The Skanda Purana

by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words

This page describes Murder of Jamadagni which is chapter 66 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc.

Chapter 66 - Murder of Jamadagni

Note: The story of Paraśurāma is used in Chapters 66-69, to describe the efficacy of Paraśurāma Hrada for performance of Śrāddha. The Hrada was created by Paraśurāma to avenge the murder of his father Jamadagni by King Sahasrārjuna, a Kṣatriya. For this act of one Kṣatriya, Paraśurāma attempted, genocide of Kṣatriyas and filled a pit (pool) with the blood of Kṣatriyas and performed the Tarpaṇa of his father.—Just because the Hrada proved efficacious to Paraśurāma, it is recommended to others for Śrāddha. The exploits of Paraśurāma are described in Mahābhārata, Ādi. 2.5-7. and in other Purāṇas.

Sūta said:

1-2. Further there is a famous Tīrtha which is well-known and remembered as Rāmahrada (the tank of Rāma or Paraśurāma). It was here that his Pitṛs were propitiated by him (Rāma) with libations of blood.

He who devoutly offers libations to Pitṛs on the New-Moon day in the month of Bhādrapada shall obtain the benefit of a horse-sacrifice.

The sages said:

3-5. This is something very mysterious that you say, O highly intelligent Sūta, that the Pitṛs were propitiated with libations of blood by him (Rāma).

Sacred things have been prescribed by learned men for the purpose of offering libations to Pitṛs. Blood is prescribed in the case of the libations of Rākṣasas.

An action contrary to the dictates of Śruti and Smṛti, and despised by good people has been performed by the son of Jamadagni. Why did he do so? Tell us, O Sūta.

Sūta said:

6. It was done so by him out of anger, in order to abide by his promise and vow. That was why the Pitṛs were propitiated with the libation of blood.

7. His father Jamadagni, O Brāhmaṇas, who abided by his duty and was faultless, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, was struck down by a Kṣatriya.

8. Thereupon, when his anger was roused, the noble-souled sage (Paraśurāma) said: “My Pitṛs should be propitiated by me with the blood flowing out of the Kṣatriyas.”

9. It was for this reason that the Pitṛs were propitiated with blood libations mixed with gingelly seeds by that noble-souled one with devotion.

The sages said:

10. Why was the great Sage Jamadagni killed by a Kṣatriya? What is the name of that king? O Sūta, narrate it in detail.

Sūta said:

The son of Ṛcīka is remembered as Jamadagni. Formerly he was in the holy spot of Hāṭakeśvara where all his sins were burnt.

12. He had four sons endowed with good quality. Rāma was the most junior among them, but he was most superior in good qualities.

13. Jamadagni continued to stay in a great forest. Once his sons had gone out to forest for gathering roots and bulbous roots.

14. In the meantime, the powerful king of Haihayas, who was well-known ail over the earth as Sahasrārjuna, happened to come there.

15. It was the season of summer and the Sun was in the Zodiac of Taurus. Desirous of hunting deer, the king had been roaming here and there in the forest. At midday he became very distressed due to weariness.

16. On seeing the hermitage full of different kinds of trees, he entered it with his army having four divisions.

17. There he saw the great sage Jamadagni seated. He had concluded his bath and was engaged in worshipping the deities.

18. On seeing the king, the sage was pleased. He duly offered him Arghya and honoured him with due greetings.

19. He too bowed down to him with great humility; humbly enquired about his health and happiness when speaking to him, in return.

The king said:

20. O Brāhmaṇa, I hope you are hale and hearty in the company of your wife, sons, disciples and attendants. I hope you duly maintain the sacrificial fires.

21. Today my birth has become fruitful and the life meaningful since you, the storehouse of penance, bowed down to by all the worlds, are seen.

22. After saying thus the saintly king rested there for a long time. After drinking water, he bowed down to the great sage and said to him:

23. “If there be any job for me whereby your purpose may be served, it may be mentioned, O holy Brāhmaṇa. Permit me, I shall go home.”

Jamadagni said:

24. You have come to my house at the time of the worship of the deities. You are my guest and have been regarded as though (you are) the desire cherished. A guest is identical with all the Devas.

25. So, O excellent king, I am pleased much and I have great devotion unto you. Hence take the food offered by me with my own hands.

26. Whether it is a king or a Brāhmaṇa, or a Śūdra or one of low caste, if a guest comes at the conclusion of Vaiśvadeva rite, he is one who will take one to heaven.

The king said:

27. O holy Brāhmaṇa, I have here with me hundreds and thousands of soldiers. Without their being fed, is it proper for me to take food? Do tell me.

Jamadagni said:

28-29. I shall serve food unto all of your soldiers. In this respect, you need not worry at all, though I am a sage without any property. O leading king, the cow seen yonder, tethered very near me, yields whatever I desire, always on being requested.

Sūta said:

30. Thereupon, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, the king became full of curiosity. Saying “So be it, he stayed on in the hermitage itself.

31-33. After propitiating Devas and Pitṛs thereafter, he worshipped Havirvāha (Fire-god) and then Brāhmaṇas. Thereafter, he sat along with all the hungry servants and followers who were weary and distressed, O excellent Brāhmaṇas. They were overwhelmed with wonder for him (his spiritual power?) Then the excellent sage prayed to the cow, “O splendid one, give unto everyone whatever food he asks for.”

34. Thereupon the cow yielded splendid food of various kinds. The sweetmeats in particular were highly pleasing.

35. Then there were foodstuffs that could be chewed,

masticated, swallowed, licked and sucked. There were diverse kinds of side-dishes and pickles. Some tasted astringent, some sour and hot. There were sweet and bitter foodstuffs too and all of them were of good quality.

S6. Thus that king became extremely satisfied on being fed with foodstuffs born of ambrosia. Thanks to the cow, he became pleased along with his servants and soldiers.

37. At the conclusion of the meal, the king who was pleasantly surprised, requested the great sage Jamadagni for that cow:

38-40. “O holy Brāhmaṇa, this Kāmadhenu does not deserve to be kept with sages of quiescent mind permanently residing in forest So give it to me.

Thereby I can make people exempt from taxation. Depending upon its power, I can tackle all my enemies even if they are entrenched in fortresses and equipped with formidable armies.

If this is carried out it will be to your own credit and wellbeing in this world as well as in the other one. So do as I say.”

Jamadagni said:

41. O king, this is my only Homadhenu (cow intended for the purpose of sacrificial rites). It is as dear to me as my own life. It is worthy of being worshipped always and so can not be given away. Hence it does not behove you to request for it.

The king said:

42. O Brāhmaṇa, in return for this cow I shall give you a hundred thousand other cows and also wealth as much as you wish for.

Jamadagni said:

43. O great king, even an ordinary cow is declared as one that should not be sold. It is much more so in the case of this Homadhenu which has powers like these.

44. A deluded Brāhmaṇa who sells a cow prompted by greed for wealth, undoubtedly sells his own mother.

45. Means of expiation has been laid down in the Smṛtis in regard to the Brāhmaṇas who imbibe liquor or kill other Brāhmaṇas. But there is no atonement in the case of those who sell cows.

The King said:

46. O Brāhmaṇa, if you do not give me this cow on being requested politely, I will take it by force. It is better if given when requested peacefully.

Sūta said:

47. On hearing it, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, Jamadagni became furious. He got up from the seat in the assembly shouting, “Weapon! Weapon!”

48. Thereupon the attendants who knew the mind of the king killed the Brāhmaṇa with sharp weapons even before he could lay his hands upon any weapon.

49. When the noble-souled Jamadagni was being butchered thus, his beloved wife named Reṇukā fell on his body in utter grief.

50. That lady of excellent complexion was hit and wounded by different kinds of sharp missiles but did not die, for she was destined to live yet there.

51. After thus killing Jamadagni, the leading Brāhmaṇa, the king drove the cow to the city of Māhiṣmatī.

52. Driven thus forcibly and observing killing of Jamadagni; the cow became enraged and so lowed piteously.

53. Even as she lowed thus, Pulindas, Medas and hundreds and thousands of other terrible fellows came out of her mouth.

54. They wielded different kinds of weapons. All of them were like another set of Yama’s messengers. They respectfully said to the cow, “Command us quickly.”

55. She said, “May this army of the king of the Haihayas be killed.” Thereupon the terribly angry barbarians began to destroy the army with sharp weapons ruthlessly.

56. No man from among them came face to face with them, because everyone was afraid much, not to speak of a direct fight.

57. On seeing the army shattered by the terrible Pulindas, the ministers spoke to the king:

58-60. “O Lord, you have lost much of your refulgence due to this murder of a Brāhmaṇa. Hence let this cow be left alone. Be pleased to go to your own palace.

It is better you go away before his powerful son named Rāma returns. Otherwise, you will be killed along with all your soldiers here itself.

This Kāmadhenu of great power cannot be taken away by force. In the form of divine Śakti, she herself can create thus.”

61. Thereupon, the king became afraid particularly at their words. With all his attendants killed, he left the cos there and went to his own abode.

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