“DASAAVATAARA STOTRAM OF SWAMI DESIKA”- KOORMA AVATAARAM (Tortoise)
by Mantra & shlokas on Friday, March 11, 2011 at 2:51pm
<span> </span>avyaasur bhuvana trayii manibhR^itaM kaNDuuya nairadriNaa
nidraaNasya parasya kuurma vapuSho nishvaasa vaatormayaH .
yadvikShepaNa saMskR^ito dadhipayaH preN^khola paryaN^kikaa -
nityaa rohaNa nirvR^ito viharate devaH sahaiva shriyaa
By the grace of God, the Devas were living happily and were resplendent with glory. Once sage Durvaasa went to the abode of Sri Vishnu and offered obeisance to Sri Vishnu and Sri Mahalakshmi (Consort of Sri Vishnu). He got a garland of Sri Mahalakshmi from a Vidhyadhara damsel. Earlier, the divine mother was pleased with performance of the damsel on Yazh, (a stringed musical instrument like harp) and had gifted the garland to her.
While returning, Sage Durvasa passed through the Indraloka where Indra, Lord of Devas was coming in a procession mounted on his elephant. Durvasa offered the garland to Indra. Indra did not receive it with due respect but plucked it with the Ankusa (a goad used to spur the elephant) and placed it on the head of the elephant which promptly threw it down and trampled upon it. The sage got angry at the callous behavior of Indra and instantly cursed him and the Devas that all their glory and splendor would be lost and they would become emaciated and shorn of their power. Even as the sage turned his back, his curse started operating and the Devaloka lost its luster.
Indra went to Brahma who led the Devas to Sri Vishnu, the protector. Lord Vishnu advised that they could reclaim their lost glory and strength only if they drank the nectar of immortality which could be got only by churning the milky ocean.
But, how could they do it?
Lord Vishnu suggested that they lift mount Mandara and place it in mid-ocean as a churn dashery using Vasuki, the serpent as a rope for turning it. But, weak as they were, Devas could not even think of lifting the mountain. Lord suggested that they make truce with the Asuras and enlist their support in a joint venture!. But, he also warned that the Devas should not desire any of the things emerging from the ocean even if the Asuras forcibly took them. They should not rest until the nectar appeared and he himself would ensure that the Asuras did not snatch it.
Brahma returned to his Satyaloka and Indra set forth to the Capital of Asuras for peace talks. The Asuras were pleased and agreed to participate in the joint endeavor of lifting the mountain and churning.
As they tried to lift, the burden of the mountain was too much and many on both sides got crushed. Lord Vishnu mounted the mountain on the back of `Garuda' his carrier, who flew to the seashore and safely deposited the
mountain right at the center of the ocean. Vasuki was wound round Mandara. The Asuras out of ego would not settle for the tail side. So, they took charge of the head side of Vasuki, while the Devas had to make do with the
As the churning began, the mountain wobbled as it had nothing to support and began to sink. Immediately, Lord Vishnu took the form of a giant sized tortoise, plunged into the ocean and emerged out with the mountain on his
They churned now with ease. The first thing to appear was the deadly poison called Halahala or Kalakuta (black poison) representing the impurities of the ocean. The poison was so potent as to blind the eyes and affect breathing.
Responding to the prayer of the Devas and Asuras, Lord Siva drank the poison. Parvati, his consort stopped the poison from descending down the throat. Hence, Siva is also called NEELAKANTA (Blue-throated). Then emerged SURABHI (the cow), VAARUNI (wine), KARPAKAM / PARIJATHAM (a tree), APSARAS (nymphs) CHANDRA (moon), SRI (Mahalakshmi), UCHAISRAVAS (the white sonorous steed ), AIRAVATHAM'(Indra's elephant).
Finally, Lord DANVANTARI (the divine physician) who is none other than another incarnation of Lord Vishnu appeared with a golden pitcher with AMRUTHA (the nectar of immortality) - an elixir of life that can prolong
life indefinitely. (It is also believed to have the properties that can change any base metal into gold) Both the Devas and Asuras were excited and a fight royal ensued.
Lord Vishnu now took the form of a beautiful damsel, enticed the Asuras to give up their fight and entrust to her the task of distributing of nectar among them all, on condition that none would question her action. Both sides agreed to the condition. The Mohini (bewitching damsel) started distributing first to the row where Devas had seated. The Asuras waited for their turn. But, by the time she completed serving the row occupied by the Devas, there was not a drop of nectar left in the pitcher.
Then, Mohini appeared as Lord Vishnu, mounted on his Garuda and flew to his abode. The Asuras, disappointed as they were charged on the Devas. But, the rejuvenated Devas easily vanquished the emaciated Asuras and regained their lost power and glory and the asuras were driven to Patala loka.
It will be seen that Lord Vishnu did everything. He advised them how to get nectar, how to enlist support of their sworn enemies. He arranged to the lift the mountain. He deliberately allowed the asuras to be on the head-side of Vasuki which spouted poison and killed a number of asuras. He held the mountain on his back to enable the churning. He took the form of Danvantri and emerged with the pitcher of nectar. He again appeared as Mohini to ensure Devas and deprive Asuras of a share in the nectar. Without all this help, none of these could have happened and Devas would have been languishing from the effects of the curse of Durvasa forever.
Sri Swami Desikan while describing this Avatara says "Vihara Katchapa" meaning that Lord did all this in sport assuming the form of a tortoise. He says that when the mountain moved during the churning, it looked as if it gently scratched the back of the tortoise and relieved it of its itching and in the relief so secured, the Lord actually felt sleepy. He imagines that as the waves of the ocean rose and fell, it looked as if it were a swinging 'waterbed' on which the Lord enjoyed the swing.
Thirumangai Azhwar calls him a `GIRIDHARAN' meaning one who bore the mountain in anticipation of a similar feat the Lord was to exhibit in a subsequent Avatar as Krishna when he lifted the Govardhana Giri with his little finger
1. Adrinaa: This means “mountain. This is the only reference to the story, nothing else.
2. In 12th Sloka, SD refers to “Vihara Kachchapa” = Sportily donned the form of tortoise.
3. Parasya Koorma vapushO = He roamed as the primordial tortoise (Aadhi Sri Koormam). “Parasaya” also refers to His “Parama purusha tvam”
4. Bhuvanatrayeem avyaasu: = SD indirectly alludes to the story of the world having been protected when Siva is said to have drunk the poison. Did Siva really drink the poison?
“Vayurasmaa upaamanyath pinishta smaa kunannamaa kesee vishasya
PatrEna yad RudrEna pibath sa:’
meaning that it is the Lord who drank the poison making Siva a vessel to hold it (vishasya PatrEna yad RudrEna pibath sa:)
5. ViharatE = "plays" - is in the present tense indicating that this Avatara is till not yet over.
6. Kanduuyanai: = means creating an itching sensation.
When the mountain on His back like a churn dashery rotated during the churning, when the Devas and Asuras pulled it like in the rope pulling game, what could we expect excruciating sense of itch for the Lord. But, what actually happened? He felt it so soothing that He was almost lulled into sleep!. SD goes further to say that during this “falling asleep” stage, he breathed so heavily that the waves of the milky ocean rose and fell as if it was gently swinging Him along with Piraatti and felt agreeably comfortable!
7. Does the Lord really sleep? He is a “Nitya Prabuddha”- ever awake and vigilant. In Yadhavabhyudayam SD makes a reference to this “Sleep- awake” situation in his own inimitable style where he suggests that the Lord was in deep meditation on how to distribute the nectar to the Devas while depriving the evil asuras, though the churning was a joint endeavor!
8. Sriya Sahaiy Eva = SD not only reaffirms the inseparable-ness of the divine couple but according to Acharyas’ Vyakhyanams, all these efforts of the Lord in
- Suggesting to the Devas about the Churning of the milky ocean
- Suggesting making peace with the Asuras as a military strategy to secure
- Arranging to bring the Mantara mountain,
- Bearing it on His back to stop its wobbling,
- Advising Devas to hold on to the tail end of the deadly serpent, Vaasuki,
- Appearing as Dhanvantari with the Pot of nectar
- Assuming the guise of Mohini for distributing nectar to the Devas -
All were done only with a view to secure for Himself the nectarine Mahalakshmi(amudhinum iniya penn amudai adaiya ivvalavu paaDu”)