Thursday, November 15, 2012

25 Bhagavatha:  Amritha and the Mohini avatara (The churning, part II)

The devas continue their churning with renewed enthusiasm. Out of the churning, emerge Surabhi/ Kamadhenu, the cow of plenty, Ucchaishravas, the gleaming white horse, Airavata, a white elephant with four tusks, Kaustubha, a type of ruby, Parijata, a celestial tree, the Apsaras, the celestial nymphs with their unique charm and many other precious objects.
Then appears Ramaa, (Lakshmi) illuminating the entire area with her splendour. Struck by  her supreme nobility and beauty, demons, men and the gods long for her except Vishnu. 
Indra gives her a wonderful throne. The rivers in a personal form bring the sacred waters for ablutions. Gandharvas sing auspicious songs. The elephants guarding the four quarters bathe Lakshmi. The ocean presents her with yellow silk. Varuna presents her with a garland. Vishwakarma provides her with ornaments. Saraswati provides her with a pearl necklace. Brahma gives her a lotus, and the Nagas present her with ear rings. Holding a wreath of lotus flowers in her hand, she moves about gracefully, in search of a match for her  - a person without blemish, one who is eternal, possessing everlasting virtues. She deliberates for long and finds Lord Vishnu to be perfect. She garlands him with a bashful smile and stands beside him. Vishnu makes his bosom her permanent abode. Ensconced there, Lakshmi promotes the welfare of everyone with her benign looks.
Then comes the moment everyone was waiting for.
Lord Vishnu appears in a dazzling form as Dhanvantari, holding a golden vessel which contained amritha (nectar). The asuras, eager to have the amrita, snatch the vessel and carry it away. A quarrel arose in their ranks as to who would get the nectar first. Amidst the confusion, Vishnu assumes the form of Mohini, an indescribably attractive  damsel.  They were overawed by her presence. She moves about among the demons, enticing them with her glances. With blinding passions in their hearts, they adore her with sweet words:  "We, the sons of Kashyapa have exerted ourselves for this prize. O charming Lady, will you agree to distribute this nectar equitably amongst us?"  Mohini laughs, " You repose trust in me, a wanton woman?" The asuras feel reassured by her self deprecating humour.  Mohini says she would oblige, provided they accept whatever she did, without any question. The asuras completely under her spell, agree, without much of a thought and hand over the amrita to her.
They all fast for a day, purify themselves with auspicious rites and prepare themselves for the much awaited event. Mohini, charm personified, walks in with the amrita kalasha. She seats the devas and the daityas in separate rows and begins to give the nectar first to the gods.  The asuras are impatient but respect their promise. Swarbhanu (Rahu), a demon disguised as a god, sits between the Sun and the Moon.  When it is Rahu's turn for amrita, the Sun and moon point him out. Mohini slices his head off with the discus, Sudarshana. But due the effect of the nectar, he lived on in two parts as shadow planets, Rahu and ketu. The asuras realise they have been deceived. Mohini vanishes.
Hostilities break out between the demons and the gods. Reinvigorated by the amrita, the devas rage a dreadful battle against the asuras. The gods manage to defeat many a demon in the battlefield.  Perceiving a complete annihilation of the demons, Brahma sends Narada as an emissary. Narada reasons with the gods: "Now that you have secured amritha with the grace of Srihari, and also been blessed by goddess Lakshmi, you should cease hostilities."
Bowing to Narada's wish, the gods give up their anger and stop the war.  King Bali, killed in the battle, is taken to their preceptor, Sukracharya, who revives the king to life with his unique secret knowledge.
What the allegorical story conveys:
Indra represents a person in high position. His negative thoughts (demons occupying his kingdom) spurn the spiritual thoughts (Durvasa) and he becomes weak.
The ocean of milk is the mind; the personality of the spiritual seeker. The turbulence arising in his mind during meditation is the churning.
Mandara mountain is the sense of 'I' within oneself (ahankara).  It sinks as it is not steady and focused. The Lord helps it up. Vasuki the serpent is our will power. Kurma, the tortoise signifies the withdrawing of the senses inward for spiritual realisation.  Kalakuta poison represents the foul thoughts and desires troubling the seeker's mind. It is absorbed and eradicated by the eternal Guru, Shiva.
The treasures from the ocean (siddhis) are powers which accrue to the seeker that delay spiritual progress. 
Chandra (moon) is fine mental creativity, distracted by undesirable thoughts (Rahu, the asura).
Lakshmi is prosperity personified, who is capricious and transitory until she becomes Vishnu's consort.
Dhanvantari is the purified mind, which possesses the amrita (the state of complete fulfillment or bliss).
The gods and demons (devas and daityas)  are the virtues and vices within us. Vishnu suggests that we harness the skills attributed to our negative thoughts for introspection.
Mohini is an illusory attraction.  It shows how one should outwit the demons which disturb our thoughts.
The asuras, one's lower mind, cannot discriminate using the buddhi (intellect). Agitation weakens their minds.

No comments:

Srimad Bhagavatham