The legend behind the Kurma Avatar of Vishnu. Lord Vishnu is the Supreme and one of the principal deities of Hinduism. Vishnu is the “protector” in the Hindu triunity (Trimurti) that includes Brahma and Shiva. Lord Vishnu is known by various names Narayana, Jagannath, Vasudeva, Vithoba, and Hari.
It is believed that Vishnu had ten avatars called Dashavatars. Kurma Avatar of Vishnu is his avatars is his second avatar. There is an interesting story behind the Kurma Avatar of Vishnu.
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- Once Durvasa (a highly regarded but short-tempered sage) offered a garland to Indra (God of the heavens, lightning). Indra put it at the tusk of his elephant, Airawata, who trampled it.
- Seeing Indra’s disregard, the sage became aggrieved and cursed Indra and all demi-gods to be bereaved of all their strength, energy, and fortune.
- Due to this, Indra and the other gods began losing all battles against the demons.
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- Lord Indra and all the demigods rushed helplessly to Vishnu for help. Vishnu told them that to get back their powers, the gods will have to churn the oceans and bring out the magical nectar-Amrita. Only after consuming it they could regain their powers.
- The Devas (gods) then formed an alliance with Asuras (demons) to jointly churn the ocean in order to receive the nectar and to share it among them.
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- The Gods knew that Amrit would come out of the churning and they could not let asuras drink it. Vishnu told the gods that he would make sure that the nectar doesn’t go to the demons.
- The gods and demons came together for churning the ocean. Mountain Mandara became the churning rod. Vasuki naag (one of the King serpents of Hindu) became the churning rope.
- When the churning started, the mountain started sinking. Then, Lord Vishnu took the form of the Kurma (a turtle) to keep the mountain floating. As soon as the bowl of nectar of immortality came out, the demons quickly grabbed it.
- To receive the nectar, Vishnu took the form of an apsara (a beautiful maiden) named Mohini to seduce demons for letting her distribute the nectar.
- The demons asked her to be their wife and distribute the nectar between them one by one.
- Mohini took the pot of nectar and started distributing nectar between gods and demons. She very cleverly kept offering nectar only to gods.
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- But one of the demons Rahuketu caught Mohini’s trick and switched side to gods.
- He barely drunk the nectar, when Lord Vishnu recognized him and cut his throat. Due to the nectar he drank, he did not die and his body got separated into two parts – the head and the body.
- The gods became immortal due to the nectar.