May 5, 2011
The third and concluding series of lectures on the Srimad Bhagavatam for this semester got underway during April 6-11 when Dr. K. Subramanyam expounded on the inner significance of the Parashurama Avatara.
Reiterating again that the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavatam are the source of all cultural values and hence must be taught to students and the younger generation, he commenced his lectures.
“The character of Renuka in the story can be compared to the human mind,” he said. “Renuka, Rishi Jamadagni’s wife would go to the river everyday and make a pot out of sand by her tapas shakti or power of austerity. She would then bring water back to the ashram in this pot – a superhuman feat.”
“One day, she was distracted by the sight of the king sporting with his queens in the water. Being thus distracted, she lost the concentration of her mind and was unable to make the pot out of sand. The sand particles would not stick together as they did every day. She returned to the ashram without water, feeling guilty.”
“Rishi Jamadagni noticed that she had returned without her usual pot of water. With his divine insight, he understood what had happened. He commanded his sons to behead their mother Renuka for having deviated from the strict code of conduct expected. The youngest son Rama obeyed his father’s command and beheaded his mother Renuka.”
“Pleased by his obedience, Rishi Jamadagni asked him to seek a boon. Rama pleaded with his father to bring his mother back to life. The Rishi granted him his wish.”
Dr. Subramanyam explained that Renuka here represented a mind that was distracted or weakened by worldly temptations. The secret of redeeming such a mind was to kill it or wash it out completely by the power of meditation and self-enquiry.
The mind could thus be reformed and moulded in a totally new frame, free from the samskaras of the past.
Dr. Subramanyam continued his lecture.
“Later, the arrogant King Kartaveerya destroyed the ashram of Rishi Jamadagni. Enraged by this, Rama took a vow that he would eliminate twenty-one dynasties of tyrannical Kshatriyas and reduce the burden of cruel kings who oppressed their people.”
“He challenged King Kartaveerya in battle and cut off his thousand hands with his battle axe. Thus he came to be known as Parashurama or Rama of the Battle Axe.”
Parashu means axe in Sanskrit.
As the sixth avatar of Vishnu in the Bhagavata Purana, Parashurama relieved the Earth’s burden by exterminating sinful, destructive and irreligious monarchs who pillaged its resources and neglected their duties.
“The Bhagavatam lectures were well attended by students and staff,” stated Mr. Pramod, convener.
The spiritual discourses will resume again in the new academic year in July / August 2011.