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Presentation on theme: "SAMUDRA MANTHANAM KSHIRASAGARA CHURNING THE OCEAN."— Presentation transcript:


2 The central account of creation in Hindu tradition is known as the “Churning of the Ocean.” The best known account is found in the Bhagavata Purana, datable to either 900 CE or 3000 BCE. The tale involves a combined action of gods and spirits to gain soma or ambrosia or amrita.

3 A synopsis of the tale: 'Samudra-manthana' or churning of ocean is a widely known episode of Indian mythology. Several ancient Indian texts have allusions to the legend, but the Vishnu Purana, Harvamsha Purana and Dasavatara Purana are more elaborate in their details. The legend of the churning of ocean relates primarily to Lord Vishnu's second incarnation as Kurma, or tortoise, and the emergence of Shri or Lakshmi from the womb of ocean. 'Puranas' have a number of legends leading to 'Samudra-manthana'. Some say the ocean was churned for recovering the precious jewels lost in great deluge. Others say the aged gods had grown weak and decrepit and for reviving their youth and vigour stood in dire need of nectar which lied buried deep into the womb of ocean. But, weak as they were, they could not churn the ocean and discover nectar from its womb. On the advice of Vishnu they conciliated with demons and persuaded them to jointly churn it.The episode relating to the curse of sage Durvasa is, however, a more widely acknowledged cause leading to 'Samudra- manthana'. It is said sage Durvasa once visited Vaikuntha, the abode of Lord Vishnu. In reverence to the great sage, when seeing him off, Vishnu garlanded him with the celestial flowers of Parijata, pregnant with inexhaustible sweet honey and never fading. On way back Durvasa met Indra riding his Airavata. Durvasa thought that to a recluse the garland of Parijata was hardly of any use and that Indra better deserved for it. He hence placed the garland on Indra's neck, but the conceited Indra neglectfully hurled the garland on his elephant's head. The sweet fragrance of 'parijata' flowers invited bees, which irritated Airavata and the elephant tore the garland, threw it down and crushed under his feet.

4 Durvasa felt insulted and cursed Indra to become devoid of all splendour and riches. Instantly 'Shri', the presiding deity of riches, splendour and fertility, deserted Indra and all three worlds that he ruled. She disappeared into Khsirasagar, the ocean of milk. Bereft of all grandeur and prowess Indra and other gods approached Brahma who after hearing their plight invoked Vishnu. Vishnu appeared and said that churning of Kshirasagar was the only way for recovering 'Shri' from it. This they could not do alone, hence they should conciliate with 'asuras' and persuade them to participate in the act of ocean churning. Vishnu said that Mount Mandara could be used as the churning rod and the Great Serpent Vasuki as the rope.As ordained by Lord Vishnu gods approached 'asuras' and reconciled with them. After they agreed, Mount Mandara was uprooted and laid into the ocean and Vasuki coiled around it. Vishnu himself appeared on the scene and asked the 'asuras' to hold the serpent by its tail. Vishnu knew that 'asuras' would ask for contrary to what gods proposed to them. As expected, the 'asuras' considered it derogatory for them, the superiors as they thought they were, to hold the tail instead the head of the animal. It was what the gods wanted and willingly gave them Vasuki's head portion and they held serpent's tail and began churning Kshirasagara.

5 The churning was begun. But when the Kshirasagara began yielding jewels, one after the other - Surabhi, the celestial cow, the divine horse Uchchishrava, elephant Airavata, Kaustubha- mani, Parijat etc., they realised that Mount Mandara was sinking into the earth and neither the gods or demons nor the Great Serpent Vasuki were able to hold it. Amrit, the nectar, 'Shri' and many other precious jewels had not been discovered yet. It disappointed gods and demons alike. When yet in the gust of disappointment they felt that the fast sinking mountain was suddenly contained. Churning was re-commenced. Vishnu incarnated as tortoise had stretched himself endlessly, slipped under the churning mountain and contained it on his back. The ocean was then further churned and were discovered from it pots of wine, arson and nectar, Vaidya Dhanwantari, Shri or Lakshmi, the divine conch etc.

6 The full story is told in the Bhagavata Purana and you can access it by pressing herehere

7 The remainder of these slides is devoted to Indian representations of the tale over the years. We begin with the spectacular sculpted version of the myth, over 500 years old, found in the temple of Vishnu at Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

8 Below is seen the center of the panel

9 To the left the spirits are led by Bali

10 On the right the gods are led by Hanuman

11 Angkor Wat itself was built in imitation of the five mountains on which the chief gods of Hinduism reside.

12 Here then follow examples of the “Milk Ocean” in Indian art








20 Here ends for now our consideration of Samudra Manthanam


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