Samudra Manthanam

Samudra Manthanam

The forest flowers torn from the sides of Mount Mandara by the coils of the Snake King were wafted abroad by the winds and fell softly upon their faces. The gods and the demons kept on churning so swiftly that the forests upon the mountain caught fire. The god Indra opened the windows of heaven and the rain fell in torrents on the fire and extinguised it. Despite the valient and sustained efforts of the gods and the demons, nothing rose from the surface of the ocean.
The gods and the demons appealed to the court of Brahma, "O father of the gods! We are exhausted with labour and can work no more, yet the ambrosia has not been won."

Brahma requested Lord Vishnu to give the gods and the demons greater strength, that they might continue the churning. This the Lord Vishnu did. They swung the mountain to and fro until the foam of the churned ocean rose almost higher than the great mountain itself.

At last, a pale yellow disk began slowly to rise from the ocean. It rose right out of the waters high into the sky, and, ever since, as he moon, has at night time shed its pale light over te earth. Next there rose from the waters an elephant larger than mortal mind could have imagined. Two enormous white tusks stretched many yards in front of the elephant, whose eyes were like red ponds and whose trunk seemed to rival in length the coils of the Snake King. Indra called the mighty elephant and caressing it, said, "You shall be known hereafter as Airavat and shall be my servant always." Still, the churning continued and there rose from the sea the prettiest damsel who had ever been seen in the three worlds. Her long black lashes drooped upon a pair of rosy cheeks. Her hair curled in golden rings over an ivory forehead. Heer eyes were bluer than the sky above. Indra called heer to hi, "You shall hereafter be called Rambha. You shall be the chief among my dancing girls."

The gods and the demons kept on churning, until there rose from the waters the most awful vision of beauty that eyes human or divine had ever seen. From a perfect face two eyes of deepest grey looked out. They glazed unblinking into space. So grave was their expression and so full of wisdom, that neither demon nor god, except Vishnu alone, dared meet their look. A moment later, amid an awed hush, Vishnu stepped forward and took the lovely lady by the hand, "You shall be called Lakshmi and you shall be my queen."

The continued churning kept the Mount Mandara swinging to and fro. From a distance, the gods and demons saw a fair woman coming towards them. In each hand, she carried a jar, but when she came close, they saw that her expression was evil and that great lines marred her features and that black pits lay under her eyes. They let the strange woman pass, and she made her way to the dry earth. There, known as Sura or the Wine Goddess, se has dwelt ever since.

Again they churned until there rose above the waves a white horse. It was the most beautifully shaped horse that has ever lived on earth before or since. It swam through the billows until it reached the shore, when it thundered out of sight at full gallop. "Let it be called Uchaisrava," said Indra.

The churning continued. Then, there rose above the foam the most marvellous jewel that eyes have every beheld. Set in a vast plate of gold were emeralds like the green pools of an Indian village and sapphires like the blue lakes in the Himalaya mountains. Vast rubies shone out of masses of diamonds huge as rocks of crystal.

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