The Tale of Parshurama

The tale of Parshurama the sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu is a classic tale of Indian folk storytelling, with many similar ties to western folk storytelling. Parshurama’s mother Renuka was known for her devotion to her husband. Her love for him was such that she used to carry water even in a wet clay pot. One day when Renuka was carrying water back home she got distracted by Ghandharvas for a second, and as a result, the wet clay pot broke and the water fell.

When Parshurama’s father Jamadagni got to know about the incident, he was furious and ordered his eldest son to behead his mother. His scared son refused to do so and was turned to stone by his father. Then, Jamadagni ordered his second, third and fourth sons to behead their mother but when all of them refused, he turned them all to stone. Finally, he asked his youngest son, Parshurama to behead his mother. Parshurama, being a loyal son, beheaded his mother.

Impressed by Parshuram’s devotion, his father granted him a boon. Parshurama asked his father to bring his mother back to life and turn his brothers back to humans, Jamadagni fulfilled his son’s request and his wife and sons came back to life. Essentially this tale focuses on the morality of doing what your elders ask of you, no matter the task, while also placing a lot of importance on how you can use the power or rewards you achieve as a result for obtaining the greater good (seen when Parshuram brings his family back to life) rather than using it for personal benefit. While the subject matter is undoubtedly dark in nature, it takes advantage of the morality at the hand of the folk tale to create a solid anecdote regarding the central tale of morality.