Raghuvamsam -9
– Santhipriya –

Dilipa gets the boon

Skilled archers from the assemblage anxiously waited for their turn to win the prized catch, one behind the other marched forward and ran back in the same speed, but everyone failing in their attempt to lift the mighty bowstring. As the last but one in line, Rama seated in the assemblage was called for the test. Viswamithra nodded Rama to move forward, while mum Janaka sat motionless fairly convinced that his daughter shall not be able to find a suitor in the assemblage. Janaka thought to self ‘it is not a noble calf to lift and when Kings with strength of fully grown elephants have vainly tried this task, how then this young Prince dare and try the task’. However unruffled Rama walked fast nonchalantly, saluted the King in reverence, and to the wondering of the gazed assemblage, lifted the stringed shaft and snapped it in lightening speed to the thunderous applause of the audience and ecstasy of Janaka.
Next few days’ events passed like hurricane, Monarch of Kosala, Dasaratha with his household priest, and revered sage Vashishta reached Mithila with his family to solemnize the function. While the Mithila King gave his lovely daughter to Rama, his brothers were also simultaneously united with other fair brides. Urmila, daughter of earth’s sister married Lashman while her twin sisters Mandavi and Suthakeerthi married Bharatha and Sathrughna respectively. Thus happily wedded Princes when marched from Mithila along with Rama and Sita, a dazzling splendor in the form of Parasurama, in a glorious warrior shape, rose before them from nowhere.
Parasurama, sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu and wearing Brahmin’s cord, blazed like Sun and Moon and waylaid them  taunting ‘Oh, Rama, warrior from Kshatriya clan, I am here after annihilating your entire clan for they wronged and lynched my unarmed, innocent father. Those left in my list are you and Kathaveerya alone. As the name Rama binds us both I am hesitant to kill you. Glee not over show of your valor to hold the hand of Sita, what you have achieved is from the strength gained from Lord Vishnu, but look at my weapon in my hand. I shall confess you to be the ultimate valor and victor only if my shaft is lifted and strung, thereafter, you shall be allowed exit here’. Earlier Parasurama breezed out his vindictiveness on the Kshatriya clan after absorbing the fury aspect of Lord Vishnu, and hunted those who wronged his father, a saint, unarmed.
But fittingly answered Rama with a soft smile ‘O, Brahmin sage, be aware that the sin clings on those killing a Brahmin even if for justified reason, no matter how much divine merited is the executor. Oh, my elder, listen, me too is not an exception to this law. Even as victor I do not wish commit the same mistake by causing death on you, though not without remorse  listen that you are blood related to the saintly sage Viswamithra who incidentally remains my Master. Destruction of master’s holdings shall be an act of perfidy. Therefore you yourself choose this shaft to your merit, which if strung shall be merited with the earth you conquered by might, or your power of steps (The step gait is also known as ‘Pada Gathi’ meaning power of feet). Let these be made clear before I accept the challenge’. As Parasurama, he possessed a mystic power of Lord Vishnu that enabled him reach from one end to the other in blink of moment, no matter how long has been the distance in-between. Such mystic power was called step gait or Pada Gathi.
Once Parasurama’s Master Saintly sage Kashyaba, for the lores he imparted to Parasurama received as meed with a rider entire land which Parasurama had won with power of penance. The rider was that in the land so granted by Parasurama, he shall not stay once the Sun rests and Moon begins to smile. He shall only be a visitor to the land. Respecting the command, wherever Parasurama strayed in master’s land, before Moon smiled, he vacated it with power of steps (Pada Gathi) and crossed over mount of Mahindra, which bordered his master’s land. Losing the step gait shall block the said power of Pada Gathi and entering the land donated shall be trespass. Therefore the sage divine Parasurama pronounced ‘Rama, you know you to be incarnate of soul Supreme. Destroy my body or my path to Paradise whichever you chose, should you turn victor by lifting my shaft’ thus indirectly declaring his proposed intent to shed his earthly life and that he shall not reach Paradise as perceived, but take another body before reaching heaven. Thus  Parasurama when offered Rama his huge weapon to lift and bend, Rama, grasped it like a light toy and bent it, smiling the while. But the glory of his foe, elder and sixth incarnate of Lord Vishnu paled before the later, who was destined to manifest eighth of Lord Vishnu, in the form of Lord Rama, who stood the victor there.
And as Rama snapped the shaft, Parasurama’s pride vanished instantly burning away mystic powers he possessed to turn into a simple Brahmin hermit and to amplify that Rama was Lord Vishnu’s incarnate. As an elder hermit he blessed Rama that his mission shall yield desired fruit and then vanished from everyone’s sight. However before Parasurama’s disappearance, Rama along with accompanying associates prostrated before Parasurama, his elder, to receive his blessings and then proceeded to his Kingdom. Parasurama raised his hand and blessed Rama before departing from there.
Brief clarification:
Blocking the path to Paradise does not mean Parasurama cannot reach Paradise forever, where he dwelled. Here, the blockade refers to the perceived path of Parasurama which when blocked shall force him to take another circuitous route to reach his dwelling which shall again take few more moment. Every moment of human equals to several years for divine souls. Therefore when the perceived path is disturbed and circuitous route taken several thousand years are lost. One may be inclined to seek why the same cannot be avoided? The entire episodes stated in several Puranas are simple acts of divine enacted to teach the mankind the implications of each action enacted. As in this case, when time ripened for Parasurama to end his incarnation, which again was Vishnu’s sixth before which his powers are to be transferred to eighth incarnate Rama, some event became necessary to enable Parasurama and Rama meet face to face so that Rama receive the powers from Parasurama. When Parasurama blessed Rama, who lay prostrated before him, there in that moment Parasurama transferred his mystical powers to Rama to function in the eighth incarnate with the same mystical powers. Even as Parasurama blessed Rama ‘May your mission yield desired fruit’ Rama did not realize that he was divine incarnate and every other folks too thought that Rama possessed some extraordinary powers like divine souls. Therefore it is reasonable to believe the theory that if Rama had known of his incarnation he would not have behaved such with Parasurama, who was ending his incarnation to return back to heaven reposing the responsibilities on Rama. It was destined that only after Parasurama shed his body shall Rama derive the powers of Lord Vishnu.

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