Parashurama in Mahabharata:
|PARASHURAMA - THE ANNIHILATOR OF KSHATRIYAS
According to references in the Mahabharata, there was a king ruling Kashi (Benaras).
He had three daughters named Amba, Ambika and Ambalika. They had reached marriageable
age and the king arranged a Swayamvara for finding bridegrooms for them. The
contenders had to participate in a battle and the victorious princes would marry
A king named Shantanu was ruling in another kingdom Hastinavati. Devavrata was
his son. The queen had left Shantanu for some reason and the latter wanted to
marry again. To fulfill his father's desire, Devavrata undertook to fulfill two
vows - that he would not become a king and that he would not marry. He came to
be known as Bhishma signifying these vows. Upon the death of Shantanu, Bhishma
crowned his step brother Vichitravirya as the king.
Bhishma came to know of the 'Swayamvara' of the Kashi king's daughters and thought
it would be a good idea to marry the girls to his brother. He attended the assembly,
defeated all other princes, brought the three princesses, and asked Vichitravirya
to marry them.
Ambika and Ambalika agreed for this proposal. However, Amba, from the beginning,
wanted to marry the king of Salwa. She requested Bhishma to send her to that
prince. He accordingly agreed and sent her away. But the Salwa king refused to
marry her as she had been taken away after victory in a contest. Amba came back
to Bhishma and entreated him to marry her. An avowed celibate, he did not wish
to depart from that state of life.
Amba knew that Bhishma highly respected Parashurama and would not say 'no' to
the latter's words. So she went to him and narrated her story. Parashurama thereupon
accompanied her to see Bhishma and said: "Bhishma, marry this girl." Bhishma
replied, "I cannot do so. If I do, it would be breaking my vow." Parashurama
and Bhishma thereupon engaged themselves in a battle and the fighting went on
for many days. Both were valiant and could not be vanquished. Ultimately, they
stopped fighting and returned to their places. Amba, a dejected damsel, threw
herself into fire and died.
As mentioned earlier, Parashurama had learnt archery from Lord Shiva himself
and had mastered all the fine points of that discipline. It was said that Shiva
was very pleased with his disciple's prowess and had bestowed him with the axe;
Goddess Parvati had blessed and given him many fine weapons. Many young men were
coming to him for training in the art of archery.
But Parashurama would not teach the Kshatriya. He felt that a weapon the hands
of an evil person would pose a danger to the pious. Karna was a hero of Mahabharata.
He was separated from his mother at a very young age. He desired that he should
learn archery from Parashurama. Karna decided to act as a Brahmin boy and went
to Parashurama. Parashurama taught Karna and in fact was very pleased to notice
the keen interest and capabilities of Karna. He became a particularly beloved
pupil of Parashurama and continued his training to reach greater heights.
Indra, the king of the Devas, had a special affection towards Arjuna, one of
the five Pandava brothers, because the latter had been born to Pandava's mother
Kunti by his (Indra's) blessings. Indra knew that Pandava's had to wage war against
their cousins, the Kauravas led by Prince Duryodhana, and that Karna would be
the right hand man of the prince. He decided that Karna had to be vanquished
so a to ward off danger to Arjuna.