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Indian Mythology: Sage Jamadagni


Life and all that

Father: Sage Ruchika

Mother: Satyavati

Sons: Rushunvantha, Sushena, Vasu, Viswavasu and

Rama or Parashurama(Rama with an axe)

Meaning of the name: One who consumes fire (Fire here represents temper)



Sage Jamadagni is known as one of the Saptarishis of the present Manvantaras and was a Prajapati, creator, and maintainer of all life and creation on earth bestowed by Bramha. He can well be called as the most ill-tempered Sage, the story of which is related to his birth which is given below. He was the owner of Kamadhenu(a divine cow that fulfills wishes).

Birth Story

Sage Jamadagni was born to Sage Ruchika and Satyavati, who was the daughter of King Gadhi, a Kshatriya(warrior clan). King Gadhi did not have any son and desired a son who can be heir to his throne. For this, he took the help of Sage Ruchika. Ruchika prepared two bowls of rice pudding, one each for Satyavati and her mother. Satyavati explained to her mother that one of the bowls was filled with Brahmanic energy(Sage like) and the other was filled with Kshatriya energy(King-like). These bowls were to be eaten respectively by both of them after taking bath and hugging a fig tree and ashwattha tree respectively. Seeing the opportunity, Satyavati's mother felt Sage Ruchika must have prepared a better bowl for his wife. Out of jealousy, she ate the bowl which was meant for Satyavati and Satyawati consumed the other one. That is the reason Jamadagni was born with the traits and features of a Kshatriya or warrior clan which explains his hot temper and uncharacteristic nature for a sage.
It is also worth a mention, that the mother gave birth to a son with Brahmanic powers who was very wise as a sage. he became known as Sage Vishwamitra.

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Renuka and Jamadagni

Jamadagni was married to Renuka, the daughter of king Renu. King Renu was advised to do so by Sage Agastya. he was told that Jamadagni was a wise and learned sage and the son of Sage Ruchika. Renuka was a devoted wife and had immense love for her husband. Her love was so pure that she could make a pot from unbaked clay on the banks of the river to take water, for her husband to perform oblation. At one such time, when she went to fetch water from the river, she saw a king and his lovers involved in amorous activities. For a moment she was distracted and wished why her husband was not like this. She was immediately repentant, however, in that moment of distraction she lost her purity and was no longer able to take the pot out of her will. Then she returned to the hermitage without water. Seeing her return without water, Sage Jamadagni immediately realized what Renuka had felt and he was furious by the conflicted thoughts of his wife. Seeing her husband so furious, Renuka left the hermitage to repent for her sin. When sons of Jamadagni came to the ashram they saw their father furious. Jamadagni ordered them to kill their mother. On refusal, Jamadagni was more furious and he who was capable of turning anyone into ashes killed them with his gaze. When his fifth son Parshurama came to the ashram, he ordered Parshurama the same. Parshurama, an idealistic and obedient son, who was aware of the consequences, immediately followed his father's orders and killed his own mother. When Jamadagni came to know about this, he was pleased and his anger subsided. He blessed his son any boon of his choice. Parshurama requested that his father resurrect his mother and brothers which Jamadagni complied to and Renuka was again reborn.



Story of Kartavyarjuna

Once when king Kartavyarjuna of the Haihaya clan, a mighty and powerful king was traveling through the forest with his entourage, he came across the ashram of Sage Jamadagni. Sage Jamadagni invited him and his army of men and treated him lavishly and with all due respect. Jamadagni had a holy cow who was Kamadhenu, whose name was Surbhi. A Kamadhenu was a type of cow that was used to fulfill wishes at the request of its owner. After seeing the divine power of Kamadhenu, Kartavyarjuna was tempted and he asked Sage Jamadagni for Surbhi which the sage denied. However, Kartavyarjuna was adamant and he forcefully tried to take the cow. On this Jamadagni created and summoned an army of men from Surbhi to defend himself from the king's battalion. the king's army was defeated several times before finally, Kartavyarjuna killed Sage Jamadagni. On the death of her dear master, Surbhi lost her grace and was also forcefully taken away by Kartavyarjuna. when Lord Parshurama, the son of Sage Jamadagni came to know about the demise of his father, he was enraged. He went and killed King Kartavyarjuna and brought back the Kamadhenu. As the legends go, it is even said that Sage Jamadagni was brought back to life by Sage Bhrigu but was killed again by Kartavyarjuna's sons. Also, it is said, Parshurama was so engaged that he traveled the earth several times and annihilated the warrior race for their 21 generations before finally calming down and repenting his actions.

Curse of the Sun God

Jamadagni married Renuka and was leading a happy life. He was a great sage and also a very learned person and had acquired like most great sages enormous power from his penance. He once went to the banks of River Narmada with his wife. The area was uninhabited and Jamadagni felt a desire of being intimate with his wife there. When they were involved in sexual acts, Sun God(who is also known as Karma Sakshi- witnesser of the Karmas) came there in the human form of a Brahmin and told him that what he was doing was not right and against the principles of Dharma(a learned sage should set an example for others). being naked in the presence of another man, Renuka was ashamed and felt shy but Sage Jamadagni was enraged and said that what the brahmin did was also against Dharma(interrupting someone in natural acts such as sleeping, eating, sexual activity) and cursed him to be afflicted by the Rahu(which is said to be the origin of eclipses). The Sun God in return cursed sage to meet humiliation and death at the hands of King(As per the story mentioned above). The Sages in those days were immune to the powers of a warrior(Kshatriya) because of their tapas (divine powers which comes from long-term mediation). Later Lord Brahma pacified them both and moderated the curses such that Jamadagni will still have a respectful death and the eclipse on the Sun God will be a temporary one.



Banasura was a rakshasa(supposedly demon but can be speculated what it all meant) with 1000 arms and son of King Bali. He was a devout follower of Lord Shiva. While Shiva was performing tandava(a dance form), Banasura played mridanga(a musical instrument) with his thousand arms. pleased with his devotion, he was granted the boon by Lord Shiva that Shiva himself will guard the gates of his city. Overtime, Banasura became arrogant, felt invincible, and was said to oppress his masses. According to the legend, once Jamadagni was traveling through the land of Banasura with Renuka. He wanted to set up his hermitage there. When Banasura came to know about it, he took great offense in knowing that someone had come and settled in his land without his permission. Banasura was unaware of the powers of Sage Jamadagni. He decided to capture the sage and ordered his men how to put Jamadagni in a cauldron full of oil and set it on fire. Checking after some time, Banasura realized that Sage Jamadagni was unharmed and was meditating. He put a lid on the cauldron and kept it for a few days. When still nothing happened, Banasura realized his mistake and was repentant. Jamadagni agreed to forgive Banasura on one condition that he will never return to the area again. Banasura relented and begged Jamadagni not to uproot a particular dialect known as Kanash. Jamadagni also accepted this condition. Banasura left the land but his masses were still afraid that he might return. For that, an effigy of Banasura was made and kept in a cage locked in a cellar. The idea was to destroy the effigy if Banasura returned and that would end his life too. The cellar known as 'Raksa Ra Mord' was never opened.

Temple of Sage Jamadagni at Theeyanur


Final Note

Finally, it should be noted that these ancient characters are personifications of a set of qualities that are beyond the socially accepted norms. Subjective to research and better knowledge may it be, Sage Jamadagni personified anger as a quality that will move him towards the attainment of his ultimate goal of enlightenment. To elaborate a bit, it is said, anger as nefarious it may seem is hard to hold for a longer duration. This is not a challenge and neither an encouragement, but just shows the tenacity a particular sage had. It may not seem normal, but the mythology of Indian panorama has always been that way.

Article describing various locations today related to Sage Jamadagni

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