We have heard that Lord Parashurama killed Kshatriya kings one by one. He was a very angry person. So, I want to know why he killed many Kshatriya kings?

Was he alive during Ramayana and as well as Mahabharata times? Because I have heard that he did fight with the Pandava sons.

2 Answers 2


Story of Parashurama is mentioned in many Puranas and in the Mahabharata. I'm quoting a section of the Chapter 116 and 117 of the Vana Parva of Mahabharata.

Parashurama was the son of Rishi Jamadagni and Renuka.

There was once a King named Kartavirya Arjuna of the Haihaya dyanasty. Rishi Jamadagni and Renuka offered hospitality to Kartavirya Arjuna and his army at their ashram. Jamadagni had a Kamadhenu (wish fulfiling) cow that produced food etc for the King and his army. Kartavirya on seeing the cow's utility stole her away from the sage and his wife.

Once, however, O lord, when his sons had gone out as before, the valourous son of Kartavirya, the lord of the country near the shore of the sea, came up to the hermitage. And when he arrived at that hermitage, the wife of the saint received him hospitably. He, however, intoxicated with a warrior's pride, was not at all pleased with the reception accorded to him, and by force and in defiance of all resistance, seized and carried off from that hermitage the chief of the cows whose milk supplied the sacred butter, not heeding the loud lowing of the cow. And he wantonly pulled down the large trees of the wood.

When Parashurama came to know he went to Haiheya and attacked the King and decimated his army. After killing Kartavirya, by cutting off his 1000 arms Parashurama brought the cow back to the ashram.

When Rama came home, his father himself told him all that had happened. Then when Rama saw how the cow was lowing for its calf, resentment arose in his heart. And he rushed towards Kartavirya's son, whose last moments had drawn nigh. Then the descendant of Bhrigu, the exterminator of hostile heroes, put forth his valour on the field of battle, and with sharpened arrows with flattened tips, which were shot from a beautiful bow, cut down Arjuna's arms, which numbered a thousand, and were massive like (wooden) bolts for barring the door. He, already touched by the hand of death, was overpowered by Rama, his foe.

Kartavirya's sons were enraged at the murder of their father so they attacked a defenseless Jamadagni at his ashram when Parashurama and his other sons were away. They killed the rishi and stole the cow and its calf.

Then the kinsmen of Arjuna, their wrath excited against Rama, rushed at Jamadagni in his hermitage, while Rama was away. And they slew him there; for although his strength was great, yet being at the time engaged in penances, he would not fight. And while thus attacked by his foes, he repeatedly shouted the name of Rama in a helpless and piteous way. And, O Yudhishthira, the sons of Kartavirya shot Jamadagni, with their arrows, and having thus chastised their foe, went their way. And when they had gone away, and when Jamadagni had breathed his last, Rama, the delight of Bhrigu's race, returned to the hermitage, bearing in his arms, fuel for religious rites. And the hero beheld his father who had been put to death.

Parashurama on seeing his father dead made a vow to kill all Kshatriya generations as they sprung up.

And Rama, the conqueror of hostile cities, cremated his father on the funeral pyre, and vowed, O scion of Bharata's race, the slaughter of the entire military caste, and of exceeding strength in the field of battle, and possessed of valour suited to a heroic soul, and comparable to the god of death himself, he took up his weapon in wrathful mood, and singlehanded put Kartavirya's sons to death. And, O chieftain of the military caste, Rama, the leader of all capable of beating their foes, thrice smote down all the Kashatriya followers of Kartavirya's sons. And seven times did that powerful lord exterminate the military tribes of the earth. In the tract of land, called Samantapanchaka five lakes of blood were made by him.

Canto 9 Chapter 15 of Srimad Bhagvatam gives reasons why Parashurama killed the kshatriyas.

SB 9.15.14 — Learned scholars accept this Paraśurāma as the celebrated incarnation of Vāsudeva who annihilated the dynasty of Kārtavīrya. Paraśurāma killed all the kṣatriyas on earth twenty-one times.

SB 9.15.15 — When the royal dynasty, being excessively proud because of the material modes of passion and ignorance, became irreligious and ceased to care for the laws enacted by the brāhmaṇas, Paraśurāma killed them. Although their offense was not very severe, he killed them to lessen the burden of the world.

Chapters 74-76 of Bala Kanda of Ramayana describes a meeting between Rama and Parashurama. After Rama breaks the bow of Shiva at Sita Swayamvar,

Parashurama accosts the wedding party and challenges Rama to string the bow of Vishnu. Rama does so and asks Parashurama what should be his target as an arrow stretched on the bow should not be wasted. Parashurama allows him to destory his tapasya merit and returns to Mt Mahendra.

In that catastrophic darkness, that sand-muffled military of king Dasharatha has seen the son of Sage Jamadagni, namely Bhaargava Rama, the subjugator of kings of kings.

"Oh, valiant Rama of Dasharatha, your valour is bruited as a sensational valour, and sensational is your smashing of Shiva's bow,

That way, smashing of that particular bow of Shiva is wondrous and even unimaginable... on hearing that alone I happened upon you, bringing another outranking bow...

This alone is that catastrophic bow received through Sage Jamadagni... flex it with an arrow on bowstring stretching up to your ear, and in that way show your capability... Thereby, on examining your strength in your taking aim with this bow, and should you be deservedly valorous, I will give you a combative duel..." So said Parashu Rama to Dasharatha Rama.

Raghava, the nimble-handed vanquisher of his opponents, speaking thus in high dudgeon expropriated that estimable weapon, namely the longbow of Vishnu, from the hand of Bhaargava Rama, along with the long-arrow that is already fitted on it...

Then, when Rama is ready to take aim with the arrow on that inscrutable longbow, and when the worlds are being rendered as insentient, then that Rama of Jamadagni is rendered vigourless and he stared up at Rama of Dasharatha.

Rama of Jamadagni is calloused as his vitality is subdued by the radiance of that lotus-petal eyed Rama of Dasharatha, and he spoke to Rama of Dasharatha, slowly and softly.

"Once, when I donated entire earth to Sage Kashyapa, Kashyapa told me 'uninhabitable is my domain, viz., this earth for you...' thus...

"Such as I was, in my observance of my mentor Kashyapa's order I do not spend nights on this earth from then afterwards, oh, Kakutstha Rama, as I made over this earth for Kashyapa, indeed... Thereby oh, valiant one, it will be inapt of you to impair this motility of mine, oh, Raghava, I will depart with the speed of cerebration to Mt. Mahendra, a par excellent mountain... But I triumphed over matchless realms of heavens with my ascesis, oh, Rama, you may hash them up with that irreversible arrow... let there be no time-lag... I have realized your touch of nature as that of the Immutable Supreme Being, God of Gods, the Exterminator of the demon Madhu, namely Vishnu, by the touch of your handling that bow... oh, enemy-inflamer, blessedness alone betides you...

While Rama of Jamadagni is speaking that way, that venturesome and blessed Rama of Dasharatha shot off that nonpareil arrow from that longbow of Vishnu. On seeing all of his realms of heavens are shot-blasted by Rama of Dasharatha, Rama of Jamadagni vanished in a trice to Mt. Mahendra, the heavenly mountain.

Parashurama is referenced numerous times in Mahabharata. He was the guru of Bhishma, Drona and Karna. He also fought with Bhishma which is described in this answer.

Adi Parva Ch 101

And Ganga said, 'O tiger among men, that eighth son whom thou hadst some time before begat upon me is this.

And all the weapons known to the powerful and invincible Rama, the son of Jamadagni are known to this thy illustrious son of mighty arms. O king of superior courage, take this thy own heroic child given unto thee by me.

Adi Parva Chapter 132:

O king, it was about this time that Drona heard that the illustrious Brahmana Jamadagnya, that slayer of foes, that foremost one among all wielders of weapons, versed in all kinds of knowledge, had expressed a desire of giving away all his wealth to Brahmanas. Having heard of Rama's knowledge of arms and of his celestial weapons also, Drona set his heart upon them as also upon the knowledge of morality that Rama possessed.

'O thou of ascetic wealth, returned Rama, 'My gold and whatever other wealth I had, have all been given away unto Brahmanas! I have now my body only and my various valuable weapons left. I am prepared to give either my body or my weapons. Say, which thou wouldst have! I would give it thee! Say quickly!'

"Drona answered, O son of Bhrigu, it behoveth thee to give me all thy weapons together with the mysteries of hurling and recalling them.'

"Saying, 'So be it,' the son of Bhrigu gave all his weapons unto Drona,--indeed, the whole science of arms with its rules and mysteries.

Santi Parva Chapter 2

When Drona had answered thus, Karna, having worshipped him, obtained his leave, and proceeded without delay to Rama then residing on the Mahendra mountains. Approaching Rama, he bent his head unto him and said, 'I am a Brahmana of Bhrigu's race.' This procured honour for him. With this knowledge about his birth and family, Rama received him kindly and said, 'Thou art welcome!' at which Karna became highly glad.

Parashurama was present in the Kaurava court when Krishna came to arrange a peace treaty with Duryodhana. He tried to counsel Duryodhana and narrated the story of Nara Narayana as referenced in Udyoga Parva Ch 128

"Vaisampayana said, 'Hearing these words uttered by the high-souled Kesava, all the persons who sat in that assembly remained silent, their hair standing on their ends. And all the kings thought within themselves that there was no man who could dare reply to that speech. And seeing that all the kings sat silent, Jamadagni's son (addressing Duryodhana) then said these words in that assembly of Kurus, 'Listen confidingly to my words illustrated by an example, and seek thy own good if my speech recommends itself to thee.

Chapter 39 of Harivamsa Parva of the Harivamsa describes a meeting between Krishna Balarama and Parashurama when they are fleeing from Jarasandha. I am only quoting the paragraph when they see him. The entire story is given in the link.

(vaishampAyana said) Saying this, both sa~NkarShaNa (balarAma) and kR^iShNa, competent, proceeded on the southern route, without any anxiety. Those two, capable of taking forms they desire, traveled in many countries in the southern direction. The south bound valiant balarAma and kR^iShNa happily went along the beautiful places behind the sahya mountains.

Under that tree, ( both together saw) the sage, sparkling with the wealth of penance, carrying the axe on his shoulder, wearing twisted locks of hair and bark garments. (Both together saw) the sage, sparkling like yellow flames of fire, with a splendour similar to sun, who caused the death of kShatriya-s, imperturbable, appearing like ocean, personified. (Both together saw the sage) seated in a posture, having worshipped the sacred fire and taken ritual bath thrice as ordained, like the preceptor of deva-s. (Both together saw the sage) residing on the mahendra mountain, preparing to milk the white kAmadhenu, the divine cow with its calf. Both together saw rAma, bhArgava, the tireless, eternal sage without any decline seated like the sun on mount mandara.

Seeing the sage, both the valiant sons of vasudeva, sparkling like the sacrificial fire, worshipped his feet as ordained.

Parashurama was seen by the Pandavas and some sages on Mt Mahendra when the latter were on their Tirtha Yatra. However I can't find any references of him having fought the Pandavas sons.

"Vaisampayana said, 'Then on the fourteenth day of the moon, the mighty-souled Rama at the proper hour showed himself to those members of the priestly caste and also to the virtuous king (Yudhishthira) and his younger brothers. And, O king of kings, the lord together with his brothers, worshipped Rama, and, O most righteous of the rulers of men, the very highest honours were paid by him to all those members of the twice-born class. And after worshipping Jamadagni's son and having received words of praise from him, at his direction he spent the night on the Mahendra hill, and then started on his journey towards the southern regions.'"

  • In Bhagvat purana the Shreemad Bhagvatam the precise answer is also given. Its said that Vasudeva (Lord Vishnu) took this avatara who annihilated the dynasty of Kārtavīrya (i.e. Haihaya clan of Kshatriyas) because at that time they were excessively proud because of the material modes of passion and ignorance, became irreligious.He killed them to lessen the burden of the world. Sep 5, 2017 at 9:03
  • @SwiftPushkar Thanks a lot for the additional info :D I remembered this verse was somewhere. But I didn't know it was in Srimad Bhagvatam. I was searching for it.
    – Arya
    Sep 8, 2017 at 17:11
  • I even heard of a story of Parshuram teaching Yudhishthira and attending the Rajasuya Yajna during Sabha Parva. Feb 10, 2018 at 10:57

According to Puranas, Parasurama was the 6th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He makes a brief appearance in Srimad Ramayana in penultimate Sargas of Bala Kanda.

His story was described in those penultimate Sargas of Bala Kanda of Srimad Ramayana as follows:

Vishnu handed over a supreme bow to Sage Riciika, the son of Bhrigu, as a trustworthy trust. That great-resplendent Sage Riciika on his part has handed over this divine bow to his son Sage Jamadagni.

Adhering to a barbarous mentality Kaartvaviirya Arjuna put Sage Jamadagni to death.

वधम् अप्रतिरूपम् तु पितुः श्रुत्वा सु दारुणम् | क्षत्रम् उत्सादयन् रोषात् जातम् जातम् अनेकशः || पृथिवीम् च अखिलाम् प्राप्य काश्यपाय महात्मने | यज्ञस्य अन्ते तदा राम दक्षिणाम् पुण्य कर्मणे || दत्त्वा महेन्द्र निलयः तपो बल समन्वितः | श्रुत्वा तु धनुषो भेदम् ततो अहम् द्रुतम् आगतः || तत् एवम् वैष्णवम् राम पितृ पैतामहम् महत् | क्षत्र धर्मम् पुरस् कृत्य गृह्णीष्व धनुर् उत्तमम् || (Bala kanda 75th Sarga 24 -27 Slokas)

“On hearing the unregenerate and highly perfidious murdering of my father, I rancorously extirpated Kshatriya-s as and when they are born, that too not for one time, going around the earth... and on getting the entire earth under my control I performed Vedic-ritual, and at the end of that Vedic-ritual, I gave all that earth to sage Kashyapa, a sage with divine soul and with pious observances, as a ritualistic-generosity... and I am at present on Mt. Mahendra practising ascesis and thus conjoined are the powers of ascesis in me."

"On hearing about the breakage of Shiva's longbow, then I promptly came here. Thereby, oh, Rama, wield this supernatural and superlative longbow of Vishnu, which is passed on to me from my forefathers and my father. Keep your fealty to Kshatriya-hood in view, and wield this as you have wielded Shiva's longbow”

The Story of Parasurama also appears in Mahabharata, wherein it was mentioned that Drona obtained all his divine weapons from the former.

Drona heard that the illustrious Brahmana Jamadagnya, Rama the son of Jamadagni, had expressed a desire of giving away all his wealth to Brahmanas. Having heard of Rama's knowledge of arms and of his celestial weapons also, Drona, who set his heart upon them as also upon the knowledge of morality that Rama possessed, set out for the Mahendra mountains.

Arrived at Mahendra, Drona approached Rama the son of Jamadagni, worshipped Rama's feet, and told him that he came there with the desire of obtaining his wealth.'

On hearing him, Rama said that he gave away his gold and whatever other wealth he had to Brahmanas! He further stated that the earth also, to the verge of the sea, decked with towns and cities, as with a garland of flowers, was given unto Kasyapa. And, he added that he was left with his body only and his various valuable weapons and that he was prepared to give either his body or his weapons.

Drona prayed to give him all his weapons together with the mysteries of hurling and recalling them and Rama gave all his weapons to Drona,

If we study these 2 stories in depth, we will find 2 contradictions.

1) If the Parasu Rama the son of Jamadagni extirpated Kshatriya-s many times by going around the earth, then lineage of both Ikshvaku's, to which Dasaratha belonged, and Nimi's, to which Janaka belonged to, must have been broken, as Parasu Rama might have eliminated Kshatriya-s of both lineages.

However, while describing the lineages of Ikshvaku's and Nimi's during the marriage ceremony of Sri Rama and Sita, Sage Valmiki did not mention about breakage of those lineages due to Parasu Rama's adventures.

2) In Mahabharata it was mentioned that Drona obtained all his divine weapons from Parasu Rama.

Mahabharata followed Srimad Ramayana, as mention about Sri Rama can be found in Mahabharata but not about Pandavas in Srimad Ramayana. Many such instances can be quoted.

So if Parasu Rama distributed all his riches along with entire land on earth to Kashyapa and retired to Mt. Mahendra for practising ascesis,bduring Ramayan era itself, how can he still wait in the main land, for Drona of Mahabharata era for imparting knowledge in divine weapons, and then retire to Mt. Mahendra?

The answer is clear.

Parasu Rama existed only in Mahabharata era but not in Srimad Ramayana era.

  • Sri Ram mentions Parashuram killing his mother Renuka in Ayodhya Kanda as well to Kaushalya. Jan 11, 2023 at 7:36

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