History of Parashuram and Kerala

There are myths dealing with the origins of Kerala geographically and culturally. One such myth is the retrieval of Kerala from the sea, by Parashuram, a warrior sage. The Brahminical myth proclaims that Parashuram, an Avatar of Lord Vishnu, threw his battleaxe into the sea. As a result, the land of Kerala arose, and thus was reclaimed from the waters.

He was the sixth of the ten avatars (incarnation) of Vishnu. The word Parasu means ‘axe’ in Sanskrit and therefore the name Parashuram means ‘Ram with Axe’. The aim of his birth was to deliver the world from the arrogant oppression of the ruling caste, the Kshatriyas. He killed all the male Kshatriyas on earth and filled five lakes with their blood.

The Puranas wrote that the western coast of India was threatened by tumultuous waves and tempests, causing the land to be overcome by the sea. Parashuram fought back the advancing waters, demanding Lord Varuna(God of water and Oceans) release the land of Konkan and Malabar. During their fight, Parashurama threw his axe into the sea. A mass of land rose up, but Varuna told him that because it was filled with salt, the land would be barren.

Parashuram then did a tapasya for Nagaraja, the King of Snakes. Parashuram asked him to spread serpents throughout the land so their venom would neutralize the salt filled earth. Nagaraja agreed, and a lush and fertile land grew. Thus, Parashuram pushed back the coastline between the foothills of the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, creating modern day Kerala.

The coastal area of Kerala, Konkan, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, are today also known as Parashuram Kshetra or Land of Parashuram in homage. Puranas record that Parashuram placed statues of Lord Shiva at 108 different locations throughout the reclaimed land, which still exist today and around his neck is Nagaraja that is coiled, and so the statues were created in gratitude for their baneful cleansing of the land.

Parashuram Attacks Varuna

Parashuram Attacks Varuna

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