Jamadagni (जमदग्नि)

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Jamadagni was the well-known son of Maharshi Richika and Princess Satyavati. An interesting story in the Puranas tells us how they came to be married. Nino Gadhi visited Richika's hermitage to pay his Fespects. He was shocked when the sage asked for the Hand of his daughter in marriage. How could he give hil daughter, used to royal comforts, in marriage to nascetic who had only the bare minimum to give?

Gadhi would have felt better if Richika had been Too young for marriage. That would have given him H euse to refuse. His mind was in a whirlwind as tried to think of a way out of the predicament. After a good deal of hesitation, he said that it was the tom of the kshatriyas, the warrior caste, to allow en to choose their own husbands, and that he ne say in the matter. However, if the sage could a thousand white horses, each with a black ear, become eligible to become the bridegroom. That was a trick, of course. Its impossibility would His courage the sage or keep him busy till he to his senses. Satisfied that he had sent Richika Wild horse chase,' the king returned to his palace.

Instead of running about in quest of the horses, Richika prayed to Varuna, the god of waters. Varuna granted the sage's prayer and gave him a thousand white horses with one black ear each. Richika excitedly drove the herd of horses to Gadhi's palace, and the king fainted when he learned the cause of the commotion outside. The trick had turned out to be terrifyingly cruel.

Regaining consciousness, Gadhi was forced to stick to his words and handed his tearful daughter to the sage. In due time, a son was born to them who was named Jamadagni. The great Brahmarishi Vishvamitra was Gadhi's youngest son, hence the uncle of Jamadagni. This increased Jamadagni's fame.

Being of orthodox habits regarding religious observances, Richika brought up his son to be the same way. This was complemented by the noble and loving nature of Satyavati. Jamadagni grew up in the peaceful and sylvan environs of his father's hermitage and diligently studied the Vedas. The Mahabharata mentions that Jamadagni was known to possess knowledge of the entire Vedas. He regularly meditated and performed austerities, and above all, was devoted to his godlike parents.

When Jamadagni grew up, he wanted to make long pilgrimage to the various sacred places and worship the presiding deities associated with them. On his return journey, he met King Prasenajit, who, observing his bright and calm visage, urged him to kindly accept his hospitality. While in the palace, Jamadagni became acquainted with the king's daughter, Princess Renuka and they fell in love. The king understood this and readily agreed when Jamadagni requested Renukai hand in marriage. They married and went to live on the bank of the river Narmada, where food was abundant and the scenery was breathtaking. They were happy together and in time had five sons. They were Rumanvat, Suhotra or Sushena, Vasu, Vishvavasu, and the best known, Parashurama.

One day Renuka sent her children, now adolescents, to gather fruits, their principal food, and proceeded to the river Narmada to bathe. From a distance, she saw the royal entourage of King Kartaviryarjuna in a festive mood engaged in water sports. Renuka backtracked and went further upstream in search of a secluded spot. After a while she found one, but on approaching it she spotted Chitraratha, prince of Mrittikavati, and his queen joyously swimming and playing in the waters, oblivious of everything else. Renuka felt envious of their beauty, felicity, and happiness, and stood gazing at them for a long time. She finally dragged away her eyes-but not her mind--and went still farther upstream.

She returned to the hermitage disquieted; cleansed, but not purified. Her mind had given way to very low thoughts. Jamadagni had been waiting for her impatiently. When he perceived her unworthy thoughts and realized that she had been shorn of her perfection, le reproved her. By then the children had returned.

jamadagni called Rumanvat, the eldest son, and ommanded him to kill his mother. Rumanvat refused I do so. One by one, Jamadagni commanded his rand, third, and fourth sons to kill their mother. All of them followed the stance of their elder brother. Enraged, Jamadagni cursed them to lose their minds and live as idiots.

When Parashurama was summoned, he stepped forward and slew his mother. However, he fainted, realizing the gravity and consequences of his gruesome and unthinking act. The other brothers were stunned.

His anger assuaged, Jamadagni revived Parashurama and asked him to choose a boon as a reward for his obedience. Parashurama wanted his mother to be brought back to life and his brothers to be restored to their natural condition. These requests were granted, along with the added boon of making Parashurama Invincible. Rishis want us to maintain high spiritual Mandards and are displeased at the slightest failure and punish us to teach us a lesson. However, their compassion makes them take back the punishment too.

Richika, Jamadagni's father, possessed the great bow of Vishnu. Legend has it that the engineer god Vishvakarma had fashioned two bows: one for Shiva and the other for Vishnu. The gods wanted to see which one was the best, and insisted on an archery Fontest. When the twanging sound of both bowstrings the universe with terror, the gods called for a halt. Later, Shiva gave away his bow to Janaka. This i the bow that was broken by Rama to win the W of Sita. Vishnu in turn gave his mighty bow I Richika, who in course of time handed it over to

image Jamadagni ordering his son Parashurama to slay his mother.

Jamadagni was once annoyed because the sun Surya, was giving off too much heat. Jamadagni W shooting arrows at Surya. This went on for a time, with Renuka taking care of the logistics. ng lamadagni's hopeless condition, Surya accepted at to humour him. In the guise of a brahmin Fant, Surya presented him with a pair of sandals and an umbrella. Thus these things came in vogue. Even today, these items are included in the gifts meant for brahmins on special occasions like shraddha (memorial ceremonies).

Kartaviryarjuna once visited the hermitage of Jamadagni when Renuka was alone. Though he was treated respectfully, he forcefully took away a prize Cow. When Parashurama was told about it, he fought with and killed the mighty king and scattered his army with arrows shot from the bow of Vishnu Kartaviryarjuna's sons attacked the hermitage in return and avenged their father's death by slaying Jamadagni and destroying everything around.


Once Karttaviryarjuna pleased the hermit-sage Dattatreya the son of Atri, by doing penance and got the boon of one thousand hands. One day he went to the forest for hunting and entered the bank of Narmada. The hermit Jamadagni had been living there with his wife Renuka and sons ParaSurama and others. The King being tired of hunting got into the hermitage. Parasurama was not there. The hermit called his divine cow Kamadhenu, which provided the King and his followers with a very good supper. When the King departed he asked for the wonderful cow. The hermit did not consent. The King caught hold of the cow by force and went to his city. ParaSurama went to Mahismatinagar the capital of Karttaviryarjuna, killed the King and took Kamadhenu back. From that day onwards the sons of Karttavirya were waiting for an opportunity to take revenge. (Page 82, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

To test Jamadagni, Dharma went to his asrama taking the form of Anger. Jamadagni had just milked Kamadhenu and kept the milk in a pot. Dharma as Anger crept into the milk. Jamadagni drank it and yet remained calm. Seeing this Dharma appeared before him in the form of a Brahmin and blessed him assuring Jamadagni that in future he would be obedient to Dharma (Chapter 91. Asvamedha Parva).

Once the sage Jamadagni went to Goloka and propitiated Kamadhenu by his tapas. Kamadhenu gave her sister Susila to Jamadagni. The sage presented that cow to his wife Renuka. (Brahmanda Purana. Chapter 61).

Kartaviryarjuna went for hunting in the forests and feeling exhausted after some time went to the asrama of Jamadagni with his retinue. Jamadagni received them well and with the help of the Kamadhenu (wish-yielding cow) named Suslla, Jamadagni gave a sumptuous feast to the King and his followers. When after the meals were over they started to take leave of the sage, Candragupta, a minister of Kartaviryarjuna brought to the notice of the king the superior powers of the Kamadhenu, SuIla. The king wanted to get the cow and asked Candragupta to tell the sage about it. Though the minister told Jamadagni about the royal desire the sage refused to part with the cow. Then the minister with the help of the other royal servants took the cow by force and the sage followed the cow weeping. On the way Candragupta beat Jamadagni to death and brought the cow to the presence of the king. The king was pleased and the royal hunting party returned to the palace happy. Jamadagni's wife Renuka went in search of her husband and to her grief found him lying dead. Renuka wept beating her breast twentyone times and by that time her son Parasurama came there and he declared that he would travel round the world twentyone times, the number of times his mother beat her breast, to kill and exterminate the Ksatriyas from this world. Then the dead body of Jamadagni was placed on a pyre and they were singing Visnugita before placing fire on the pyre when Sukramuni appeared there and brought Jamadagni to life by invoking the art of Mrtasanjivani. By that time Susila somehow escaped from the custody of the King and came there without the calf. Then Parasurama vowed that he would bring the calf soon and taking with him his disciple Akrtavrana he left for the city of Mahismati the abode of Kartaviryarjuna. There they fought a grim battle and after killing Kartaviryarjuna and many of his followers brought back the calf. To atone for the papa of this massacre Jamadagni advised his son to go and perform penance in Mahendragiri. Taking advantage of the absence of ParaSurama from the asrama, Surasena son of Kartaviryarjuna, with his followers went to the aSrama of Jamadagni and chopped off his head. Parasurama returned from Mahendragiri at once and cremated the dead body of his father. Renuka, his mother, jumped into the funeral pyre and abandoned her life. From that moment onwards started Parasurama's fierce programme of mass massacre of the Ksatriyas. (Page 570, Puranic Encyclopedia - Vettam Maṇi)

Looking at the plight of mankind, the sages and seers decided to assemble at one of the auspicious sides of Himalayas and search for a solution. ऋषयः। Rushis like Angira, Jamadagni, Vasishtha, Kashyapa, Bhrugu, Atreya, Gautam, Saankhya, Pulastya, Narad, Agastya, Vamadev, Asit, Markandeya, Paarikshi, Ashwalayan, Bhikshu Atreya, Bhardwaja, Kapinjala, Wishwamitra, Ashwamathya, Bhargava, Chyawan, Abhijit, Gargya, Shandilya, Koundilya, Varkshi, Devala, Galav and many other sages were part of this assembly. They all were enlightened and brilliant. They started discussing that diseases are appearing as obstacles in attainment of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Aarogya is the main source for achieving these while, diseases work as destroyers of health, welfare and life. Hence, in order to overcome this problem, they started thinking of means to get rid of these diseases , achieve longevity and the source to find this knowledge. In a meditative state, they saw Indra as a savior, the source to obtain this knowledge. They realized that Indra could be the only source to get the desired knowledge and thus decided to meet him.

Vyasadi-Rshi Parampara refers to the Rshi Parampara on which rests the whole structure of Dharma, the backbone of the society of Bharatavarsha. It is to this rshi-parampara that maharshis like Vasishtha, Vishwamitra, Chyavana, Jamadagni belonged to along with the many others who are enlightened and whose vision has led us through the ages. In their deep mental states they have received the Jnana, the fundamental truths of the Universe, which they have given to us through the Veda and Vedangas. It is not the property of the Rshis, they are the mantradrashtas to whom the Vedas were revealed.

In the present Manvantara, the names of the Saptarishis are Kasyapa, Atri, Visvamitra, Vashishta, Gautama, Jamadagni and Bharadvaja.

Rigveda references which mention about Saptarshis include Mandala 9, Sukta 67 and 107. For example in Sukta 67 the following is mentioned as the names of Saptarshis as mantra drashtas

ऋषयः - सप्तर्षयः(१-३ भरद्वाजो बार्हस्पत्यः, ४-६ कश्यपो मारीचः, ७-९ गोतमो राहूगणः, १०-१२ अत्रिःर्भौमः, १३-१५ विश्वामित्रो गाथिनः, १६-१८ जमदग्निर्भार्गवः, १९-२१ मैत्रावरुणिर्वासिष्ठः, २२-३२ पवित्र आङ्गिरसो वा वसिष्ठो वा उभौ वा)

r̥ṣayaḥ - saptarṣayaḥ(1-3 bharadvājo bārhaspatyaḥ, 4-6 kaśyapo mārīcaḥ, 7-9 gotamo rāhūgaṇaḥ, 10-12 atriḥrbhaumaḥ, 13-15 viśvāmitro gāthinaḥ, 16-18 jamadagnirbhārgavaḥ, 19-21 maitrāvaruṇirvāsiṣṭhaḥ, 22-32 pavitra āṅgiraso vā vasiṣṭho vā ubhau vā)

Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda Brahmanas and Upanishads also mention about Saptarshis and gives the names of the rshis as listed in the table below. For example the list of the Seven Rshis is given in Shatapata Brahmana as follows

इमावेव गोतमभरद्वाजौ। अयमेव गोतमोऽयं भरद्वाज । इमावेव विश्वामित्रजमदग्नी । अयमेव विश्वामित्रोऽयं जमदग्निरिमावेव ।वसिष्ठकश्यपावयमेव वसिष्ठोऽयं कश्यपो । वागेवात्रिर्वाचा ह्यन्नमद्यतेऽत्तिर्ह वै नामैतद्यदत्रिरिति । सर्वस्यात्ता भवति सर्वमस्यान्नम्भवति । य एवं वेद । १४.५.२.[६] (Shata. Brah.

imāveva gotamabharadvājau। ayameva gotamo'yaṁ bharadvāja । imāveva viśvāmitrajamadagnī। ayameva viśvāmitro'yaṁ jamadagnirimāveva ।vasiṣṭhakaśyapāvayameva vasiṣṭho'yaṁ kaśyapo । vāgevātrirvācā hyannamadyate'ttirha vai nāmaitadyadatririti । sarvasyāttā bhavati sarvamasyānnambhavati । ya evaṁ veda ।- 14.5.2.[6] (Shata. Brah.

From the above mantras one can understand that Upanishads metaphorically describe the seven indriyas as the seven rshis. These two (ears) are Gautama and Bharadvaja. This one (the right) is Gautama and the other (left) is Bharadvaja. These two (eyes) are Vishvamitra and Jamadagni. This one (right) is Vishvamitra and the other (left) is Jamadagni. These two (nostrils) are Vasishta and Kashyapa. This one (right) is Vasishta. The other (left) is Kashyapa. Vak (वाक् । here it means tongue) is Atri, for through the tongue food is eaten. He is called Atri (अत्रिः) because he eats (अत्ति । Atti).[5] Vishnu, Agni Purana, and Mahabharata lists the Saptarshis as follows

वशिष्ठः काश्यपोथात्रिर्जमदग्निः सगौतमः । विश्वामित्रभरद्वाजौ सप्त सप्तर्षयोऽभवन् ॥ ३,१.३२ ॥ (Vish. Pura. 3.1.32)[10]

vaśiṣṭhaḥ kāśyapothātrirjamadagniḥ sagautamaḥ । viśvāmitrabharadvājau sapta saptarṣayo'bhavan ॥ 3,1.32 ॥ (Vish. Pura. 3.1.32)

वशिष्ठः काश्यपोऽथात्रिर्जमदग्निः सगोतमः । विश्वामित्रभरद्वाजौ मुनयः सप्त साम्प्रतं ॥१५०.००९ (Agni. Pura. 150.9)[11]

vaśiṣṭhaḥ kāśyapo'thātrirjamadagniḥ sagotamaḥ । viśvāmitrabharadvājau munayaḥ sapta sāmprataṁ ॥150.009 (Agni. Pura. 150.9)

कश्यपोऽत्रिर्वसिष्ठश्च भरद्वाजोऽथ गौतमः। विश्वामित्रो जमदग्निः साध्वी चैवाप्यरुन्धती॥ (Maha. 13.93.21)

kaśyapo'trirvasiṣṭhaśca bharadvājo'tha gautamaḥ। viśvāmitro jamadagniḥ sādhvī caivāpyarundhatī॥ (Maha. 13.93.21)

Vasishta, Kashyapa, Atri, Jamadagni along with Gautama, Vishvamitra and Bharadvaja became the saptarshi's. Manvantaras are not mentioned in this context. The Garuda Purana however mentions about maharshis with many differing from the above list as follows

मरीचिरत्र्यङ्गिरसौ पुलस्त्यः पुलहः क्रतुः ॥ वसिष्ठश्च महातेजा ऋषयः सप्तकीर्त्तिताः ॥ ८७.२ ॥ (Garu. Pura. 87.2)[12]

marīciratryaṅgirasau pulastyaḥ pulahaḥ kratuḥ ॥ vasiṣṭhaśca mahātejā r̥ṣayaḥ saptakīrttitāḥ ॥ 87.2 ॥

Meaning : Marichi, Atri, Angirasa, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Vasishta are praised as the lustrous seven rshis.

The dharmasutras of Gautama, Baudhayana, Apastamba, Vashistha, Vaikhanasa and Vishnu are included into the major works, as per S. C. Banerji. He also quotes law books of Atri, Ushanas, Kanva, Kaanva, Kashyapa, Kaasyapa, Kaatyayana, Gaargya, Chyavana, Jamadagni, Jaatukarnya, Devala, Javali, Prajapati, Brhaspati, Bharadvaja, Sataatapa, Harita and many others, known only from quotations found in later Smrti digests and have been designated as minor works by him.