Sakadwipa (Churning of the Ocean)

Swaminathan Madhuresan smadhuresan at YAHOO.COM
Mon Jan 31 17:25:20 UTC 2000

>> Does the churning of the ocean legend involve more of poetic
>> fancy...?

The answer, as it seems to me, is: yes, in a way. Acc. to the interpretation
which looks most plausible (see: S.A.Dange. Legends in the Mahabharata. Delhi,
MBL, 1969, pp. 241-280; R.Parrot. A Discussion of the two Metaphors in
the "Churning of the Ocean" from the Mahabharata. - ABORI 1983 [Poone 1984],
vol. LXIV, pts. 1-4, pp. 17-33), this story is a mythic metaphor based on
the ritual practice of pressing (and mixing with milk) of Soma, as well as
(partly) on the process of butter churning.

    Indian epic authors probably did not know about molten lava
 fluid spewing out of erupting volcanoes. The amirtha is said
 to be gold-fluid in color because of Indian alchemy beliefs.The fire was
 caused by trees grinding against each other, There is a vedic ritual even
 today to produce fire this way, isn't it? "As the trees were crushed against
 one another, a fire born of their friction blazed forth into flames
 and enveloped Mount Mandara, which looked like a dark cloud charged
 with lightning. The fire burnt the elephants and lions who were
 driven out" (p.276, W. Doniger, Hindu myths).

    The MBh. projects some Krishna themes onto Vishnu; The idea of
 world surrounded by salty ocean, then liquor, butter, milk etc is old
 and in the churning of the ocean story, Krishna, the yaadhava's
 assets like milk, butter, merge with Vishnu. The mullai landscape
 of Krishna is (partly) a reason for the Milky ocean of Sriranganatha.

>As for another question, in the MahAbhArata version of the myth KRSNa
>does not appear (but ViSNu, of course, does).

 In the, Vishnu becomes the tortoise to support Mt. Mandara,
 climbs on that mount, sides with devas and demons. In any purana,
 does Krishna appear in the Churning legend?

 Many thanks and warm regards,

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