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Kurma
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Kurma

In Hinduism, Kurma was the second avatar of Vishnu. He took the form of a tortoise and sat on the bottom of the ocean after the Great Flood. A mountain was placed on his back by the other gods so that they could churn the sea and find the ancient treasures of the Vedic peoples.

Table of contents
1 The Churning of the Ocean
2 Appeal to Brahma
3 Churning the mountain
4 Halahalal
5 The nectar of immortality

The Churning of the Ocean

The Churning of the Ocean itself forms an interesting legend. In the ancient times, both the Devas (divinities similar to Greek Gods) were mortal. Their enemies were the Asuras. One day, the King of the Devas, Indra was riding his elephant when he came upon a sage. The sage decided to honor Indra by giving him a scented garland. Indra took the garland, but placed it on the forehead of his elephant. The elephant was irritated by the scent and threw the garland off, trampling on it. The angry sage gave Indra a curse that he and the Devas would begin to lose all their energy and power.

Appeal to Brahma

The Devas feared that the Asuras would take over the whole world. Therefore, they prayed to Brahma, who suggested a solution: churn the Ocean of Milk in order to obtain the Nectar of Immortality. However, the Devas could not churn the Ocean themselves. They struck a temporary truce with their enemies so that all could participate in the churning.

Churning the mountain

The Ocean was churned by using the mountain Mandara and the snake Vasuki wrapped around it. Each side would hold an end of the snake and pull on it alternately, causing the mountain to rotate, which in turn would cause the Ocean to be churned.

However, once the mountain was put on the Ocean, it began to sink. Then, Vishnu incarnated in the form of a turtle to support the mountain.

Halahalal

As the ocean was churned, a deadly poison known as Halahalal emerged. This poison threatened to suffocate all living things. In response to various prayers, Shiva drank the poison; his wife Parvati, alarmed, stopped it in his throat with her hands. This caused the throat to turn blue. Then, various people, animals, and treasures emerged. These included:

The nectar of immortality

Finally, Dhanavantri, the Heavenly Physician, emerged with a pot containing nectar. As the Asuras rushed to take the nectar, the frightened Devas appealed to Kurma, who then turned himself into a maiden named Mohini. The damsel distracted the Asuras, while the Devas secretly drank the Nectar. One Asura,
Rahu, suspected foul play, disguised himself as a Deva, and drank some Nectar. But before the Nectar could pass his throat, Vishnu cut off the head. The head, however, remained immortal. It is believed that this immortal head occasionally swallows the sun or the moon, causing eclipses. Then, the sun or moon passes through the opening at the neck, ending the eclipse.

The now immortal Devas easily vanquished the Asuras.


Hinduism | Dashavatara
Matsya | Kurma | Varaha | Narasimha | Vamana | Parashurama | Rama | Krishna | Balarama/Buddha | Kalki