|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 (SAMUDRAMATHANA).
|KURMA - THE TORTOISE
After the Pralaya-Deluge at the beginning of the present KALPA the Gods lost
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 as follows:
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
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 a rope.
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.