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The churning of the Milk Ocean. Canto 8.
Tamasa’s brother, Raivata, became the fifth Manu, and Vibhu was posted as Indra. The incarnation of the Lord, Vaikuntha, appeared as the son of Subhra and his wife, Vikuntha. Just to please the goddess of fortune, Lord Vaikuntha created another Vaikuntha planet within the universe at her request.
The son of Chakshu named Chakshusha became the sixth Manu, and during his reign Mantradruma became Indra. Lord Vishnu appeared in this manvantara in His partial expansion as Ajita, the son of Vairaja and his wife, Devasambhuti. By churning the ocean of milk, Ajita produced nectar for the demigods, and in the form of a tortoise, He carried the great Mandara Mountain on His back.
The present Manu, the seventh, is Sraddhadeva, and he is the son of Vivasvan, the sun-god. Manu’s ten sons are Ikshvaku, Nabhaga, Dhrishta, Sharyati, Narishyanta, Nabhaga, Dishta, Tarusha, Prishadhra, and Vasuman. Purandara has taken the post of Indra, and the seven sages are Kashyapa, Atri, Vasishtha, Vishvamitra, Gautama, Jamadagni, and Bharadvaja. In this manvantara, the Supreme Personality of Godhead appeared as the youngest Aditya, named Vamana.
Vivasvan first of all married the two daughters of Vishvakarma, named Samgya and Chaya, and then he married another girl, named Vadava. Through Samgya, Vivasvan begot Yama, Yami and Sraddhadeva, and through Chaya he begot Savarni, a daughter named Tapati, and Sanaischara (Saturn). Vadava gave birth to two sons, the Ashvini-kumaras. Savarni will become the eighth Manu, and Bali Maharaja will take the post of Indra. Bali Maharaja now resides on the planet, Sutala, which has greater opulence than the heavenly kingdom, and thus he is more comfortably situated than Indra.
During this manvantara, Galava, Diptiman, Parashurama, Ashvattama, Kripacharya, Rishyashringa and Vyasadeva will be the sapta-rishis. At present they are residing in their respective ashrams. Lord Sarvabhauma will appear as the son of Devaguhya and his wife, Sarasvati and he will take the kingdom away from Purandara and give it to Bali Maharaja.
The ninth Manu will be Daksha-savarni, the son of Varuna, and the Supreme Lord will incarnate as Rishabhadeva, the son of Ayushman and Ambudhara.
The tenth Manu will be Brahma-savarni, the son of Upashloka, and Lord Vishvaksena will appear as the son of Vishvarashta and Visuchi.
The eleventh Manu will be Dharma-savarni, and the Lord will appear as Dharmasetu, the son of Aryaka and Vaidhrita.
The twelfth Manu will be Rudra-savarni, and Lord Svadhama will appear as the son of Satyasaha and Sunrita.
The thirteenth Manu will be Deva-savarni, and the Lord will appear as Yogeshvara, the son of Devahotra and Brihati.
The fourteenth Manu will be Indra-savarni and Lord Brihadbhanu will appear as the son of Satrayana and Vitana.
In each manvantara, the Manu, the sons of Manu, the Indra, the various demigods and the sapta-rishis are selected by the incarnation of the Lord who appears in that particular period.
Once upon a time, while passing along the road, Durvasa Muni saw King Indra, riding upon the back of his elephant carrier. As a gesture of mercy, the rishi offered Indra the garland that he had been wearing. However, since he was too puffed-up, the King of heaven didn’t care for anyone and so he disrespectfully placed the garland on his elephant carrier’s trunk. Being a mere animal, the elephant also could not appreciate the value of Durvasa’s garland, and so he playfully threw it between his legs and crushed it. Durvasa Muni immediately became enraged upon seeing this insulting behavior, and so he cursed Indra to become bereft of all opulence.
Thereafter, when the demons severely attacked the demigods with their serpent weapons, a great slaughter took place. Many of the demigods lost their lives and could not be revived. Thus it came to be that because of Durvasa’s curse, the demigods lost their heavenly opulence. As the three worlds gradually became poverty-stricken, all kinds of Vedic ritualistic ceremonies could no longer be performed, thus creating a very dangerous situation. The demigods consulted amongst themselves, and when they failed to find any other solution, they assembled and went to take shelter of Lord Brahma, who resides on the peak of Mount Sumeru.
When Lord Brahma saw the demigods fall down before him, to offer their obeisances, and heard from them all that had taken place, he became very concerned about how the demons had become unnecessarily powerful. Seeing that the demigods had become bereft of all influence, thus making the three worlds devoid of all auspiciousness, Lord Brahma concentrated his mind upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Becoming bright-faced and encouraged, Lord Brahma then addressed the aggrieved demigods: “Because the Supreme Lord is the original father of all living beings, including myself, Lord Shiva and all of you- let us take shelter of His lotus feet. Although the Supreme Lord is equal toward all, He sometimes accepts various forms as incarnations, to maintain the welfare of the universe. Because the Supreme Lord is naturally very kind to the demigods, He will surely bestow good fortune upon us.”
Lord Brahma then took the demigods to the shore of the Milk Ocean, wherein lies the island of Svetadvipa, the abode of Lord Vishnu. Although Lord Brahma had never seen the Lord there, he was confident of His existence, and thus began offering the following prayers, in the hopes of invoking His mercy: “O Supreme Personality of Godhead, You are the origin of everything, You are all-pervading and devoid of material qualities. Because You are the supreme master of everyone, You are worshipable for all, and thus we offer our respectful obeisances unto You.”
“The entire cosmic manifestation has emerged from water, and it is only because of water that the living entities can live. This water is the semen of the Supreme Lord.”
“The moon is the source of food grains and is the lord of all vegetation. This moon is the mind of the Supreme Lord.”
“Fire was created for the sake of accepting sacrificial offerings. Fire also exists within the depths of the ocean to produce wealth, and it is present in the stomach to digest food and create secretions that maintain the body. This fire is the mouth of the Supreme Lord.”
“The sun-god is the gateway to liberation, and the source of vision for everyone. The sun-god is the eye of the Supreme Lord.”
“All living beings receive their vital force, bodily strength, and their very lives from the air. This vital force of air is generated from the original vital force of the Supreme Lord.”
“The various directions are manifested from the Lord’s ears- and the mind, life-air, and senses came from His navel. Indra was generated from the prowess of the Lord, the demigods from His mercy, and Lord Shiva from His anger. Lord Brahma was produced from the Lord’s sober intelligence, the Vedic mantras were generated from His bodily holes, and the great rishis and prajapatis came from His genitals. Lakshmi was generated from the Lord’s chest, the Pitris from His shadow, religion from His heart, and irreligion from His back.”
“The heavenly planets were manifested from the top of the Supreme Lord’s head, the Apsaras from His sense enjoyment, the brahmanas from His mouth, the kshatriyas from his arms, the vaishyas from His thighs, and the shudras from His feet. Greed was generated from the Lord’s lower lip, affection from His upper lip, bodily luster from His nose, animalistic lusty desires from His sense of touch, Yamaraja from His eyebrows and eternal time from His eyelashes. May that Supreme Personality of Godhead be pleased with us.”
“O Supreme Personality of Godhead, although we can appreciate Your impersonal form in this way, because we are surrendered unto You, we wish to see Your personal form. Please make Your original form and smiling face visible to our eyes and appreciable to our other senses. By Your sweet will, You appear as various incarnations, millennium after millennium, to perform uncommon activities that would be impossible for us.”
“My Lord, You are transcendental to all material qualities, but at present You are in favor of the mode of goodness. Let us offer our respectful obeisances unto You.”
After being worshiped by the prayers of the demigods, the Supreme Lord appeared before them, and because His effulgence was like the simultaneous rising of thousands of suns, on one could see Him, the sky, the land or even themselves. Then, after some time, Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva and the other demigods could gradually perceive the beautiful, blackish form of the Supreme Lord, dressed in yellow garments. They saw His beautifully smiling lotus-like face with reddish lotus-petal eyes. As soon as they saw the Lord, all of the demigods fell to the ground, to offer their humble obeisances.
Thereafter, Lord Brahma, as the leader of the demigods, offered prayers unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead as follows: “My Lord, although You are unborn, You ceaselessly appear in various forms of incarnation.”
“O Supreme Lord, You are fully independent and thus You do not take help from others. Through Your own potency, You create this cosmic manifestation and then enter into it, although You remain untouched by the material qualities. As elephants afflicted by a forest fire become relieved upon entering a river, we have become transcendentally satisfied because of Your appearance. We have desired to see You for a very long time, and thus we now feel that we have achieved our ultimate goal of life.”
“My Lord, nothing is unknown to You. Therefore, without even informing You of anything, we request You to fulfill our purpose, for we have come here to take shelter at Your lotus feet. I, Lord Shiva, and all of the other demigods who have come here are nothing but sparks that are illuminated by You, the original fire. Therefore, O Supreme Lord, because we cannot properly understand what is for our welfare, we request You to give us the means of deliverance that is suitable for us.”
Understanding the purpose for which the demigods had approached Him, the Lord responded in a deep voice that resembled the rumbling of clouds. Although the Supreme Lord is capable of performing all activities independently, because He wanted to enjoy pastimes by churning the ocean of milk, He replied to the demigods, who were standing before Him with folded hands.
The Supreme Lord said, “O rulers of the planetary systems, please hear me with great attention, for what I have to say will bring you good fortune. Because at present you are not flourishing, you should make a truce with the demons, who are being favored by the time factor.”
“Fulfilling one’s own interest is so important, that one may even have to make an alliance with his enemies. For the sake of self-interest, I advise you to act according to the logic of the snake and the mouse. A snake and a mouse were once caught in a basket. Since the mouse is the snake’s food, this was a good opportunity, but simply eating the mouse would not award the snake freedom. Therefore, the snake made an agreement with the mouse, saying, ‘I will not harm you if you make a hole in the basket so that both of us can escape.’ In reality, the snake’s intention was to let the mouse eat a hole in the basket, so that it could have its food and release as well.”
“O demigods, you should endeavor to produce nectar, for by drinking it, even a man on the verge of death can gain immortality. First of all, throw all kinds of vegetables, grass, creepers and drugs into the ocean of milk. Then, with My help, make Mount Mandara the churning rod and Vasuki the rope for churning. Along with the demons, churn the ocean of milk with great attention. Even though your enemies will labor very hard, you alone will gain the actual benefit, by My mercy.”
“Everything can be accomplished with patience and a cool head, but when one becomes agitated with anger, the goal remains unattained. Because of this, whatever the demons ask for should be given to them. A poison named Kalakuta will be produced from the churning, but you should not become afraid, and when other by-products come from the Milk Ocean, you should not be greedy to enjoy them, keeping your minds fixed upon the real purpose.”
Having given the demigods this advice, the Supreme Personality of Godhead suddenly disappeared from their presence. After offering their obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva returned to their residences, while Indra went to the abode of Bali Maharaja, accompanied by some of the demigods. Although the military commanders of the demons became very agitated upon seeing the demigods’ arrival, and were prepared to kill them at once, Bali Maharaja knew very well when to fight and when to make peace. Seeing that the demigods had come in a peaceful mood, the king of the demons forbade his commanders to attack them. Indra then sat down next to the most opulent Bali, who had conquered the entire universe, and began to please him with very mild words.
Being most intelligent, Indra very politely submitted the proposal that had been given by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu. Bali Maharaja and his assistants, headed by Sambara and Arishtanemi, immediately liked the idea of producing nectar by a joint endeavor, and thus an armistice was made between the demigods and demons.
Without delay, the necessary arrangements for producing nectar were made, and then the demigods and demons, who were all very powerful, uprooted Mandara Mountain. While crying out loudly due to exertion, they carried the mountain toward the Milk Ocean, but after going a great distance, Indra, Bali and the other demigods and demons became very fatigued. Suddenly, the mountain, which was extremely heavy due to being made of gold, fell down, crushing many of the demigods and demons.
Because of this, everyone became disheartened and many of their limbs were smashed. But then, the all-knowing Supreme Personality of Godhead arrived there, riding upon the shoulders of Garuda. Simply by glancing over the demigods and demons that had been crushed to death, Lord Vishnu brought them back to life, without even a single bruise remaining on their bodies. The Lord then very easily lifted Mandara Mountain with one hand and placed it onto Garuda’s back. Taking all of the demigods and demons with Him, the Lord departed for the ocean of milk.
Upon their arrival, Garuda unloaded the mountain from his shoulders and brought it near to the shore. Then, because Vasuki was to be invited for becoming the churning rope, the Lord requested Garuda to leave that place. Thereafter, Vasuki was summoned by the demigods and demons, who convinced him to take up the arduous task by promising him a share of the nectar. After Vasuki was coiled around Mount Mandara, Lord Ajita grasped the snake’s head, thinking that He had better accept the more dangerous portion, and so the demigods followed suit.
Upon seeing this, the demons, who always oppose the demigods, did not like the idea of grasping the tail, for they considered it to be inauspicious. On the plea that they were all very highly advanced in terms of Vedic knowledge, aristocratic birth, and heroic activities- the demons protested, claiming that they deserved to hold the auspicious head of the snake. Seeing the demons silent and adamant, and understanding their motive, the Supreme Lord smiled, and without discussion He accepted their proposal by grasping Vasuki’s tail.
After making this adjustment, the demigods and demons, who were all sons of Kashyapa, began churning the Milk Ocean with great enthusiasm, for they were very eager for the chance to drink nectar. The Mandara Mountain had no support, however, and so it sank into the water, in spite of being held by the demigods and demons’ strong hands. Considering their hopes to have been frustrated, everyone became so disappointed that their faces appeared to dry up. However, the Lord assumed the form of a wonderful and gigantic tortoise, and after entering the water, He lifted up the great mountain, thus enlivening the demigods and demons.
As Mount Mandara rested upon Lord Kurma’s back, whose body extended for 100,000 yojanas, like a great island, the demigods and demons resumed churning the ocean of milk with renewed enthusiasm. As the demigods and demons rotated Mandara Mountain upon His back, the Lord in the form of a tortoise accepted this as a means for scratching His body, and thus He felt a pleasing sensation.
After some time, everyone became exceedingly fatigued, especially Vasuki, who was on the verge of death. Thus, to encourage them, and increase their various types of energy, Lord Vishnu entered the demons as the quality of passion, the demigods as the quality of goodness, and Vasuki as the quality of ignorance.
The Lord then appeared on the summit of Mount Mandara, in a gigantic form having thousands of arms. As if having become a second great mountain, the Lord held Mount Mandara steady with one hand, while Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva and the other demigods expanded themselves, to shower flowers upon Him from the sky.
Being thus encouraged by the Lord in so many ways, when the demigods and demons resumed madly churning the Milk Ocean, it became so agitated that all of the alligators within the sea became greatly disturbed. Being under great duress, Vasuki, who had thousands of mouths, began breathing smoke and fire, so that all of the demons began to look like trees that had been burned in a forest fire.
While the demons became so affected that their strength was practically lost, the demigods also became diminished in energy as their faces, garments and ornaments became covered with soot. Then, by the grace of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, clouds appeared overhead, and when showers of rain combined with breezes that blew droplets of water from the ocean, the demigods and demons felt greatly relieved.
And yet, even after being churned for a long time and with so much endeavor on the part of the demigods and demons, the Milk Ocean did not produce nectar, and so the Supreme Lord, Ajita personally took up the task. When Lord Ajita began vigorously churning the Milk Ocean, the fish and other aquatics became so perturbed within the turbulence that even the giant whales, water elephants, and timingila fish came up to the surface.
While being churned in this way, the Milk Ocean first of all produced a fiercely dangerous poison called halahala. When that uncontrollable poison began spreading out in all directions, the demigods, accompanied by Lord Ajita approached Lord Shiva, feeling very much afraid and unsheltered. Lord Shiva was sitting upon the summit of Kailash Hill, along with his wife, Bhavani, and surrounded by great saintly persons who were worshiping him with the desire for liberation.
The demigods offered their obeisances very respectfully, and then prayed to Lord Shiva as follows: “O greatest of the demigods, Mahadeva, we have come to the shelter of your lotus feet. Now, please save us from this fiery poison that is gradually spreading all over the three worlds. O lord, since you are the ruler of this material world, you are also the cause of bondage and liberation. Those who are advanced in spiritual consciousness therefore surrender unto you, and in return, you mitigate their distress and give them liberation from material existence.”
“O Lord Girisha, the five important Vedic mantras are represented by your five faces, and when flames and sparks emanate from your eyes, the entire creation is burned to ashes. In comparison, what can be said of the destruction of the Daksha-yagya, Tripurasura and the kalakuta poison? Such insignificant acts cannot be considered subjects worthy of being described in the prayers that are offered for your glorification.”
Although the Supreme Personality of Godhead was personally present, He did not take action because He wanted Lord Shiva to become famous for drinking the kalakuta poison. Actually, Lord Vishnu is always unattached to material activities, and so when material actions are to be performed, He executes them through Lord Shiva. For this reason, Lord Shiva is worshiped as the Supreme Personality of Godhead, in the sense that he acts on the Lord’s behalf. In other words, when Lord Vishnu is in touch with the external energy, He appears in His feature as Lord Shiva.
When Lord Shiva, who is always very benevolent toward all living beings, saw the great threat posed by the poison that was spreading everywhere, he became very compassionate. Addressing his consort, Lord Shiva said, “My dear gentle Bhavani, just see how all living entities have been put into great danger by the poison that was produced from the churning of the Milk Ocean. It is my duty to give protection to everyone, because the master must insure the safety of his suffering dependents. Although persons who are bewildered by the external energy of the Lord always engage in animosity toward one another, the devotees try to save them, even at the risk of their own lives.”
“My dear wife, when one performs benevolent activities for the sake of others, the Supreme Personality of Godhead becomes very pleased. Therefore, allow me to drink this poison.”
Bhavani knew very well the capabilities of her husband. After receiving her permission, Lord Shiva compassionately took the whole quantity of poison in the palm of his hand and then drank it. As if in defamation, the poison manifested its potency by marking Lord Shiva’s neck with a bluish line, which is now accepted as one of his transcendental ornaments. Upon seeing this wonderful act, and being relieved from the impending danger, all of the demigods, headed by Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma, praised Lord Shiva very highly. Whatever little poison had fallen from Lord Shiva’s hand was drunk by the scorpions, cobras, poisonous drugs and other animals with poisonous bites.
Thereafter, being very pleased, the demigods and demons resumed churning the ocean of milk with renewed vigor, and as a result, a surabhi cow appeared. The great rishis took charge of the surabhi cow, for they very well knew the value of ghee, which can be used in sacrificial performances, for the purpose of elevation to higher planets.
Then, a horse named Ucchaishrava, which was as white as the moon, was generated. Since Bali Maharaja wanted to possess it, King Indra did not protest, for he remembered the advice that had previously been given to him by the Supreme Lord.
Next, from the churning of the milk ocean came Airavata, the gigantic, white, four-tusked king of elephants. The eight dik-gaja, or elephants that guard the directions, were also produced, along with eight she-elephants.
Thereafter, the celebrated gems named Kaustubha-mani and Padmaraga-mani were generated, and Lord Vishnu desired to use them as ornaments for His chest. The parijata flower, which fulfills the desires of everyone, was next produced from the churning. Then came the Apsaras, who were very attractively dressed and decorated with golden ornaments. The Apsaras move very slowly, in such an attractive manner that the inhabitants of the heavenly planets become bewildered, simply by seeing them.
Then, the goddess of fortune, Rama appeared and her luster surpassed the lightning that might illuminate a marble mountain. Because of her exquisite beauty, her youth, and her glories- everyone desired her, including the demigods, demons, and human beings. They were attracted to Lakshmi because she is the source of all opulence, such as wealth, beauty and reputation.
Indra immediately brought a suitable sitting place for the goddess of fortune, and then all of the sacred rivers came there in personified form, bringing their pure water in golden pots. The personified earth collected all kinds of herbs and drugs that are necessary for installing the deity, and the cows supplied five ingredients- milk, yogurt, ghee, urine and dung. Spring personified also brought her products, and thereafter, the great rishis performed the abhisheka bathing ceremony, while the Gandharvas chanted the Vedic mantras.
The clouds in personified form beat upon various kinds of drums and played conch shells, flutes and stringed instruments. The great elephants, the dig-gajas, brought big jugs of Ganga water that they used to bathe the goddess of fortune, and the ocean supplied her with a yellow silk garment. Varuna presented Lakshmi with flower garlands that were surrounded by intoxicated six-legged bumblebees, and Vishvakarma supplied ornaments. The goddess of learning, Sarasvati, brought a necklace- Lord Brahma gave the lotus flower that Lakshmi holds in her hand- and the Nagas presented earrings.
Upon the completion of the ritualistic ceremonies, Lakshmi, who is absolutely dedicated to being enjoyed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, began moving about in the assembly with a garland of lotus flowers in her hand. While smiling due to shyness, Lakshmi looked extremely beautiful, with her very thin waist and two well-situated breasts that were covered with sandalwood paste and kunkuma powder.
As Lakshmi walked, here and there, her ankle bells jingled softly, and although she very minutely examined all of the assembled demigods, Gandharvas, Yakshas, Asuras, Siddhas and Charanas, she could not find anyone who was naturally endowed with all good qualities.
Because none were devoid of faults, she could not take shelter of them, and thus she thought as follows: “Someone here has undergone great austerity, but has not yet conquered anger. Someone else possesses great knowledge but has not conquered material desires. Here is a very great personality, but he cannot control his lust. Since everyone here is dependent upon someone or something else, none can be the supreme controller. Here is someone possessing full knowledge of religion, but he is not kind to all living beings. Someone else may be very renounced, but not actually liberated- and another person may be extremely powerful, and yet unable to check the force of eternal time. Someone may have great longevity, but not good behavior- and others may be qualified in all respects, but are not devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.”
In this way, after due deliberation, the goddess of fortune accepted Mukunda as her husband, even though He is independent and not in need of her. After placing the garland of newly-grown lotus flowers around the Lord’s shoulders, Lakshmi remained standing by His side, smiling with shyness as she expected to receive a place upon His chest.
At this time, to celebrate the auspicious occasion, the Gandharvas and their wives began to sing, dance and play upon their musical instruments, while the great demigods showered flowers and vibrated the Vedic hymns. Due to being blessed by the glance of Lakshmi, the demigods became immediately enriched with all kinds of transcendental qualities, and thus they felt extremely satisfied. On the other hand, due to being neglected by the goddess of fortune, the demons and Rakshasas felt depressed, bewildered and frustrated, and as a reaction, they became most shameless.
When the demigods and demons resumed churning the Milk Ocean, the lotus-eyed goddess Varuni, who controls drunkards, appeared. With the permission of the Supreme Lord, the demons took possession of this young girl.
Then, a very wonderful male personality appeared. He was very strongly built, with long stout arms, and his neck was marked with three lines so that it appeared like a conch shell. His eyes were reddish and his complexion was black. He was very young and his entire body was nicely decorated with flower garlands and ornaments. He was dressed in yellow garments, and in his hands he carried a jug that was filled up to the top with nectar.
This person was Dhanvantari, a plenary portion of a plenary portion of Lord Vishnu, and very conversant with the science of medicine. Immediately, the shameless demons snatched away the jug of nectar by force, and as it was thus being carried away, the demigods became extremely morose. Then, as the demigods took shelter of the Him in their distress, the Supreme Personality of Godhead assured them, by saying, “Do not be aggrieved. With My personal energy, I will bewilder the demons by creating a quarrel among them. In this way, I will fulfill your desire to drink the nectar.”
Thereafter, the demons began arguing over the nectar, and while doing so, they repeatedly shouted, “You cannot drink it first! I must be the first one, not you!”
Other demons, who were weaker, and thus afraid of not getting any of the nectar, argued as follows: “The demigods took part in churning the Milk Ocean, and so everyone has an equal right to share the nectar.”
Then, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Who can counteract any unfavorable situation, assumed the form of an extremely beautiful woman, named Mohini-murti. Her complexion resembled the color of a newly grown blackish lotus flower, and every part of Her body was very beautifully situated. Her face was full of youthful luster, and Her large breasts made her waist seem very thin. Being attracted by the aroma of Her body, bumblebees hummed around Her and thus Her eyes appeared to be very restless. Her breasts seemed like islands in an ocean of beauty, and her neck and legs were very attractively constructed. By seeing the movements of Her eyebrows, as She smiled shyly and glanced at them, the demons became saturated with lusty desires, so that each and every one of them became overwhelmed by the desire to possess Her.
The demons had given up their friendly relationship while snatching the container of nectar from each other and throwing it here and there. But, when they saw the very young and beautiful Mohini-murti coming toward them, they gave up their competitive activities and exclaimed, “How wonderful is the beauty of this woman! How exquisite is the luster of her youthfulness!”
While speaking like this, the demons quickly approached Mohini-murti, full of lusty desires, and inquired from her as follows: “O wonderfully beautiful girl, You have such nice eyes that resemble the petals of a lotus flower. Who are You, and where have You come from? To whom do You belong, and what is Your purpose in coming here? O You, Whose thighs are extraordinarily lovely, our minds are becoming agitated simply by seeing You. O beautiful girl, You have certainly never been touched or enjoyed before, by any male being. Has Providence, by His causeless mercy, sent You here to please the minds and senses of us all?”
“Although born in the same family, we are becoming increasingly inimical toward each other because of this container of nectar. O woman with such a thin waist, we request You to favor us by settling our dispute. Both of us, the demons and demigods, are born of the same father, but now we are exhibiting our personal prowess in dissension. Now, please end this disagreement and divide the nectar as you think fit.”
After hearing this request, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Who had assumed the form of a beautiful woman, began to smile. While looking at the demons, Mohini-murti displayed very attractive feminine gestures and said, “O sons of Kashyapa, I am only a prostitute. How is it that you have placed so much faith in Me? A learned person never puts his faith in a woman, especially a prostitute.”
“O demons, just as dogs and monkeys are unsteady in their sexual relationships, and want newer and newer friends every day, women who live independently seek new partners, one after the other. Friendship with such women is therefore never permanent.”
Mohini-murti had spoken seriously, indirectly revealing Her purpose in coming before the demons. Being captivated by Her beauty, however, the demons considered Her words to be joking. While laughing aloud, they confidently delivered the container of nectar into her hands.
After receiving the nectar, the Supreme Personality of Godhead smiled slightly and then very sweetly said, “My dear demons, if you are willing to accept whatever I may do, whether it be honest or dishonest, then I can take responsibility for dividing the nectar among you.”
Since the leaders of the demons were not very expert in making decisions, after hearing Mohini-murti’s sweet words, they immediately agreed by saying, “What you have said is all right with us.”
Thereafter, the demigods and demons fasted. Then, after bathing, they offered oblations of ghee into the sacrificial fire and gave charity to the brahmanas and others. After performing these ritualistic ceremonies, under the direction of the brahmanas, the demigods and demons dressed in new garments, decorated their bodies with ornaments, and then sat down facing east, on seats of kusha grass.
As they sat in the sacrificial arena, which was nicely decorated with flowers and lamps, and sweetly perfumed with incense, Mohini-murti came there, dressed in a most attractive sari. Because of Her wide hips, She walked very slowly, and Her eyes were restless due to Her youthful pride. Her breasts were as full as water jugs, Her thighs resembled the trunks of elephants, and in Her hands She carried a water pot. As Mohini-murti moved, the border of Her sari shifted slightly, revealing Her most exquisite bodily features. She was glancing at the demigods and demons, while mildly smiling, and thus all of them became thoroughly enchanted.
Because demons are by nature crooked, like snakes, the Supreme Personality of Godhead considered it unwise and dangerous to give them nectar, just as it is foolish to give milk to a serpent. After entering the arena, Mohini-murti arranged separate lines of sitting places and seated the demigods and demons according to their positions.
Then, taking the container of nectar in Her hands, Mohini-murti first of all approached the demons, who were seated at some distance from the demigods, and spoke to them very sweetly: “The demigods are very greedy, and thus they are excessively anxious to drink the nectar first. Since you are all exalted personalities, you can wait a bit while I distribute just a little to the demigods, to pacify them.”
The demons felt themselves to be very fortunate just to talk to Mohini-murti, and so they were satisfied by her gracious words. In this way, they were cheated out of their share of the nectar. Mohini-murti then went and gave all of the nectar to the demigods, just to make them free from invalidity, old age, and death. The demons had promised to accept whatever Mohini-murti would do. Therefore, just to keep their promise and save themselves from fighting with a woman, they remained silent. The demons had developed a kind of faith in Mohini-murti, due to their affection for Her, and thus they were afraid of disturbing their relationship with Her by protesting Her action.
One of the asuras, named Rahu, who causes the eclipse of the sun and the moon, had not been bewildered by Mohini-murti, and so he understood how She was cheating the demons. After disguising himself as a demigod, Rahu entered their ranks and without being noticed he was able to drink a share of the nectar.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead had not detected Rahu because He wanted to show the wonderful effect of drinking nectar. The sun and moon, however, because of their permanent animosity toward Rahu, quickly understood what had happened. When they brought the matter to the attention of the Supreme Lord, He cut off the demon’s head with His razor-sharp disc, just as the nectar was being swallowed. Thus, although the trunk of Rahu’s body immediately died, the head, having been touched by the nectar, became immortal. Lord Brahma then accepted Rahu’s head as one of the planets, and ever since that time, Rahu always tries to attack the sun and moon on the full moon and dark moon days.
When the demigods had just about finished drinking the nectar, Mohini-murti disclosed Her original form as Lord Vishnu, within the very sight of the demons. This is very significant to note- although the time, the place, the causes, the purpose, the activity, and the ambition were all the same, for both the demigods and the demons- the demigods achieved one result, while the demons received another. Because the demigods always work under the shelter of the dust of the Supreme Lord’s lotus feet, they very easily drank the nectar, and thus got the good result. The demons, however, without having sought the shelter of the Lord, were unable to obtain the object of their desires.
Materialistic men perform various activities for personal or extended sense gratification, but because such endeavors are separate from the devotional service of the Lord, they are invariably baffled. However, when the same activities are performed for the satisfaction of the Lord, the beneficial results are distributed to everyone, just as water poured upon the root of a tree is distributed throughout the entire tree.
After having brought to a completion the affair of churning the Milk Ocean and feeding the nectar to the demigods, the Supreme Personality of Godhead departed for His own abode, riding upon the back of Garuda. As soon as they realized the full import of the demigods’ victory, the demons became highly furious, and without delay, they attacked the demigods while brandishing their weapons.
Being enlivened because of drinking the nectar, the demigods also picked up their weapons and prepared to counter-attack the demons with a great fighting spirit. Thus, a very fierce battle took place between the demigods and the demons on the shore of the Milk Ocean. Indeed, the fighting was so terrible that simply hearing about it makes the hair on one’s body stand on end.
The vibrations of the conch shells, bugles, and drums blended with those created by the horses, elephants, soldiers and chariots, so that the combined sound became tumultuous. Besides the four usual military divisions, there were some soldiers who fought on the backs of camels, asses, monkeys, tigers, lions, vultures, eagles, timingila fish, sharabhas, buffalo, rhinoceros, cows, jackals, rats, lizards, rabbits, human beings, goats, deer, swan and boar. In this way, while mounted upon various animals of the land, sea and sky, the soldiers of the two armies fought each other.
The warriors’ carriers on both sides were decorated with canopies, colorful flags and jeweled-handled umbrellas, and with the soldiers’ garments waving in the breeze and the glittering sunlight reflected from their shields, ornaments and weapons, they looked very beautiful. Bali Maharaja, the commander-in-chief of the demons, was seated upon a wonderful airplane named Vaihayasha, which had been manufactured by Maya Danava, and was sometimes visible and sometimes not.
Surrounding Bali Maharaja, on their chariots, were the other commanders of the demons, who were all determined to gain revenge because of their having been deprived of their share of the nectar, in spite of having labored so hard. To encourage their armies, the commanders of the demons made a deafening sound by blowing their conch shells and roaring like lions.
When Indra saw the ferocious attitude of his rivals, he in turn became exceedingly enraged. Seated upon Airavata, who holds water and wine in reserve for showering, Indra was surrounded by the demigods, headed by Vayu, Agni and Varuna.
After coming at close range, the demigods and demons began reproaching one another with harsh words that were piercing to the heart. Then, as the battle began, the demigods and demons paired off so that Indra fought with Bali Maharaja, Karttikeya with Taraka, Varuna with Heti, and Mitra with Praheti. Yamaraja fought with Kalanabha, Vishvakarma with Maya Danava, and Tvasta with Sambara. Aparajita fought with Namuchi and the Ashvini-kumaras fought with Vrishaparva. The sun-god fought with Bali Maharaja’s one hundred sons, headed by Bana, and the moon-god fought with Rahu. Anila, who controls the air, fought with Puloma; and the supremely powerful material energy, Durgadevi, who is also called Bhadra Kali, fought with Shumbha and Nishumbha.
Lord Shiva fought with Jambha and Vibhavasu fought with Mahishasura. The sons of Lord Brahma fought with Ilvala and Vatapi, Cupid with Durmarsha, Sanaischara with Narakasura and Brihaspati with Sukracharya. The Maruts fought the Nivatakavachas, the Vasus fought the Kalakeyas, the Vishvadevas fought the Paulomas and the Rudras fought the Krodhashvas.
In the course of the battle, the ground became strewn with innumerable severed heads, their eyes still staring and their teeth still pressed against their lips in anger. There were also numerous arms, clutching at their various weapons, as well as severed legs and scattered helmets and ornaments. Indeed, the elephants, horses, chariots, drivers and soldiers were all torn to shreds.
Because of the impact of the warriors’ legs and the chariot wheels, clouds of dust were thrown violently into the sky, covering all directions. But, when the dust clouds became saturated with drops of blood, they could no longer float in the sky. Those who were decapitated immediately became ghosts- but when new trunks were generated, they used them to see through the eyes of their severed heads, so that they could resume fighting with the enemy.
Bali Maharaja attacked Indra with ten arrows, Airavata with three, the driver with one arrow, and the four horsemen protecting the elephant’s legs, with four more. However, Indra smilingly counteracted those arrows with his own, so that Bali Maharaja became highly inflamed with rage. Next, he picked up a blazing shakti weapon but Indra cut it to pieces before it even left his hand. Bali Maharaja continued to pick up more weapons, one after another, but each time, Indra cut them to pieces. Finally, the king of the demons made himself invisible, and began resorting to the use of demoniac illusions.
Suddenly, a gigantic mountain appeared over the heads of the demigod soldiers, and from it issued forth trees that were blazing with fire. Soon thereafter, showers of sharp-edged stones began to fall, smashing the heads of the demigod solders. Then, scorpions, huge snakes, lions, tigers, and great elephants rained down, crushing everything. Thereafter, many hundreds of male and female carnivorous demons, completely naked and carrying tridents in their hands, rushed at the demigods, shouting, “Cut them to pieces! Pierce them!”
Threatening clouds next appeared overhead, and while thundering loudly, they showered live coals. Next, Bali Maharaja produced a great devastating fire, and with the help of blasting winds, it began burning the soldiers of the demigods. Moments later, an ocean with waves and whirlpools that were agitated by fierce winds appeared in all directions, causing a terrible flood. Upon seeing all these magical creations of the invisible demons, the demigods became very discouraged.
Finding no means of counteracting the attack, the demigods began wholeheartedly meditating upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In reciprocation, the Lord immediately appeared upon the scene, carrying weapons in His eight hands and riding upon the back of Garuda. Just as the dangers of a dream cease when one awakens, so all of the illusions that had been created by the jugglery of the demons were at once vanquished by the prowess of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as soon as He entered the battlefield.
Upon seeing the Lord’s arrival, the demon Kalanemi, who was riding upon the back of a lion, whirled his trident around menacingly and then threw it at Garuda’s head. The Lord easily caught the trident in His hand, however, and with the very same weapon, He killed Kalanemi along with his lion-carrier. The Lord then severed the heads of Mali and Sumali with His chakra. After that, Malyavan, while roaring like a lion, tried to attack Garuda with his club, but the Supreme Personality of Godhead also severed his head with His razor-sharp disc.
Thereafter, the Lord mercifully brought back to life all of the demigods that had died in battle. Being thus enlivened, the demigods began routing their enemies, and when Indra angrily prepared to kill Bali Maharaja with his thunderbolt, the demons very anxiously cried out in distress.
As Bali Maharaja fearlessly stood before him on the battlefield, Indra rebuked him, saying, “You rascal! As a thief sometimes covers a child’s eyes, so that he can take away his possessions, you are trying to defeat us by displaying some power of illusion, although you know that we are the masters of all such mystic powers. Today, I shall sever your head from your body with my thunderbolt, which has hundreds of sharp edges. Now, see if your jugglery will help you remain here in the company of your friends and relatives.”
Bali Maharaja replied, “Everyone here has assembled under the influence of eternal time, and is destined to receive fame, victory, defeat, and death- according to their previous activities. Those who understand the movements of time, and are therefore cognizant of the actual truth, neither rejoice nor lament. Because you are expressing jubilation on account of your anticipated victory, I can understand that you are not very learned. You demigods think yourselves to be the cause of attaining fame and victory. but because of this ignorance, saintly persons feel sorry for you. Therefore, although your words certainly afflict our hearts, our intelligence cannot accept them as factual.”
After rebuking Indra, Bali Maharaja released his arrows, and then once again chastised the king of heaven with strong words. Because Bali Maharaja’s speech was truthful, Indra felt some shame upon hearing it, but he nonetheless released his infallible thunderbolt. As a result, the king of the Daityas fell down from his airplane, like a mountain whose wings has been cut off. Upon witnessing the fall of Bali, Jambhasura rushed at Indra, while riding on his lion carrier, and struck him severely on the shoulder with his club. Jambhasura then beat Airavata, so that the elephant fell down on its knees, unconscious.
Matali immediately brought Indra’s chariot, and so the king of heaven left aside his elephant-carrier and mounted it. Although Jambhasura smiled in appreciation of Matali’s service, he quickly pierced the charioteer with his blazing trident. Then, as Matali tolerated the extremely severe pain with great patience, Indra angrily released his thunderbolt, striking off the great demon’s head.
When Narada Rishi informed Jambhasura’s friends and relatives of his death, three demons named Namuchi, Bala and Paka went to the battlefield in great haste. After challenging Indra with cruel words, the demons showered him with torrents of arrows. Bala pierced all of Indra’s one thousand horses, and Paka attacked Matali and his chariot by releasing two hundred arrows simultaneously, which was a very wonderful feat. Namuchi injured Indra with fifteen golden-feathered arrows that roared like a rain-cloud, while other demons supported the attack by incessantly showering their arrows. When Indra became invisible due to being covered by all these arrows, the demigods very anxiously lamented their fate, like shipwrecked merchants in the middle of the ocean.
Indra managed to free himself from the network of arrows, however, and thus he was once again seen to be riding on his chariot, shining brightly like the sun. When Indra saw how his soldiers had become very oppressed by the demons, he picked up his thunderbolt in great anger and instantly cut off Bala and Paka’a heads, in the presence of the demons’ relatives and followers.
While witnessing the deaths of his two associates, Namuchi became very aggrieved, and so he made an all-out attempt to kill Indra. While roaring like and enraged lion, he picked up a steel spear that was ornamented with gold and silver bells. While coming in front of Indra, Namuchi shouted, “Now you are killed!” and threw his weapon.
When Indra saw the powerful spear coming toward him like a blazing meteor, he skillfully cut it to pieces with his arrows and then angrily released his thunderbolt, hoping to cut off the demon’s head. And yet, even though Indra hurled the thunderbolt with great force, it failed to even pierce Namuchi’s skin.
When Indra saw this wonderful occurrence, he became very afraid and wondered if the demon was being protected by some superior power. Indra thought, “Formerly, when many mountains fell to the earth, killing numerous people, I cut off their wings with this same thunderbolt. Vritrasura was the essence of all the austerities that had been performed by Tvasta, and yet the thunderbolt was able to kill him. Indeed, many stalwart heroes whose skin could not be injured by all kinds of weapons were killed by this same thunderbolt. Now, however, even though it was released against a lesser demon, my thunderbolt has proved ineffectual. Since this thunderbolt, which was previously as good as the brahmastra, has become no better than an ordinary stick, I shall no longer use it.”
While Indra was lamenting in this way, an ominous, unembodied voice announced from the sky, “This demon, Namuchi, cannot be annihilated by anything dry or moist. O Indra, because I gave Namuchi the benediction that he will never die because of any such weapons, you will have to think of another way of killing him.”
After hearing this, Indra began pondering over the matter very deeply, and while gazing at the ocean, he concluded that foam would be the proper means for killing Namuchi, because it was neither moist nor dry. Thus it came to be that Indra severed Namuchi’s head with a foam weapon, and upon seeing this, all of the great rishis joyfully covered the king of heaven with showers of flowers. Vishvavasu and Paravasu, two Gandharva chiefs sang in great happiness, while the Apsaras danced in jubilation and the demigods played their celestial drums.
Thereafter- Vayu, Agni, Varuna, and the other demigods began slaughtering the demons, just as lions kill deer in the forest. When Lord Brahma saw the immanent annihilation of all the asuras, he sent a message with Narada.
Coming before the demigods, Narada said, “My dear celestials, all of you are protected by the arms of Lord Narayana, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and by His grace you were able to drink nectar. Now, please stop this fighting.”
Accepting the words of Narada, the demigods gave up their anger and ceased fighting. Then, while being praised by their followers, the demigods happily returned to their heavenly abodes. Thereafter, under the order of Narada, the surviving demons took Bali Maharaja, who was in a very precarious condition, to Ashtagiri Hill. There, Sukracharya brought back to life all of the slain demons that had not lost their heads, trunks and limbs, by the use of his mantra known as Sanjivani. When Bali Maharaja regained consciousness, by the grace of Sukracharya, he became his loyal disciple out of gratitude, and thus offered everything in his possession to him.