Bhagavad-Gita: 18 Chapters in Sanskrit


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Churning of ocean: Purpose: to get Ambrosia.

This presentation is based on Bhagavatam, Canto eight, chapter eight. 

See artist's view of Churning at the bottom of the article.

"Jingling anklets, swinging hips, imperceptible tandem gait, divinely bashful smiles, dancing eyebrows, and piquant sidelong glances fired up the passions of the dasypygal Daitya generals."



The churning of the ocean was done on the back of the tortoise because the churning pole started sinking in the soft seabed. Tortoise (Kurma) was Vishnu himself as an Avatara. A snake (Vasuki) served as a rope to churn the ocean of milk (ksirasagara). The demons (Asuras) chose the upper end, because they considered the lower end dirty.  The Devas or the Suras held the lower end. Mount Mandara served the role of churning stick. Lord Vishnu enjoyed the churning and the grinding of the stick on his back while he took a nap. (It is like the pleasant relief one gets while alleviating an itch.)  The Lord controls Sattva, Rajas and Tamas gunas; he delegated Sattva (virtue) to serve the Devas, Rajas (passion) the Asuras and Tamas (darkness) Vasuki. The Lord held the stick to balance it. Churning began and soon Vasuki was belching fire and smoke from its mouth, nostrils and eyes. The Asuras were choking, huffing and puffing and turned black from soot and heat. The Devas suffered the same fate, but the Lord was splashing them with water, and fanning them with gales generated in the ocean by the churning. The sea-dwelling animals were rattled and roiled by this experience. Nothing came out of the ocean for a while; the Lord lent them a hand. The moon emerged from the cosmic Ocean. Soon Halahala (Haalaahala) poison appeared on the surface of the ocean and spread like fire; it scorched and scalded all of them including the Lord who became black from his contact with it. Soon they prayed to Sadasiva (Siva) and pleaded with him to scoop up and swallow it. Siva consulted with his consort Sati (Parvati) and with her consent, to protect all living beings in this universe, swallowed the Halahala poison and held it in his throat, which made his throat look blue, giving him the name "Nilakantappa" which means blue-throated Lord. A few drops of poison went down in the cracks between the fingers and fell on earth, which were soon gobbled up by snakes, scorpions and the like.  All of them including Lord Vishnu praised Siva for his generous and magnanimous act. (The Saivites and Saiva poets point this out poignantly saying, if it is not for Siva all asuras, gods, goddesses, Brahma and Vishnu would have perished. Another recurring theme in Saivite poetry  is that Brahma and Vishnu could not find the ends of Siva in the form of fiery Lingam.)

The Suras and Asuras redoubled their effort churning the ocean. Out came the wish-giving cow, Surabhi, also known as Kamadenu. The sages accepted the cow as gift for they needed the cow to provide milk and butter for performing sacrifice. There then came Uccaihsravas, the white horse, which King Bali took with the consent of Lord Vishnu, though Indra, the chief of Devas also wanted it. Out came the Airavata elephant; so white were the four tusks that they exceeded the whiteness of the snow-clad mountain of Kailas, the abode of Siva.  Kaustubha gem, a ruby, of incomparable luster came out of the milk ocean, which the Lord claimed for Himself to adorn his beautiful chest. A wish-tree by name Paarijaata (Parijata) appeared from the ocean. Indra took it and planted it in Indra's heaven. That is the heavenly tree with perennial flowers and fruits. Then came to the delight of the inhabitants of heaven the Apsaraas (Apsaras = celestial nymphs) who wore the most beautiful gold jewels and grand robes and walked charmingly casting sidelong glances in a playful mood. (Comment: The Apsaras can anytime beat today's models strutting up and down runways. Apsaras were creations for the express purpose of entertainment, specially equipped for the job right from the beginning. They belong to professional group of entertainers for the celestials.)




           Goddess Ramaa (Rama or Ramah) appeared next, who was the deification of wealth. Her appearance was a splendor of a thousand bolts of lightning, which illumined all quarters of the universe and burst upon the crystalline mountain ranges of Sudama.  Men, gods, and demons at once paid her their worshipful tributes for they knew that a pleased goddess brought mountains of gold and fortune to the devotees. They sought her Grace and glance, for she sparkled with heavenly comeliness, youth, noble conduct, and beautiful complexion. Though she was young, she was mother goddess. Every one of them showered gifts on her, for her grace assured humongous returns. The chief of gods and Lord of Paradise (Indra) brought her the most beautiful throne. Sacred River Ganges was not far behind; she brought what is most sacred to all—that is herself in gold jar for her ablutions. Mother Earth was competing with others and brought herbs for her ablutions. (Yes, in ancient India, the women used aromatic herbs, roots, and flowers in the bathtubs.) The cows were thumping and chomping mother earth (grass) to get her out of the way quickly, because they were impatient to get an audience with mother goddess. They brought the most precious products necessary for sacrifice: milk, curds (yogurt), ghee (clarified butter), cow dung and urine. Spring moved in front of the line with grace, beauty and vernal colors and gave Her leaves, buds, flowers and fruits—a basket of cheer and smiles. The seers (Rishis) brought what they knew best: procedures, protocols, rules, injunctions, regulations, and rites that She should  follow in her ablutions. The  Gandharvas (celestial  musicians) next in line saw their chance to goad the Rishis out of their way with their musical instruments, started singing and dancing before their time and drummed the Rishis out of the audience hall; the mother goddess received them with enchanting smiles. The Apsaras, being the wives of Ghandharvas, came along dancing and singing and enjoyed a second-time audience with Rama. Suddenly there were flashes, the earth shook, the musicians were thrown off balance, thunderclaps came from sky, and yes, clouds were paying respects to the gracious goddess. Drums and double drums, tabors and tomtoms, conches, flutes and lutes made a tumultuous entry.  Earth was wobbling and spinning with tremors and wondered when they will stop the racket. Then came the lumbering elephants; they were the guardians of the four quarters. The elephants knew that poets for some unknown reason liked their gait and compared the gait of a lass to that of an elephant!! It is possible the poets were looking only at the sea-sawing callipygian posterior. The Brahmanas knew it was time to chant the hymns. The elephants drew up the sacred Ganges water into their trunks and bathed Sri (Rama, mother goddess) who held a lotus in one of her hands. The ocean from which she emerged gave her two yellow silk shawls, the color and material that Vishnu liked most. Varuna, the god of water, gave her Vaijayanti, a garland of flowers, swarming with drunk bees, some of which were literally drowning in the nectar. Visvakarma, a Lord of created beings and divine architect of the universe gave her many beautiful rare ornaments.  Sarasvati, the goddess of learning and speech gave her a necklace of pearls. Brahma, the creator, gave her a lotus flower; the Nagas, the serpent-demons, chose a pair of earrings for gifting her.  




            (Rivers are always considered holy in India and elsewhere. Ganga is the River Goddess. In Egyptian mythology, the gods originated on the fertile soil mounds left behind by the receding Nile after it flooded the banks. The Ennead [group of nine gods of Heliopolis] had their progenitor in Atum who rose from the mound. He is the Lord of Heliopolis whose progeny are Osiris, Isis, Set and others.)


There is many a variation as to the number of products which came out of the milk ocean.  The most is fourteen; the Ramayana lists nine; the Mahabharata, nine; the Bhagavata Purana, ten; the Padma, nine; the Vayu, twelve; the Matsya, all of them.--H.H.Wilson.




the horse


The Moon



taken by



















Parijata tree





taken by








Other products




Tulasi plant


goddess of wine

Nidra or slumber


taken by









                        A swarm of black bees came out of nowhere and buzzed around a wreath of lotus flowers in the hand of Sri. Her face showed no weariness; it lit up with a smile playing on her lips, earrings caressing her tender cheeks. She moved about like a vine in the gentle wind. There was a gentle and sweet aroma in the air, there was no mistaking it was sandal paste, soon the aroma was becoming more intense and there it was painted on the breasts of Sri, which were round and symmetrical embracing each other gently. There was saffron too keeping company with the sandal paste. Her torso soon tapered into a slender waist which moved like a vine in the wind. As she passed in a motionless grace, her anklets jingled and she moved like a shining golden creeper among the Ghandharvas, Yakshas, Asuras, Siddhas, Caranas, and gods with the splendor of lightning, eyeing them all the time all around without giving a clue that their every being was scrutinized and put to test. She was looking for a consort who was free from any blemish, who is eternal, and whose virtues are beyond reproach. Did she find any in that throng of luminaries?  Certainly not. Thoughts and emotions were jostling in her mind; externally she was cool as the fresh spring water. This ascetic, what a laugh, has no control over his anger. Look at this sage; he is wise, though it (his wisdom) is not free from attachment.  Here is one, he looks great; shucks! he has no complete control over his lust. How could he be a Lord, when he depends on another for support?  Look, here is righteous one; but he has no love for others. Here is one who appears liberal, but is that real? Could there be a motive?  Is that true liberality?  Oh, this one has true prowess. How long would that last?  Yes, this one has no trace of attachment in any part of his body. What is the use, if he spends his time in meditation and does not have time for me?  Yes, some live a long life; that is good for a spouse. Long life matters little if he is not amicable and propitious. Yes, some are amicable and propitious; but where is the guarantee they will live long?  Some are amicable and live long, but they are not propitious. Yes, I know there is one who is amicable, propitious and of long life. Does he long for me?  Her choice was Lord Vishnu. He grants Mukti or Liberation; his virtues are eternal; he is beyond the gunas: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas; everyone desires him, but he is disinterested.  Lakshmi (Sri, Ramaa) placed a wreath of newly blossomed lotuses, swarming with inebriated black bees, on the shoulders of the Lord and stood by his side with utmost charm, beauty, poise, bashfulness, and divinity, casting glance on the Lord and waiting for his Grace (approval). Her eyes bloomed with smiles; the smile of the lotus blossoms, which were one of his favorites, was no match for divine and bashful smiles of Lakshmi. She was the Mother of the three worlds and the treasure house of riches, seeking the bosom of the Lord of the three worlds. Was this match made in heaven?  Just by casting benign glances the Mother of creation protected the three worlds and their kings.  Soon after garlanding Him, Mahalakshmi took her abode on the chest of Paramatma as all Devas were looking.  This is Lakshmi KalyAnam (marriage).  Chest of Vishnu = VaXasthalam = வக்ஷஸ்தலம்  


Suddenly melodious sounds from musical instruments poured forth from Gandharvas announcing the arrival of Brahma, Rudra, Sage Angira and others who showered lotus flowers on Vishnu. Glanced by Sri, they all became rich in all wholesome qualities. The mother of riches did not look at the Daityas and Danavas (AsurasDemons).  The lack of benign glance from Lakshmi is foreboding of bad things coming to them.




Naachiyar Koil at Thirunaraiyur near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu shows the Moolavar Thirunaraiyur Nambi (main deity of Vishnu) in His ceremonial wedding stance marrying Vanchulavalli Thaayaar (Lakshmi). The legend has it that Goddess Lakshmi was born of Sage Madhava in the shade of Vanchula tree.  Bhagavan appeared in Pancha Vyuha form (Sankarshana-Pradyumna-Aniruddha-Purushotama-Vasudeva) and married Goddess Lakshmi. These forms are seen in Garbha Graham (Sanctum).


The regenerative ocean was still productive, objects and beings were emanating from its boundless munificence. The goddess of wine, Varuni, came out from the ocean with lotus-like eyes. The Suras took her, of course with the approval of Lord Hari (Vishnu).  The sons of Kasyapa (gods and demons) continued churning the ocean with the hope of getting the nectar. A young man emerged from the ocean. He was part god himself for he had a fragment (amsa) of the Lord in him.  He looked amiable; he had long muscular arms; his neck was conch-shaped, his eyes were red, his skin was dark-brown, and he was wearing flowers and ornaments. He was Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods.  He was carrying the jar of nectar (ambrosia) and suddenly became the cynosure of all eyes. The Asuras in a trice grabbed the pot of nectar and ran as fast as they could. The Devas were dejected and crestfallen, for all their efforts and hopes were dashed. They fell prostrate like falling sticks at the feet of the Lord and begged for his help.

The Lord, the Mayin of mayas (creator of illusions), told them that he would get the pot of nectar back to them by starting a quarrel among them and by seduction. The Lord sowed seeds of dissension and greed among them; the pot moved from hands to hands in an act of frenzied seize-and-lose with no one drinking the nectar; their thirst for the nectar in their mind grew more and more intense. The weaker Adityas or gods tried to reason with the stronger Dityas, Daityas or demons.  Suddenly everyone became quiet; there was freshness in the air; there was a gentle breeze with beguiling aroma that caught the Daityas’ attention. They looked and saw a damsel (Mohini) with beauty beyond compare. One could watch her all day long and yet not get satiated. She had the beauty of Utpala (a species of lotuses); her limbs were like lotus stalks; her seesawing callipygian hemispheres were beguiling;  her nose, her ears, her eyes, her cheeks and her entire face were perfect match that could have been designed only by divine effort. (Think of Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Aishvarya Roy rolled into one character but a zillion times more beautiful.)

Aishvarya Rai


The earrings and other ornaments were rivaling with one another to enhance her beauty, but her beauty spoke its eminence, proclaiming their minion status. Her breasts were of youthful firmness and weightiness; her eyes darted here and there trying to avoid the mad bees, swarming around her fragrant mouth. Jasmine flowers in buds and blooms graced her locks; alas, the bees were enamored more by her sweet breath. The necklace tried its best to out-shame other ornaments. Her beauty stood its stance. Her armlets were jingling flagrantly to announce the futile charm over and above other ornaments. The girdle around her broad hips danced as the damsel walked among dasypygal Daityas.  The fine white muslin that draped her loin was undulating in the gentle breeze, sending the Daityas into dizzying amorous seizures (tizzy). Jingling anklets, swinging hips, imperceptible tandem gait, divinely bashful smiles, dancing eyebrows, and sidelong glances fired up the passions of the Daitya generals.



seesawing callipygian hemispheres = rhythmical oscillations of beautiful buttocks in motion.

Dasypygal = having hairy buttocks.

The Asuras ran up to her lavishing praises. They thought she was looking for a spouse. They told her that she would not have been ‘touched’ by anyone including the gods, Gandharvas, Daityas, Siddhas, Caranas, and Prajapatis. They wondered aloud whether she was sent by the Lord to delight and ravish the senses and the mind of embodied beings. They tried to enlist her as a mediator in the dispute between the Daityas and Devas, who are the sons of Kasyappa. The transgendered Lord, in the form of a seductress, told them that she was a woman of easy virtue and the learned people should not put any trust in her judgment and presumed neutrality. Mohini warned them further saying that monkeys, jackals, wolves, dogs, and wanton women sought newer liaison at every opportunity, and that the learned did not put any trust in them.

That observation by self-deprecating Mohini brought peels of laughter among the Daityas who refused to consider a woman of such beauty could be a woman of easy virtue. She warned them that they should accept whatever decision she made as final whether it was right or wrong and that she would divide the nectar among them. They handed over the pot of nectar to Mohini, who cast a mysterious smile. It took the gods and demons a day or so to make themselves ritually pure by ablutions, sacrifices, and gifts to Brahmanas and others; the sons of Aditi (Adityas, gods) and the sons of Diti (the Daityas, demons), all fathered by Kasyappa, sat down for their share of nectar. Mohini entered the hall with the jar in her hands and became the cynosure of lustful eyes. Her entry was no less charming, and was intoxicating than the first one.  This time it was a little different. She arranged her dress in such manner that the piece of clothing that covered her breasts slipped a little exposing them partly to intensify the seduction, she used her mayic powers to cast a glance on each one of the assembled gods and demons with liberal effluence of smiles. The Lord (Vishnu) in the guise of beguiling seductress thought it unwise to divide the nectar among the Daityas, because it amounted to nourishing the snakes with milk: it would only encourage them to make more poison.

The Lord (in the form of Mohini) had a plan and intended to carry it out well. He separated the Adityas from the Daityas. (Adityas are gods born of Aditi and Kasyappa and Daityas were born of Diti and Kasyappa.) He put the Adityas far in the back and let them imbibe the nectar of immortality; while she let the Daityas savor sweet words and compliments. As they were feeding on a pabulum of words, they were afraid to challenge a woman and ask her for their share while they saw the Adityas imbibing the nectar that conferred eternal youth and immortal life. One of the Daityas (Rahu) got wise, disguised himself as an Aditya, sat between the sun god and the moon god, and drank the nectar. The Sun and the moon gods knew a Daitya if they saw one even in the dark and immediately reported him to the Lord, who sent his spinning discus to slice his head off his neck, as he was drinking the nectar.  (Think of meat slicer.)                                                                                       

Since Rahu tasted the nectar but before he had a chance to gulp it down, the discus cut off his head with the result that the head survived and the body died. (Now you know where the expression 'Talking heads' came from!) Lord Brahma accepted the Daitya Rahu’s head as a planet. This painting shows the head of Rahu without his body. He was naturally angry with the sun and moon; therefore he followed the sun and the moon relentlessly and when he  swallows the sun and the moon he caused the solar and lunar eclipses.  The Adityas (the gods) were always serving at the feet of the Lord and therefore the Lord gave them the nectar of immortality. The Daityas were not the devotees of the Lord and never sought him and therefore they never had the chance to imbibe the nectar. One exception: Daitya Bali was a devotee of Vishnu.

The Lord assumed his usual form from that of the seductress, once the Adityas finished  drinking the nectar; the Daitya generals looked on in frustration. The activities of all participants in the churning of the ocean for the nectar of immortality, their designs and goals were all equal; the only difference was that the gods took refuge in the dust of the feet of the Lord, while others did not seek his refuge. Moreover, the Daityas stole the nectar from the celestial physician Dhanvantari. All activities should be done in glorifying the Lord and if not, they will be futile and will not bring the desired results: liberation and immortality.

Siva's eyes fall on Mohini.

 Siva was fascinated by the looks of Mohini, who was moving among the trees with blossoms of many kinds, and bouncing a ball with her hands. She moved her body up and down following the movement of the ball in such ways that it appeared that the weight of her breasts might  even break her delicate (slender) waist. The pupils of her large roving eyes, her lovely cheeks, her ear-rings, dark tresses, the flying braids and wobbling breasts as she bounced the ball, the loosening garment, a covert smile with a tinge of bashfulness were too intoxicating for Siva.


She cast sidelong glances on Siva, which he reciprocated. Siva completely forgot about  his attendants and consort, Uma standing close by. Mohini's fingers failed to keep the ball bouncing, lost it to the force of wind and ran after it. As she ran, her fine cloth loosened and was claimed by the wind. This was too much for Siva to bear; he was in the grip of passion though his consort was nearby. Siva ran after her as a herd of elephants in rut would chase a she-elephant.

Mohini was giggling and cackling as she ran after the ball; soon a fast hand seized her braid and another hand held her by her waist; before she knew what was happening she was in the embrace of Siva with her hair all mussed up.  She moved her lithe body so fast that she wriggled out of his grip and ran though her hips and breasts were too heavy for such a fast escape. Though Siva was the Yogi of all Yogis, he was besides himself from the moment he set his eyes on Mohini. His vital fluids escaped and fell on earth, as he ran by the river, by the lake, on hilltops, in forest, groves and wherever sages lived. Those fallen emissions became veins of gold and silver in the earth.

Emissions in Egyptian Mythology. The Lord of Heliopolis, Atum who originated from alluvial soil mounds of Nile River had no female counterpart for reproductive creation of his kind because he came into being by himself. This is called Svayambhu (Self-existent being; anything considered to be uncreated) in Sanskrit and Siva Lingam is Svambhu as the Egyptian Atum is. He in his desire to have offspring took hold of his phallus and his ejaculate morphed into twins, Shu (Air) and Tefnut (Moisture). Another version says that Atum sneezed out Shu and spat Tefnut. That is how the Air and Moisture and their derivatives were born. Shu and Tefnut joined in embrace and begot Geb (Earth) and Nut (sky), who gave birth to five children, two boys (Osiris and Seth) and two girls (Isis and Nephthys) and Horus; Osiris and Isis and Seth and Nephthys begat the whole universe of beings.  In Hindu mythology, the Vedic God of Sky is Dyaus (Nut of Egyptians) and Earth is Goddess Prithvi (Geb of Egyptians).

The Maya of Vishnu lifted like the riven clouds and the true form of Vishnu emerged. Lord Vishnu in the form of Mohini was the Mayin of mayins. Siva was not very happy at being fooled by Vishnu's Maya. Vishnu told Siva that his Maya (illusion) duped him. Dupe it did; stupid He felt. Siva having circumambulated Vishnu as a mark of respect, went back to Kailas with wife and his attendants.




Churning of the ocean



Vishnu slaying demons


credit: exoticindia.com

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