Let us recapitulate and understand some of the hidden symbolism in the story so far. The Pandavas met Akrutvarana, the disciple of Parshurama. ‘Akrut’ means that which is yet to be done and ‘Varana’ means wound; hence, wounds that are yet to heal. He narrates to the Pandavas the story of Lord Parshurama.
The story begins with the mention of Sahastrarjuna, a king of the Haihaya dynasty; ‘Sahastra’ meaning a thousand (he had a thousand hands). Arjuna comes from the word ‘arji’ which means to ask or to urge. A thousand hands would mean the power to urge a thousand times, signifying the aggressiveness that lies in our subconscious minds. This aggressiveness is born of the open wounds and hurts that we hold in our subconscious.
Every seeker has to work on healing these wounds. If left unhealed, they keep poisoning our bodies and minds and have an innate tendency to take revenge which is the cause of aggressiveness, which finally leads to violence. They are also the cause of unnecessary sentimentality. The story of Parshurama is the story of how every seeker fights his inner battle to be free of wounds that give rise to aggressiveness and sentimentality. ‘Para’ means higher, ‘Parshu’ means an axe. The suffix ‘shru’ means to tear from under. Hence, Parshurama means the one who cuts the roots of negative samskaras or patterns like an axe that goes through roots. Another meaning is ‘param shrunati’, one who kills for a higher purpose.
Sahastrarjuna practiced austerities for which he received a golden plane and unmatched might, signifying that he had the power to fulfil his ambitions with great speed. He became drunk with his new power and started tormenting the rishis. At that time, there was another king called Gadhi who ruled the region of Kanyakubja. ‘Gadhi’ means that which can be crossed, and also means to search. ‘Kanya’ means a virgin or pristine and ‘kubja’ means curved (sly, in this context).
To beat Sahastrarjuna, who now has both power and might, a slyly executed fresh (virgin) tactic is needed. These wounds which lie in our subconscious as patterns are expressed as reactions in the present moment. The present moment is fresh, like a ‘kanya’. The seeker wants to be free of these reactions and so he has to deal with them in a sly way without strengthening his ego.
There was a rishi called Ruchika Bhargava. Ruchika means to celebrate and symbolises practising austerity with an attitude of celebration. The young rishi asked for the king’s daughter in marriage. The king asked him for a gift of a thousand horses. Horses are called ‘ashva’ meaning time or to run across the bridge of time. We can interpret that even though Parshurama was born after two generations, the seed was sown much earlier. This implies that every action we perform is a seed sown in time, which according to certain laws returns to meet us as fruit of that action.