Parasurama is the sixth avatar, or incarnation of Vishnu, in which he appears as Rama, the son of Jamadagui, armed with aparasu, or axe. Arjuna, king of the Haihayas, had obtained, as a reward for his pious deeds, a thousand arms and sovereignty over all the earth. The gods, alarmed at his power, applied to Vishnu, who decided to be born as a son of Jamadagui, in order that he might slay him. Jamadagui was a pious sage, who had married Renuka, a princess, and had obtained by her five sons, the last of whom was Rama, or Vishnu incarnate. On a certain occasion Arjuna came to the hermitage of Jamadagui, and was there hospitably received by the saint, who could treat him and his followers sumptuously, as he possessed a fabulous cow of plenty, that not only supplied him with the milk and butter required for his sacrificial offerings, but with everything else he wished for. Pleased with the precious qualities of this cow, and disregarding the kind treatment he had received, Arjuna carried off with him the cow and her calf. When Rama, who was absent at this time, returned to the hermitage, he took up his axe (or his bow) and slew Arjuna and his army. The sons of Arjuna, to avenge their father's death, attacked the hermitage and succeeded in killing Jamadagui. Thereupon Rama made a vow to extirpate the whole Kshattriya, or military race, and, not satisfied with destroying the sons of Arjuna, he killed every Kshattriya whom he met afterwards. It is said that "he cleared thrice seven times the earth" (i.e., slew as many generations) "and filled with their blood the five large lakes of Samautapauchaka, from which he offered libations to the race of Bhrigu." He then performed a solemn sacrifice, and distributed the land and great riches among the ministering priests. There can be little doubt that the legend is in essence historical, recording a great struggle in primeval times between Brahmans and Kshattriyas, of which we have the parallel in the history of Vasishtha and Viswamitra (q.v.).

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