The grand mining project

Samudra Manthan-Churning of the ocean

This is the story of “Samudra Manthan” which is narrated in all puranas, from my childhood I’m very fascinated to read the story of the churning of the ocean; this narration is very interesting and the story unfolds many aspects of creation of this earth. So read on this fascinating tale……

It relates to Sage Durvasa who is well known for his in -famous wrath, it so happened that he had a garland which was symbolic of “SHRII” ; he decides that it is Indra who should deserve to have this and thus Durvasa gives this garland to Indra, but Indra in his recklessness places it on his mount Airavat’s(elephant) head (elephant too is a symbol of prosperity) . Airavat is irritated by the smell of the garland so it flings away ; seeing the garland being shabbily treated by Indra , Durvasa gets angry and curses him of being a pauper losing all wealth, his throne . Thus Shri Lakshmi is forced to leave swarga, Airavat too is lost. This gives the half brothers of Indra- the daityas whose king is Bali to usurp his throne. Having lost his throne Indra wanders for a long time before,Brihaspati-guru of devas along with other gods advise and encourage Indra to approach Brahma who in turn advises them to appease Shiva and Vishnu. Both Vishnu and Shiva tell Indra to churn the ocean , a gigantic task for it is cannot be undertaken without the support of daityas,whom Indra should convince to agree to help and partake the fruits of churning.Finally Indra manages to convince Bali about the churning and the motive behind it- to get elixir of immortality/ Amruta ; which is much desired by daityas as well as adityas (devas).

Finally the gigantic task begins with mount Mandara as the pillar with vasuki-king of serpents as the rope for churning, the devas hold the tail of vasuki(Vishnu advises them so) while daityas are at the head of vasuki.The churning begins,after sometime mount Mandara begins to slip into the ocean because it is devoid of support so devas pray to lord vishnu incarnates as ‘Kurma’ – the gigantic tortoise and supports the mountain on its back and the task is resumed, also Vishnu promises devas to preside over the mountain to help gods when in distress and witness the churning.

After churning for thousands of years suddenly ‘Halahala’ – the terrible poison appears because of it the creation begins to suffer; terrified by this both the devas and daityas run in chaos. Guru Brihaspati and Vishnu along with Brahma pray and appeal to Shiva to dispose the ‘halahala’ and thus shiva drinks the poison and stops it in his throat which turns blue thus making him NeelkanTha /blue throated one.

As years pass on the fruits of churning begin to appear, they are viz; (their appearance , not necessarily in that order)

  1. Parijata- the celestial flower yielding tree
  2. Kamadhenu-wish fulfilling cow called Surabhi
  3. Apsaras-divine nymphs
  4. Airavata-Indras mount
  5. Ucchaishrava- means ‘sharp eared’ horned flying horse, accepted by Bali
  6. Chandra- moon
  7. Kaustubha- a rare huge jewel which adorns the chest of Vishnu
  8. Sura/Varuni-Wine creator
  9. Kalpa vriksha-wish fulfilling tree
  10. Dhanvantari-Physician
  11. Shrii in form of Lakshmi who is the concert of Vishnu
  12. Shankha(Panchajanya) ? – Conch of vishnu
  13. halahala-poison
  14. Amruta-elixir of immortality

When dhanvantari appears with Amruta, there’s chaos again for both the deva and daityas run for it to get it for themselves either of them doesn’t want to share it with their respective counter parts. At last the daityas are successful in snatching it from dhanvantari. This is a great concern for devas and they again approach Vishnu; Vishnu obliges and again appears as ‘Mohini’ the enchantress looking at whom the daityas are so enchanted by that illusion so they agree to whatever Mohini says of diving Amruta equally. The division of Amruta begins, Mohini very cleverly sees to it that devas are given all of elixir, while this happens a daitya named ‘swarnabhanu’ suspects foul play; he disguises as a god and joins their line and also is successful in drinking amruta. Chandra and Surya realise this and immediately caution Mohini who returns in form of Vishnu and cuts the throat of swarnabhanu, but since he has drunk amruta and it gets down his throat he lives but in two forms the body as Rahu and head as Ketu. Rahu thretans that he would be the cause of trouble to both Sun and Moon and devour them (eclipse them)

Thus ends the legend of Samudra manthan where gods were benefited the most with the help of Vishnu.

While this seems just any other story from our puranas, there’s so much to be understood; we can say that this earth had no moon, it wasn’t even inclined that means there were no seasons Sun prevailed day and night.

The event of churning takes place for millions of years and the 14 ratnas appear one after the other denotes gradual change in what the earth is.

Rahu and Ketu:

Are the two points of intersection of the paths of Sun and Moon as they move in the orbit; Rahu is the northern node and Ketu is the southern. Eclipses occur when Sun or Moon are at one of these points.

Shrii/Lakshmi :

Appears from ocean as ;samudra-tanaya’ daughter of ocean. She is associated with water which is most precious, also denotes her fickle minded nature, she wont stop at one place for she has to nourish each and every part of earth, her elements are present in all forms of creation. She symbolises material wealth and fortune. It is said that she appears on ‘amavasya’ -no moon day thus on Diwali amavasya she is worshipped at shops/business establishments and homes, this is to retain her. We must also understand to retain Lakshmi one must be ‘Vishnu’- Righteous, unbiased and above all desires.She also is a form of illusion for a man will do whatever it takes him to gain wealth will to go any limit ; all the relations don’t matter when it comes to money. The legend of churning also says that it is Lakshmi who goes to Vishnu and not the other way round and not only she herself goes to Vishnu she immediately occupies his heart for she is sure that she is safe with him and vishnu will respect and retain her. In India a couple are often symbolised as Vishnu and Lakshmi meaning fortune and retainer who are in complete without each other and for harmony to prevail in the society both must respect each other. It is interesting to note that her vehicle is the owl, ‘Ulooka’ in sanskrit though it seems odd , the goddess prefers an ulooka to ride on; ulooka or owl is symbolic of bad omens, lonliness also it has partial blindness and a dull, lethargic nature- people with such qualities are taken ‘for a ride ‘ by the goddess. 😀

Halahala:

Denotes the good and bad aspects of creation while we are to do some work along with the fruits of work we must also accept the bad effects or rather should I say ‘side-effects’. Today we see that though industrialisation is a path to progress it does have bad effects- how do they treat the industrial waste? By releasing harmful chemicals in rivers and on land too which is ‘Halahala’ the day we learn to treat this halahala we become Shiva(?)

lord Shiva not only drinks this terrible poison but stops it in his throat thus becoming the blue throat one Neel kanTha . For the poison not to affect him any further has to be awake to nullify the effect of poison therefore his devotees/followers, to keep him awake sing his glory also fast whole night as a tribute for his great deed. This is ‘Shiva-ratri’.

Moon:

According to the legend Moon emerged from Churning thus he has lot of effect on water and is the cause of tides arising in ocean. Not only this he effects human mind too along with the animals, thus a person of unsound mind is called ‘Lunatic’ .The position of moon also are a guide to the calculation of tithis. He is also the nourisher of herbs and has a lot of importance in ‘ayurveda’

The Kamadhenu (surabhi), kalpavriksha , Uchchaishrava, Kurma(tortoise) denote evolution of different forms of flora and fauna on earth.

Shri Vishnu:

As the devotees of Vishnu sing ”How do we sing the glory of the lord”? For me too its difficult to know from where should I start eulogizing him? He is ever pervasive like his consort Lakshmi.

He is a perfect example of a leader while churning the ocean he supported the axial mandara on his back in the form of tortoise and also presided on top of the mountain as a witness and guide to devas. He is unbiased, righteous and above all desires and as a true leader sees to it that the task taken is complete to the effect.

He is four armed denoting multi tasking🙂 holding ‘shankha’ conch which is a mode of effective communication; Sudarshana chakra- invincible disc as an assurance to his devotees that he is there to protect them. Kaumodaki -mace to punish the evil and Lotus/Padma symolises purity and fertility/creation also represents dynamism, truth and knowledge which are unbiased for a lotus emerges from muddy waters yet is untouched by it. Both Vishnu and Lakshmi are shown as holding Padma in their hands respectively. Both Vishnu and Lakshmi’s four limbs symbolise four purusharthas- Dharma- path of righteousness, Artha-wealth, Kama-desires, pleasure and moksha- salvation.

Amruta:

The divine drink leading to immortality (?) What else can emerge from ocean? It is the SALT that is Amruta what can survive without salt? Imagine our life without the presence of salt 😮

Unthinkable it is indeed. Salt compensates the chemical composition of our body and deficiency leads to diarrhea .One should also be careful for excess amounts also lead to various diseases.

Lastly this fascinating tale has another powerful message, religiously it tells us of the importance of ‘Nirmalya’ which literally means the flowers taken off from the deity, to whom it is offered because of it drying off. It says that even though it is ‘Nirmalya‘, it should not be thrown away for it has the essence of god in it so it has to be kept at a place usually trees where it dries off and becomes one with the soil. This is nothing but the concept of ‘recycle’ whatever resources used should be rejuvenated again which is as good as regeneration, What a wonderful and an equally profound message is conveyed!! That is the reason why Indra was punished by Sage Durvasa for Indra doesn’t know how to preserve resources and respect them. So we’ve to choose whether we make the same mistake and suffer like Indra.

Thus the legend of Samudra Manthana comes to an end, a legend which has in it the aspects of creation and evolution and it takes a little effort in understanding it applying in the course of our lives.

3 Responses

  1. Really nice!! you’ve interpreted it very beautifully.
    The concept of ‘nirmalya’ is heard for the first time, ithink we take such things too religiously without giving a practical thought.

  2. Great work. Thanks a lot for explaining the inner meaning/essence. Very beneficial. Looking forward to reading more from you that enlightens on do’s and dont’s

  3. it is very nice and message conveyed very nicely.

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