Introduction to the story of
Let us take up the story of Sage Jamadagni this month. Readers of
this series of Stories of Sages will remember this sage from the first
two, Sage Chyavana and Sage Bhrigu. For the sake of completion, we
will present the relevant portion here.
The lineage of Bhrigu:
The lineage of
sage Bhrigu is indeed illustrious: Chyavana, Jamadagni, Parasurama
The sage Bhrigu got Chyavana through Puloma and Chyavana begot a son
Rucheeka, who married Satyavathi, daughter of Gadhi, son of King Kusika.
We have an interesting story about this marriage. When sage Rucheeka
approached King Gadhi for the hand of Satyavathi, the king put a condition
to the sage, that he would give his daughter in marriage if the sage
gives him a thousand horses white in body color but with dark ears.
The concept of Kanya Sulkam (a tax for giving one’s daughter)
probably started that time! It may be that the king wanted to test
the powers of the sage and wanted to see whether the sage can take
care of his daughter after the marriage. In any case, sage Rucheeka
accepted the challenge and prayed to Varuna, who obliged the sage
readily. Thus the condition was met and the marriage took place.
It may be noted that the concepts of Kanya Dan and Kanya Sulka got
degraded in the later ages due to the Yuga Dharma. The original concepts
were with a lot of insight.
Birth of Jamadagni:
Sage Rucheeka took his wife Satyavathi and went to his ashram.
When Satyavathi wanted children, sage Rucheeka told her that he would
create a divine rice pudding, which would give her a child. Satyavathi
requested her husband to help her mother too (Gadhi did not have a
son and the life and marriage is considered incomplete without a male
child). So, Rucheeka meditated on Para Brahma (The Ultimate Principle)
and created two vessels with divine rice preparation. He showed her
the two vessels and told her that one of them is brahmyam (full of
the brahminic energies, Satva guna) and the second Kshatram (full
of the fighting warrior clan’s energies, rajo guna). He tells
her that after bath, she and her mother should hug a fig tree and
an Aswattha tree respectively and then they should consume the respective
However, due to destiny, the two vessels got interchanged and Satyavathi
ate the pudding bearing kshatriya energies and her mother the brahminic
one. There is another variant to the story that the mother of Satyavathi
interchanged the vessels deliberately because she felt that Sage Rucheeka
would give the ‘better’ child to his own wife. Thus jealousy
played the part of destiny! Rucheeka saw with his divine vision about
the mix up and told his wife that she was bearing a cruel kshatriya
foetus in her womb and not a brahminic one. Satyavathi was saddened
and prayed to her husband to prevent the calamity through his yogic
powers. He agreed and with his yogic powers transferred the change
to his grandson (to the next generation).
Sai Ram. On one hand, we are told that destiny is inviolable and on
the other hand, we are given such instances where the destiny is changed.
We come across a wonderful story in Sri Guru Charitra of a Brahmin
boy being restored to life after dying from tuberculosis. When questioned
about it, Sri Guru shows the questioner the wonderful incident where
a part of the life span in the next birth is transferred to the present
birth. The story of Markandeya is another example. How to reconcile
these two points of view?
It may be that destiny is indeed inviolable but since destiny is the
Will of God and no individual knows the same fully, one should do
one’s duty and leave the result to God. The sages get some divine
perceptions and do what is needed as per that. Sai Baba also showed
many such miracles where He could modify the destiny of several devotees
including Bhimaji Patil. Sai Ram. Let us now revert back to the story.
Thus a brahminic sage Jamadagni was born to Rucheeka and the kshatriya
energies took shape when Jamadagni got a son Rama in due course of
time (Who becomes famous as Bhargava Rama and as Parashu Rama since
He was carrying a divine Axe as His weapon). Satyavathi’s mother
gave birth to a wonderful child who was full of brahma teja (satvik
qualities). Thus, though born as a king, Kusika’s grandson,
variously known as Gadheya, Kausika and Viswamitra became world famous
for his qualities as a Brahmarshi. We will learn more about him when
we take up his story in detail.
The curse of Sun God:
Jamadagni married Renuka and was leading a happy married
life. He was as well read as his illustrious father and forefathers
in all Vedas and Shastras and he acquired enormous powers because
of his penance. Once he went to the bank of river Narmada along with
his wife Renuka and as fate would have it, felt the desire to have
sexual relationship with her in the day time. Since the area was uninhabited,
the sage felt that there is no problem for his privacy. When the couple
was thus sporting, the Sun God (who is also called as Karma Sakshi,
the witness to all our actions) came in human form as a Brahmin and
told the sage that what he was doing is not dharma (and especially
a learned sage like him should set an example to others). Renuka felt
shy at the sight of a brahmin as she was naked and thus the whole
mood was spoilt. (A similar story is there about Siva and Parvathi
and in that case, resulted in a curse that whoever enters that area
will become a woman!) The sage was angry at the interruption (that
act is also not dharma, one should not interrupt a person in sleep,
in the act of eating, sex, and other natural functions) and cursed
Sun God to be afflicted by Rahu (the Surya Grahana has its origin
in this curse). The Sun God in turn cursed the sage to meet humiliation
and death at the hands of a king. In those times, the sages were beyond
death because of their great tapas and were free from disease. They
were honored and respected by all others, esp. the kshatriyas. This
curse planted the seeds for the death of Jamadagni at the hands of
Kartaviryarjuna and then later again at the hands of that king’s
sons. It also led to Parasu Rama slaughtering all the kshatriya kings
on the earth. We will learn more of that later. Sage Jamadagni gave
a further curse to Sun God that He will be considered as a Paapi (malefic)
and Lord Brahma came and intervened and pacified both of them. He
modified the curses of sage Jamadagni so that the splendor of Sun
God is unaffected (except temporarily like when covered by clouds
and at a few other times). This story has a lot of esoteric significance
and also has significance from the angle of astrology. It is explained
nicely by Sadguru Sivanandamurthy in his excellent book, Margadarsakulu
Maharshulu (sages as seers and as guides).
The beheading of Renuka and her coming back to life:
In course of time, Jamadagni and Renuka got five sons, Rushunvantha,
Sushena, Vasu, Viswavasu and Rama (Parasurama). They were growing
up nicely. It was the habit of Renuka (a temple and a pond in her
honor – Renuka ji is on the way from Ambala to Simla in Himachal
Pradesh and is a picturesque spot) to go daily to river and bring
water in an earthen pot. Once when the pot slipped from her hands,
she just scooped some river sand and shaped it into a pot by her hands,
and that held water because of her spiritual powers. (A similar story
is told about Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi in Shri Sai Satcharitra that
He was watering the plants using raw earthen pots supplied by a disciple
named Vaman Tatya and at the end of each day the pots were breaking
up and fresh pots were being supplied every day). One day, as fate
would have it, she saw a Gandharva king named Chitraradha sporting
with his many wives in the river. She stood watching the sport and
though at the conscious level she was unaffected, at the subconscious
level her mental equilibrium was disturbed (the purer once aura is,
the easier it is for it to get affected. The wearing of white robes
is to remind oneself of utmost care in all the planes of consciousness).
That day the moist sand was not getting shaped as pot and she had
to return empty handed to the ashram. She realized her error and though
she wanted to end her life then and there, as a pativrata, she felt
that she had no individual rights over her body, mind and soul and
returned to the ashram to allow her husband, her Swami, her Master
to deal with the situation as he pleased. That is true egolessness,
true surrender, true paativratya. (A similar story of a washerman
who was serving Sri Guru (Sri Pada Vallabha) at Kurupuram watching
a muslim nawab sporting with his queens in the river and thus getting
the seeds of desire to enjoy similar pleasures, being blessed by Sri
Guru to be born as a muslim ruler in next birth comes to mind. There
Sri Guru tells us that seeds of desire should either be burnt off
or allowed to grow and fructify. Karma is done with mind, speech and
actions and karmic fruits have to be enjoyed till one reaches that
stage of true detachment.). Renuka had to ‘enjoy’ the
bitter fruits of her aura contamination because of the seeds of latent
desire as we shall see below.
Jamadagni saw with his divine sight what happened and asked his sons
to behead her as punishment. By accepting the punishment, one gets
purified. The higher the status, the greater the punishment was the
rule. The rishis had to set examples for others to follow and hence
did not allow themselves the slightest benefit of doubt or lenience.
The first four sons refused because they could not see through the
egoistic filters the true intentions and the powers of their father.
The youngest one, Rama obeyed the father’s command and killed
his mother and again at the father’s command his brothers too
for the sin of disobeying their father’s command. Thus we see
that both Ramas (Parasurama and Dasaradha Rama) were great in obeying
the commands of father, mother and preceptor. Obeying Guru is the
best yagna, best tapas and best sadhana. Obeying Guru (father is the
Guru in this case) is the supreme dharma as brought out in Sri Guru
Charitra, Sri Sai Satcharitra, Sri Gita and Sri Ramayana etc. Jamadagni
was pleased with the obedience of Rama and offered him a boon. Rama
asked his father to bring back his mother and brothers to life and
the sage obliged. That was the power of the sages in those ages! Their
tapas gave them that power! The beheaded body of Renuka is worshipped
as a Goddess by name Chinna Masta (without head), who is shown holding
her own head with her left hand and three streams of blood shooting
up representing the three nadis, ida, pingala and sushumna.
The death of Jamadagni:
The mighty king Kartaviryarjuna of Haihaya clan was born
with two short and weak hands. The cause of that deformity is another
interesting story. Sudarsana Chakra became rather proud of his own
powers once and Sri Maha Vishnu cursed Sudarsana to take birth as
a human with weak hands. When Sudarsana realized his error (that is
the benefit of a curse, to show the ego its error, thus the curses
were meant as boons indirectly), Vishnu assured him that he will rejoin
Him soon and will become famous. Thus Kartaviryarjuna was born as
a cripple but became a great devotee of Sri Dattatreya (the wonderful
form of the Trinity in One) and got many boons from Him. He became
one of the mightiest kings on earth and punished the mighty Ravana
once and Ravana’s grandfather Pulastya had to visit Kartavirya
and intercede on Ravana’s behalf. One of the boons that Kartavirya
got was that when the end comes (anything which has a beginning has
to have an end), it should be in the hands of a worthy opponent. To
fulfill that boon and as promised to Sudarsana, Sri Maha Vishnu took
birth as Parasurama to Jamadagni. Let us now enjoy that story.
Jamadagni had a Kamadhenu named Surabhi (there were similar cows in
many other ashrams and of course Indra had it in heaven. The cow was
capable of fulfilling all the desires and was being treated with love
and respect. Once King Kartaviryarjuna visited the ashram of sage
Jamadagni along with his retinue (it was the custom of the kings to
go hunting and visit the ashrams of various sages who were living
in the forest). The sages used to play host as per their capacity.
When the king visited sage Jamadagni, the whole retinue was treated
lavishly with sumptuous food by the grace of Surabhi. The king was
impressed and requested the sage to give the holy cow Surabhi to him.
The sage refused.
The king was angry and ordered his army to capture the cow by force.
At a glance from the sage Jamadagni, Surabhi created a counter army
and in the fight that ensued, the king’s army was defeated.
This game went on for twenty times and each time, the divine army
created by Surabhi was victorious. The king lost his patience and
killed the sage Jamadagni (so that the divine power of Surabhi is
reduced) and started searching for Surabhi, but She was to be seen
nowhere. She vanished and went back to heaven.
Renuka wanted to accompany Sage Jamadagni on the funeral pyre. Sage
Bhrigu (grandfather of Jamadagni) stopped her and brought her back
to life along with the Sage Jamadagni. Parasurama was very angry at
the turn of events and killed the king Kartaviryarjuna in battle (as
per the boon given by Lord Dattatreya). When Parasurama returned from
the battle and told his illustrious father about it, the sage told
him that it was wrong to kill the king of the land (the king is considered
to be an amsa of Vishnu and killing the king and exposing the kingdom
to anarchy is a sin) and asked his son to go for tirthayatra (a visit
to sacred places) for an year to achieve purification. Obeying the
order of his father, Parasurama set off on a pilgrimage. Seizing this
opportunity, the sons of Kartaviryarjuna killed Jamadagni. Renuka
called out to her divine son twenty one times to protect his father.
As per the destiny and as per Sun God’s curse, the mother’s
calls to her son went unanswered and the sage Jamadagni met his end.
Jamadagni being cursed by Pitru Devatas:
There is yet another interesting story about sage Jamadagni.
After death, he took birth as a mongoose and this was caused by a
curse from his Pitru Devatas. Let us now enjoy that story since these
stories are not only entertaining but are highly educative too.
As ordained in the scriptures, sage Jamadagni was performing the annual
ceremonies for his ancestors and in those ages, they were manifesting
before the person in divine forms and were accepting the offerings.
As a part of preparation for the ceremony, Jamadagni collected a pot
of pure cow milk and kept it aside. The Krodha Devatha (Goddess in
charge of Anger), heard that the sages in the lineage of Bhrigu were
rather short tempered (though their anger was always directed at world
welfare similar to that of sage Durvasa, another great sage, the son
of sage Atri), wanted to test sage Jamadagni and took a human form
and under the pretext of doing some service in the ashram, caused
the pot of milk to overturn. The sage did not get angry and remained
calm. Jamadagni was personification of true satvik energies. (It is
interesting to relate this to what Lord Sri Krishna tells Sri Arjuna
in His Gita: Krodha is born from Kama. Anger is born out of desire,
i.e. if desires are not fulfilled, anger arises. Sage Jamadagni was
known for his tranquility and that shows that he was unaffected by
Kama). The annual ceremony went off albeit with the minor lapse of
non-availability of cow milk. The manes (the ancestors) of Jamadagni
appeared to him and admonished him that what he did was wrong (not
getting angry at a lapse of others that affected his performance of
duties). They thus imparted a very important lesson that anger also
is a useful tool if used properly and that the six internal enemies
are enemies only for a weak mind and are good slaves in the case of
a true Master. The Pitru Devatas advised sage Bhrigu that he should
atone that lapse by taking birth as a Nakula (a mongoose and a person
who has no Kula, no clan, no ancestry in another sense). When requested
for forgiveness, they relented and gave the lifting of the curse to
coincide with the mongoose contradicting the dharmic sayings of many
Brahmins (the dharma like modern day law is complicated and the nuances
are brought out through such stories). As per their curse and blessing,
sage Jamadagni takes birth as a mongoose and gets release from that
at the end of the Aswamedha Yaga performed by Yudhishtira in Maha
The stories of sages are entertaining, educative and enlightening.
We will continue with these in the coming months. Sai Ram.