|KURMA - THE TORTOISE
Vishnu, in his second incarnation,
is in the form of half-man half-tortoise (Kurma), the lower
half being the tortoise. He is normally shown as having
four arms. In the upper two he carries the conch-shell and
the wheel while the lower two are in the protection and the
boon giving postures or carrying a mace and a lotus. Kurma,
the Tortoise, was used for support to mount MANDARA, as a
churn dasher, when the Devas and the Asuras churned the ocean
After the Pralaya-Deluge at the beginning of the present KALPA
the Gods lost the immortality.
|KURMA - THE TORTOISE
When the gods were in danger of losing their authority over
the demons they decided to go to Vishnu, who preserves the
order of the universe, to beg help. Vishnu advised them to
churn the ocean so that they might procure amrita (ambrosia),
which would make them strong and immortal. He promised to
become a tortoise on which would rest the mountain Mandara,
which was used as the churning stick.
The legend of the Kurma avatar goes
Sage Durvasa was a great ascetic. Once he was walking along
holding in his hand a garland of flowers called SANTANAKA.
|SAGE DURVASA AND INDRA
INDRA who was coming from the opposite direction riding Airavata
ignored him. He threw the garland given by Durvasa on Airavata,
which threw it on the ground and trampled it. Durvasa lost
his temper and cursed: "The pride of wealth has entered your
head. Let Lakshmi forsake you." Then Indra realized his folly.
He bowed to Durvasa and sought his pardon. Durvasa said, "Sri
Vishnu will do you good," and left.
On account of Durvasa's curse, Lakshmi left Indra and went
away. Because Lakshmi the goddess of power, bravery, enthusiasm
and radiance left, Devendra's life became miserable. The demons
that were waiting for such an opportunity invaded heaven,
defeated Indra and gods in war and occupied heaven. Indra
lost his kingdom and hid out of sight of the demons. The Gods
in due course lost their immortality and valor.
A number of years passed. Indra's teacher Brihaspati thought
of finding a way out for Indra's troubles. He went with the
gods to Brahma, who went to Vishnu with all of them and put
forth the appeal of the gods. Then Vishnu said, "don't fear;
I will show you a way out. The sea of milk must be churned.
It is a very difficult job. Therefore, gain the friendship
of the demons and get their assistance. Use MANDARA Mountain
as a churning rod and VASUKI, the king of the serpents, as
I will come to your assistance at the proper time. When the
sea is churned ambrosia will be produced. Let the gods drink
it and become immortal. They will then attain superb strength.
It will then be possible for you to defeat the demons. When
the sea is churned, Lakshmi who has disappeared will appear
again. Her grace will be bestowed on you." He consoled the
gods and arranged for the churning of the sea.