Rama takes aim with Vishnu’s longbow and asks Parashu Rama to choose the target to release the arrow, as arrow of that bow cannot go astray. Parashu Rama opts for elimination of his ascetic merit and heavenly realms thereby. Rama releases the bow annihilating that merit and after that, Parashu Rama retreats into oblivion.
श्रुत्वा तत् जामदग्न्यस्य वाक्यम् दाशरथिः तदा |
गौरवात् यंत्रित कथः पितू रामम् अथ अब्रवीत् || १-७६-१
gauravaat yaMtrita kathaH pituu raamam atha abraviit || 1-76-1
On hearing that sentence of Rama of Jamadagni, then Rama of Dasharatha said this to him in a courtly owing to the presence of his father Dasharatha. [1-76-1].
कृतवान् अस्मि यत् कर्म श्रुतवान् असि भार्गव |
अनुरुन्ध्यामहे ब्रह्मन् पितुर् आनृण्यम् आस्थितः || १-७६-२
anurundhyaamahe brahman pitur aanR^iNyam aasthitaH || 1-76-2
“Oh, Bhaargava Rama, whatsoever endeavour you have strived for freeing yourself from the indebtedness towards your father, I have heard of them, and oh, Brahman, we appreciate for your achieving that freeness from your paternal debt, but… [1-76-2].
वीर्य हीनम् इव अशक्तम् क्षत्र धर्मेण भार्गव |
अवजानासि मे तेजः पश्य मे अद्य पराक्रमम् || १-७६-३
avajaanaasi me tejaH pashya me adya paraakramam || 1-76-3
“Oh, Bhaargava Rama, demeaning me as though I am timorous, hence incapable to handle the bow, and hence I am an ignoble one for Kshatriya-hood, is meaningless… come on, now you may see my spiritedness and sprightliness…” So said Rama to Bhaargava. [1-76-3]
Up to here both these Rama-s are in close quarters with other few present there. After this dialogue, they have moved a little away from the throng and facing each other as true combatants. A swordsman or an archer needs an arm-length, or sword-length or bow-length, at the least, to swagger his weapon. This place is to be assumed as an isolated place and no one is seeing or listening. This scene has an analogy in Maha Bharata when Krishna teaches Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna. There, it is said, that Krishna froze the time to teach all the eighteen chapters, and none among two sides of warring factions are aware of Krishna, his teachings, or of Arjuna, excepting Sanjaya, who is placed at a distant place and has seen all with his wisdom-eye. Here we have to borrow that wisdom-eye of Sanjaya and see at these two Rama-s and their actions. When their episode is over the mist cast around them, rather on our eyes, will be cleared, when Rama returns to his father. This is said in later verses. Further more, all the people available there are rendered unconscious at the arrival of Bhaargava Rama, and a few like Dasharatha, Vashishta, Rama’s brothers are with senses. So, even if they hear and see this scene, those listeners or seers do no harm in revealing Rama’s godhood to world, or in particular to Ravana..
इति उक्त्वा राघवः क्रुद्धो भार्गवस्य वर आयुधम् |
शरम् च प्रतिजग्राह हस्तात् लघु पराक्रमः || १-७६-४
sharam ca pratijagraaha hastaat laghu paraakramaH || 1-76-4
Raghava, the nimble-handed vanquisher of his opponents, speaking thus in high dudgeon expropriated that estimable weapon, namely the longbow of Vishnu, from the hand of Bhaargava Rama, along with the long-arrow that is already fitted on it… [1-76-4]
“and, along the same lines Rama also said to have extricated the essential nature of Bhaargava…’ The above said ‘distancing’ of these two Rama-s has another purpose. Rama has certain innate nature of making his observers enchanted by his very personality. Even Ravana looks at him adoringly in the war scene. This apart, his hand has certain ability to extricate the innate nature of others, should he lay his hand on them. We rarely see him touching or patting others, except for Seetha, Lakshmana, Hanuma, and say a squirrel etc. So, it is believed that, Rama has now expropriated the essential nature of Vishnu from Bhaargava Rama, while snatching the bow from his hands. For this Padma Puraana says: iti uktvaa devii vaiShNavyaa shaktyaa tad gataayaa saha | jagraaha vaiShNavam caapam vinayena ca liilayaa || ‘oh, Devi Parvati, saying so Rama took away the Vishnu’s anima from Bhaargava Rama, along with bow of Vishnu, sportily and obediently, too…’ Thus, Rama of Dasharatha bade goodbye to his earlier incarnation, Parashu Rama, as two swords cannot be in one sheath..
आरोप्य स धनू रामः शरम् सज्यम् चकार ह |
जामदग्न्यम् ततो रामम् रामः क्रुद्धो अब्रवीत् इदम् || १-७६-५
jaamadag.hnyam tato raamam raamaH kruddho abraviit idam || 1-76-5
On lifting up the bow that is already fitted with an arrow on bowstring, then Rama started to take aim with it, but being indecisive about the target, then Rama of Dasharatha irefully said this to Rama of Jamagadni. [1-76-5].
ब्राह्मणो असि इति पूज्यो मे विश्वामित्र कृतेन च |
तस्मात् शक्तो न ते राम मोक्तुम् प्राण हरम् शरम् || १-७६-६
tasmaat shakto na te raama moktum praaNa haram sharam || 1-76-6
“Oh, Rama of Bhaargava, even if you are a Brahman you are eliminable, but because of your relationship with Vishvamitra, and because you are a venerable one for me, I am disinclined to release this arrow that exterminates your life… [1-76-6]
Bhaargava-s are Brahman-s and a Brahman cannot be killed braahmaNo na hantavya then how Rama is prepared to eliminate a Brahman, subjecting himself to the sin called ‘Brahman killing…’ brahma hatyaa paataka… There is no sin in eliminating a Brahman who is weaponed and warring. tathaa ca bhaarate raaja dharme kR^iShNam prati bhiiShmaH – pitruun pitaamahaan pitryam guruun sambandhi baandhavaan | mithyaa pravR^ittaan yaH sa~Nkhye nihanyaa dharma eva saH || Maha Bharata, shannti parva. ‘It is no sin to eliminated fathers, grandfathers, teachers, and the like [even if they are Brahman-s,] for they are under an illusion, called war…’ So said Bhiishma to Krishna and thereby Panadava-s have eliminated Drona, Kripa, Ashvaddhaama and suchlike weaponed Brahman-s in war, but not in peace. There are many more such sayings of Bhiishma. Here Parashu Rama said that he will give a duel to Rama, hence he is no more a Brahman when he raises a weapon. And he is a blood relation of Vishvamitra, and that corner of mercy is not allowing Rama to release the arrow on Parashu Rama..
इमाम् वा त्वत् गतिम् राम तपो बल समार्जितान् |
लोकान् अप्रतिमान् वा अपि हनिष्यामि यत् इच्छसि || १-७६-७
lokaan apratimaan vaa api haniShyaami yat icChasi || 1-76-7
“Oh, Bhaargava Rama, either this motility of yours at the speed of your mind, or even those unparalleled realms of heavens which you have earned by the power of your ascesis, I will eliminate whichever you wish… [1-76-7].
न हि अयम् वैष्णवो दिव्यः शरः पर पुरंजयः |
मोघः पतति वीर्येण बल दर्प विनाशनः || १-७६-८
moghaH patati viiryeNa bala darpa vinaashanaH || 1-76-8
“This Vishnu’s divine arrow is the conqueror of opponents’ citadels, and a vanquisher of their vigour and vainglory, and it will not fall through wastefully… isn’t it!” So said archer Rama to axeman Rama. [1-76-8]
The debate on the superiority of Vishnu or Shiva may have its own mythological import, but as far as Ramayana is considered, the eulogy for Vishnu’s longbow is intended to suggest the all-powerful capacity of Vishnu in eliminating demons and to lead the epic to its own goal. Dharmaakuutam has to say this: prakR^ite – adhikam menire vishNum – iti raamaayaNa vacanam tu agre kartavya sakala raakShasa vadha hetu bhuuta vaiShNava dhanShaH praashasta pratipaadana param j~nyeyam | Hence the mythological quarrels have no place in Ramayana..
वर आयुध धरम् रामम् द्रष्टुम् स ऋषि गणाः सुराः |
पितामहम् पुरस्कृत्य समेताः तत्र सर्वशः || १-७६-९
गंधर्व अप्सरसः चैव सिद्ध चारण किन्नराः |
यक्ष राक्षस नागाः च तत् द्रष्टुम् महत् अद्भुतम् || १-७६-१०
pitaamaham puraskR^itya sametaaH tatra sarvashaH || 1-76-9
gaMdharva apsarasaH caiva siddha caaraNa kinnaraaH |
yakSha raakShasa naagaaH ca tat draShTum mahat adbhutam || 1-76-10
Gods together with the assemblages of sages have come keeping the Grandparent Brahma at their fore, likewise the gandharva-s, apsara-s, siddha-s, caarana-s, kinnaraa-s, yaksha-s, sprites and reptilian beings have also come to see Rama who is now wielding the extraordinary longbow of Vishnu, and extremely amazing event that is going to ensue. [1-76-9, 10]
The ‘amazing event’ is not the handing over or taking over of longbow, but it is the transference of the essential nature of Bhaargava Rama to Dasharatha Rama. Nrisimha Puraana has this: tataH parashu raamasya dehaat nirgatasya vaiShNavam | pashyataam sarva devaanaam tejo raamam upaavishat || .
जडी कृते तदा लोके रामे वर धनुर् धरे |
निर्वीर्यो जामदग्न्यो असौ रमो रामम् उदैक्षत || १-७६-११
nir.hviiryo jaamadag.hnyo asau ramo raamam udaikShata || 1-76-11
Then, when Rama is ready to take aim with the arrow on that inscrutable longbow, and when the worlds are being rendered as insentient, then that Rama of Jamadagni is rendered vigourless and he stared up at Rama of Dasharatha. [1-76-11]
Vividly: When the aura of Vishnu available in Bhaargava Rama has entered Dasharatha Rama through that inscrutable longbow of Vishnu, Dasharatha Rama’s aura dazzled like that of Vishnu, and that dazzlement of Vishnu’s aura threw the world in a daze, and then that aura-less, thus vigourless Bhaargava Rama has nothing to do except to stare at Vishnu-like Rama, with upraised eyes.
तेजोभिः हत वीर्यत्वात् जामदग्न्यो जडी कृतः |
रामम् कमल पत्र अक्षम् मन्दम् मन्दम् उवाच ह || १-७६-१२
raamam kamala patra akSham mandam mandam uvaaca ha || 1-76-12
Rama of Jamadagni is calloused as his vitality is subdued by the radiance of that lotus-petal eyed Rama of Dasharatha, and he spoke to Rama of Dasharatha, slowly and softly. [1-76-12].
काश्यपाय मया दत्ता यदा पूर्वम् वसुंधरा |
विषये मे न वस्तव्यम् इति माम् काश्यपो अब्रवीत् || १-७६-१३
viShaye me na vastavyam iti maam kaashyapo abraviit || 1-76-13
“Once, when I donated entire earth to Sage Kashyapa, Kashyapa told me ‘uninhabitable is my domain, viz., this earth for you…’ thus… [1-76-13]
A donor cannot enjoy a gift anymore, once donated to the donee. And if the donor still clings around that donation, it does not come under the true definition of ‘donation.’ Hence, Parashu Rama is asked to depart from this world. Hence he has gone to the ethereal mountain called Mt. Mahendra..
सो अहम् गुरु वचः कुर्वन् पृथिव्याम् न वसे निशाम् |
तदा प्रभृति काकुत्स्थ कृता मे काश्यपस्य ह || १-७६-१४
tadaa prabhR^iti kaakutstha kR^itaa me kaashyapasya ha || 1-76-14
“Such as I was, in my observance of my mentor Kashyapa’s order I do not spend nights on this earth from then afterwards, oh, Kakutstha Rama, as I made over this earth for Kashyapa, indeed… [1-76-14].
तम् इमाम् मत् गतिम् वीर हन्तुम् न अर्हसि राघव |
मनो जवम् गमिष्यामि महेन्द्रम् पर्वत उत्तमम् || १-७६-१५
mano javam gamiShyaami mahendram parvata uttamam || 1-76-15
“Thereby oh, valiant one, it will be inapt of you to impair this motility of mine, oh, Raghava, I will depart with the speed of cerebration to Mt. Mahendra, a par excellent mountain… [1-76-15].
लोकाः तु अप्रतिमा राम निर्जिताः तपसा मया |
जहि तान् शर मुख्येन मा भूत् कालस्य पर्ययः || १-७६-१६
jahi taan shara mukhyena maa bhuut kaalasya paryayaH || 1-76-16
“But I triumphed over matchless realms of heavens with my ascesis, oh, Rama, you may hash them up with that irreversible arrow… let there be no time-lag… [1-76-16].
अक्षय्यम् मधु हन्तारम् जानामि त्वाम् सुरेश्वरम् |
धनुषो अस्य परामर्शात् स्वस्ति ते अस्तु परंतप || १-७६-१७
dhanuSho asya paraamarshaat svasti te astu paraMtapa || 1-76-17
“I have realized your touch of nature as that of the Immutable Supreme Being, God of Gods, the Exterminator of the demon Madhu, namely Vishnu, by the touch of your handling that bow… oh, enemy-inflamer, blessedness alone betides you… [1-76-17].
एते सुर गणाः सर्वे निरीक्षन्ते समागताः |
त्वाम् अप्रतिम कर्माणम् अप्रतिद्वन्द्वम् आहवे || १-७६-१८
tvaam apratima karmaaNam apratidvandvam aahave || 1-76-18
“All of these gods who have come collectively are beholding you and your next move, for you are an unequalled one in you achievements and to whom there is no counter-dueller in conflicts… [1-76-18]
Parashu Rama is hastening up Dasharatha Rama to finish business quickly, otherwise the nature of Rama and his incarnation will publicized, not by these two Rama-s, but the game watching gods. If these spectators stay for a long time in sky, some airborne demon will let the cat out of the bag..
न च इयम् तव काकुत्स्थ व्रीडा भवितुम् अर्हति |
त्वया त्रैलोक्य नाथेन यत् अहम् विमुखी कृतः || १-७६-१९
tvayaa trailokya naathena yat aham vimukhii kR^itaH || 1-76-19
“Oh, Kakutstha Rama, you are the lord of the triad of worlds, such as you are, you faced me down, and it is malapropos to say that this is a disgrace to me… [1-76-19].
शरम् अप्रतिमम् राम मोक्तुम् अर्हसि सु व्रत |
शर मोक्षे गमिष्यामि महेन्द्रम् पर्वतोत्तमम् || १-७६-२०
shara mokShe gamiShyaami mahendram parvatottamam || 1-76-20
“It will be apt of you to unloose that unsurpassed arrow, oh, Rama, as you have ethical commitment to wipe out demons as I wiped out menacing kings, and should you unloosen that arrow now I wish to depart to the ethereal mountain Mt. Mahendra, a point of no return for me…” So said Parashu Rama to Dasharatha Rama. [1-76-20].
तथा ब्रुवति रामे तु जामदग्न्ये प्रतापवान् |
रामो दाशरथिः श्रीमान् चिक्षेप शरम् उत्तमम् || १-७६-२१
raamo daasharathiH shriimaan cikShepa sharam uttamam || 1-76-21
While Rama of Jamadagni is speaking that way, that venturesome and blessed Rama of Dasharatha shot off that nonpareil arrow from that longbow of Vishnu. [1-76-21].
स हतान् दृश्य रामेण स्वान् लोकान् तपसा आर्जितान् |
जामदग्न्यो जगाम आशु महेन्द्रम् पर्वतोत्तमम् || १-७६-२२
jaamadag.hnyo jagaama aashu mahendram parvatottamam || 1-76-22
On seeing all of his realms of heavens are shot-blasted by Rama of Dasharatha, Rama of Jamadagni vanished in a trice to Mt. Mahendra, the heavenly mountain. [1-76-22]
Rather, ready to depart… as he is given some more role-play in next verses.
ततो वि तिमिराः सर्वा दिशा च उपदिशः तथा |
सुराः स ऋषि गणाः रामम् प्रशशंसुः उदायुधम् || १-७६-२३
suraaH sa R^iShi gaNaaH raamam prashashaMsuH udaayudham || 1-76-23
Then dissipated is the darkness in all the divisions and likewise in all the subdivisions of compass, and the gods with the assemblages of sages extolled Rama, in whose hands the longbow is upraised. [1-76-23]
Please refer the endnote about this longbow and how it is passed on to Janaka’s dynasty.
रामम् दाशरथिम् रामो जामदग्न्यः प्रशस्य च |
ततः प्रदक्षिणी कृत्य जगाम आत्म गतिम् प्रभुः || १-७६-२४
tataH pradakShiNii kR^itya jagaama aatma gatim prabhuH || 1-76-24
Then that dab hand at axe, Rama of Jamadagni, on acclaiming, and even on making circumambulations to Rama of Dasharatha, went on his own way into oblivion. [1-76-24].