A REMINDER ABOUT what happened in the last column. I was recounting a story from Brahmanda Purana, a story narrated by the sage Vasishtha to King Sagara. Parashurama had vowed to kill Kartavirya, king of the Haihayas, because Kartavirya had killed Parashurama’s father, Jamadagni. The sage Agastya taught Parashurma the Krishna-premamrita stotram, with 108 of Krishna’s names. When they heard the Krishna-premamrita stotram, the stag and the doe, which had followed Parashurama and Akritavrana, went to heaven. Most of us know the story about Parashurama and Kartavirya and about how Parashurama exterminated Kshatriyas from the earth 21 times. I have a feeling that not too many know about this Krishna angle. We will continue with what Vasishta narrated.
Vasishtha said, “Parashurama witnessed that extremely wonderful marvel. He narrated everything about the two deer, exactly as he had heard it. Hearing this, the illustrious Agastya, who was born from a pot, was delighted. He spoke to Bhargava (Parashurama was descended from Bhrigu), who was standing in front of him. Agastya said, ‘O Rama! O one who is accomplished in distinguishing what should be done from what should not be done! Listen. I will now speak to you about your own welfare. Be controlled and act accordingly. Not far from here, there is Vishnu’s extremely great spot and it is very rare. The marks made by the extremely great-souled one’s feet can be seen there. When he chastised Bali, Ganga arose from that spot, from the tips of the great-souled Vamana’s feet. [This is a reference to Vishnu’s Vamana (dwarf) avatara, when Vishnu covered the three worlds in his three strides. That is the reason he is known as Trivikrama.] He covered the worlds in his strides. Go there. Let your mind not deviate. Control yourself and restrain your diet. Follow niyamas and read this for a month. Desiring siddhi, you have practised this kavacha earlier for the sake of chastising the enemies. In this way, you will obtain siddhi.’ Agastya said this to Rama, the destroyer of enemies. He prostrated himself before the tranquil sage and went outside the hermitage.”
(Siddhi is success in attaining the objective. Siddhis mean powers. Specifically, yoga leads to eight major siddhis or powers. These are anima (becoming as small as one desires), mahima (as large as one desires), laghima (as light as one wants), garima (as heavy as one wants), prapti (obtaining what one wants), prakamya (travelling where one wants), vashitvam (powers to control creatures) and ishitvam (obtaining divine powers). Kavacha is armour. This is in the form of the mantra. Ashtanga yoga has two components of yama and niyama. Yama is usually translated as self-control and niyama as rites/rituals. But another way to look at is to interpret yama as internal and niyama as vis-à-vis the external world.
‘O Rama! Your task is accomplished. Understand that this is because of the power of the Kavacha. You will kill king Kartavirya. After doing this to your father’s enemy, you will rid the earth of Kshatriyas’
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Vasishtha continued, “Using the same path, he swiftly reached the spot. O Sagara! That is the place where the divine river [Ganga] flowed from his [Vishnu’s] last step. Along with Akritavrana, he resolved to reside there. He started to chant the divine Krishna-premamrita stotram. Every day, he chanted this stotram to the lord of Vraja. [Vraja is a place where cows reside. This is the region where Krishna resided, during his childhood. Stotram is a hymn of praise.] Hari was pleased. O lord of the earth! He went there to show himself to Jamadagni’s son. This was the lotus-eyed Krishna himself, the lord of the four vyuhas. [Krishna has four manifestations (vyuhas) as Vaasudeva, Samkarshana, Pradyumna and Aniruddha.] His diadem had the complexion of the sun and his two earrings were radiant. His chest was illuminated by the Koustubha jewel. He was attired in yellow garments and his complexion was like that of a cloud. He was playing on a flute and his form was extremely enchanting. On seeing him, Jamadagni’s son hastily stood up, filled with delight. Like a rod, he prostrated himself on the ground and controlling himself, praised the lord. Parashurama said, “I prostrate myself. I bow. Your form is that of the cause. You are the one who protects those who seek refuge. You are the one who takes away the afflictions of the gods. You are foremost among Brahma, Isha, Vishnu and Indra. (Isha and Ishana are Shiva’s names.) You are the one to be praised. I bow down before the eternal Parameshvara. You have been spoken about in different ways in the Vedas. Ishana and the best of others are incapable of determining you. You are without birth and cannot be ascertained. I praise that ancient and eternal lord. Please show me your compassion. You are the only lord who can bestow what one desires. In your pastimes, you assume many kinds of forms, as devas, humans and inferior species, to remove the earth’s burdens and protect it. You are affectionate towards people who are your devotees. You are yourself extremely indifferent towards Indira and evil-minded ones who have committed transgressions, their minds fixed in love for you. [Indira is one of Lakshmi’s names. Gopa is a cowherd, gopi being the feminine. Gopis committed the transgression of being attracted to Krishna, even though they were married.] I praise you. O lord! For your sake, the delighted asuras, gods, men, kinnaras [semi-divine species, also known as kimpurusha] and inferior species have forgotten about their own nature and have given up their bodies, women, sons and all sense of ownership. O lord of devas! You bestow what is desired on those who worship you. You have no wishes and are devoid of gunas [the three gunas of sattva (purity), rajas (passion) and tamas (ignorance)] You are not manifest. You destroy floods of sins. I have obtained that refuge, a reservoir of love and affection. Some torment their own bodies with many kinds of austerities. Others perform many kinds of sacrifices. O lord! Those who are tied to desires and material objects do not see your supernatural form, not even in their dreams. Those indifferent to the exhaustions of the world remember your feet, in the proper way. They prostrate themselves devoutly. With their minds fixed to your lotus feet, they wish to dispel the impurities that have accumulated across many births. O lord! Your name is nectar. It is the medication against worldly existence. There are others who use it to cross over and make others cross over. O noble one! O lord! My mind is fixed to desires and I have made many kinds of efforts to worship you. O lord! You know. Is there anything in the world that needs to be told to you?” Thus, Jamadagni’s son prostrated himself in front and praised him in this way. As if confounding with his maya, Krishna spoke in a deep voice. Krishna said, “O Rama! Enough. O immensely fortunate one! Your excellent task has been accomplished. Understand that this is because of the power of the kavacha and your eulogy. You will kill King Kartavirya, who is firm in his mind. After doing this to your father’s enemy, you will rid the earth of Kshatriyas. Kartavirya is an avatara of my chakra on the surface of the earth. O best among dvijas! O one who bestows honours! You will finish him and accomplish your task. From today, you will roam around the world, infused with my portion. At the right time, you will be like the Lord Destroyer himself. O child! In the twenty-fourth mahayuga, in treta yuga, I will be born in Raghu’s lineage. My name will be Rama. I am the eternal one, with four vyuhas. [In addition, this is an allusion to Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna.] I will be the delight of Kousalya and King Janaka. At the time, along with Lakshmana, I will ensure the success of Koushika’s [Vishvamitra’s] sacrifice. O immensely fortunate one! I will go to Janaka’s great city. There, I will break Isha’s bow and marry Videha’s daughter. After this, while going to Ayodhya, I will take away your insolent energy from you.” In this way, Krishna instructed Jamadagni’s son, the store of austerities. While the extremely great-souled Rama watched, he vanished.”
“When Krishna had left, the immensely illustrious thought that he had been infused with Krishna’s powers. He blazed like a flaming fire. Along with Akritavrana, he reached the city of Mahishmati. [Kartavirya Arjuna’s capital, identified with Maheshvara in Madhya Pradesh. Kartavirya Arjuna conquered Mahishmati from Karkotaka naga.] The supreme river, the sacred Narmada, is there and takes away sins. As soon as it is seen, it purifies even creatures who are sinners. O lord of the earth! This was the place where the three cities used to be established earlier and the great-souled Hara made efforts to destroy Tripura. Shiva destroyed Tripura, which actually consisted of three separate cities. The delight of the Bhargava lineage saw Narmada. Devoted to the issue of rebuffing the enemy, he was extremely happy and bowed down. ‘O Narmada! I prostrate myself before you. You are the one who bestows boons. O beautiful one! Quickly destroy my enemy. You have originated from Hara’s body.’ He then sent a messenger to Kartavirya Arjuna.”
We will take up the actual duel in the next column.