Kurma Avatar-4

Having accomplished his main objective of obtaining Goddess Lakshmi’s hands in marriage, Lord Vishnu did not deviate from his duty of helping devas.

Finally came out the young and beautiful Dhanvantari with the jar of amrita in his hands. On seeing this, the Asuras started shouting “ours, ours” and even started fighting within themselves. Seeing this, Indra sought the help of Vishnu. Vishnu immediately took the form of the beautiful and enchanting Mohini. Asuras fell for her beauty and handed over the Jar to her for equal distribution.

Mohini made the cousins stand in separate lines and started the distribution with the gentle devas. The asuras were so transfixed by her beauty that they did not mind this. But one asura was indeed mindful. How could the gentle devas taste the amrita first when all the hard work was actually done by the stronger asuras? He also knew that something was amiss with the sudden appearance of such a beautiful lady. So, he switched lines and sat in the middle of the deva lines in between the sun and moon gods. When his turn came, he was served the elixir. But before he could gulp it down, he was caught in the act by the sun and the moon gods and his head was cut off by Lord Hari. But since his head had tasted amrita, it alone became immortal and started floating in the cosmos as Rahu eclipsing the sun and moon in revenge during eclipses.

Mohini made sure that the jar of amrita was empty by the time it reached the last deva. The asuras who were transfixed with her, realized very late that they had been fooled, by which time, their gentle cousins had become stronger. The asuras rushed to their king, Bali. Soon a big war erupted. But the devas were stronger and had the support of Lord Vishnu. So Bali and his asuras had to retreat out of the war.  Bali knew his time would come soon. They all reached out to their guru sukacharya who soon started his potent spells and administered medicines to rejuvenate the asura clan.

Now, what is the importance of Kurma Avatar? Why did Lord Vishnu take that form?  He himself, talks about it in Bhagavath Gita. When a tortoise faces its enemy, it retracts its entire body into its shell. Similarly we-the jeevatmas-should retract our senses when we see our eternal enemy – all the worldly pleasures and bring them out of the shell only when we see our eternal friend – the paramatma.

Are we doing it and is it possible for mere mortals like us, is a million dollar question that faces us. Anyways, we will see about what Bali did when he came out of his biding in the next few posts.

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Kurma Avatar – 3

When the Lord himself took the avatar of Kurma and started churning the ocean, first came a fierce poison called halahala. It was so uncontrollable and fiercely that it started spreading to all the 3 worlds, engulfing them completely. The Brahman, along with demi-gods and demons went to Lord Shiva for help. Lord Sadashiva, who was in Kailash at that time, consented to help them. He held the poison in his palms and drank it. Halahala, being a poison, manifested its characteristics by marking Lord Shiva’s throat with the color of blue. After that incident, Lord Shiva came to be known as Neelakantan/Neelkanth. The day when this happened came to be known as pradosham which falls on the 13th day – tryodashi day-of every fortnight.

After the poison, came the cow called surabhi. It produced Yogurt, ghee and milk, all items necessary for performing Yagnas and other rituals as prescribed in the Vedas. Great sages, who knew everything about the Vedic way of life, took the cow for its purest ghee and curd.

Then came Uccaishrava which as white as the moon. King Bali, the king of asuras, wanted to have it. Although Indra would have protested under normal circumstances, did not do so according to the advice from Lord Vishnu.

Next came Airavata, the king of elephants. It was white in color and had 4 great tusks. Along with it came 8 great elephants, headed by Airavana and 8 she-elephants headed by Abhramu.

Generated next from the ocean were 2 gems – Kaustubha-maṇi and Padmarāga-maṇi. Lord Vishnu decided that they would adorn him.

Parijata tree came next. It is the flowers of this tree which decorate the celestial planets. The tree is also called Kalpavriksha tree. It is said that the Parijata tree is a wish fulfilling tree.

After Parijata tree, Apsaras came into being as a result of the churning of the ocean.

Then came Goddess Rama or Lakshmi. Everyone present there was bewildered on seeing the exquisite beauty and opulence of the Goddess. Lord Indra got her a seat. All the great rivers like Ganges and Yamuna got her water. The great sages who were present performed her bathing ceremony, according to the Vedic rituals. All the elephants carried sacred water and sprayed on the Goddess. All the rain clouds present there, sounded like the various instruments like mridangas, panavas, murajas, anakas and the conch shells. The sound thus generated was tumultuous and uplifting at the same time.  After the sacred bathing ceremony, Varuna gave her the silk garment along with the flower garland. Viswakarma presented her with various ornaments. After all the ceremonies, she approached Lord Vishnu and placed the garland around his neck and took him to be her husband.  Thus concluded Lakshmi Kalyanam – the main objective for which Vishnu took Kurma Avatar.

If noticed, one would observe that everything that came out of the ocean till then and everyone who was present there contributed to the celestial marriage of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. But then, there was still no sign of amrita. Now that his original objective has been fulfilled, would Lord Vishnu continue to help the devas and asuras to achieve theirs?