BANGALORE : Let us for a moment return to the incident of the churning of the milky ocean in the Satya Yuga — the epoch of truth. As we know, when the deluge took place, all precious treasures got swept away and the Gods desired to retrieve them back. However, they knew this could not be possible by them alone. So, they approached the asuras or demons. Demons were keen in participating in this because they were very much interested in the nectar of immortality or amrita. With the able guidance of Lord Brahma, they decided to churn the ocean so that they could reach out to its vast depths where the treasures had settled down.
They were sure that when they would churn the ocean, automatically these treasures would come up from the ocean bed and start floating on the top. So, the Gods requested serpent Vasuki if he could be used as a rope to churn the waters of the ocean.
So, Vasuki’s long and strong coils became the rope and Mount Mandara or Mandara Parvata became the churn itself. Varuna — the lord of water and celestial oceans — was asked to hold the mountain steady so that they could churn the waters of the ocean. However, Varuna was unable to bear the weight of the mountain and gave up in no time. Now the Gods had to find someone else more powerful and strong enough to withstand the weight of the mountain.
Lord Vishnu knew that his consort Goddess Lakshmi is also hidden in this celestial ocean of Ksheera sagara. So, he readily volunteered to assist the Gods and the demons in the churning of the milky ocean. He incarnated as ‘Kurma’ or a giant tortoise.
His back that is the tortoise shell became the pivot for the mountain. Serpent Vasuki was twisted around the mountain.
While the Gods caught hold of the serpent’s head, the asuras or demons held the tail end of the serpent and thus began the churning of the ocean. With the churning of the ocean, both the good and the bad emerged.