For all of us, the earth is the base; for the earth, the sun’s gravitational pull is the base. If we go on questioning like this, the final base or the first base as the source who stands, let us begin the brief narration of the Koormavatara by offering salutations to that base, who is Lord Shri Krishna.
The world has both good and evil. We can call it a world only if they both exist. If there is only good left, that is liberation. There will always be friction between these two. If any two people or groups are together, and in case their intentions and behaviours are different, this friction is definite. Can light and darkness be together? Similarly, the good and the evil. Good means the Gods and evil means the demons. The Gods save the world. Lord Varuna is the God of water and arranges water for everyone. Agni ensures that fire is available everywhere. They are the source of life in the world. They undertake the responsibility of one division and ensure that it is not spoilt. They look at the division of life and save the lives of beings. The Rakshasas try to spoil this arrangement. They say that they are the Eshwara and it is enough if they are fine. They don’t care of what happens to others. Therefore, there is always a friction between them.
In the Puranas this war is present everywhere and will continue until this creation exists. In this war, the Gods have won sometimes and the Rakshasas have won sometimes because winning is uncertain; one can never know whose favour it will be in. Sometimes it sides evil. It is like how a wheel’s lower part moves up and vice versa, while moving. Once the Gods lost. One by one their soldiers were killed. Their bodies piled up into a mountain. Indra lost his effulgence, not now but before. He had been cursed by Doorvasa.
The counterpart of authority is lust. Authority is like being drunk- one becomes blind, and cannot see the Gurus or elders and good people. Once this incident took place, Doorvasa was returning from Vaikuntha after having the darshan of Hari. He came across the Gods who were in celebration mood. Doorvasa gave Indra, a Prasada garland out of respect for the king of Gods.
Indra, who was not in his complete senses,took it; placed it on the head of his elephant Airavata. Airavata being a wild elephant, didn’t know what happened and dropped the garland and stamped it. This angered Doorvasa, moreover it was a Prasada from Vaikuntha. Thus, he cursed Indra, you are drunk with authority; lose it and become proper. At that time his radiance vanished and so did other Gods’. The Rakshasas began ruling over Devaloka. Yagnas and rituals stopped on earth. Hence the Gods became even more weak. Everyone prayed to Lord Vishnu. Lord Brahma who also represents fate, himself prayed to Vishnu.
Vishnu says- this problem currently has no solution. It is a result of an age-old curse and the right time has to come to rectify it. When great souls bless or curse, God does not come in between. Therefore, without a Yogyakaala (right time) nothing would change. Now you all go and become friends with the Rakshasas. Since they have won now, they might not like to become friends with you. If you show them Amruta (divine nectar/Elixir) they will greedily come.
But there was no Amruta at that time, how will they get it? Take all kinds of cures and herbs from earth and churn them in the Ksheerasagara(milky ocean). Use the Mandara mountain as the churning stick, Vasuki snake as the rope. Both the sides must churn together. Initially while churning, Kaalakoota poison, Apsaras, Ucchaishravas and other products will arise. Don’t be afraid when the Kaalakoota poison comes, don’t be distracted when the Apsaras come. In the end when Amruta comes, you all should drink it and become nectarine. This is a lesson for Man. If he wants to come up in life, he must let go of fear and greed. God indicates this here indirectly.
Negotiation started between demigods and demons. For the desire of nectar, demons agreed to churn the ocean. See, this is such a strange negotiation. Is the negotiation possible between the light and the dark? They get together only during nightfall. If there is any one notion, equal wishes, trust, then there is agreement. But if there is desire for power, then the rat and the snake also unite. There is this thing called ‘AhiMooshikaNyaya’. In that story, snake was caught by snake-charmer by chance. In that box, a rat also gets trapped by mistake. A negotiation happens between them inside the box. Since snake wanted the help of rat to go out, it said to the rat “look! we are friends. You make a hole in the box so that we can go out. In return to your help, I will leave you without eating you up”. Pity rat made a hole throughout the whole night. Snake went out first, waited for rat and ate it as soon as it came out. This kind of friendship will be for the benefit of bad. Here they had no good intention. At least demigods had no bad intention, but demons definitely had a bad motive.
Both the groups tried, but could not even move the mount Mandara. With great difficulty and God’s grace they brought the mountain, but fell on the path while bringing. Many died who fell under it. Then SriNarayana himself had to come. He lifted the mountain in one hand, kept it on the Garuda, placed it in the ocean and returned. What is the strength he has and what we have? So just surrendering to him can make the impossible things possible. The God saved the lives of those who fell below the mountain just with his kindest look. When Vasuki was allured with the nectar, he agreed to be the rope. There is Upendra among demigods. He is the lord Vishnu himself. He came as a younger brother of Indra. He directly went near the Vasuki’s head and started pulling. Then demons complained to that; them being the greatest, would not hold the snake’s tail as it is very inferior to do that. Vishnu wanted this. All demigods held Vasuki’s tail. This is called the foolishness. If a person just opposes everything in the other just because of hatred, then intelligence also fools him. Vasuki is greatly poisonous. His breath also had venom. When churning the ocean, definitely the poisonous flame would come from him. That is why demons’ ego was provoked. If ego let its head up, then we will also be in danger.
Churning started. In short time, Mandara sank in the ocean and all were disappointed. Manhood lost in front of almighty. Everyone prayed the lord again. It was because of the lord Ganapathi. He brought a hurdle since they had not even remembered nor respected him before doing such big work. But this was noticed by lord Narayan. Eternal lord lifted the mountain in the form of a tortoise (the kurma) and all rejoiced. Churning continued. The mahan kurma had its back a lakh yojana wide. To lift that great mountain, that wideness was of course needed. Like this, who would be our support when there is no other backing? It is only Him. That is what was told in the beginning of the pravachana. If we go behind the support, at some point there will be no support. It seems surprising for earth and sky standing with no support. He is finally the support for everything.
The act of churning of milk meant churning of the ocean of milk continued, all the medicines available on the earth were put in it, the people churning were all powerful. Vasuki was also very tough, the Mandara mountain moved vigorously. When this happened, did it not hurt the One in the Koorma Avatar, who had lifted the mountain? No, it was a matter of mere scratch for Him. Moreover, the shell of a tortoise is extremely strong, imagine the strength the Divine Tortoise might have had! But the strength of the churners started deteriorating. Then, the Lord himself reinforced their strength. He was God amongst the Gods, demon amongst the demons and kept encouraging both the sides by filling zeal in them and proceeded with the process. After a while poor Vasuki got tired. What would his condition might have been whilst he was being churned in both directions? In that situation the Lord entered his body in the form of sleep and took him into restful state. Sometimes awareness is good, few other times ignorance is; sometimes awakening leads to happiness and other times restfulness is necessary. At that moment rest was a boon to Vasuki. But when the churning was not sufficient enough to bring up the Elixir (Amruta) he stepped up as Sahasrabaahu and churned it himself. Then, the items came out one by one and the Amruta at the end. The Lord himself brought the Amruta in the form of Dhanvantari. Thus, even though the cause for the occurrence of Amruta was everyone, the real cause was Adikoorma himself. But since he wasn’t visible anywhere it was considered that the churning for Amruta was done by the Gods and the Demons. Thus, even though the foundation is the most important thing while building a house, it is not visible from outside. Similarly, our lives are supported by Him, we just don’t realise it. If Amruta itself was asked who was the real reason behind its occurrence, it would tell that it was Him. The lesson to be learnt and understood from this is that, I am zero, you are complete. This is also the inner principle of the story of the churning of the ocean of milk.
Furthermore, let’s know the secret of Koorma Avatar, let’s learn what is inside the shell of the Koorma. The essence of Koorma Avatar is the sense that the weight is Yours. What was the feel when the Gods and Demons had, when it was impossible to move the Mandara mountain and turned towards Shrihari for help? He lifted it for this sense, that the weight is Yours. Again, when it fell down while lifting it up, the feeling was the same and the Lord came for the sake of the same emotion and brought the Mandara mountain and dropped it in the ocean. Even when the mountain drowned in the ocean, it was the same humble feeling that the weight is all Yours. When the hands were exhausted while churning, the feeling was the same. Only You can bring back our strength. This unusual demand for strength for both; themselves and their rivals was probably seen only here and just this one time! Even after all this when the Amruta did not arise, all of them prayed with the same feel that the weight is Yours. Truly the work was all His, the burden was all His.
The inspiration for the ocean churning was Hari, the inspiration for the method of churning was Hari, he lifted the Mandara mountain, he stood as the support, at last he was the one who brought the Amruta. The Amruta came from the Amruta itself. He brought the Amruta as Dhanvantari. If everything was His, then what was the contribution of the Gods? Ours? The emotion that I am yours is the only thing that is ours, in the whole process only this emotion was owned by the Gods. So, not just the Mandara mountain, the burden of the whole process of churning the ocean of milk was held by Him and only Him. Amruta can happen only if His essence is present. Amruta should come from Amruta. Where is He not present in the whole scenario? He is the Amruta, He is the purest, the supreme tasting, the liquid that gives immortality. It can’t be anything else.
From this Koorma Avatar story take the sense that the weight is Yours, the sense that was in the Gopas who were beneath the Gowardhan mountain as Shri Krishna held it with his little finger, that is; the weight is Yours. The truth is that the burden of our whole lives is His. If we realise that, He will arrive to lift all our burdens of life.
Picture courtesy: Internet
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