Shatashloki 27: Paraśurama challenges Rama for a combat

The marriage party was calmly proceeding towards Ayodhya. The trees and the woods were all unruffled and peaceful. There was great merriment in the hearts of everyone. From here begin the plays (leelas) of Rama.

All of a sudden, many evil omens became visible. The birds began to shriek horrendously. Normally, when the deer are grazing peacefully in the forest and if suddenly a wild animal were to approach the precincts, the birds begin to chirp loudly and differently. Whether they do so to warn the deer or out of fear is unknown but what is known is that suddenly a disturbance is caused in the otherwise peaceful surroundings. In the similar manner, the sudden frightful shrieking of the birds brought about a grave apprehension in the minds of all.

To add to this, sudden powerful and strong winds that had the capacity to shake up the entire earth began to blow. Huge trees came crashing down to earth.  A huge screen of dust covered everything. The next instant darkness enveloped the earth. Unable to withstand this fury of nature, Dasaratha’s entire army was scattered. Almost everyone swooned. Barring the great sages, the 4 brothers and their father everyone else was nervous. Unable to even move, they were helplessly standing.

Why were ill omens being heard at an auspicious hour? They had left Mithila at an auspicious hour and the newly weds were still in their marriage attire. Could it be that some demons were coming to attack them, they wondered.

All of a sudden, from that impenetrable darkness, a bright illumination like the pralaya kalagni (the huge fire at the time of dissolution) was visible. A person as huge as the Mount Kailasa was approaching them. He had large curly locks. From his shoulders a huge axe was hanging. The arrows in his hand were glittering like lightening. He was holding an enormous bow. He was none other than Parashurama!

Seeing him, the sages were dismayed. ‘O God, why did he arrive at such auspicious time’ they thought. To be quiet was meaningless at that point of time. It would not solve the problem on hand. Hence all the sages reverentially worshipped him.

Parashurama however behaved as if they were nonexistent. His gaze was entirely focused on Dasharatha’s son Rama. Addressing Rama, he shouted, “Rama, I have heard a lot about your prowess. I have come here solely to see you. I have with me a mighty bow that belonged to my father, Sage Jamadagni. If you can hold my bow and string it, only then I shall accept your greatness. I seek to combat with you.”

Dasharatha was totally perturbed. Joining his hands, he appealed to Parashurama in various ways, trying to secure the safety of his son, but it was of no avail. Parashurama was undaunted and without even caring for the pleas of the emperor, he continued to address Rama, and said, “Rama, the bow that you broke and this bow that I hold are equally mighty. Vishwakarma created both of them. Of the two bows, one was given to Shiva for the destruction of the demon Tripurasura. The second bow was handed over to Lord Vishnu. That which you broke was Shiva’s bow. That which I hold is Vishnu’s bow.

This mighty bow was given to my ancestor Sage Ruchika. Thereafter my father the revered Sage Jamadagni had it in his possession. He was a great sage. Kartaviryarjuna mercilessly killed my revered father. In uncontrollable anger, I went around the globe and killed all kshatriyas (warrior clan). I conquered the entire earth. Thereafter I gifted away this entire earth to Maharishi Kashyapa.

While I was seated in Mountain Mahendra in penance, I came to know of you. I heard that you had broken the Shiva’s bow. If you are a true Kshatriya (warrior), take this bow and string it. Come and battle with me”. Parashurama thus commanded Rama.

Om Seeta Ramaabhyaam namaha.

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