|GODS and GODDESSES|
Kurmavataram - Maha Vishnu in the form of a tortoise
Vishnu took the Kurmavataram to provide the Devas with Amirtham, which
will give them everlasting life and bliss. He also took the form of a beautiful
Mohini in the course of distributing the amirtham between the Devas and
The Devas and Asuras were constantly
at war and the Devas soon began to lose their upper hand. Further, Indran
was weakened by a curse by sage Durvasar.
The Devas prayed to Lord Vishnu who
bade them to churn the ocean (Paarkadal) and obtain amirtham, which alone
could provide everlasting life and happiness. He further asked them to
involve the asuras also in the task.
Devas were shocked by this, but Lord
Vishnu promised them that he will make sure that only the Devas get to
drink the amirtham.
The Devas and Asuras got together
to churn the ocean. They used Mandramalai to churn the ocean. Vaasuki,
the snake agreed to form the rope for churning, in return for some amirtham.
They started churning with Lord Vishnu and the Devas on one side (tail
end) and the asuras on the other side (head end). But soon, the Mandramalai
started sinking due to its great weight. Lord Vishnu, took the form of
a tortoise (Kurmam-tortoise) to form the base and to hold up the Mandramalai,
preventing it from sinking. As they continued to churn the ocean, Vaasuki
the snake began to tire and started spewing its poison. The Asuras who
were on the head side of the snake, suffered the most and they ran away
in fear. The Devas prayed to Lord Siva for help. Siva came and consumed
all the poison. Goddess Parvati rushed and held his neck so that the poison
would not spread to the whole of his body. Thus Siva became blue up to
his throat and is also known by the namavali "Neelakandan" (neela-blue
colour from poison, kandam-throat).
Once again the Devas and Asuras resumed
the churning, when several valuables began to emerge. Kamadhenu (the cow),
the provider of all wishes was taken by the rishis to aid in their yagas
and pooja. Uchaisiravasu (white horse) was taken by the Asura king Bali.
Iravadam (white elephant) was taken by the Deva king Indra. Kowsthubham
(red jewel stone) was worn by Lord Vishnu on his chest. The Paarijaadha
tree that grants all wishes went to the Deva Logam. Several Apsaras emerged.
Devi Lakshmi then emerged in all her glory and beauty, stunning all. She
garlanded Lord Vishnu, who placed her in his heart. Vaaruni Devi appeared
next and she was taken by the Asuras. After this, Danvantri Bhagavan arose
with a golden pot of Amirtham.
The Asuras greedily grabbed the Amirtham
pot and vanished. In order to retrieve the Amirtha kalasam, Lord Vishnu
took the form of a dazzling beauty (Mohini Avataram). The Asuras falling
for her beauty, entrusted her with the job of distributing the Amirtham.
Mohini started serving the Devas first. The Asuras waited their turn in
vain. However, one Asura called Rahu realised that they were being cheated.
He changed his form and took a place between Surya (sun) and Chandran (moon).
On learning that Rahu had consumed Amirtham, Lord Vishnu cut off his head
with his Sudarshana Chakra. Since Rahu had consumed Amirtham, the head
and the body continued to live. Brahma fitted the body of a snake to the
head of Rahu and the head of the snake to the body of Rahu. Thus Rahu and
Ketu, the two grahams were formed. The Devas with the power of the Amirtham
drove the Asuras away to the Paadhaala Logam.
Ashtalakshmi temple, Besant Nagar, Chennai