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We know that Parashurama killed his mother Renuka without a blink on his father's Jamadgani's command. But Manusmriti 2.145 says

In veneration, the Preceptor excels ten Sub-teachers; the Father a hundred preceptors, and the Mother a thousand Fathers.

So why did Parashurama obey his father's command ?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – The Destroyer Feb 17 at 5:52
  • Does this answer your question? Did Parashurama perform any expiation for killing his mother? – CR241 Feb 19 at 1:53
  • @CR241 - No it doesn't. I am interested in why he did it first place. If logic is that he was aware of what is going to happen in future (i.e. his father bring back his mother to life , and he being pardoned for the same ) then with such reductionism can very well be extended to everything else – Carmen sandiego Feb 19 at 2:12
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After reading Medhātithi’s commentary in Manusmriti 2.145 and 2.146, it seems that I might have an answer. Turns out Parashurama obeyed the orders because he didn't consider them to come from his father but from his "Guru" (i.e. person who taught him Vedas) who also happened to be his father.

From Manusmriti 2.146

Between the progenitor and the imparter of the veda, the imparter of the veda is the more venerable father; for the brāhmaṇa’s “birth” is the veda, eternally,—here as well as after death.—(146)

Now this seems to be contradicts 2.145. And Manusmriti 2.171 in support of 2.146 adds

They call the Teacher “father,” on account of his imparting the Veda. Before the tying of the girdle, the performance of no religious act is proper for him.

Now the transliterated 2.145 verse is

upādhyāyān daśācārya ācāryāṇāṃ śataṃ pitā | sahasraṃ tu pitṝn mātā gauraveṇātiricyate || 145 ||

And the seemingly contradiction with Manusmriti 2.146 is explained by Medhātithi as follows

Ācārya’ is not one who teaches; hence in the present verse the term stands for one who only performs the sacramental rites and teaches merely the rules of conduct;—Ācārya being one who makes one learn ā cāra....From all this it is clear that the superiority of the father here meant is only over that person who confers upon one only a slight benefit, who only performs the Initiatory Rite and teaches the Rules of Conduct, and does not do any teaching.

Thus dharma was upheld as Parashurama obeyed his Guru's command who is superior to parents

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What Manu smriti stated is a general rule, when everything is going on in normal way.

However, in the instant case, Renuka got swayed away by the charms of the King Chitraratha's appearance and her mind got polluted. Hence, the general rule of Manu Smriti cannot be applied here and hence, the orders of father got precedence.

Now once upon a time, when her sons had gone out for the purpose of gathering fruits, Renuka who had a pure and austere life, went out to bathe. And, O king, while returning home, she happened to cast her glance towards the king of Martikavata, known by the name of Chitraratha.

The king was in the water with his wives, and wearing on his breast a lotus wreath, was engaged in sport. And beholding his magnificent form, Renuka was inspired with desire. And this unlawful desire she could not control, but became polluted within the water, and came back to the hermitage frightened at heart.

Her husband readily perceived what state she was in. And mighty and powerful and of a wrathful turn of mind, when he beheld that she had been giddy and that the lustre of chastity had abandoned her, he reproached her by crying out 'Fie!'

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  • @Ketan: Do you want me to include this issue in my answer? – Srimannarayana K V Feb 17 at 4:30
  • If you think if it make sense then pls do. I think this verse gives an impression that superiority feeling towards mother goes away when she is unfaithful. Thank you – Ketan Feb 17 at 4:34
  • Parshurama didn't know that his mother's mind had wandered. Besides the atonement for a woman's mind wandering is not death. – Carmen sandiego Feb 17 at 4:35
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    As per my understanding, Dharma is very subtle. It should be understood based on 3 parameters, ie, Time,place and local custom. For example:in the present scenario, marriage between cousins in North India is not acceptable but is acceptable in South India. In Mahabharata Arjuna and Subhadra got married inspite of being cousins. @JohnRay – Srimannarayana K V Mar 19 at 11:55

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