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Fig.l. The Narasinghavatara, or the Fourth Avatar or Vishnu. Fig. 2. The Fith, or Vamuna Avatar.
Fig.3&4. The Sirth ,or Parasu Rama.
Published by Parbury Allen dlo London 1832.
dwarf was no other than the god himself, fell prostrate in adoration before him, and yielded it up. From this incident of Vamuna Vishnu is also called Trivikrum, or the three-stepper.
While the foot of Vishnu was extended the second time, to compass the heavens, Brahma came and poured water upon it; which descending to the earth, formed the sacred stream of the Ganges. This river is thus fabled, by the Vishnaivas, to have gushed from the foot of Vishnu. The Saivas, however, claim for it a different origin, as will be hereafter seen.
Mr. Chambers, in the first volume of the Asiatic Researches, mentions Maha Bali to have been the founder of the magnificent city of Mahabalipooram. This conjecture will be somewhat at variance with the story told of its destruction in the third avatar ; but the discrepancy may, perhaps, be reconciled, by supposing that he may have added to what remained in his reign of its former splendour, and given it his name, by which it may have been known; or, what may be more probable, the city may have been founded at an earlier period, by another prince of the same name.
The Sixth and Seventh Avatars.
SIXTH AVATAR, or PARASU RAMA.
In this avatar Vishnu no longer assumes the form of a monster, but claims our admiration as a youthful hero, Parasu Rama, for his filial piety and undaunted prowess in exterminating a race of tyrants, the Khetrie or warrior tribe of India, who had oppressed mankind, and barbarously caused the death of his parents. In consequence of having no offspring, his father and mother had secluded themselves from the world, and passed their time in prayers, mortifications, and religious austerities, in the hopes that these would be acceptable to Vishnu, and that they might eventually obtain for them the earnest wish of their hearts. Their supplications were at length heard, and Runeeka, the mother of Parasu Rama, gave birth to a beautiful child (an incarnation of Vishnu himself), whose transcendent talents and virtues were so pleasing to Maha Deo, or Siva, that he translated him to his heaven on the summit of Mount Kailasa, where he remained till the age of twelve years, when he re-appeared on earth, to assert the rights of his father against an inhuman and vindictive tyrant, Deeruj, of the Khetrie race, who had oppressed (and before Parasu Rama could arrive had murdered) him. He came in time only to witness the remains of the funeral pile of his parents (his mother having performed suti), and instantly swore by the sacred waters of the Ganges to wholly exterminate the race of their murderers.
Deeruj is represented as possessing a thousand arms, wielding as many destructive instruments of war ; but endowed with the immortal energies of Vishnu, Parasu Rama easily overcame him (see fig. 3, 4, plate 8), and
the numerous forces which attended him; and speedily effected the destruction of the race of the Khetries.
It may be here mentioned, that this incarnation and the two following: avatars are supposed to relate to the heroic exploits of warlike and patriotic princes, who would appear to have relieved their country from either internal oppression or foreign invasion. Parasu Rama having succeeded in extirpating the Khetries, collected together their treasures; one portion of which he consecrated to the gods, the other he bestowed in charity. He then retired, to devote the remainder of his life to the purposes of religion.
Another story is also related of Vishnu in this incarnation, which seems to partake, in some degree, of the pious artifice by which he had overcome Maha Bali in the preceding avatar. Having conquered the Khetries, Parasu Rama bestowed their country upon the Brahmans : but subsequently asked for a small part of it back, whereon to end his days; which was ungratefully refused. He then supplicated Varuna, the Neptune of the Hindus, to withdraw the waters of the ocean from the foot of the gauts or mountains (the country he had bestowed upon the Brahmans, which the sea then reached), so far only as he could shoot an arrow from his bow. Varuna had no sooner promised, than it was insinuated to him that the supplicant was no other than Vishnu himself; whose arrow discharged from the sacred bow, dunook, would probably fly over the whole extent of the waters, and thus deprive him of his dominions. The ocean god too late repented of the promise which he had made; but, as has been shown in the instance of Maha Bali, as the promises and gifts of the gods cannot be recalled (although it would appear they may be eluded or taken away, by the Hindu deities at least, by surreptitious means), it was resolved to oppose artifice to artifice, to lessen the apprehended serious consequences. In the night, therefore, preceding the morning on which Parasu Rama was to let fly the arrow, it was contrived to injure the string of the bow, so that when the shaft was discharged, it extended no farther over the waters than where they covered the present coast of Malabar, on the western side of the gauts, which has been fabled to have been thus rescued from the ocean.
The combats of the gods of the Hindu mythology with the giants who