Legends, they say, are hyperbolic versions of historical events. Yet, they remain immensely more popular than authentic verifiable history. Throughout the world, stories of legends occupy more mind-share than the lives of historically documented people.
The exploits of Robin Hood and King Arthur are arguably more popular than those of Churchill or Thatcher from Great Britain and the labours of Hercules and Hanuman excite more children in Greece and India respectively than those of Alexander or Chandragupta. As the title of my next book suggests, this as well is an effort to bring to my readers one such powerful legend – the Axe-Man – Parshu-Raam, who is not just a weilder of Shiva’s divine Axe but also in many ways a protoype X-Man as well!
Parshu-Raam is recognized, and even dreaded as the man who decimated the entire ruling class in a bygone age, not once, but twenty-one times! I refer to him as the original X-Man since he was perhaps the first person in world literature to show such superhuman strength, that only someone blessed with other-wordly powers could have exhibited. In fact the Bhaagvat Puraan mentions him as a Shaktyavesh Avatar of Lord Vishnu – a human invested with special powers of the Supreme Lord.
He is so much like the X-Man’s Wolverine, with the furious temper and no nonsense attitude that I immediately related the two while thinking of a title for this post with just the metal claws having been replaced by the divine axe of Shiva. You may have heard of him from your grandparents or seen a brief glimpse in some television mythological but seldom is his life story detailed to an extent that it could become an epic in itself. That is the reason I chose to write my second book on Parshu-Raam, the Man who changed the face of ancient Indian society.
The purpose of this book is not to harp about his later achievements that many are aware of, but to bring in front of readers the events from before his birth that slowly but surely lead this simple Brahmin boy to become the legend that we know him as. His footsteps have marked the length and the breadth of the country from Arunachal Pradesh in the East to Maharashtra in the West and Himachal in the North to Kerala in the South!
Since a protagonist’s story does not get a complete perspective till it is compared with that of the antagonist or the anti-hero, this book shall also be incomplete without the inclusion of the travels and travails of his arch enemy, the man who, according to scriptures, was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu’s Sudarshan Chakra himself!
Hardly anyone would have heard of him before, but I must mention that this extra-ordinary man is considered one of the very first humans to rule over a Global Empire – a dream many colonial powers dreamed of in a previous century and few harbor even today.
The struggle between the two is a reflection of the tussle between two differing ideologies believed by two different classes. The fight for supremacy between two powerful classes of ancient India – Brahmins and Kshatriyas, is reflected even today especially in countries where the intelligentsia and military exist at loggerheads. Even as you read this, some military leader somewhere in the world is surely planning a coup to snatch power from the bureaucrats while somewhere else, the literati is preparing for a protest against the authoritarian regime in their country.
The struggle has played itself many a different times in many a different ways and this book shall introduce you to the clash that completely transformed India’s social structure in a bygone age. I have merged some true stories about the Lord of Lanka taken from the Ramayan to help me arrive at this sequence of events and you may be surprised to know that Ravan was also defeated by someone other than Shri Raam.
Like the demon king Ravan and his own grand-uncle Vishwamitra, Parshu-Raam also makes appearance in that grand epic although for a brief instance. When Shri Raam breaks Shiva’s bow in the Swayamvar for Sita, Parshu-Raam arrives at the scene like a storm and challenges the prince for a duel. As far as I am aware, this is the only instance where two different incarnations of Lord Vishnu have come face to face as adversaries!
Parshu-Raam also finds mention in Mahabharat as the guru of Kuru patriarch Bhishma-Pitamah as well as the ill-fated Karna. Since he was opposed to Kshatriyas, Karna had to lie about his identity in order to receive martial training from Parshu-Raam, a subterfuge that ultimately led him to be cursed to forget the very knowledge he had learnt when he needed it the most. In Kerala, Parshu-Raam is believed to have imparted similar training to Swami Ayyappan, the Lord of Shabrimala and developed the martial art of Kalaripayattu along with Rishi Agastya.
His influence though is not restricted to great personalities of the past and he is still believed to reside on earth waiting for the arrival of Kalki, the tenth Avatar of Lord Vishnu who would be trained in the martial knowledge Parshu-Raam has gained and distilled in order to help the final incarnation of this Yuga fulfill his purpose of appearance.
Till that time, he is supposed to reside in the Mahendra mountains of Odisha worshiping Lord Shiva, but on my recent visit to the Kingdom of Cambodia, I came across a mountain that was called with the same name and has a river running through it that has a 1000 Lingas carved on its river-bed! Perhaps then, the Lord may have found residence there rather than the hills of eastern India..
You may wonder how one man’s life-span could transcend that of three different incarnations of Vishnu but then, as the scriptures tell us, the gods grant special powers to humans who are needed to carry on their work. The mission of Parshu-Raam’s life is to help humanity find its way whenever it gets lost and thus he is counted as one of the Seven Immortals or Chiranjeevis.
Besides all these military accomplishments, he is also destined to become one of the Saptarishis in the next Manvantar along with Vishwamitra who is related to him by not just ties of blood but also a powerful bond of magic. This book is my attempt to bring to you the legend of the most popular Brahma-kshatriya known in the history of India, and a fitting counterpart to the saga of Vishwamitra, the only Kshatriya in history who became a Brahma-rishi.
And this is what the book is about..
It is the story of the boy who was forced to take difficult decisions in order to fulfill his duties not just to his parents but also to the idea of a fair and just society. It is the story of the man who rose to the level of divinity, the story of the making of a legend – The Legend of Parshu-Raam