Jamadagni (or Jamdagni, Sanskrit: जमदग्नि) is one of the Saptarishis (Seven Great Sages Rishi) in the seventh, current Manvantara, and father of Parashurama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu. He was a descendant of the sage Bhrigu, one of the Prajapatis created by Brahma, the God of Creation. Jamadagni had five children with wife Renuka, the youngest of whom was Parashurama, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. Jamadagni was well versed in the scriptures and weaponry without formal instruction.
Killing of Renuka
Renuka was a devoted wife and a power of her chastity that was manifest. Such was her chastity, that she used to fetch water from the river in a pot made of unbaked clay every day, held together only by the power of her devotion to Jamadagni.
One day while at the river, a group of Gandharvas passed by in the sky above in a chariot. Filled with desire for only a moment, the unbaked pot that she was carrying dissolved into the river. Afraid to go back to her husband, she waited at the river bank.
Meanwhile Jamadagni noticed that his wife had not yet returned from the river. Through his yogic powers, he divined all that had taken place and was filled with rage. Jamadagni called his eldest son, told him what had happened and asked him to execute his mother. Horror-stricken, his son refused to perform this deed. He then asked all of his sons, and as they refused, he turned them one by one to stone. Finally only his youngest son, Parashurama, was left. Ever-obedient and righteous, Parashurama beheaded his mother with an axe.
Pleased, Jamadagni offered two boons to Parashurama. Parashurama asked that his mother's head be restored to life and his brothers to be turned from stone back to flesh. Impressed by his sons devotion and affection, Jamadagni granted the boons. His brothers and mother were reformed from stone without having the memory of experiencing death. The purpose of this trial was to demonstrate the dharma ("divine duty") of a son towards his father.
Jamadagni was later visited by the Haihaya king Kartavirya Arjuna, who he served a feast using a divine calf. Wanting the animal for himself, the king decapitated Jamadagni. Enraged, Parashurama killed the king, retrieved the head of his father for cremation, and ultimately enacted a genocide on the kshatriya caste throughout the Indian subcontinent for the next twenty-one generations.
In the Buddhist Vinaya Pitaka section of the Mahavagga (I.245) the Buddha pays respect to Jamadagni by declaring that the Vedas in their true form were revealed to the original Vedic rishis, including Jamadagni.
- Avalon, Arthur (Sir John Woodroffe) (1913, reprint 1972) (tr.) Tantra of the Great Liberation (Mahāanirvāna Tantra), New York: Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-20150-3, p. xli: The Rishi are seers who know, and by their knowledge are the makers of shastra and "see" all mantras. The word comes from the root rish Rishati-prāpnoti sarvvang mantrang jnānena pashyati sangsārapārangvā, etc. The seven great Rishi or saptarshi of the first manvantara are Marichi, Atri, Angiras, Pulaha, Kratu, Pulastya, and Vashishtha. In other manvantara there are other sapta-rshi. In the present manvantara the seven are Kashyapa, Atri, Vashishtha, Vishvamitra, Gautama, Jamdagnini, Bharadvaja. To the Rishi the Vedas were revealed. Vyasa taught the Rigveda so revealed to Paila, the Yajurveda to Vaishampayana, the Samaveda to Jaimini, Atharvaveda to Samantu, and Itihasa and Purana to Suta. The three chief classes of Rishi are the Brahmarshi, born of the mind of Brahma, the Devarshi of lower rank, and Rajarshi or Kings who became Rishis through their knowledge and austerities, such as Janaka, Ritaparna, etc. Thc Shrutarshi are makers of Shastras, as Sushruta. The Kandarshi are of the Karmakanda, such as Jaimini.
- P. 494 The Pali-English dictionary By Thomas William Rhys Davids, William Stede
- P. 245 The Vinaya piṭakaṃ: one of the principle Buddhist holy scriptures ..., Volume 1 edited by Hermann Oldenberg
- The Vinaya Pitaka's section Anguttara Nikaya: Panchaka Nipata, P. 44 The legends and theories of the Buddhists, compared with history and science By Robert Spence Hardy