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Story of Parashurama, part 4.
Fight with Bhishma


   "O revered one, I am neither a brahmana nor a Kshatriya. I am the son of a charioteer. My name is Karna. As I am the son of my mother Radha, I am called Radheya. People call me by the name. As I was eager to learn the use of divine weapons I had to do it. Show mercy on me. Do not get angry with me. When I came here I told you a lie that I was a brahmin and belonged to the Bhargava clan. I thought the person who teaches me is equal to my father and therefore I said I belong to your clan. I have not done this with any bad intention. Kindly bless me.

   "So saying Karna fell at the feet of Parashurama. Parashu Rama was burning with anger. It came out in the form of a curse. He shouted.

   "You have cheated me. You deserve severe punishment. Listen, you will remember all that I have taught only until you meet your equal. The moment you meet your equal you will forget all I have taught you including the use of the invincible Brahmastra. May you forget the most important thing when you need most. But you have served me with devotion all these days. Therefore you will be a highly skilled warrior and be very famous.

   There is a section in the Mahabharatha called Ambopakyana. That related to Amba the daughter of Kashiraja. Parashurama and Bhishma fought a terrible battle on account of her.

   Bhishma had vowed to remain a bachelor for life. He had to get a suitable bride for his cousin Vichitra Virya. In those days Kashiraja was a very famous king. He had three daughters by name Amba, Ambalika and Ambika. When they came of marriageable age, he had arranged for their Swayamvara. Young princes had come to his court from all parts of the country. Bhishma was one among them, but he did not have the intention of winning the hands of a princesses and marrying them. He was there for his cousin. In those days Kshatriya warriors used to win princesses by their valour and accordingly Bhishma won the three daughters of Kashiraja and carried them towards Hastinapura. A number of princes got angry with his act and they collectively attacked him. Bhishma was invincible on the battlefield and none could defeat him. He won hands down. They left the battlefield crestfallen.

   Bhishma took the princesses to Hastinapura and made arrangement for the marriage of his cousin with the three princesses. Among the three, the first one, Amba, wanted to marry king Salva. She loved him and he loved her too. She told Bhishma about her desire. Bhishma consulted mother Satyavathi and the ministers and decided to send Amba to king Salva. Accordingly he made arrangements to send her to him with all honour.

   Amba reached the court of king Salva and expressed her desire to him, but he refused to accept her because she was won by someone else and the king thought he had no claim on her. Further he was not ready to make the great warrior Bhishma, his enemy. Now Amba's position became very precarious like that of Trishanku. She begged Salva to accept her, but he refused to accept her. She did not want to go to her father as an orphan. She was steeped in great sorrow. She did not know what to do. Finally she decided to go to the forest and seek refuge in ashramas of sages, get their advice and decide the next course of action. She discussed her problems with a number of sages, but she failed to get solutions to her problems. She met a great Brahmarshi by name Akritamra. Fie was a great friend of Parashurama. He realised that only Parashurama could solve her problems and directed her to Parashurama. At that very moment Parashurama happened to appear on the scene along with his disciples. Amba narrated her tale of misery to Parashurama. Parashurama's heart melted and he said, "Dear Amba, take heart I am going to speak to Bhishma and make him accept you. If he refused to accept I will fight with him, defeat him and force him to marry you."

   Parashurama spent that day in the ashram and the next morning he started for Bhishma's palace along with a number of sages and Amba. He encamped on the outskirts of Hastinapura and sent word to Bhishma, "Bhishma, I have come to you with a mission conduct yourself in a way which would please me."

   As soon as Bhishma received the message he came to the place and received his teacher with royal honour. After the usual exchange of courtesies Parashurama began. "Bhishma, why have you forcibly brought Amba, the daughter of Kashiraja, much against her desire and then abandoned her. I would like to know why you have done that. You have thrown her into the streets and denied her a chance to lead a dignified life as a princess. You have touched her and no one will receive her. King Salva loved her but as you have won her, he has also refused her. Now, I order you as my disciple, to accept Amba and marry her, or marry her to your brother. You are chivalrous and it is your duty to create a situation in which she can live honourably. It is not proper on your part to put her to shame as you have done."

   "O great sage, the best among brahmins, I cannot marry her to my brother because she had told me that she had married king Salva mentally. She took my permission and went to meet him. I have taken an oath never to marry and I cannot put my oath at stake either. In this respect neither fear nor promise of wealth will change my resolve. I am a kshatriya," said Bhishma in a firm voice.

   Parashurama flew into a fit of rage and shouted at Bhishma saying that he was going to destroy him along with his entourage. Bhishma tried to pacify him but in vain. He begged the sage to cool down and see reason. He continued.

   "O revered one, why do you desire to fight with me? As a boy I learnt the art of war from you. I am your disciple. Why are you so angry with me?"

   "Bhishma, you called me your teacher, still you do not listen to me. You do not accept Amba. I would be really happy if you accept her. If you do not you are not going have peace. I am telling you again, if you desire to avoid your clan from disaster, please accept her."

   "O great sage, however much you persuade me, I cannot do it. As you are my preceptor I am requesting you not to press for it. She has loved another man and therefore she is as dangerous as a snake. Know what she is. I do not think anyone will give her shelter in one's house. Women who loved other men are dangerous. There is no use talking about it much. This is my final decision. Even if Devendra, the chief of gods comes and asks me to accept her, I am not going to take her." said Bhishma.