After the wedding of Sita and Sri Rama, Viswamitra left for the Himalayas. Janaka showered Dasaratha, his sons-in law and his daughters with gifts. The gifts included cows, horses, elephants, chariots, gold, pearls and corals. He then took leave of Dasaratha and left for Mithila.
Suddenly there was a solar eclipse, a big gale, trees fell, birds shrieked and the deer ran right. Vasishtha interpreted these as a mixture of bad and good omens. Other than the rishis, Dasaratha and his sons, everyone lost their consciousness.
“In that fearful darkness the army looking as though it was covered with ashes, king Dasaratha beheld the repressor of kings, the descendent of Bhrugu and son of Jamadagni who was dreadful and wearing a crown of matted hair. He was inaccessible like Kailasa mountain and difficult to endure like the fire at the time of dissolution. Common people were incapable of gazing at his blazing energy. Hanging his axe on his shoulder and holding a bow in his hand resembling a group of lightenings and a principal arrow, he looked like Siva at the time of slaying of Tripura.”… Ramayana
Vasishtha and the other rishis started talking to each other, wondering whether Parasurama, who had stopped exterminating the Kshatriyas in revenge for his father’s death at the hands of Karthaveerya Arjuna, wanted to restart the fight again. They offered him water (Arghyam – water for washing hands?) and spoke to him in sweet tones.
Parasurama then addressed Sri Rama.
Parasurama told Sri Rama, the story of the two bows, one of Vishnu and one of Siva, both made by Viswakarma for a duel between the two, organized by Brahma to see who was stronger, to satisfy the curiosity of the Devas. There was a fierce and thrilling fight. When Vishnu was able to stretch Siva’s bow, Siva was disappointed and gave that bow away to Devarata, a poorvaja (one born before) of Janaka. Vishnu’s bow went to Richika and was then inherited by Jamadagni and then Parasurama.
When Parasurama heard that Sri Rama had broken Siva’s bow, he wanted to see of Sri Rama was strong enough to break Vishnu’s bow. Neglecting Dasaratha’s protests he told Sri Rama to string and draw Vishnu’s bow and to fit it with Vishnu’s arrow. If Sri Rama passed that test then he wanted a duel with him. He also told Sri Rama how he had decimated the Kshatriyas in revenge for his father’s death, conquered the entire earth (Prithvi – area ruled by Pruthu), and given it as a gift to his teacher Kasyapa, after he had laid down his arms.
Sri Rama said, “ I commend you for avenging your father, but I resent your insinuations about my prowess.” He seized Vishnu’s bow from Parasurama’s hands and fitting it with an arrow, he spoke again. “I am not going to kill you because you are a brahman and a relative of Viswamitra (sister’s grandson). Tell me whether I should immobilize you or take away your acquired tapobalam (strength acquired through tapas (penance)).
“The devatas with grand-sire, brahma in the forefront, accompanied by sages in groups assembled there to see Rama holding that mighty bow. Gandharvas, apsaras, siddhas, charanas, kinnaras, yakshas, rakshsas and nagas also came there to see that great wonder”.. Ramayana.
Parasurama gazed at Sri Rama weakly and said, ” I promised Kasyapa that I would not stay here during the nights and so I have to go back to the Mahendra Hills. I cannot afford to be immobilized. You can take away my tapobalam. But do it quickly for I have to leave soon. I now know that you are Vishnu himself, who else could handle his bow?”
So Sri Rama used the arrow to take away Parasurama’s tapobalam and Parasurama quickly left for Mahendra. As he left, the darkness too left the place, and all the Devas amd Rishis praised Sri Rama.
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