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In Hinduism, Samudra manthan or Ksheera Sagara Mathanam, Churning of the Ocean of Milk is one of the most famous episodes in the Puranas. The story appears in the Bhagavata Purana, the Mahabharata and the Vishnu Purana. Literal metamorphic meaning of manthan is deep contemplation, churning of facts, analysis aimed at solution or conclusion.
Samudra Manthan is also known as —
Lord Indra, the King of Devatas, while riding on an elephant, came across a sage named Durvasa who offered him a special garland. Lord Indra accepted the garland, placing it on the trunk of the elephant. The elephant, irritated by the smell of the garland, threw it to the ground. This enraged the sage as the garland was a dwelling of Sri (fortune) and was to be treated as prasada. Durvasa Muni cursed Lord Indra and all devas to be bereft of all strength, energy, and fortune.
In battles that followed this incident, Devas were defeated and Asuras (demons) led by king Bali gained control of the universe. Devas sought help from God Vishnu Who advised them to treat asuras in a diplomatic manner. Devas formed an alliance with asuras to jointly churn the ocean for the nectar of immortality and to share it among them. However, Lord Vishnu told Devas that He would arrange that they alone obtain the nectar.
The churning of the Ocean of Milk or the Milky Way was an elaborate process. Mount Mandarachala was used as the churning rod, and Vasuki, the king of serpents, became the churning rope. The demons (asuras) demanded to hold the head of the snake, while the demigods (devas), taking advice from Vishnu, agreed to hold its tail. As a result the demons were poisoned by fumes emitted by Vasuki. Despite this, the demigods and demons pulled back and forth on the snake's body alternately, causing the mountain to rotate, which in turn churned the ocean. However, once the mountain was placed on the ocean, it began to sink. Lord Vishnu in His second incarnation, in the form of a turtle Kurma, came to their rescue and supported the mountain on His back.
The Samudra Manthan process released a number of things from the Milk Ocean. One product was the lethal poison known as Halahala. (In some versions of the story, this poison escaped from the mouth of the serpent king as the demons and gods churned.) This terrified the gods and demons because the poison was so powerful that it could contaminate the Milk Ocean and destroy all of creation. On the advice of Lord Vishnu, the gods approached the compassionate Lord Shiva for help and protection. Lord Shiva inhaled the poison in an act of self-sacrifice but his consort Parvati, terrified at the thought of losing him, prevented it from descending into his body. The poison remained trapped in Lord Shiva's throat. The color of Lord Shiva's neck turned blue. For this reason, Lord Shiva is also called Nilakanta (the blue-throated one; "neela" = "blue", "kantha" = "throat" in Sanskrit). When the heat from the poison finally became unbearable for Lord Shiva, he used his trishul to dig for water, thus forming the Gosaikunda lake.
Halāhala (Hindi हलाहल) or Kalakootam (Sanskrit कालकूटं )
All kinds of herbs were cast into the ocean and fourteen Ratnas (gems or treasures) were produced from the ocean and were divided between asuras and gods. Though usually the Ratnas are enumerated as 14, the list in the scriptures ranges from 9 to 14 Ratnas. Most lists include: According to the quality of the treasures produced, they were accepted by Vishnu, the devas, and the asuras. There were three categories of Goddesses which emerged from the ocean;
Likewise, three types of supernatural animals appeared;
There were three valuables;
Additionally produced were;
Finally, Dhanvantari, the heavenly physician, emerged with a pot containing Amrita, the heavenly nectar of immortality. Fierce fighting ensued between Devas and Asuras for the nectar. To protect the nectar from Asuras, the divine Garuda took the pot, and flew away from the battle-scene. While Garuda was in his flight over planet Earth, it is believed that four drops of nectar fell at four places - Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. This legend is the basis for the belief that these places acquired a certain mystical power and spirituality.A Kumbh Mela is celebrated at the four places every twelve years for this reason. People believe that after bathing there during the Kumbha mela, one can get the primeval heaven and moksha(sanskrit:mokṣha). However, Rahu, one of the Asuras, eventually got hold of the nectar and started celebrating. Frightened, devas (demigods) appealed to Vishnu, who then took the form of Mohini. As a beautiful and enchanting damsel, Mohini distracted the asuras, took the amrita, and distributed it among the Devas, who drank it.Asura RahuKetu , disguised himself as a deva and drank some nectar. Due to their luminous nature, the sun god Surya and the moon god Chandra noticed the switching of sides. They informed Mohini. But before the nectar could pass his throat, Mohini cut off his head with her divine discus, the Sudarshana Chakra.But as the nectar had gone down his throat he did not die. From that day, his head was called Rahu and body was called ketu who became planets later. The story ends with the rejuvenated Devas defeating the asuras.