bhargava Rama is a delightful person, but he is also exceptionally powerful.

Now, once on a time, the sons of Kartavidyarjuna come to the kuttira of Jamadagni while he is meditating. He is on a penance. Though he can defend himself, they defeat him and kill him. They do this because they feel slighted by Renuka, the mother of Bhargava Rama. This is due to their arrogance, and also, because their time has come. It is destiny, this was destined to happen.

The Samantapanchaka
Now, once on a time, the sons of Kartavidyarjuna come to the kuttira of Jamadagni while he is meditating. He is on a penance. Though he can defend himself, they defeat him and kill him. They do this because they feel slighted by Renuka, the mother of Bhargava Rama. This is due to their arrogance, and also, because their time has come. It is destiny, this was destined to happen.

Parasurama’s devotion to his father Jamadagni is such that once, because of a certain incident, when his father asks Rama to behead Renuka, his own mother, Rama does so without a single question. For which Jamadagni is happy, and he gives him a boon, and Rama requests, “Bring my mother back to life, and my other brothers as well. Let them be their proper self”.Jamadagni happily grants that boon. So that’s how much devoted Bhargava Rama is to Jamadagni. On seeing him dead, Rama flies into a rage and decides that he will exterminate the kshatriyas-the high-handed, haughty, arrogant kshatriyas of the entire world. He defeats Kartavidyarjuna and his sons. He kills all the kshatriyas of the earth. Multiple times, twenty times in fact, Bhargava Rama exterminates the kshatriyas, and their blood is accumulated in five pools near Kurukshetra . Rama propitiates his ancestors. His grandfather Richika appears and says to him, “Let it end here. Let there be no more war and bloodshed”.Bhargava Rama asks for a boon, “Let this place be a holy theertha”.Richika grants it, “So be it”.And that becomes the holy theertha Samantapanchaka. After this Bhargava Rama retires to Mahendragiri to do tapasya. However, he is not satisfied. His energies are still raging. He is angry.

Bhargava Rama and Raghava Rama
He hears about the birth of the great Rama-the Maryada Purusha, Purushottama, the son of Dasharatha. He goes to Ayodhya. King Dasharatha knows Parasurama is approaching his kingdom, and he send his son Rama to receive and honour him. On seeing Rama, Parasurama insults him, for which Rama flies into a rage, an all-consuming rage, which consumes the entire world. It consumes all the energy of Parasurama. And hence Parasurama loses all his energy and splendour. Then he asks Rama for forgiveness. Both are avataras of Vishnu, but Bhargava Rama’s time has come, while Dasharatha Rama is yet to begin the purpose of his existence. So when he asks for forgiveness, it is suggested to him that he go and do tapasya in Mahendragiri. He does awesome tapasya there, and regains his powers in the theertha where the Pandavas spend some time. Rishi Lomasa describes this encounter between Parasurama and Dasharatha Rama, both avataras of Vishnu Himself. These are very interesting aspects.

When we hear these stories, if we listen to them with an open heart, we will see that we are transported to a completely different dimension. It elevates our spirit and gives us a whole new vision of our lives, a whole new vision of life itself. That is an extremely transformative experience. That transformation should reach everybody in the world. But now, we are limited so much by our logical intellect, that we question all this. Questioning is not wrong, but then, we question with a closed mind. The way we question matters very much. We can question hotly, “Hey you! Is this true?” But this sort of questioning will not yield answers. We need to question with a sense of inquiry in a sincere and open-minded manner, “Is this true?” This sort of questioning yields answers over a period of time. Apart from questioning with a sense of enquiry, we should also be ready for the answers. That is why personal purification, shuddhi, of the body and mind by vrathas, have been prescribed by the rishis for everybody, so that we become open-minded, and when we ask a question, it is answered. We should be capable enough to receive those answers. That is the key thing. Otherwise there are answers, but we just cannot receive them. Now, sadly, many people are lost in a cynical attitude that they cannot receive answers.
Then, Lomasa takes the Pandavas to a theertha associated with Indra, the great Devendra. Rishi Lomasa narrates the story.

The story of Agastya Muni drinking the ocean

Once on a time, the great Vrithrasura is ruling all the three worlds, and he is a torture to all beings. Indra could not defeat him. Hence, the gods approach Brahma, and Brahma directs them to Rishi Dadichi. Dadichi readily gives up his body, so that out of his bones, could be made the great Vajrayuda-the thunderbolt of Indra. It is fashioned by Twastri, the celestial architect. Using the Vajrayuda, Indra defeats Vrithra, but even on hurling the thunderbolt and defeating Vrithra, Indra is confounded, he is confused. He is labouring under the delusion that Vrithra is pursuing him, and hence he goes and hides inside Lake Manasarovar. He becomes minute and hides himself in the stamen of a lotus, under the lake. In the absence of Indra, the devas go on fighting with the Danavas-Vrithrasura’s demon army. The Danavas plunge into the nether regions, into the sea of Varuna. From there, they start attacking the rishis, brahmanas, and everybody else. At night, they would come out, attack the rishis and return. In the morning, people would find the brahma rishis, belonging to various orders, completely emaciated and drained of their life energy. This keeps happening night after night, and nobody is able discover who is doing it. It is actually the doing of the Danavas, the Kalakeyas. Hence, finally the rishis and gods approach Brahma, and Brahma says, “There is Rishi Agastya. He will be able to do something for you”. So they humbly approach Agastya and Agastya Muni, on reaching the ocean where the Kalakeyas are hidden, just gulps up the entire ocean. Hence, the Kalakeyas are exposed and the gods defeat them, and kill many of the asuras, the Kalakeyas. When the gods return victorious, they request Agastya to release the waters into the ocean. But Agastya simply says, “No, it has been digested”.The waters of the entire ocean, gulped up by Sage Agastya, and digested! Now, where do they go for water?They again represent this to Brahma, who says, “It will take some time for the waters of the earth to be replenished. Until then, you will have to wait”.

The great Rishi Agastya is a phenomenon! In fact, in the southern part of India, especially Tamil Nadu, there is the siddha tradition, to which belong the great sidhhas – Thirumoolar, Gorakhar, Machumuni, Bhogar and many other exceptional rishis. And Rishi Agastya is the foremost of those siddhas.

The story of Agastya Muni and Vindhyachala
Once, it so happens that Vindhyachala, the Vindhya mountain, finds the sun going around Mount Meru and in his arrogance, Vindhya says, “Surya! You go around Meru. Why don’t you go around me as well?” The suns says, “No, this path has been chosen for me by the creators of the universe. How can I not follow my Dharma?This is my Dharma, and hence I shall follow it”. Vindhyachala becomes haughty, and he starts growing up and up to obstruct the path of the sun. Rishi Agastya is tasked with stunting the growth of Vindhya. So he climbs Vindhya, crosses him, and makes a request, “I am going from north to south. Until I return from the south, please stay as you are”. Vindhya gives his word, “So be it”. Agastya goes to the south, along with Lopamudra, and never returns. That’s how the pride of Vindhyachala is broken. And Vindhya stops growing. That is why, in Sanksrit, any mountain is called ‘achala’ meaning ‘unmoveable’-a famous example being Arunachala of Thiruvannamalai. So like this, many stories are narrated by Rishi Lomasa, all through the theerthayatra.