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churning of the milky ocean.

churning of the milky ocean In Hindu mythology, one of the central events in the ever-continuing struggle between the devas (gods) and the asuras (demons or titans). The devas, who had become weakened as a result of a curse, invite the asuras to help them recover the elixir of immortality from the depths of the cosmic ocean.

Mt. Mandara (a spur of the world axis, Mt. Meru) is torn out to use as a churning stick and is steadied at the bottom of the ocean by Vishnu in his aspect as the tortoise Kurma. The asuras hold the head of the naga (serpent) Vasuki, who was procured for a churning rope, and the devas hold his tail. When Vasuki's head hits the rocks and he vomits forth poison that threatens to fall into the ocean and contaminate the elixir, Siva takes the poison and holds it in his throat, a feat that turns his throat blue.

In the churning of the ocean many wonderful treasures that become the prototypes for their earthly and heavenly counterparts are brought up from the depths. They include Candra, the moon; the four-tusked elephant Airavata, Indra's mount; Kamadhenu, the cow of plenty; Madira, the goddess of wine; the goddess Laksmi, who becomes the wife of Vishnu; and Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods, who rises from the waters carrying in his hands the supreme treasure, the elixir.

After further struggle, the devas ultimately consume the elixir and are restored in strength.

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Publication:Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature
Date:Jan 1, 1995
Words:282
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