Misuse of Powers

Misuse of Powers

Narahari Krishna Dasa

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva. 

Today is the auspicious day of Parasurama Jayanthi and also Akshaya Tritiya. The pastimes of Lord Parasurama teaches us many valuable lessons and one important lesson is the danger of having unrestricted powers. There is a famous saying in the west made by the 19th century British politician Lord Acton, "Power tends to corrupt and Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." And this famous statement later slowly evolved into the famous proverb, "Power corrupts; Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Examples of absolute power having a corrupting influence are Roman emperors (who declared themselves gods) and Napoleon Bonaparte (who declared himself an emperor). This statement was applicable even in Treta Yuga when Vedic culture was very much flourishing and many people were qualified to see the Lord in person. Lord Parasurama incarnated mainly to quell the evil kshatriyas who were arrogant by virtue of their great powers and became corrupt in their behaviour.

The first king to be killed by the Lord was Kartavirya Arjuna who attacked Jamadagni rishi (father of Lord Parasurama) and took away his cow kamadhenu. The king was so rich and had all the wealth of his country. Not only that, he was the perfect follower of kshatriya dharma and was a good administrator. What made him to commit such a great offense against Jamadagni who is a great sage and invoke the anger of Parasurama? The Mahabharata gives an interesting background to this. Kartavirya arjuna in the past fought many wars with his enemies and defeated them by the power of his thousand arms. Once he was walking along the sea shore and so proud of his might, he showered hundreds of arrows against the ocean in order to provoke the king of ocean for battle (the king thought conquering land is not enough and he should conquer the sea also). The king of ocean told him, "Please don't attack me and kill the creatures who are sheltered in the sea. I'm not a match for you." Then the king asked, "Tell me if anyone exists to withstand me in duel and can fight with me." Then the king of ocean replied, "You might have heard of the sage Jamadagni. His son is competent to duly receive you as His guest. Then the King proceeded to the place of Jamadagni to fight with Parasurama. Since the fight cannot happen without provoking enmity, Kartavirya Arjuna did so many activities that were hostile to the Supreme Soul Lord Parasurama (like stealing the cow, attacking the sages etc.) and committed great offense at His lotus feet. The result he faced is given in the Mahabharata (14.029.10) as follows.

tatas tejah prajajvaala raamasyaamitatejasah
pradahad ripusainyaani tadaa kamalalocane
tatah parashum aadaaya sa tam baahusahasrinam
ciccheda sahasaa raamo baahushaakham iva drumam

"The Immeasurable and Absolute Power of Lord Parasurama blazed forth and started vaporising the armies of the arrogant king. With His chopper, the Lord hacked the hands of the king just like one cuts the branches of the trees and finally made him headless."

We can see that here Kartavirya Arjuna could have happily lived his life with all his conquered kingdom and wealth. Lord Parasurama never came in his way and hence he had no business to interfere with Him. But his great victory and unrestricted power corrupted his consciousness and made him so arrogant that he challenged Lord Parasurama, who is the Personality of Godhead Himself and was destroyed by the Lord's Absolute power. The Bhagavata purana (1.3.20) glorifies such wonderful Lord as follows. 

avataare shodashame pashyan brahma-druho nrpaan 
trih-sapta-krtvah kupito nih-kshatraam akaron mahiim

"In the sixteenth incarnation of the Godhead, the Lord [as Bhrgupati] annihilated the administrative class [kshatriyas] twenty-one times, being angry with them because of their rebellion against the brahmanas [the intelligent class]."

In our spiritual life also, by the mercy of spiritual master we get lot of glorification even for our small services, little austerities and learning. When we become corrupted by glorification, we start looking down on other living entities/devotees and offend them. By praying to Lord Parasurama on this auspicious day, our pride will be repeatedly quelled. We will always stay on the ground.

Hare Krishna. 
Thank you very much,
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Gurudeva,
Narahari Krishna Dasa.