Rising of the sea and other Migration myths

Paul Kekai Manansala kekai at JPS.NET
Wed Jan 26 16:43:29 UTC 2000

Swaminathan Madhuresan wrote:
> >On Konrad's post about the rising sea levels, I am slowly working on a
> >book project entitled "The Churning of the Milky Ocean."
> >The book is meant for general audiences and deals, among other things,
> >with various origin traditions linked with the Milky Ocean, which by all
> >accounts I'm aware of is located to the east.
> Isn't the Angkor Wat depiction of the myth a result
> of the Indianization originating from the West of Khmer empire?
> Or, Did the churning of the ocean myth reach India from the East?

Yes, the Angkor Wat relief is of Indian origin.

However, the churning myth deals with a period of the distant past
and the event is located in the Milky Ocean, which was placed
specifically in the Ramayana, Brihat Samhita and Parasara Horasastra in
the eastern regions.

Many times it is also placed in the east by implication. For example,
the Mahabharata, Puranas and many other works locate Sakadwipa in the
east, and the milky ocean is said to surround this island.

The myth itself of the fiery mountain with a molten stream of burnt
vegetation flowing off the mountainsides into the ocean, and turning it
into a milky color seems to describe volcanic activity. The heat of the
mountain is said to have caused catastrophic loss of sea life, and if we
are to relate this to natural phenomenon, volcano eruption is the
natural choice.

Migration myths would likely be better kept by those who migrated,
although flood and volcanic myths about in the Rim of Fire and
specifically in Austronesia and Sundaland.

Paul Kekai Manansala

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