Parashurama is one of seven immortals whose life spans countless generations.  Of Vishnu's 10 main avatars, Parashurama is the only one that has lived side by side with other avatars.  In the chronology of avatars, Parashurama is the sixth avatara, born of sage Jamadagni and Renuka.  Parashurama was born to humble oppressive and tyrannical rulers of India.  21 major wars, with countless battles, resulted in the warrior caste being almost reduced to extinction.

Next avatar of Vishnu was as a warrior prince Rama.  Parashurama tried to intervene, but was politely rebuffed and told to butt out and let the current avatar carry out the task at hand.

During the time of the 8th avatar, Shri Krushna, Parashurama plays the role of "teacher" to 3 generals in the great battle of Mahabharata.  Curiously, all three generals he taught were on the losing side - Bhishma, Drona and Karna.

Parashurama was well known for teaching his battle skills only to Brahmins.  He seems to have made an exception and taught Bhishma, scion of the Bharata dynasty.   When princess Amba of Kashi was rejected by her suitor, abductor and intended husband, she turned Parashurama to force Bhishma to marry her.  Despite a long dual, Parashurama, who had previously demolished countless armies, was unable to assail Bhishma.  It's important to know when to use your power but it's also crucial to know when to resign these powers gracefully.  Countless businessmen and politicians of over ripe age hold on to power long beyond their useful period.

Amba blamed Bhishma for ruining her life and performed terrible taap to please Shiva.  When asked to seek a boon worthy of her taap, Amba asked to be revenged on Bhishma and be the cause of his death !  What a waste of a boon from Shiva !  Reborn as a transgender princess Shikhandi, Amba became one of the generals on the Pandava side and helped shield Arjun as he battled to defeat his grand uncle Bhishma.

Parashurama taught Drona all his skills in warfare and weapons - divine and mundane.  Drona taught these skills to the Kuru princes.  Pandavas and Kauravas used this knowledge to terrible effect in the Mahabharata battle, causing rivers of blood to flow in the same region where Parashurama had filled 5 pools of blood several generations ago !  Parashurama's students resurrected memories of those terrible, bloody massacres of the past.

Parashurama also taught Karna, who had come to him to learn the art of war under pretext of being a Brahmin.  When outed as a Suta, Prashurama cursed Karna for having deceived him.  Parashuram's curse made it difficult for Karna to remember the correct mantra under the stress of the battle.  Having lost his ability to counter Arjun's ceaseless bombardment of missiles, Karna succumbed to his injuries and died when an arrow took off his head.

According to various regional legends, Parashurama has reclaimed the coastal lands beyond the Sayehadri range of the Western Ghat mountains.  Parashurama is also credited for having founded several pilgrimage sites and installed deities in several temples including the famous Kanya Kumari at the Southern most tip of India - Cape Kaumarin.

One of the chief lessons of Parashurama tale is knowing when to act, when to cease and when to resign gracefully.  Not resigning at the right time can lead to embarrassment for you and others around you.  Not resigning voluntarily and instead being forced to resign can also taint your fame.  Parashurama was partial in his teachings.  He taught very specific group of students (Brahmins), shutting out other able and talented students from rest of society.  Sorry tale of his students show that education should be given according to merit and not according to birth.



A more logical reason for Parashurama’s presence through various reigns of kings could be more mundane.  It is possible that the original Parashurama set up an institution to strengthen the hand of Brahmins and make sure they do not forget persecution and penury visited upon them in the past.  After him, all those who took over the running of the “Parashuram  institute” were given the title of Parashurama.  This could explain the reason for “Parashurama” having taught various great warriors through the ages.


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