Samudra Manthan story is one of the most well-known stories documented in Vishnu Purana. Also known as Ksheera Sagara Manthan or Amrit Manthan, the story also explains many concepts like why Lord Shiva is known as Neelakanta, the birth of goddess Lakshmi, the origins of Rahu and Ketu and so on.
Few scholars draw parallels to the story. They say the story emancipates the path of self-realization and the way to achieve moksha. Asuras and Deva's represent the good and evil within human nature. Churning represents the constant conflict of the human mind. Finally, Mohini delivering the Amrit to devas shows the victory of good over evil.
With an intent to tell you this captivating story of good over evil, we bring this blog into five parts. We have described each part in detail to give you an extensive view of what transpired in each phase of the amazing journey of Samudra Manthan.
- Part 1 – Beginning
- Part 2 – Preparations for the Ksheerasagara Manthan
- Part 3 – How Shiva obtained his name Neelakanta or Vishakantha
- Part 4 – Ratna’s of Samudra Manthan
- Part 5 – Lord Vishnu’s Mohini Avatar
Part 1 – The beginnings of the churning of the ocean story
As is the case for everything, the Samudra Manthan also has its own beginning involving Sage Durvasa and Lord of the Devas – Indra.
Once, sage Durvasa, while travelling through the earth in a penance mood, came across a heavenly nymph who was weaving a garland of heavenly flowers that emitted enchanting fragrance. Captured by its fragrance and being in a highly intoxicated state of bhakti, Sage Duravsa asked the nymph to give him the garland. The nymph, knowing the sage's anger and also out of respect for the glories achieved by the sage, offered him the garland. Pleased with the nymph's offering, the sage adorned himself with the garland around the neck and carried forward his journey.
As his travels continued, he chanced upon the lord of devas Indra, travelling the world on his elephant Airavata and his attendants. When Indra bowed to the revered sage, Duravasa presented him with the garland he was wearing. The egoistic Indra, instead of gracefully accepting the garland, garlanded his elephant. By now, the flowers filled with scented nectar had started attracting the bees. Disturbed and annoyed by the bees' sound and flying, Airavata threw the garland on the ground and stamped it.
Enraged by the disrespect shown to his gift, Durvasa thus cursed Indra – "Out of your ego, you have defiled the garland carrying fortune. So, I curse you, all the devas, and the devaloka to lose its fortune." Indra, realizing his folly, came down from his elephant and fell at the feet of the sage to recall his curse. Durvasa, who was still enraged at the disrespect, was unmoved and told him – "For your disrespect to my gift and me, you will not be exempted from my wrath, and you shall suffer greatly." The sage walked away even before Indra could try to appease him.
Soon, the curse came to fruition. Devas lost their power, and the once flourishing the devaloka became barren. People on earth stopped worshipping the devas, which made the Asuras powerful.
Sensing the opportunity, the Asuras led by Bali declared war on the Suras and captured the devaloka and started ruling from there. Indra somehow survived the war and was thoroughly distraught by the sudden change in fortune.
He approached the all-knowing Lord Brahma for a solution and told him how he repents his actions.
Brahma said – "Indra, you often commit the same mistake but never realize your folly. In the current situation, it is not me but Lord Vishnu who can help you. So, approach him."
Indra – "Oh, Lord, I am so ashamed of the actions that I dare not face the Lord. Would you be considerate to accompany us and lead us while we pray for his protection?"
Hearing his request, Brahma smiled and agreed to help Indra. All the devas led by Lord Brahma then went to Vaikunta to seek help from the protector of the universe, Lord Vishnu.
Brahma – "Dear Lord, I am sure you are aware of the folly committed by Indra. Because of his arrogance, the devas and devaloka now lie in ruins. As his emissary and sensing his repentance, I humbly request you to help us restore the balance and restore the rightful power to the devas."
Indra – "Dear almighty, I am really sorry for my actions and the way I treated sage Durvasa. I do not wish the devaloka and the devas to suffer cause of my mistakes. Kindly guide us and let me know the way to resolve it."
The Lord Vishnu closed his eyes for a moment and said – "Indra, the only way to resolve the situation you have created and to regain your strength is to approach Asuras. Talk to them diplomatically and convince them to take part in Amrit Manthan Mythology. Rest assured, I will help you in all the ways I can, to ensure you succeed."
Indra was overjoyed on hearing this. He offered his respects and sought blessings from both Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu to make this mission a success, and proceeded to
Devaloka to talk to Danavas about the Samudra Manthan.
At the Devaloka, Indra, with his sweet talk, enticed the Asuras about Samudra Manthan's benefits and told them about sharing Amrit equally, which would bless them with immortal lives. To sweeten the deal, he added they could also share the spoils of the Manthan. Trapped in his sweet talks and with the desire to be immortal, the Asuras greedily agreed to be part of the Amrit Manthan.
Thus, as described in Vishnu Purana and Shiv Puran, Samudra Manthan's preparation began, which is said to have lasted for nearly 1000 years.
PART 2: Preparations for the Ksheerasagara Manthan or Churning of the Ocean
PART 3: The Story of Shiva Drinking Poison/Halahala
PART 4: Samudra Manthan 14 Ratnas List Items
PART 5: Lord Vishnu’s Mohini Avatar