Trip Start Jan 22, 2007
26Trip End Mar 18, 2007
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Here's Ananda Coomeraswarmy's version of the The Churning of the Ocean...
It happened long ago that Indra, king of the gods, was cursed by the great rishi Durvasas, a portion of Shiva, for a slight he put on him. Thenceforward Indra and all the three worlds lost their energy and strength, and all things went to ruin. Then the daityas or asuras ("demons") put forth their strength against the enfeebled gods, so that they fled to Brahma for protection; he then advised them to seek aid from Vishnu, the tamer of demons, the undying God, creator, preserver and destroyer. So Brahma spoke, and himself led the gods along the northern shore of the sea of milk to Vishnu's seat, and prayed his aid
Thus the gods entered into alliance with the demons, and jointly undertook the churning of the sea of milk. They cast into it potent herbs, they took Mount Mandara for the churning-stick and Vasuki for the rope. (The Indian milk-churn is a stick around which a long rope is twisted, and pulled alternately from opposite ends. The rope itself holds up the stick in a vertical position, and the turning of it to and fro accomplished the churning). The gods took up their station by the serpent's tail, the daityas ("demons") at its head. Hari (Vishnu) himself in tortoise shape became a pivot of the mountain as it was whirled around; he was present also unseen amongst the gods and demons, pulling the serpent to and fro; in another vast body he sat upon the summit of the mountain
First from the sea rose up the wish-bestowing cow Surabhhi, gladdening the eyes of the divinities; then came the goddess Varuni, with rolling eyes, the divinity of wine; then up sprang the Parijata tree of paradise, the delight of Heaven's nymphs, perfuming all the world with the fragrance of its flowers; then rose the troops of apsaras (dancing girls of Indra's court), of entrancing loveliness and grace. Then rose the moon, whom Mahadeva (Shiva) seized and set upon his brow; and then came a draught of deadly poison, and that also Mahadeva (Shiva) took and drank, lest it should destroy the world: it is that bitter poison that turned his throat blue.... Next came Dhanwantari, holding in his hand a cup of the dew of life, delighting the eyes of the daityas and the rishis. Then appeared the goddess Shri (Lakshmi), the delight of Vishnu, radiant, seated on an open lotus; the great sky-elephants anointed her with pure water brought by Ganga (the Ganges River) and poured from golden vessels, while the enraptured sages sang her praises. The Milky Sea adorned her with a wreath of unfading flowers; Vishvakarma decked her with celestial jewels
The angry daityas snatched the cup of nectar from Dhanwantari and bore it off. But Vishnu, assuming an exquisite and ravishing woman-form, deluded and fascinated them, and while they disagreed amongst themselves, he stole away the draught and brought it to the gods, who drank deep from the cup of life. Invigorated thereby, they put the demons to flight and drove them down to Hell, and worshipped Vishnu with rejoicing. The sun shone clear again, the Three Worlds (the physical plane, the astral plane, and swarga) became once more prosperous, and devotion blossomed in the hearts of every creature. Indra, seated upon his throne, composed a hymn of praise for Lakshmi; she, thus praised, granted him wishes twain. This was the choice, that never again should she abandon the Three Worlds, nor should she every forsake any that should sing her praise in the words of Indra's hymn.
Whoso hears this story of the birth of Lakshmi from the Milky Sea, whosoever reads it, that goddess of good fortune shall never leave his house for generations three; strife or misfortune may never enter where the hymn to Lakshmi is sung.
From Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists by Ananda K Coomaraswamy and Sister Nivedita (NY: Dover, 1967)