A sage. His original name is unknown. He was one of Paraśurāma’s (Parashurama) most favourite disciple-companions. At the time of his first meeting with Paraśurāma in his childhood, Akṛtabraṇa (Akritabrana) introduced himself as the son of a hermit named Sānta (Shanta). He declared himself as a miserable friendless, desolate and orphaned, seeking shelter from Paraśurāma. From this it may be gathered that Akṛtabraṇa had lost his father at an early age and did not have any relatives to speak of.
Paraśurāma, on his way back home after being presented with celestial weapons by Mahādeva, ventured into a dense forest. There, his attention was drawn towards desperate wails coming from inside a cave. He followed the sound of the cries to the cave and found a helpless brāhmaṇa (brahmana) boy being attacked by a tiger. The boy, scared to death, could only scream in fright, unable to even look at the tiger pouncing on him. Closing his eyes in terror, he only cried helplessly. Paraśurāma was filled with pity at the boy’s condition. He killed the tiger with a sharp arrow. The tiger was, however, actually a cursed celestial being, a gandharva who was freed from his curse on being killed by Paraśurāma and regained his original form of a gandharva. All this time, the frightened brāhmaṇa boy had not even realised that he was out of danger. Hearing Paraśurāma’s reassurances, he opened his eyes and saw the lifeless tiger and his savior, Paraśurāma. When Paraśurāma affectionately asked him who he was, the boy said that he was the son of a great sage known as Sānta, and he was now out on a pilgrimage. Saying this, the boy lay prostrate at Paraśurāma’s feet and sought shelter from him saying, “It is you whom I consider my parents, my friend and my master” — tvameva manye sakalaṃ pitā-mātā suhṛdguruḥ.
Paraśurāma, who had become affectionate towards the lad, took him in. being saved by Paraśurāma in time, the boy had escaped unscathed from the tiger. He was thus named anew, Akṛtabraṇa, meaning ‘someone with no marks of injury on his body’ —
akṛtabraṇa evāsau byāghrena bhuvi pātitaḥ/rāmeṇa rakṣitaścābhūd yasmād byāghraṃ vinighnatā.
tasmāttadeva nāmāsya babhūva prathitaṃ bhuvi/bipraputrasya rājendra tadetat so’kṛtabraṇaḥ.
From this point on, Akṛtabraṇa, continued to serve Paraśurāma tirelessly as his disciple and companion, .
- Akṛtabraṇa had accompanied Paraśurāma when he attacked Kārtavīryārjuna’s (Kartabiryarjuna’s) capital Māhiṣmatīpurī (Mahishmatipuri) .
- In the twelfth book of Bhāgavata (Bhagabata), Lomaharṣaṇa’s (Lomaharshana’s) son Ugraśravā Sauti (Ugrasraba Sauti) recalled Akṛtabraṇa with veneration as a distinguished expert of Purāṇas (Puranas). He said, “Six Purāṇa experts, namely Trayyārūṇi (Trayyaruni), Kaśyapa (Kashyapa), Sābarṇi (Saarbani), Akṛtabraṇa, Baiśampāyana (Baishampayana) and Hārīta (Harita), studied six Purāṇa Saṃhitās (Samhitas), each for one, under the tutelage of my father, the great sage Lomaharśaṇa.” Ugraśravā Sauti himself studied all the six Purāṇa Saṁhitās together from these six people. Among the six disciples of Lomaharṣaṇa, Akṛtabraṇa has also been called Kāśyapa (Kaashyapa).
- One of the many priests who had assembled during Yudhiṣthira’s (Yudhishthira’s) Rājasūya (Rajasuya) yajña (yajna).
- Akṛtabraṇa was present during various events in Mahābhārata (Mahabharata). He narrated various tales from Paraśurāma’s life to Yudhiṣthira when the latter was on a pilgrimage.
- When Kṛṣṇa (Krishna) undertook a journey to Hastināpura (Hastinapura) with a proposal for peace, he met Nārada and other sages on the way. One of them was Akṛtabraṇa.
[Mahā (Geeta press ) 5.83.64. Additional reading: The middle Dākṣiṇātya of śloka no. 65]
- In Udyogaparva of Mahābhārata, Akṛtabraṇa has a significant role in the tale of Ambā (Amba) as narrated by Bhīśma (Bhishma). Rejected by King Sālva (Salwa), Ambā met some hermits and related her misery to them. At this point, she met her maternal grandfather, the sage king Hotravāhana (Hotravahana). Hotravāhana took his forsaken granddaughter under his protection and advised her to meet Paraśurāma in order to find a resolution to her anguish. Incidentally, Paraśurāma’s companion Akṛtabraṇa arrived there at that moment and informed them that Paraśurāma himself would be coming there the next day. Afterwards Akṛtabraṇa listened to Ambā’s sad accounts attentively. He deliberated with Ambā, and later with Paraśurāma as well, whether Bhīṣma or King Śālva was responsible for Ambā’s condition and against whom Ambā sought revenge. Finally he goaded Paraśurāma to kill Bhīṣma by saying, “You certainly cannot forsake this girl who has sought refuge with you – rather kill the miscreant Bhīṣma” – śaraṇāgatāṃ mahābāho kanyāṃ na tyaktumarhasi/ jahi bhīṣmaṃ raṅe rāma garjantamasuraṃ yathā.
During Bhīṣma’s battle with Paraśurāma, Akṛtabraṇa took up the task of being Paraśurāma’s charioteer —
sārathyaṃ kṛtabāṃstasya yusutsorakṛtabraṇaḥ.
- Akṛtabraṇa accompanied Paraśurāma when the latter had come to meet Bhīṣma lying on the bed of arrows.