Friday, 28 September 2012

22. Redemption of Ahalya from her curse.

     "The emasculated Indra then panicked.   With alarm, anxiety  and trepidation, he spoke to the conglomeration of gods, siddha-s, gandharva-s, and carana-s, keeping Agni, the Fire-god as their helm god.  He claimed that what he did was not for his pleasure but a task of gods.  He accomplished hindrance to the Sage Gautama in his asceticism.
     Indra was in a position assigned to some high-souled beings on acquiring considerable merit.  He functions as a CEO of the universe, maintaining seasons, rains, thunders, thunderbolts, crops, earthquakes, and every aspect of nature, whether they are good or bad for us.  If any Vedic-ritual was performed, Indra would be too happy, as he and his deputies like Rain-god, Fire-god, Air-god, et al., would receive many oblations from that ritual.  But if it is tapas viz. 'the practice of asceticism, penance, or ascesis' by a single sage, Indra will be highly perturbed.  Usually sages will be practising this ascesis for attainment of higher abodes of Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva.  Some practice this to overthrow the present Indra and occupy his position, or to attain immortality and thereby try to rout out Indra, as with the case of Ravana.  When that practice is about to materialise, Indra sends his agents, like voluptuous celestial beauties, namely the apsara-s, to distract those sages with their (i.e Apsara's) beauty.  Once the sage's concentration fails, his practice becomes futile.  Thus, Indra retains his position.  Here, though Sage Gautama did not practise his ascesis for Indra's post, Indra had to hinder it in his own apprehension, and when the fury of Gautama was incited, Gautama's practice also failed and he had to redo his ascesis until he overcomes his passions.  Thus, this 'causing hindrance' is a divine act as claimed by Indra to other gods.  In doing such 'divine acts' Indra will also be maligned, for which the higher gods like Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, or other higher beings will come to his rescue.
     "Indra further said 'By Gautama's anger I lost my testicles and his wife Ahalya is rejected by the sage, and thus by his releasing a couple of severe curses, his propriety for ascesis is dwindled, and therefore his ascesis is pre-empted by me.  Therefore, oh, all gods with the assemblages of sages and caarana-s, it will be very appropriate and befitting of you all to make me virile again, as I have acted for our benefit.'
     "On hearing the explanation of Indra, all the gods and other assemblages of celestials, together with the groups of Marut-gods went to the godly manes keeping the Fire-god, Agni in van, and appealed  " 'This ram has testicles.  The testicles of this ram may be removed and given to Indra quickly.  This ram that is being offered to you may now be gelded to give its testes to Indra, and though this ram is deprived of an organ, it will be complete and it endows complete satisfaction to you.  To those humans who hereafter offer  rams with removed testes in sacrifices for the purpose of your gratification, you shall truly offer them plentiful and unmitigated benefits.'
     The 'manes' are the deified souls of dead ancestors.  It is customary to offer un-castrated and unmutilated animals in sacrifices to please gods or departed souls.  Presently some humans  offered such an un-castrated ram to manes and the manes were about to enjoy it.  But the gods had come and Agni, the Fire-god, was asking them to part with such an offering, for the sake of Indra.  And when the manes were hesitating to go against the existing rules of ritual, then Agni, the Fire-god, was amending those rules and he was saying a boon-like proclamation 'From now on, the manes can enjoy even a castrated ram, if offered by humans on earth, and in turn the manes shall afford plentiful benefits of undiminished value to those offerers, namely humans...' 
     "On hearing the words of Agni, the Fire-god, the manes-gods who gathered to collect their share of offering had extricated the testes of the ram, which was not yet sacrificed but tethered to a sacrificial post, and offered them to Indra.  From then onward the manes-gods who came to collect their share were enjoying even  goats, even if they did not have testes, to endow benefits thereof to those that offer those goats, and to join the testes of goats to Indra.
     If rams with testes are offered, the manes discard the testes of those rams and enjoy the rest of it. Even if a goat is offered they enjoy it, considering it as homogenous to a ram. In either way, the offerer is blessed with benefits and Indra with testes.
       "From then onwards Indra has became one with the testes of a ram.. 
       "Rama, now enter the hermitage of Gautama and atone Ahalya who is highly fortunate and who is in the making of a divinity."
       Rama accordingly entered the hermitage along with Lakshmana, keeping Vishwamitra afore. 
      Ahalya's splendour was brightened by her ascesis.  Now it was impossible to raise an eye to stare at her by anyone, whether it be a god,  demon or any worldly being,  on coming close to her.  The Creator had contrived her with a careful contemplation as an angelic and a completely phantasmal entity.  She was like the befogged and beclouded moonshine of a full moon when she was hitherto enshrouded by the dried up leaves and dust.  She was like an unwatchable sunshine mirrored in and glowing from the midst of water, for she was hitherto in the midst of denounce, and whose limbs were like the tongues of a flaring fire around which fumes were cloaking, as she was hitherto practising an utmost ascesis subsisting on air alone, which made her like a flaring Ritual Fire.
     Ahalya was indeed indiscernible to all the three worlds by the very word of Gautama until the manifestation of Rama.  On reaching the end of the curse, she came into the view of Raghava-s, and they too gladly touched her feet in reverence.
     Reminiscing Gautama's words Ahalya received those two, and self-consciously offered water for feet and hand washing, and like that she also offered guestship customarily and dutifully, and Rama  on his part acquiesced her hospitality.  There was an abundant floral fall from firmament accompanied by the drumbeats of gods' drums, and the celestials like gandharva-s, apsara-s revelled in a splendid festivity that was superb.  Gods had collectively reverenced her, whose limbs were depurated by the asset of her ascesis which was performed as a devotee of Gautama. 
     Even that great resplendent Gautama was heartened when he reunited with Ahalya after a long, long a time, and that sage customarily reverenced Rama for actualising his solemn utterance, and that great-ascetic Gautama continued his ascesis together with Ahalya.  Rama along with Viswamitra, Lakshmana and others then moved on to Mithila.
     Indra is usually referred to/addressed as 'sahasra aksha' i.e. ‘thousand eyed one...’ and the reason for this is another legend, saying that Gautama’s curse to Indra was: ‘since you delighted with Divine Ahalya, who is crafted by Brahma, in carnal pleasures, let there be thousand carnally vaginal apertures on your body...’ Then that Indra was aghast for such an appearance, pleaded for mercy. Then, the curse was amended as ‘instead of vaginal apertures, the apertures on your body will look like eyes...’ thus Indra became sahasra aksha.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

21. The legend of Ahalya.

     On seeing Rama and Lakshmana, the King Sumati looked   incredulously  at Viswamitra and said "These two youngsters, striding like audacious elephants and arrogant lions, bearing a similitude to adventurous tigers and adamantine bulls, and wielding quivers, swords, and bows, are valorous with their valour matching that of Vishnu, and with their eyes broad like lotus-petals and with youthfulness in the offing they look like the exceptionally beautiful twin-gods, Ashwin-brothers, by their physique.  How these two have footslogged and chanced here as though immortals have chanced on earth from the abode of gods at their pleasure?  What for they have come here, and whose scions are they?
      Comment: After writing the above, I could not resist telling you (I mean writing) what the great Tamil poet Kamban wrote about the reaction of the people of Mithila when they saw Rama walking along with his brother Lakshmana   and Viswamitra.  Here it is:
தோள் கண்டார், தோளே கண்டார்; தொடு கழல் கமலம் அன்ன
தாள் கண்டார், தாளே கண்டார்; தடக் கை கண்டாரும், அஃதே;
வாள் கொண்ட கண்ணார் யாரே, வடிவினை முடியக் கண்டார்? -
ஊழ் கொண்ட சமயத்து அன்னான் உருவு கண்டாரை ஒத்தார். 
       Sorry! I am unable to translate correctly to English.  The rough translation is  - Those who first happened to see his (Rama's) shoulders, they were seeing the shoulders only as they could not take off their eyes from that perfect shoulders; likewise those happened to see the eyes first they were seeing the eyes only; etc.
End Comment.
      "These two  are identical to one another by their bodily proportion, facial-language, and by bodily gestures, and with their presence they refurbish this province like the Moon and Sun brightening the firmament. I would like to know for what reason these valiant ones, who are wielding such mighty weapons, have arrived here travelling on an arduous path."
      Vishwamitra informed him about the visit of Rama and Lakshmana to the Hermitage of Accomplishment, about the elimination of the demons, as it had happened.  King Sumati was immensely astonished and very much impressed to hear the adventures of Rama and Lakshmana.  He could not help treating the princes as the most prominent and honourable guests.  The king started to honour those two great mighty sons of Dasharatha as his equals.
      On getting high honours from King Sumati, both the princes stayed there along with Vishwamitra and with the community of sages for a night, and then they all moved on to Mithila.  All the saints who were accompanying Vishwamitra, Rama, and Lakshmana, were simply spellbound on seeing Janaka's auspicious city Mithila.  Ayodhya was not fortunate enough to receive any worship from the onlookers, but it was admired for its fortification.  On the other hand, Mithila was a venerable city, because by itself it was a temple town and the Vedic-rituals etc., were going on forever.  It was a blessed place as it had Shiva's Bow, for which bow ritual worship was ongoing from time immemorial.
      On seeing a hermitage in the fringes of Mithila, that appeared to be age-old, but now uninhabited, yet pleasing, Rama asked the sage Vishwamitra to tell him about it.
       The expert in sententiousness, a great resplendent sage and eminent-saint Vishwamitra looked at Rama with a pleasure in his eyes and said with a smile "My pleasure!
     The pleasure expressed by Vishwamitra was for the arrival of time, for the event of Rama's grace, in releasing Ahalya from her cursed state.
      "Rama, this hermitage with a heavenly glisten, and highly hallowed even by gods, once belonged to the great sage Gautama.  In this hermitage  once that highly renowned Sage Gautama sat tight in asceticism for numerous cycle of years along with his wife Ahalya.  On knowing the time and the period of  his absence from the hermitage,  Indra, wearing the guise of sage Gautama  approached Ahalya and said  'My dear, indulgers do not watch out for the time to conceive, as such my love, I desire copulation with you.'
Vividly: 'Oh, Ahalya, Brahma crafted you so well that all your limbs are symmetrically conjoined, so who in the universe will not yearn to have intercourse with you... and on seeing your slender waist and thickset hips I wish to copulate with you now itself... and let there be no fear of safe period or unsafe period for I do not wish to have any progeny of mine from you...
     "Oh, Rama, though knowing him as Indra in the guise of her husband Gautama, she was inclined to have intercourse ill-advisedly, only to satisfy the impassion of the King of Gods.
     Her thinking was: 'This is none but Indra in the guise of my husband, for my husband never asks me like this nor he violates times... I heard that Indra is seeking me for a long time... and when King of Gods expresses such a desire, it cannot be refused... let him have it…
     "After the event she felt fulfilled in her heart of hearts and then she said  'I am gratified in complying with your wish, lord.  Please get away from here quickly, and always safeguard yourself and me from Sage Gautama.'   Indra on his part said smilingly to Ahalya, 'oh, well-hipped lady, I am quite delighted, here I go as I came.'
     "Oh, Rama, Indra then came out of the cottage flustering hurriedly after copulating with her, with an uncertainty about the arrival of Sage Gautama.  Indra had then seen the great saint Gautama, an unassailable sage either for gods or for demons owing to his ascetic prowess, though thoroughly wet with the water of pious river, he was luminous like ritual fire and a foremost saint among all saints who just entered the hermitage carrying ritual firewood and sacred grass.
     "On seeing the sage, the lord of gods Indra was scared and became dreary faced.  Sage Gautama, due to his ascetic power, came to know what happened.  He said furiously to Indra 'Oh, dirty-minded Indra, taking hold of my form you have effectuated this unacceptable deed, whereby you shall become infecund.'
     "When that great sage Gautama spoke that way with rancour, the testicles of the cursed Indra fell down on the ground at that very moment.  After cursing Indra, the sage cursed his wife, too saying, 'you shall tarry here for many thousands of years to come without food and consuming air alone, and unseen by all beings you shall live on in this hermitage while contritely recumbent in dust.
     " 'When that unassailable son of Dasharatha, namely Rama, arrives at this squalid forest, for it will be henceforth rendered so along with you, then you will be purified.  On your welcoming Rama, oh, ill-behaved woman, you will be divested of your greed and craze in which you lingered so far, and then you will assume your own body and then you can be in my proximity, rejoicingly.'
     "On cursing the immodest Ahalya thus, that great-resplendent Sage Gautama shed this hermitage which was once adored by celestials like siddha-s and caarana-s, and he resumed practice of his asceticism on the pleasant peaks of Himalayas."

Saturday, 15 September 2012

20. The legend of Seven-Maruts.

     Vishwamitra continued his narration about the City Vishala saying "Diti was highly anguished that her foetus was rendered into sevenfold.  She told Indra 'Oh, Indra, this foetus of mine is sliced into seven segments owing to my own misdeed. Therefore there is no iniquity of yours in this matter.'   She requested Indra to make these seven segments to become his seven Wind-gods, the rulers of seven ethereal-places, under his(i.e. Indra's) ruler-ship.
     COMMENT: According to mythology there are seven ethereal places in cosmos on which the galaxies and planets are dependent. According to Vishnu Puraana: ˜vaha pravahava caiva samvaha× ca udva× ca tath˜ | vih˜ ˜khya× praiv˜ha× par˜vaha iti kram˜t || gagana× sparþana× v˜yu anila× ca tath˜ apara× | pr˜õa× pr˜õeþvara× jŸva iti ete sapta m˜rut˜× || They are: aavaha the air called by this name will be pervading in clouds, thunderbolts, rain, meteors; pravaha air in solar orbit; samhava in lunar orbit; udvaha in galaxies; vivaha in planetary spheres; parivaha in the Seven-Sages sphere; varaavaha in north polar regions. These are otherwise called by names gagana, sparshana, vaayu, anila, praaNa, praaNeshvara, jiiva. Each of the Marut god has a batch of seven Marut-s, thus they are forty-nine entities, in total.
End Comment.
     "She further pleaded 'Oh, son Indra, let these seven sons of mine become the seven presiding deities of Cosmic Air Divisions and let them move in heaven with heavenly forms.  One of the the seven may permeate Brahma's abode, likewise another may permeate the heaven of Indra, and the third one, let him become a greatly celebrated and reputed as Divine Wind, and he may circulate in entire universe. Oh, Indra, let the other four of my sons permeate the four directions according to time and at your command, let safety betide you, and let them be renowned verily by the name given by you as 'Marut,' because you have coaxed the crying fragments of foetus saying, 'maa ruda, maa ruda', 'do not cry, do not cry...'
     "Indra agreed to the request of his aunt.  Those two, the stepmother Diti and the stepson Indra, thus reconciled in that ascetic forest, departed to heaven fulfilling their purposes."
     After a pause Sage Viswamitra continued  "Rama, this province is that one which was once presided over by Indra, where he rendered services to that accomplished one in her asceticism, namely lady Diti.
     "The king of Vishaala, through his queen Alambusa,  begot a son who was renowned as Vishaala.  He constructed a city in this place which is known by his own name, Vishaala.
     "Vishaala's son was the great mighty Hemachandra, and Hemachandra's son was highly renowned as Suchandra. The son of Suchandra was the famous Dhuumraashva, and Dhuumraashva derived his son named Srinjaya.  The fortunate and valorous son of Srinjaya is Sahadeva, and the son of Sahadeva is the most righteous Kushaashva.  The highly resplendent and dauntless Somadatta is the son of Kushaashva and Somadatta's son is highly reputed as Kakutstha.
     "Presently that Kakutstha's son named Sumati, who is a great resplendent, unconquerable, and a highly celebrated one is ruling from this city.
     "All the successive kings of Vishaala had longevity, intrepidity, well-off in generosity, and they were great-souled ones.  Today we may sleep here for a night, and go to Mithila tomorrow morning."
     The king of Vishaala, namely Sumati, came to know that Vishwamitra had arrived at the precincts of the city, came along with his mentors and family members, offered an excellent veneration to Vishwamitra, and then spoke to the sage with adjoined palms enquiring about his well being and said  "While many great Emperors and Kings are raring to go far and wide to meet you to get your blessings, you have come to my capitol.  I think I am more fortunate than the other kings and emperors.  Please command me for anything you require from me".

Sunday, 9 September 2012

19. Diti seeks for a son to kill Indra.

     "So great was the extremity of her pain and anguish for her dear sons who were  killed, Diti wanted to take revenge very badly." Vishwamitra continued his narration.
     "She peremptorily told her husband  'I am very much bereaved of my dear sons who were killed by the sons of your second wife Aditi.  I, therefore, want to get a very mighty son, who will annihilate Indra.  For that I want to do a penance for a son who will completely obliterate Indra and his clan, and who shall be the ruler of worlds.  It won't be inappropriate for you to permit me for the penance, and to get such a son through you.'
     COMMENT: A sage's wife requires permission of her husband if she wishes to undertake an individual asceticism, because she will be receiving her own share of merit from her sage-husband's penances and practises, as he is her life-mate.
End Comment.
     On hearing her request, sage Kaashyapa, the son of Sage Mareechi, said  'I will agree to your doing the penance subject to the condition that you agree to do the same by strictly following the rules and abide by the propriety of the practices of the same.  If you can complete a thousand years of asceticism punctiliously, then by my grace you can deliver a son who can be a master of three worlds.'
     COMMENT: In some other versions, the word 'trailokya hantaaram' is carried forward from earlier verses of Diti, into the speech of Sage Kaashyapa also. Some have it as trailokya bhartaaram 'a husbander of three worlds...' Diti may have desired for a 'killer.' But Kashyapa, as a father of both gods and demons, cannot term the issuing son as an exterminator of three worlds, because the three worlds are in vogue at Kaashyapa's grace. Some attach this adjective to Indra but not to the forthcoming son of Diti.
End Comment.
     "Saying thus the sage patted her.  The touch of the great sage consecrated her.  Sage Kaashyapa then departed for his ascetic practices.   And Diti went and reached the sacred place called Kushaplava, on which the present City of Vishaala was established later, and started a highly rigorous penance.
     "God Indra started rendering quite a lot of services to her, like making available fire, firewood, water, the sacred Kusha grass, fruits and like that tubers, and whatever other items she required in her ascetic practice.  All the time Indra was serving Diti(his maternal aunt), like by massaging her body, and other means of removing her bodily strain resulting from her arduous practices.  When reached less than ten years of the thousand year target, Diti was highly rejoiced as her ambition was going to bear fruit in just about ten years.  She spoke to Indra  'My dear valiant Indra, in less than ten years you will be seeing your new brother.
      "'I am bringing him up for your sake.  I will bring him up as an enthusiast for your victory, and son Indra, along with him, conquer the three worlds and enjoy them, without any fear from your enemies.'
     "In some other time she would say 'Oh, son Indra, your brother whom I am now bringing up, will be enthusiastic in conquering you, but somehow I will manage him by telling that you are after all his brother, and no harm should be done to you, and oh, son Indra, if you join him you will get rid of your fear, caused by his emergence, and then you two can conquer all the three worlds'.
     "In one of such occasions when Diti was saying things like this to Indra to dissuade him from guessing the real reason for her child, she fell asleep due to the very hot sun.  And she slept  keeping her feet headward.
    COMMENT: This 'keeping feet headward' is variously inferred. While sitting she leaned on her knees and her braid touched feet, thus she became impious.  She slept with her head neither towards east nor to south.  The ancient cots in India used to have head-side and feet-side finishing.  Then she placed head at feet-side and feet at head-side.  Even if a cot is not there, though slept on ground, the head shall  be positioned eastward or southward, but not to north or west.  Finally, she slept at noontime, and for a person under a vow, noontime sleep is prohibitive.  Hence her meticulousness is defeated.
End Comment.
     "Seeing that she had become impious by placing her head at feet-side and braid falling on feet, Indra happily laughed at her failed asceticism.  Indra, then entered the body of Diti through her vaginal aperture and started cutting her foetus asunder into seven fragments.  The foetus wailed clamorously while being sliced with Thunderbolt that has hundred cutting edges, and then Diti woke up.
      "Indra was coaxing the foetus  and despite the fact that foetus was screaming piteously, Indra went on fragmenting it.
     "Diti was raving  'Don't kill my foetus...'.  Indra then fell out of the womb honouring his stepmother's entreaty.
     "Indra humbly folding his palms that are still handling his bloody Thunderbolt spoke to Diti, 'Aunty, you had become impious when your braid touched your feet when you had gone to sleep in midday, and your vow was thwarted.   I therefore, exploited the chance to eliminate him who can eliminate me in a battle.  But instead of killing, I fragmented your foetus into seven fragments.  You, therefore should be happy for my benevolence and pardon me for that kind act of mine.' "

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

18. The legend of churning Milk Ocean.

     The next morning Viswamitra, Rama, Lakshmana and others crossed the river Ganga.  The northern bank of the river where they landed was in the the city called Vishaala.  After sojourning on the riverbank of Ganga for a while, they entered the city which was charming and admirable, and in comparison was like heaven.
     Rama with his usual inquisitive penchant for knowledge requested Viswamitra to tell him about the dynasty of kings ruling from the city of Vishaala.
     Sage Viswamitra smiled and asked Rama whether he had heard about Sage Kaashyapa and his spouses.
     Rama said "Of course, Sir. I have been told about them.  Diti is the elder sister of Aditi and the first wife of Sage Kaashyapa.  Her sons were originally called asura-s, and later given the nomenclature of raakshasaa-s, the demons. Lady Aditi the second wife of that sage Kaashyapa, gave birth to the progeny of sura-s, who later generally called as devataa-s, the gods. These two ladies are the daughters of Daksha Prajaapati."
     "Quite right" said Viswamitra with a smile.  He then continued "I will tell you about the auspicious legend of Indra.  Now listen to the quintessence of what had happened in this country. Once, in Krita Uga, the sons of Lady Diti were extremely energetic, whereas the sons of her younger sister Lady Aditi were vigorous and highly righteous.
     "The sons of both the sisters speculated as to how they can thrive without ageing, illness, and likewise without death.  Somehow they got to know that they can get the elixir of life by churning the Milky Ocean (பாற்கடல்). Deciding upon to churn the Milky Ocean, they made Vasuki, the Thousand-headed King of Snakes, as the churning rope and Mt. Mandara as the stirrer (மத்து), and those brothers whose energy was unlimited had started churning the Milky Ocean thoroughly.
       "After a thousand years of churning, the Thousand-headed serpent Vaasuki, which was being used as churning rope, was incapacitated to bear the friction of churning and fanged the cliffs of Mt. Mandara. That created a great lot of venom which was disgorged from the heads of that serpent Vaasuki.  That venom melted the rocks of Mt. Mandara which (i.e. the melted rocks) became the holocaustic poison called 'haalahala' which started to fulminate and burn down the whole universe of gods, non-gods and humans. The gods became very jittery and rushed to Lord Rudra and prayed to Him to save them.
     "While the gods were praying God Shiva, God Vishnu appeared there.  He smilingly told Lord Rudra, 'Sir, by virtue of your position as the foremost god among gods, whatever element that has emerged from the churning of Milk Ocean by gods should belong to you.  As the  omnicompetent god, it is your prominent duty to accept this poison, haalahala, as a foremost oblation (=கடவுளுக்கு வைக்கப்படும் படையல்) to your godhood.'
     "Saying so Vishnu disappeared.  On observing the scare of gods and also on paying heed to the words of Vishnu, god Shiva gulped that lethal poison haalahala, as if it was ambrosia.  The god of gods Hara then left for his abode Kailash.  With a sigh of relief the gods and non-gods continued to churn the Milky Ocean.
     "Now  it was the turn of Mt. Mandara, which caved into the netherworld. Gods along with gandharva-s and others prayed to Vishnu.  Hearing their prayer, Vishnu, adopting the form a tortoise and positioning the stirring Mt. Mandara on that tortoiseshell, lay recumbent at the bottom of Milky Ocean as a base to the stirrer.  He then reached out his hand and grasped the mountaintop and held and kept the stirring mountain upright.
     "After a thousand years of churning, a male personality, an epitome of Life Sciences, namely 'aayur veda', named Dhanvantari, surfaced with his arm-rest-stick and with his handy water-vessel.  Then the remarkably elegant Apsara-s, angelic damsels, emerged next to him from the Milky Ocean.
     "Choicest females had come out as an elixir on absolute churning of the waters of Milk Ocean, thereby that genera of females became Apsara-s.  Six hundred millions of such Apsara-s with amazing dazzle emerged from the churning of Milky Ocean.  And their maidservants who emerged along with them were innumerable. Anybody, either from gods or demons espoused them, and when none espoused them they are virtually reckoned as 'general-purpose' Apsara-females.
      Comment: In fact these Apsara-s were the nymphs who really did not bother to choose husbands either from gods or from demons and they wanted to be free and out of the institution of marriage.  But later they alone had become the breeding centres as in the case of Menaka-Vishwamitra et al. Because they had come out of 'apsu rasa' 'waters... elixir, those that emanated from the elixir of water' they came to be known as Apsaras. Etymologically this nomenclature 'seems more to be guided by the similarity of sound than anything else,' and 'we have a case of sound etymology par excellence [in Ramayana,] in sura, asura and the word asura is formed from the word asu with the addition of the suffix ra and means 'one full of ra spiritual life i.e., asu and' by curious process of semantical change came to mean a demon.' Pt. Satya Vrat - Ramayana - A Linguistic Study.
End Comment.
     "Then Vaaruni the daughter of Varuna, the Rain-god, and who incidentally is the presiding deity of hard liquors and therefore, also called as 'sura' (सुरा = Alcoholic Drink) came up from Milky Ocean searching for her espousal. The sons of Diti, namely asuraa-s, did not care to espouse that daughter of Rain-god, but the sons of Aditi, namely sura-s, did.  Thereby the sons of Diti came to be called a-suraa-s, and the sons of Aditi, suraa-s; and gods are delighted and rejoiced on espousing Vaaruni.
     "Then the best horse called Ucchaishravaa emerged, and then a gem of a jewel, called Kaustubha, and likewise amrita, the Supreme ambrosial elixir of gods, have also emerged.
     "Owing to the dispute regarding the possession of that ambrosia, there chanced a rampant ethnic havoc, and then the sons of Aditi had havocked the sons of Diti.  All the asura-s and demons had come to one side against sura-s, and there occurred a very gruesome war which was perplexing to all the triad of universe viz., ethereal, real and surreal spheres.  When everything was wading into annihilation, Vishnu swiftly impounded Amrita, the Divine Elixir, by assuming his illusory power of Mohini.
       COMMENT: Mohini literally means 'that which bewitches' and usually described as a feminine or neutral power of Vishnu, personified by a bewitching divine female. Thus Vishnu is said to have assumed a physique of such a voluptuous and bewitching seductress, marvellously limbed, and mantled in see-thru clothing, and thus maddened everybody around her. Then she started to serve Amrita/Ambrosia among the gods and demons on making them to sit on either side of her way.  Even the age-old Brihaspati, the Jupiter, sitting in god's row, had come under her charm and started gazing her from top to toe, pruriently.  When Brihaspati saw the feet of that damsel, they appeared as male person's feet.  He further looked at those two feet and beholding them as 'shrii caraNa', 'Reverential Divine Feet of Vishnu,' with which he covered the three spheres, Brihaspati's illusion was shattered and he venerated those feet, recognising this as Vishnu's Maya, illusory power.
End Comment.
     "Whoever confronted Vishnu in that war was simply pulverised by HIM(Vishnu).  In this horrendous war between the progeny of Diti, namely Raakshasas, and the progeny of Aditi, namely gods, the sons of Aditi being gods, have altogether massacred the demonic sons of Diti.
     "On eliminating the demonic sons of Diti and on acquiring the kingdom of heaven, Indra, their cheif,  happily ruled the worlds that are inclusive of sages and caarana-s"
     Thus Vishwamitra continued his narration about Vishaala city and its emergence.
       [A couple of other stories about the churning of Milk Ocean.
Legend/puraaNa: Once, when Indra was riding his elephant Iravata, Sage Duurvasa came towards him and offered a garland, respecting Indra as the administrator of the universe. Indra decorated that garland on the head of his elephant and that elephant removed it and trampled. By this Duurvasa, who was an angry sage by himself, was angered and cursed Indra to fall from the grace and all his luxurious paraphernalia be submerged in ocean. Accordingly, Indra looses everything and became destitute, and he then approached Vishnu. Vishnu reprimanded Indra for ridiculing elderly sages like Duurvasa and then plans to churn the ocean to retrieve all the lost treasures.  Thus, the legend and the churning are going on for ages.

     From the kundalini / power of yoga point of view the churning of ocean is continually going on in everyone's body. The body is the ocean and at its abyss, the triangle in the perineal or sacral plexus is the base of Mt. Mandara. The churning rod is the spinal cord in the rod like backbone and the churning strings are the ida, pingala namely, the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.  The churners are the air elements of vital forces on either side. This total system is held upright by Vishnu because He is naaraayaNa, nara aayaNa 'one who conducts humans, say created beings, into being and lead them away, again into His own self...' When kundalini power is incited the first results are always negative like, haalaaha, 'the lethal poison...' and all all-ruinous ills befall on us. If this negativity is surrendered to someone who can handle it effortlessly, like Shiva, then the positivity results like Amrita/Ambrosia.  Even if this elixir of life is readily available, there will be still better lures, lusts, and longings like Mohini and if enchanted by those instantaneous quirks, which are yet another kind of negativity, we will be lost completely, like the demons. Hence 'churn the correct way...' is the postulate of yoga.]