The Vishnu Purana, translated by Horace Hayman Wilson, , at sacred-texts.com
(From the Mahábhárata.)
"JAMADAGNI (the son of Richíka 15) was a pious sage, who by the fervour of his devotions, whilst engaged in holy study, obtained entire possession of the Vedas. Having gone to king Prasenajit, he demanded in marriage his daughter Reńuká, and the king gave her unto him. The descendant of Bhrigu conducted the princess to his hermitage, and dwelt with her there, and she was contented to partake in his ascetic life. They had four sons, and then a fifth, who was Jámadagnya, the last but not the least of the brethren, Once when her sons were all absent, to gather the fruits on which they fed, Reńuká, who was exact in the discharge of all her duties, went forth to bathe. On her way to the stream she beheld Chitraratha, the prince of Mrittikávatí, with a garland of lotuses on his neck, sporting with his queen in the water, and she felt envious of their felicity. Defiled by unworthy thoughts, wetted but not purified by the stream, she returned disquieted to the hermitage, and her husband perceived her agitation. Beholding her fallen from perfection, and shorn of the lustre of her sanctity, Jamadagni reproved her, and was exceeding wroth. Upon this there came her sons from the wood, first the eldest, Rumańwat, then Susheńa, then Vasu, and then Viśwavasu; and each, as he entered, was successively commanded by his father to put his mother to death; but amazed, and influenced by natural affection, neither of them made any reply: therefore Jamadagni was angry, and cursed them, and they became as idiots, and lost all
understanding, and were like unto beasts or birds. Lastly, Ráma returned to the hermitage, when the mighty and holy Jamadagni said unto him, 'Kill thy mother, who has sinned; and do it, son, without repining.' Ráma accordingly took up his axe, and struck off his mother's head; whereupon the wrath of the illustrious and mighty Jamadagni was assuaged, and he was pleased with his son, and said, 'Since thou hast obeyed my commands, and done what was hard to be performed, demand from me whatever blessings thou wilt, and thy desires shall be all fulfilled.' Then Ráma begged of his father these boons; the restoration of his mother to life, with forgetfulness of her having been slain, and purification from all defilement; the return of his brothers to their natural condition; and, for himself, invincibility in single combat, and length of days: and all these did his father bestow.
"It happened on one occasion, that, during the absence of the Rishi's sons, the mighty monarch Kárttavírya, the sovereign of the Haihaya tribe, endowed by the favour of Dattátreya with a thousand arms, and a golden chariot that went wheresoever he willed it to go, came to the hermitage 16 of Jamadagni, where the wife of the sage received him with all proper respect. The king, inflated with the pride of valour, made no return to her hospitality, but carried off with him by violence the calf of the milch cow of the sacred oblation 17, and cast down the tall trees surrounding the hermitage. When Ráma returned, his father told him what had chanced, and he saw the cow in affliction, and he was filled with wrath. Taking up his splendid bow 18, Bhárgava, the slayer of hostile heroes, assailed Kárttavírya, who had now become subject to
the power of death, and overthrew him in battle. With sharp arrows Ráma cut off his thousand arms, and the king perished. The sons of Kárttavírya, to revenge his death, attacked the hermitage of Jamadagni, when Ráma was away, and slew the pious and unresisting sage, who called repeatedly, but fruitlessly, upon his valiant son. They then departed; and when Ráma returned, bearing fuel from the thickets, he found his father lifeless, and thus bewailed his unmerited fate: 'Father, in resentment of my actions have you been murdered by wretches as foolish as they are base! by the sons of Kárttavírya are you struck down, as a deer in the forest by the huntsman's shafts! Ill have you deserved such a death; you who have ever trodden the path of virtue, and never offered wrong to any created thing! How great is the crime that they have committed, in slaying with their deadly shafts an old man like you, wholly occupied with pious cares, and engaging not in strife! Much have they to boast of to their fellows and their friends, that they have shamelessly slain a solitary hermit, incapable of contending in arms!' Thus lamenting, bitterly and repeatedly, Ráma performed his father's last obsequies, and lighted his funeral pile. He then made a vow that he would extirpate the whole Kshatriya race. In fulfilment of this purpose he took up his arms, and with remorseless and fatal rage singly destroyed in fight the sons of Kárttavírya; and after them, whatever Kshatriyas he encountered, Ráma, the first of warriors, likewise slew. Thrice seven times did the clear the earth of the Kshatriya caste 19; and he filled with their blood the five large lakes of Samanta-panchaka, from which he offered libations to the race of Bhrigu. There did he behold his sire again, and the son of Richíka beheld his son, and told him what to do. Offering a solemn sacrifice to the king of the gods, Jámadagnya presented the earth to the ministering priests. To Kaśyapa he gave the altar made of gold, ten fathoms in length, and nine in height 20. With the permission of Kaśyapa, the Brahmans divided it in pieces amongst them, and they were thence
called Khańd́aváyana Brahmans. Having given the earth to Kaśyapa, the hero of immeasurable prowess retired to the Mahendra mountain, where he still resides: and in this manner was there enmity between him and the race of Kshatriyas, and thus was the whole earth conquered by Ráma 21."
The son of Viswámitra was Śunahśephas, the descendant of Bhrigu, given by the gods, and thence named Devaráta 22. Viswámitra had
other sons also, amongst whom the most celebrated were Madhuchhandas, Kritajaya, Devadeva, Asht́aka, Kachchapa, and Hárita; these founded many families, all of whom were known by the name of Kauśikas, and intermarried with the families of various Rishis 23.
401:15 The circumstances of Richíka's marriage, and the birth of Jamadagni and Viśwámitra, are told much in the same manner as in our text both in the Mahábhárata and Bhágavata.
402:16 In the beginning of the legend occurs the account of Kárttavíryárjuna, with the addition that he oppressed both men and gods. The latter applying to Vishńu for succour, he descended to earth, and was born as Paraśuráma, for the especial purpose of putting the Haihaya king to death.
402:17 In the Rájadharma the sons of the king carry off the calf. The Bhágavata makes the king seize upon the cow, by whose aid Jamadagni had previously entertained Arjuna and all his train: borrowing, no doubt, these embellishments from the similar legend of Vaśisht́ha and Viśwámitra, related in the Rámáyańa.
402:18 The characteristic weapon of Ráma is however an axe (paraśu), whence his name Ráma, 'with the axe.' It was given to him by Śiva, whom the hero propitiated on mount Gandhamádana. He at the same time received instruction in the use of weapons generally, and the art of war. Rája Dharma.
403:19 This more than 'thrice slaying of the slain' is explained in the Rájadharma to mean, that he killed the men of so many generations, as fast as they grew up to adolescence.
403:20 It is sometimes read Narotsedha, 'as high as a man.'
404:21 The story, as told in the Rájadharma section, adds, that when Ráma had given the earth to Kaśyapa, the latter desired him to depart, as there was no dwelling for him in it, and to repair to the seashore of the south, where Ocean made for him (or relinquished to him) the maritime district named Śúrpáraka. The traditions of the Peninsula ascribe the formation of the coast of Malabar to this origin, and relate that Paraśuráma compelled the ocean to retire, and introduced Brahmans and colonists from the north into Kerala or Malabar. According to some accounts he stood on the promontory of Dilli, and shot his arrows to the south, over the site of Kerala. It seems likely that we have proof of the local legend being at least as old as the beginning of the Christian era, as the mons Pyrrhus of Ptolemy is probably the mountain of Paraśu or Paraśuráma. See Catalogue of Mackenzie Collection, Introd. p. xcv. and vol. II. p. 74. The Rájadharma also gives an account of the Kshatriyas who escaped even the thrice seven times repeated destruction of their race. Some of the Haihayas were concealed by the earth as women; the son of Viduratha, of the race of Puru, was preserved in the Riksha mountain, where he was nourished by the bears; Sarvakarman, the son of Saudása, was saved by Paráśara, performing the offices of a Śúdra; Gopati, son of Śivi, was nourished by cows in the forests; Vatsa, the son of Pratarddana, was concealed amongst the calves in a cow-pen; the son of Deviratha was secreted by Gautama on the banks of the Ganges; Vrihadratha was preserved in Gridhrakúta; and descendants of Marutta were saved by the ocean. From these the lines of kings were continued; but it does not appear from the ordinary lists that they were ever interrupted. This legend however, as well as that of the Rámáyańa, b. I. c. 52, no doubt intimates a violent and protracted struggle between the Brahmans and Kshatriyas for supreme domination in India, as indeed the text of the Mahábhárata more plainly denotes, as Earth is made to say to Kaśyapa, 'The fathers and grandfathers of these Kshatriyas have been killed by the remorseless Ráma in warfare on my account.'
404:22 The story of Śunahśephas is told by different authorities, with several variations. As the author of various Śúktas in the Rich, he is called the son of Ajigartta. The Rámáyańa makes him the middle son of the sage Richíka, sold to Ambarísha, king of Ayodhyá, by his parents, to be a victim in a human sacrifice offered p. 405 by that prince. He is set at liberty by Viśwámitra, but it is not added that he was adopted. The Bhágavata concurs in the adoption, but makes Śunahśephas the son of Viśwámitra's sister, by Ajigartta of the line of Bhrigu, and states his being purchased as a victim for the sacrifice of Hariśchandra (see n. 9. p. 372). The Váyu makes him a son of Richíka, but alludes to his being the victim at Hariśchandra's sacrifice. According to the Rámáyańa, Viswámitra called upon his sons to take the place of Śunahśephas, and on their refusing, degraded them to the condition of Cháńd́álas. The Bhágavata says, that fifty only of the hundred sons of Viswámitra were expelled their tribe, for refusing to acknowledge Śunahśephas or Devaráta as their elder brother. The others consented; and the Bhágavata expresses this; 'They said to the elder, profoundly versed in the Mantras, We are your followers:' as the commentator; ###. The Rámáyańa also observes, that Śunahśephas, when bound, praised Indra with Richas or hymns of the Rig-veda. The origin of the story therefore, whatever may be its correct version, must be referred to the Vedas; and it evidently alludes to some innovation in the ritual, adopted by a part only of the Kauśika families of Brahmans.
405:23 The Bhágavata says one hundred sons, besides Devaráta and others, as Asht́aka, Hárita, &c. Much longer lists of names are given in the Váyu, Bhágavata, Bráhma, and Hari V. The two latter specify the mothers. Thus Devaśravas, Kati (the founder of the Kátyáyanas), and Hiranyáksha were sons of Śilavatí; Reńuka, Gálava, Sankriti, Mudgala, Madhuchchandas, and Devala were sons of Reńu; and Asht́aka, Kachchhapa, and Hárita were the sons of Drishadvatí. The same works enumerate the Gotras, the families or tribes of the Kauśika Brahmans: these are, Párthivas, Devarátas, Yájnawalkyas, Sámarshanas, Údumbaras, Dumlánas, Tarakáyanas, Munchátas, Lohitas, Renus, Karishus, Babhrus, Páninas, Dhyánajyápyas, Śyálantas, Hiranyákshas, Śankus, Gálavas, Yamadútas, Devalas, Śálankáyanas, Báshkalas, Dadativádaras, Śauśratas, Śaindhaváyanas, Nishńátas, Chunchulas, Śálankrityas, Sankrityas, Vádarańyas, and an infinity of others, multiplied by intermarriages with other tribes, and who, according to the Váyu, were originally of the regal caste, like Viswámitra; but, like him, obtained Brahmanhood through devotion. Now these Gotras, or some of them at least, no doubt existed, partaking more of the character of schools of doctrine, but in which teachers and scholars were very likely to have become of one family by intermarrying; and the whole, as well as their original founder, imply the interference of the Kshatriya caste with the Brahmanical monopoly of religious instruction and composition.