Rising of the sea and other Migration myths

Paul Kekai Manansala kekai at JPS.NET
Wed Jan 26 19:44:12 UTC 2000

Swaminathan Madhuresan wrote:
> I think the Milky ocean has more to do with Vishnu(MaayOn)/Krishna being
> the Lord of the Mullai landscape. Vishnu who is dark in colour
> (Kalidasa, inscriptions, literature, ...) is said to sleep on the
> white-colored ocean; perhaps to add contrast.

Yes, there are many ways to intepret the Milky Ocean to include the
starry skies and even the physical universe. Yet there is also a
Milky Ocean with geographic definition. I believe that the Milky
Ocean in the churning refers, at least partly, to this defintion.

> Interested in the sources about volcanic activity
> in the churning of the ocean legends, SM

In story-telling and myth-making, it is common to devise ways of
describing things that are not known to the listener/reader. Also,
localization is a common phenomenon.

Even between Greece and Rome, which are geographically very close and
which experienced a direct and continous transmission of myth, a great
deal of localization of myth occured. Greek myths were transferred but
often Latinized both in name and geography.

Regarding the evidence of volcanic activity, here are a few verses from
Van Buitenen's translation:

"...as Vasuki was forcefully pulled up and down by the Gods, puffs of
fire and smoke belched forth from his mouth. The clouds of smoke became
massive clouds with lightning flashes and rained down on the troops of
Gods, who were weakening with the heat and fatigue...All kinds of
creatures that inhabit the deep were crushed asunder by the big mountain
...and the mountain drove sea animals of all sorts, such as dwell in the
submarine abysses, to their destruction...The friction of the trees
started fire after fire, covering the mountain with flames like a black
monsoon cloud with lightening streaks...many juices of herbs and
manifold resins of the trees flowed into the water of the ocean. And
with the milk of these juices that had the power of the Elixir, and with
the exudation of the molten gold <from the mountain>, the God attained
immortality. The water of the ocean now turned into milk, and from this
milk butter floated up, mingled with the finest of essences."

vol. I, pp. 73-74

Paul Kekai Manansala

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