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.]


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