The All Fiery Protector - Part 2

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

This is in continuation of the previous offering, "The All Fiery Protector" wherein we were meditating on the glories of Lord Parasurama. 

In the previous offering, we saw the destructive aspect of Lord Paraśurāmā and how He is compared to fire in Bhagavatam. At the same time, fire is the most protective element since it sustains and nourishes our life in many ways. Without fire we cannot exist at all. Srila Prabhupada explains in the commentary of Bhagavad-gita, "Vibhāvasu means fire. Without fire we cannot run factories, we cannot cook, etc., and that fire is Kṛṣṇa. The heat in the fire is Kṛṣṇa. According to Vedic medicine, indigestion is due to a low temperature in the belly. So even for digestion fire is needed." So fire is helpful in all walks of life. When we eat food, the food gets digested by the fire in our belly. Srila Prabhupada explains in the commentary of BG 15.14, "According to Āyur-vedic śāstra, we understand that there is a fire in the stomach which digests all food sent there. When the fire is not blazing there is no hunger, and when the fire is in order we become hungry. Sometimes when the fire is not going nicely, treatment is required. In any case, this fire is representative of the Supreme Personality of Godhead." 

So the comparison of Lord Paraśurāmā to fire not only reveals that He is the destroyer but He is also the All-Merciful protector. Great devotees like Acharya Madhva state that Lord Paraśurāmā has His special presence in fire. So Madhvacharya states that everyone should meditate on Lord Paraśurāmā present in the fire. The Supreme Lord is all pervading and the inner regulator of all. He is present in all the material elements and in the hearts of all the devatas who control the elements. So He is present in fire also. The shruthi mantras (Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad 3.7.5) confirm this as follows. 

yo 'gnau tiṣṭhann agner antaro yam agnir na veda yasyāgniḥ
śarīraṃ yo 'gnim antaro yamayaty eṣa ta ātmāntaryāmy amṛtaḥ

He is situated in fire (and the devata of fire), He is different from fire, but fire does not know Him, fire is His body, He regulates and controls the fire from within and this Supreme Soul is your inner controller also and He is immortal.

So in Madhva sampradaya, any sacrifice with fire and all rituals involving fire is considered as worship of Lord Paraśurāmā who is present in fire. In Vedic system, at a young age a person is encouraged to undergo process of spiritual initiation by means of Gayatri mantra. He should then worship the Supreme Lord present in the sun by offering oblations of water thrice a day (at three junctures a day). He also should worship the Lord present in the fire by offering firewood (called samith) into the fire twice a day. After the ritual, the student is supposed to wear the remnants (holy ash) of the burnt firewood on various parts of the body. In Madhva sampradaya in every fire ritual has the sankalpa at the beginning “agni antargata harini pathi paraśurāma preranayā  paraśurāma prītyartham” (This ritual is done by the impelling of Husband of Mother Lakshmi (Harini), Paraśurāmā and done for the satisfaction of Paraśurāmā). And in the end of the ritual they say "agni antargata harini pathi paraśurāma prīyatām” (May the Husband of Mother Lakshmi (Harini), Paraśurama who is present in fire, be pleased by this ritual)

Fire is not only used in Vedic rituals but also in Bhagavata dharma in many places. In deity worship, we show ārati to the Lord with ghee lamp where fire is involved. The Garuda Purana 3,29.53, 54 states who is to be remembered in all such times.

ārtikyakāle ca tathaiva viṣṇoḥ samyak smaretparaśurāmākhya
viṣṇum apośanevaiśvadevasya kale tadanyahomādiṣu bhasmadhāraṇe 
smaret tu bhaktyā paramādareṇa nārāyaṇaṃ jāmadagnyākhyarāmam

During the time of offering lamp to the Lord, one should remember Lord Vishnu who is glorified as Paraśurāmā; Also when one is fasting and feel the fire inside the stomach in the form of hunger, when one does the Vaishvadeva offering, and also when applies the remnants of the fire sacrifice (holy ash mixed with water) on his forehead one should remember with great devotion and reverence, Lord Narayana, who incarnated as Paraśurāmā, the son of Sage Jamadagni.

Thus Lord Paraśurāmā is not only the destroyer, but also a protector in many ways just like fire. Lord Paraśurāmā who is present in fire, guides the living entities out of material entanglement, which is the ultimate goal. Thus He offers ultimate spiritual protection to all living entities. We will see this in the next concluding offering, Krishna willing.

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