The All Fiery Protector - Part 1

Hare Krishna Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudeva. 

Recently we celebrated Akshaya Tritiya and Parasurama Jayanti (appearance day of Lord Parasurama). The Bhagavata Purana (11.4.21) compares Lord Parasurama to a fire which burned the dynasty of Haihayas and also all the irreligious Kshatriyas on the planet.

niḥkṣatriyām akṛta gāṁ ca triḥ-sapta-kṛtvo
rāmas tu haihaya-kulāpyaya-bhārgavāgniḥ 

Lord Paraśurāma appeared in the family of Bhṛgu as a fire that burned to ashes the dynasty of Haihaya. Thus Lord Paraśurāma rid the earth of all kṣatriyas twenty-one times.

Fire is one of the all-powerful destroying elements in this world. We see forest fires in developed countries like America affecting many lives. We also often hear about fire accidents which destroys people's lives and belongings. Though a person can die because of many reasons, dying in fire accident is worst because of the pain involved. Also fire wounds cause maximum pain and damage to the body and takes long time to heal. They can also cause permanent scars in the body. So apart from the damage it causes, fire causes great fear. Fire does not leave any trace in the path it travels and it is irresistible many times.

So fire is often used as a comparison for fearsome destroyers. And we see in the scriptures that Lord Parasurama is often compared to fire. In the Ramayana also, we see that after Lord Rama married Mother Sita, Dasaratha took the couple and all the rishis and the group of people headed back to Ayodhya from Mithila. On the way, Dasaratha and others observed some fearful omens such as animals running away in fear and also some good omens. There was a huge storm, shaking the earth and felling down beautiful trees. The sun was wrapped in dark. The quarters became devoid of brightness and the entire army was covered with ashes. Feared by these omens, everyone there, except the sages headed by Vashishta and the four brothers headed by Lord Rama and King Dasaratha, became unconscious. All these fearful signs indicated the arrival of Lord Parasurama and His appearance is given as follows. (Valmiki Ramayana 1.73.17,18)

dadarśa bhīmasaṃkāśaṃ jaṭāmaṇḍaladhāriṇam
bhārgavam jāmadagnyam tam rājā raja vimardhanam
kailāsam iva durdharṣaṃ kālāgnim iva duḥsaham
jvalantam iva tejobhir durnirīkṣyaṃ pṛthagjanaiḥ

King Dasaratha saw the repressor of kings, descendant of Bhrugu and son of Jamadagni with a terrible crown of matted hair, inaccessible like Kailasa mountain and unendurable like the fire at the time of dissolution. He was not able to be seen by normal people due to His effulgence.

Not only He was looking like fire, but He carried a fearful axe which shone like lightning and a bow and an arrow. And His appearance was fiery not only for normal people, but even for great sages as Ramayana (1.73.19) confirms taṃ dṛṣṭvā bhīmasaṃkāśaṃ jvalantam iva pāvakam (The sages also saw Him who was fearful to look at and who was blazing like fire).

So from the above, one will be inclined to conclude that Lord Parasurama is only a destroyer as He is compared to fire. But we also hear from the scriptures that He is the All Merciful Protector. Srila Prabhupada states in the purport of SB 9.6.19, "Paraśurāma is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and his eternal mission is paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām — to protect the devotees and annihilate the miscreants. To kill all the sinful men is one among the tasks of the incarnation of Godhead. Lord Paraśurāma killed all the kṣatriyas twenty-one times consecutively because they were disobedient to the brahminical culture."

By killing, the Lord ensured that the saintly persons on earth were protected. This reveals the protective nature of Lord Parasurama. And this also can be compared to fire which we will see in the next offering, Krishna willing.

Thank you very much.
Yours in service of Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev,
Narahari Krishna das