Story of Parashurama, part 5.
Fight with Bhishma (part 2)
The two had to settle the issue by fighting a duel. At first Bhishma got out of his chariot came to Parashurama, made oblations to him with respect due to a preceptor and said, "O revered guruji, now I am forced to fight with one who is stronger than I am. You taught me, you are righteous, bless me so that I come out successful.
"Greatest among the Kurus, you have conducted yourself admirably indeed. Whatever be the situation, if one is talking to a highly respectable man he has to speak in this way. It is a good way of conducting oneself. If you had not touched my feet and asked me to bless you I would have cursed you. Collect all your energy and skill and get ready to fight with me. Fight in the noblest possible way. The way you have conducted yourself has made me very happy."
When Bhishma heard Parashurama he was happy, touched his feet again and began to shoot arrows. Bhishma had the upper hand from the beginning. One of his arrows struck the sage and he rolled on the ground almost unconscious. When Bhishma saw his preceptor roll on the ground he felt repentant for having agreed to fight with his preceptor. He said, "What an unrighteous thing have I done! I thought, to fight is a Kshatriya's dharma but I have hurt a brahmin and my own teacher," he began to wail. He stopped shooting arrows at Parashurama. By then it was sunset. A righteous battle would never be fought when the sunset. Therefore their duel ended for the day. A righteous war or duel was fought between sun rise and sun set.
As usual the duel continued at sunrise. When Parashurama shot a divine weapon, Bhishma fell unconscious on his chariot. Amba and the others who came with Parashurama gave out a shout of joy. Bhishma got up in moment and he shot an equally powerful arrow at the sage and he fell unconscious again. A terrible shout rented the air as if the sun had set. All the sages and Amba gave first aid to Parashurama and made him come to his own. Again the fight started and continued till the end of the day without either of them winning.
On the third morning the absorbing battle continued and a number of divine weapons were used by either of them. At one stage Bhishma fell unconscious. At that time, as if from nowhere eight radiant faced brahmins entered the scene and encouraged Bhishma not to lose courage. They sprinkled cold water on his face and he got up and the eight figures disappeared. At that moment, Bhishma's mother Ganga appeared on the scene, set the chariot and the charioteer in their position and encouraged Bhishma to continue the fight. Then she disappeared. Bhishma got up and shot a very powerful divine arrow at his teacher. It struck right in the middle of his chest and he rolled down on the ground unconscious. When he fell a number of bad omens were seen in nature. The sky became dark with clouds and they rained blood on the ground. Hundreds of meteors struck the earth. A terrible storm began to blow. The earth quaked. This way hundreds of such frightening scenes were witnessed. Parashuram recovered after sometime and got ready to shoot the most terrible weapon on Bhishma. Then the sages who accompanied him stopped him from doing it. With that the third days battle came to an end. This way the two heroes fought for twenty three days but no one seemed to be winning. It came to be considered a unique batle between the two heroes.
That night just before he went to bed Bhishma made oblations to brahmins, his pithrus, devas and rajarshis and prayed, "I have been fighting Parashurama for so many days, but I could not get victory. If I am going to win, let all the devas bless me and give darshan to me." The next morning when he got up, he turned to his right and got up. Just at that moment he saw eight brahmins with divine appearance, who had appeared before him earlier, They walked up to Bhishma and said, "Bhishma, be courageous, we are going to give the divine, 'Praswapana' weapon. You knew the use of it in your earlier birth. Therefore you will be able to learn it easily now. If you use it against your enemy he will go into long deep sleep. On the battlefield sleeping is equal and in a way worse than dying. Parashurama is an immortal and you cannot kill him. You use this weapon against him." So saying they disappeared.
The next day the battle began with renewed vigour. Both used the weapon 'Shakti' when they subsided, Parashurama wielded the all powerful brahmastra. Bhishma matched it by wielding the same. Both met in the air. They produced huge mountains shaped fire balls. At this point of time Bhishma made up his mind to use the Praswapanastra. He could hear voices from the sky saying, "Don't use that weapon, No, don't do it."
Bhishma did not seem to heed the warning. At that moment sage Narada appeared in the sky and said, "Bhishma, what is this? What are you going to do? All the devas are shouting at the top of their voice that you should not use the weapon. You do not seem to heed their words and you appear to be ready to send it against Parashurama. Please don't do it. Take it back. Do not put your preceptor Parashurama who is a brahmavetha to shame". Immediately Bhishma decided not to wield the Praswapanakstra, but he refused to retrieve the brahmastra. It continues to burn brightly as the sun in the sky.
Parashurama was greatly pleased with Bhisma's courage and forbearance and said, "Bhishma has defeated me." At that moment Parashurama's Pithrus appeared in the sky and addressed the following words to Parashurama. "Parashurama, Bhishma is a great hero and he is righteous as well. It is not the right thing for you to fight with him. Fighting is the work of a Kshatriya. A brahmana like you has to engage in studies of the vedas and shastras and perform various rights for the good of the word. We have been telling you this over and over again. Now stop fighting. Not just that. Never touch weapons anymore. Go and engage in performing tapas. That will do you a lot of good.
Devas have already asked Bhishma not to fight any more." Parashurama was not in a mood to listen to them. He said, "I have taken an oath not to leave the battlefield until I defeat Bhishma. If you think that this battle is to stop, ask Bhishma to leave the battlefield." Narada, Rchika and pithru devas asked Bhishma to stop fighting. Then divine Ganga appeared before Parashurama and asked him to stop the fight. At that Parashurama relented and decided to stop the fight. Once again the light radiant faced brahmins appeared before Bhishma and asked him to go and speak to Parashurama, and please him. Bhishma agreed to do so.
He approached Parashurama and touched his feet. The sage's anger had already subsided and said, "Bhishma there is no one equal to you in this world. I am happy as a result of this encounter. You can go back home."
Then he called Amba before Bhishma and said, "Dear child, as you have seen, though I fought bravely I have failed to defeat Bhishma. I have promised you to get you justice. It is beyond me and I have failed to fulfill it." But Amba could not accept. She said, "It is fine, Now I am going to acquire strength to kill Bhishma in a battle, I am not unhappy with you." So saying she left the place.
Parashurama was born in the family of brahmarshis. Could he indulge in killing thousands of people? He had killed thousands of kshatriyas. Kshatriyas are people who protect land and its people. When that is the case, a question arises. That is, 'Is it not a sin?' But we have to remember that a kshtriya's duty is to protect people. When they give up their bounden duty, and became highly arrogant and proud, and begin troubling people, they should be stopped from doing so. At that time the earth was full of such wicked kings and Lord Vishnu took an incarnation in the form of Parashurama and rid the world of the wicked Kshatriyas. Therefore it is not right to say that he destroyed kshatriyas without thinking about the appropriateness of his act. He had killed only the wicked ones and spared the righteous ones.
The righteous kings such as Dasharatha, Janaka and Shanthanu and many others were spared.
It is also wrong to say that he did not teach archery to Kshatriyas. The greatest among the Kshatriyas, Bhishma was one of the best among his students.
Bhishma was honest and righteous and therefore he deserved his blessings. He taught faithfully and as a result of it Bhishma became invincible. Karna on the other hand acted dishonestly and had to face his wrath. Still Parashurama was kind to him. Karna had served him devotedly and therefore he blessed him to be invincible.
The incident in which Parashurama challenged Sri Ramachandra, another of Lord Vishnu's incarnation, and lost his face and that is to be considered an instance of divine dispensation. The object of Parashurama's incarnation was over and Sri Rama had to continue the former's work. This makes us believe that the divine Vaishnava bow and its divine power got into Sri Rama's personality.
Oblations to Lord Parashurama who saved the world from evil forces and established the rule of law in it.
This is the divine story of the great tapasvi, invincible hero, the best among brahmanas, self respecting and omniscient Bhagavan Parashurama.