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95. Confrontation

Shri Rama speaking directly to Parashurama said,

“What do you want to happen? Surely it was a humble servant of yours who has broken Shiva’s bow.”

Parashurama became further enraged, his eyes previously red were now turning purple, as he said,

 “A true devotee serves unconditional love! Not one who goes against the teacher’s ways.  If this is the reason for a devotee to act like an enemy, then he should prepare for battle like an enemy.  Listen to me Rama!  Whoever it was who had the nerve to break this bow should come forward at once, before I kill every man here!”

Seeing Parashurma exploding into a fit of rage, Lakshmana with a smile on his face teasingly said, “Parashurama!  When I was a young boy, I broke hundreds of bows, why is it that you never came to me with such anger?  Why are you so sentimental about this one?”

This jibing by Lakshmana only served to further enrage the sage, who said, “How dare you speak to me in this way, you’re only moments away from death and still you cannot control your tongue!  Shiva’s bow is famous throughout the world, it cannot be compared to a child’s toy.”  Lakshmana replied with a tone of sarcasm, “Dear sage, a bow is a bow, they’re all the same to me.  There is nothing to be won or lost by breaking such a bow as this.  My brother Shri Rama thought it was a new one, he picked it up, strung it and it simply snapped. Why is anyone to blame?”

“Foolish boy, you have no idea who you are speaking to!  Do not mistake me for a simple sage!  I am known throughout the world for destroying the greatest warriors.  I am both a warrior and sage, fighting wars but at the same time following a path of renunciation.  When kings step out of line it is these arms which destroy them, bringing rule back to the saints.  Do not bring suffering to your mother and father boy, my axe is evil, it has the ability to murder children even before they are born!”

Lakshmana toning down his sarcasm a little but still smiling said, “You’re a great saint!  A great warrior too it seems!  Teasing me again and again with your mighty axe, perhaps even a mountain would be blown away if you breathed at it.  You cannot frighten us by raising a finger my lord.  I see that you are wearing a sacred thread and I will not get angry.  It is a virtue of our family to never harm a god, a Brahmin, a devotee of Shri Hari, and a cow.  Harming any of these is considered a sin so regardless of your angry words, we should worship you and bear your anger.  If I have said anything to upset you or your axe, please forgive me Parashurama.”

Parashurama looked across to the guru Vishvamitra with eyes half open and said, “Vishvamitra! This student of yours appears to be dumb!  He is on the verge of death and is about to bring destruction to his entire family.  To the unblemished solar race, he is like the dark area we see on the moon, a single mark on his perfect ancestry.  Has he lost his mind?  He speaks so recklessly, without any sense of awareness, without any manners.  At this very moment he is standing in the mouth of the lord of death.  Amongst all of these men here present, I announce to you a single chance to pacify this foolish boy.  Explain to him my greatness and explain why he is speaking out of place.  I give you a chance to save his life”

Lakshmana said, “Holy man, what is the need for anyone else to explain to me your glory and greatness? With your loud voice you have already explained how dangerous you are!  But, if that wasn’t enough, please go ahead and tell us some more about how great you are.” Parashurama responded by saying, “Fool!  Only weak cowards show off about their achievements.  Brave warriors never do.  Every word you speak seems to be a call to the lord of death.  Nobody should blame me for the death of this foolish child, he has had his chance.”

Clenching his left fist and the right hand tightening its grip on his great axe, Parashurama started to walk towards Lakshmana.  Vishvamitra said, “Excuse the boy my friend.  A true holy man should disregard the rash statements of a young boy.  When a child does something good we should be pleased, but never angered if they do something wrong.  Pardon him my friend.”

“I would have hacked him to a hundred pieces by now if it wasn’t for my high regard for you, Vishvamitra.  I will spare him as you have requested.  He is rude and offensive but he will survive only due to your request.” said Parashurama.

Vishvamitra smiled.  Amused, he inwardly wondered how Parashurma had failed to realise Shri Rama’s true identity.

Lakshmana said, “Surely everyone in the world knows about your greatness Parashurama! Your kindness and gentleness must be famous.  You took revenge on those who took your father’s life, but here you have the opportunity to take revenge on those who have dishonoured your Guru by the breaking of this bow, and you do nothing.”

Parshurama, grabbed hold of his axe again and was being jeered by the other princes to attack.

“Why are you still threatening me with your axe Parashurama?  I have only spared your life because I hold you to be a brahmin.  I don’t think you have ever faced a real opponent in battle.  You are a big fish in a small pond and now you are way out of our depth”, said Lakshmana.

Shri Rama motioned with his hand for Lakshmana to quieten down.  Parashurma was completely enraged, ready to kill Lakshamana.  It was as if flames were coming out of his eyes, but then, Shri Rama spoke words like cooling water:

“Please have patience, love and compassion on Lakshmana my Lord, he is just a child.  Do not be angered by this young man, Parashurama.  It is obvious that Lakshmana does not realise your greatness.  Why would he tempt fate if he knew how dangerous you can be?  Children will be children, often teasing and playing games with their parents and teachers, we should not get mad.  Be compassionate towards him.  He is a young man, please treat him accordingly.  A sage such as you should be of calm mind, compassionate, peaceful and full of care for others.”

Yogas chita vriti nirodaha – The state of yoga is the calming of the fluctuations of the mind.  In a few words, Shri Rama explains the state a yogi should represent.  Parashurama is so easily swayed by Lakshmana’s words.  He loses his judgment.  Here Lakshmana’s jibing of Parashurma represents everything in the world that pushes and pulls us away from our state of yoga and equanimity.  Anyone who has children will be able to relate to how they can easily make us angry by their actions.  Sometimes, we out of bad habit, lose our state of equanimity to scold children who are just playing, this through mindfulness should be prevented.  There is a big difference between the way of Rama and the way of Parashurama. 

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