Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Jamadagni included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Jamadagni

A hermit of majestic power. He was the father of Paraśurāma.


Descended from Viṣṇu in the following order are: BrahmāBhṛguCyavanaAurvaṚcīkaJamadagni.


There is an interesting story about the birth of Jamadagni. Gādhi was the son of king Kuśāṃba. A daughter named Satyavatī was born to Gādhi. The hermit Rcīka giving a dowry of one thousand horses, each with one black ear, married Satyavatī. Once Satyavatī told her husband that herself and her mother wanted to get a child each. After the sacrifice of oblations to Agni (fire), Ṛcīka took two parts filled with boiled rice and gave them to Satyavatī, with mantras (spells). The radiance of Brahmā was invoked into one pot and the radiance of Kṣātra was invoked into the other. The hermit had asked Satyavatī to eat the rice into which the radiance of Brahmā had been invoked and to give the other pot to her mother. But the daughter and mother changed the pots secretly and Satyavatī ate the rice in the pot into which Kṣātra radiance was invoked and gave the pot of rice filled with Brāhma-radiance to her mother. Both the women conceived. As the child grew in the womb the radiance of Brahmā shone on the face of the mother and Kṣātra lustre was seen on the face of Satyavatī, Rcīka asked Satyavatī for the reason. She admitted the secret interchange of the pot.

Satyavatī and her mother both delivered at the same time. Satyavatī got the son Jamadagni, who was the embodiment of Kṣātra tejas and the child with Brāhma tejas born to the mother was Viśvāmitra. Therefore, in some Purāṇas Viśvāmitra is described as the uncle of Jamadagni whereas in some others they are said to be brothers. (Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa, Chapter 57).

A house-holder.

When Jamadagni grew up he made a tour and visited the holy places one by one and reached the palace of King Prasenajit of the family of Ikṣvāku. He saw Reṇukā the beautiful daughter of King Prasenajit and fell in love with her. He requested Prasenajit for the hand of Reṇukā. The King, without raising any objection gave his daughter Reṇukā in marriage to Jamadagni. The couple came to the bank of the river Narmadā and erecting a hermitage began 'tapas' (penance). Four sons, Ṛumaṇvān, Suhotra, Vasu and Viśvāvasu were born to Jamadagni by Reṇukā. (Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa, Chapter 58).

The birth of Paruśu rāma.

Because of the wickedness of the Kṣatriya Kings, the goddess Earth became miserable. She made a representation to Brahmā who took her to the sea of Milk and told Mahāviṣṇu everything. Mahāviṣṇu promised to take an incarnation as the son of Jamadagni and destroy all the wicked Kings. Accordingly Reṇukā gave birth to Paraśurāma, who was an incarnation of Mahāviṣṇu. (Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa, Chapter 59).

Jamadagni getting the bow of Viṣṇu.

Once the devas (gods) desired to know who, of Śiva and Viṣṇu was the more powerful. They informed Brahmā of their desire. Brahmā asked Viśvakarmā to make two tremendous bows. He gave one to Śiva and the other to Viṣṇu. The bow which Viṣṇu got was known as Vaiṣṇavacāpa and that which Śiva got was known as Śaivacāpa. After this Brahmā caused enmity between Śiva and Viṣṇu. A terrible battle ensued between Śiva and Viṣṇu. After a while the Śaivacāpa became less effective. At the request of the devas, the fight was stopped. The devas decided that Viṣṇu was superior to Śiva, in power. Śiva got angry at this decision and gave his bow to Devarāta Janaka, the King of Videha. It was this bow that Śrī Rāma broke at the marriage of Sītā.

Seeing that Śiva had given away his cāpa (bow) Mahāviṣṇu gave his bow to his devotee, the hermit Ṛcīka. That Vaiṣṇava cāpa was given to Jamadagni by Ṛcīka. Thus the famous Vaiṣṇava cāpa arrived at the hermitage of Jamadagni. (Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Bāla Kāṇḍa, Sarga 75).

Reṇukā was killed.

Paraśurāma became fourteen years old. Jamadagni went to the forest to gather fruits, roots etc. After completing the cleansing work of the hermitage, leaving Paraśurāma in the forest, Reṇukā went to the bank of the river Narmadā (Revā) to fetch water. When she reached the river, Kārtavīryārjuna and his wives were playing in water. She waited for them to go. When they were gone she got into the river. But as the water was muddy because of the play, she walked a little to the east where there was pure water. She saw there Citraratha the King of Sālva playing with his wife in the water. How beautiful they were! She had never seen so beautiful a woman or so handsome a man. She stood there looking at them for a while. When she reached the hermitage with water, Jamadagni had already returned a long while ago. He had returned weary and tired of the heat of the midday-sun. He did not see his wife in the hermitage. He had been sitting very angry when Reṇukā returned with water. She put the pot down and bowed before her husband and told him the reason for her being late. When he heard the reason his anger blazed. He called his sons one by one and ordered them to kill her. But the four elder sons did not dare to execute his order saying that slaughter of a woman was a great sin. But Paraśurāma came forward and by a cutting-arrow cut off the head of his mother. The father called the four sons who disobeyed him and cursed them thus:

"Since you have disobeyed the order of your father, because of your ignorance, you shall become foresters and live in forest."

Being overwhelmed with sorrow at the death of his mother, Paraśurāma swooned and fell down. When his anger subsided, discretion dawned on Jamadagni. He aroused his son and took him on his lap and asked him what boon he wanted for having accomplished the unaccomplishable task. Paraśurāma’s request was that his mother should be brought to life again. The hermit was pleased and he brought Reṇukā to life again. (Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa, Chapter 60).

The sun gave Jamadagni an umbrella and sandals.

See under the word Cerippu (Sandals).

The temptation of Dharma.

See under the word 'Dharma' Para 6.

Jamadagni was killed.

Once Kārtavīryārjuna, with his minister Candragupta and some attendants had been hunting in the forests on the banks of the river Narmadā. It was noon. The hunters grew tired of hunger and thirst. They came to the hermitage of Jamadagni. The hermit called his divine cow Suśīlā and ordered her to give food to the King and his party. Within a few seconds meals were got ready for thousands of people. The King and his attendants had a feast. On their return journey the wonderful cow Suśīlā was the subject of their talk. The King wanted to get the cow which possessed divine power. So he sent his minister Candragupta to the hermitage of Jamadagni with instructions to get the cow Suśīlā in exchange for a crore of cows or even half of the kingdom. But the hermit was not prepared to give the cow. The minister and his men caught the cow by force and went away. The hermit, filled with grief, followed the party a long way through the forest, and requested Candragupta to return the cow. Candragupta got angry and struck him to death, and took the cow to the palace, in the capital city of Māhiṣmatī.

After waiting for a long time, Reṇukā started in search of her husband. She saw Jamadagni lying almost dead, in a pool of blood. She fell down and beating her breast cried aloud. Paraśurāma with Akṛtavraṇa and other disciples came there. When she saw her son Paraśurāma, she beat her breast twentyone times* and cried. Paraśurāma, took an oath that since his mother beat her breast twentyone times and cried, he would travel around twentyone times and put an end to the Kṣatriya Kings. After that they took the dead body of Jamadagni and placed it on fire, and began to sing the song of Viṣṇu. Then the hermit Śukra came by that way and with the help of Mṛtasañjīvanī brought Jamadagni to life again. The lost cow Suśīlā also returned without her calf. (Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa, Chapter 69; Mahābhārata Śānti Parva, Chapter 49).

Death of Jamadagni.

Paraśurāma and Akṛtavraṇa went to the city of Māhiṣmatī with the intention of bringing the calf of Suśīlā back. They stood at the gate of the city and challenged Kārtavīryārjuna for a fight. Kārtavīryārjuna came out with his army. In the battle which ensued, Kārtavīrya and his sons and most of his warriors fell dead. Paraśurāma and Akṛtavraṇa returned with the calf. Jamadagni asked Paraśurāma to go to Mahendragiri and do penance in order to mitigate the sin of killing a large number of people. When Paraśurāma had gone for penance, Śūrasena a son of Kārtavīryārjuna came with his men to the hermitage, cut off the head of Jamadagni and took it away. Paraśurāma and the disciples of Jamadagni placed the dead body of Jamadagni on the pyre and burnt it. Reṇukā jumped into that fire and died. After this Paraśurāma began his twentyone tours for the extermination of the Kṣatriya Kings. (Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa, Chapter 86).

Other information.

(1) Udayana grew up in the hermitage of Jamadagni. (See under Udayana).

(2) Jamadagni was one of the hundred sons of Ṛcīka. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 66, Stanza 45).

(3) Jamadagni was one of the hermits, who visited Śrī Rāma on his return from forest life. The hermits who came to Ayodhyā from the North were, Kaśyapa, Bharadvāja, the Sanakas, Śarabhaṅga, Durvāsas, Mataṅga, Vibhāṇḍaka, Tumburu and the Saptarṣis (the seven hermits). Uttara Rāmāyaṇa).

(4) Jamadagni was present at the Janmotsava (birth celebration) of Arjuna. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 122, Stanza 51).

(5) This hermit is a luminary in the assembly of Brahmā. (Mahābhārata Sabhā Parva, Chapter 11, Stanza 22).

(6) During the time of the battle of Mahābhārata, Jamadagni entered Kurukṣetra and advised Droṇa to stop the battle. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 190, Stanza 35).

(7) Jamadagni once delivered a speech on the bad sides of accepting rewards, to the King Vṛṣādarbhi. (Mahābhārata Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 93, Stanza 44).

(8) Jamadagni vowed that he was innocent in the affair of the stealing of Agastya’s lotus. (Mahābhārata Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 94, Stanza 25).

The Names of Jamadagni.

Ārcīka, Bhārgava, Bhārgavanandana, Bhṛguśārdūla, Bhṛguśreṣṭha, Bhṛgūttama Ṛcīkaputra are the names used by Vyāsa to denote Jamadagni, in Bhārata.

*) Seeing his mother beating her breast twentyone times, Bhārgava caught hold of her hands and said "Mother, stop afflicting your body. Don't be sorry. I am here to end your sorrow. Since you have beaten your breast twentyone times, I will annihilate the Kṣatriya Kings twentyone times." Bhārgava Rāma took an oath thus, to his mother.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: