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Kurma Avatara

Kurma AvataraOnce the great sage Durvasa Muni cursed Indra, the King of demigods for having insulted him. He cursed that Indra and all the demigods would loose all their power and wealth. As a result of the curse, the demigods were attacked by the demons headed by Bali Maharaja, the grandson of Prahalad Maharaj. The demigods began to pray to Lord Vishnu who instructed them to churn the ocean of milk together with the demons which would eventually yield the nectar of Immortality. Anyone who takes this nectar will be freed from death and disease.

Bali Maharaja, the King of demons agreed to this proposal. Jointly they decided to use Mount Mandara as the churning rod and Vasuki, the King of serpents as the churning rope. Since Mount Mandara was made of solid gold, with great effort they picked up the mountain. But it toppled over them killing many demons and demigods. Seeing this condition, Lord Vishnu Himself appeared riding His carrier Garuda, and picked up the mountain in one hand. He also restored the life of all those demons and demigods who were wounded and killed.

Lord Vishnu placed the mountain in the middle of the ocean and left. Vasuki, the serpent was wrapped around the mountain and the churning began. But since the mountain was unstable, it again toppled over. Observing this, Lord Vishnu appeared as a giant tortoise, called the Kurma incarnation, and sat on the ocean placing the mountain on His back, which was eight thousand miles wide. The demons and demigods happily churned the ocean.

The first thing that appeared as a result of churning was Halahala, a deadly poison. It was so poisonous that it would destroy all the living creatures. At that moment, the demigods prayed to Lord Shiva for help. Lord Shiva, always merciful and easily pleased scooped up all the poison and drank it. By his powers he held the poison in his throat, which turned blue because of the poison. From a few drops of the poison that were spilled were consumed by some plant and animals and thus originated the species of poisonous snakes and plants and scorpions.

The demons and demigods continued their churning but soon became tired. The flames emanating from the hundred mouths of the Vasuki serpent scorched both the demons and the demigods making them very tired. Observing their plight, Lord Vishnu sat on top of the mountain and proceeded to churn the ocean alone. Under the intense effect of this, the ocean of milk soon began to yield its treasures.

Many valuable things appeared and were taken by different people. Finally Dhanvantari appeared carrying the Nectar of Immortality. Even though he was strong, the demons were able to snatch the jug from them and began to quarrel on how to distribute it. The demigods once again surrendered to the Lord for help.

Lord Vishnu now appeared as a beautiful women called the Mohini- murti incarnation. She was so beautiful that the demons were awestruck. They immediately handed over the nectar to Her and promised to agree to Her ruling. She made the demons and demigods sit in a row, facing each other, and with enchanting smiles and actions, gave all the nectar to the demigods and none to the demons, who were envious and greedy by nature. One of the demons called Rahu however was able to slip into the row of the demigods and took the nectar. He was spotted by the demigod controlling the Sun and Moon planets. Quickly Mohini-murti, displaying Her original Vishnu form cut his head off. However since the nectar had already touched his lips, Rahu was given immortality by Lord Brahma as a planet between Sun and Moon.

Realizing that they have been cheated, the furious demons took up their arms and attacked the demigods. However under the influence of the nectar, the demigods easily began to kill them in large numbers. Lord Brahma, who sees the demons and the demigods equally, sent the great sage Narada Muni to stop the demigods from further killing. Bowing to this request the demigods stopped and the demons disappeared.

This story reveals much about effort and consciousness. The demons and the demigods engaged in exactly the same kinds of efforts in churning the ocean. However they received vastly different results, since the demigods were doing it as per the instructions of Vishnu, while the demons were motivated by pride and greed.

 

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