The Story of Amruthmanthan.
The Saraswat Bhramins accept Shri Mahalaxmi as Pallavi, their supporting or protecting deity, believing that this Goddess of tremendous strength and power was released when the devas and rakshasas were churning the ocean for amrut potion (nectar of life). This was popularly know as the Amruthmanthan or Samudramanthan.
Samudhramanthan means the Churning of the ocean. The Gods and the Asuras (Demons) churned the ocean with the help of Vasuki, the king of the serpents, as the rope for turning it. They were trying to retrieve the Treasures which got immersed in to the ocean due to Sage Durvasa's Curse. Among the treasures that got absorbed in the ocean was the Nectar of Immortality( Amruth Ratna). Thecurse of Sage Durvasa, Devas had left Indra, the king of Indraloka, powerless and helpless. The Asuras at this bright opportunity quickly seized and conquered Indraloka.. Indra was dethroned and driven out along with his wards. Feeling disgraced, they sought refuge in Brahma explaining their predicament. Brahma, the Creator of the universe, took them to Vishnu, who preserves the Universe.
The only way out of this was to churn the ocean using Mount Mandara and using Vasuki, the king of serpents as the rope. But churning the mountain required a lot of prudence and intrepidity. So the Gods decided to amalgamate with the Asuras and intrigue them in acquiring their goals. Also Lord Vishnu consented the Gods that any of the treasures gone to the Asuras or coercion of treasures by the Asuras should not be retaliated. However he would make sure that the Nectar of Immortality will only be enjoyed by the Gods and that no portion of it would go to the Asuras.
The one sided venture
Indra along with his subjects went to Bali, the king of Asuras, with a proposal which might venture benefit for the Asuras as well. So without much persuasions both sides mutually agreed up on it.
Vasuki, The serpent king
Indra and Bali roused their forces and started lifting Mount Mandara. Uprooting the mountain, which eventually they no longer could carry the burden of the mountain they had to seek solace in Lord Vishnu, who immediately came to their rescue and placed the Mountain Mandara on the banks of the seashore. Vasuki appeared on the scene after making sure that Lord Vishnu's vahana Garuda (a snakes natural enemy) was sent away by Vishnu. The Lord assured the Serpent king that he would get his share of the Ambrosia and the rough surface of the mountain would not hurt him while using Vasuki as the rope. The serpent was coiled around the mountain.
Lord Vishnu's Avtaar (incarnation)
So long they started to churn the mountain it sank in to the ocean. Once again Lord Vishnu was hailed for help and he plunged in to the Ocean manifesting in the form of an enormous Tortoise (Kurma, this is Lord Vishnu's second Incarnation out of ten). Mounted on his back, the Gods and the Asuras were overjoyed to see, the Mandara mountain. The Gods and Asuras lost no time and started their churning process, they lost hope and felt exhausted. Lord Vishnu also joined the forces and the process of Samudramanthan began.
During the churning of the ocean with immense power all the impurities from the ocean came up and the Gods and Asuras started choking. Lord Shiva's esteemed presence upon the call for help made the Gods relaxed. Lord Shiva collecting all the poison in his palm swallowed it. Paravati enraged from this act of her husband came to his rescue and squeezed Lord Shiva's neck, during this process the poison already entered in his body made Lord Shiva's skin color blue. Hence after this incident Lord Shiva came to be fondly known as Neelkant or Neelesh. Lord Shiva after offering his helping hand vanished.
The Gods and Asuras (Demons) were rigorously churning the ocean with the Naga. In the due course the Ratnas (Treasures) emerged. And most of the Ratnas were coerced by the Asuras, to which the Gods did not utter a single word as they had promised to Lord Vishnu. There was a treasure i.e Amrut Ratna among the other treasures which derived from the ocean. Dhanwantari with the jar of the nectar of Life. The Asuras were quick to conjecture that it was Nectar in the jar. They rushed towards Dhanwantari and snatched the jar from him and surged for the Nectar. The Gods and the Asuras squabbled for the Amrut Ratna. Amrut means the nectar of life. The person who drinks it gains victory over the inevitable death.
The Gods were annoyed at the behavior of the Asuras as each one was trying to grab the Nectar of life. While the Gods and Asuras were having their rows. Lord VIshnu adorned the avtaar of Mohini i.e Lord Vishnu incarnated himself as Mohini. And thus decided to help the Gods.
Mohini the name says it all. Mohini means magic. Decked with jewels and garments, Mohini looked beautiful. This beauty of hers left the Asuras infatuated. In order to settle the fight Mohini offered that she would distribute the Amrut between the Gods and the Asuras (Demons). Everybody mutually agreed to this offer.
Mohini sang and danced her way in the hearts of the Asuras. Little did they knew that under the captivating charm lied the shrewd mind. So instead of drinking Amrut the Asuras were tricked in to drinking Visha (Poison). Turn by turn the Gods were made to drink the Amrut and the Asuras were made to drink Visha. The gracious dance of Mohini kept the Asuras exhilarated. They were too busy enjoying the dance of Mohini.
When the Gods were having their share of Amrut, one of the Asura realized that they were being betrayed. He quietly sneaked his way and sat among the Gods. Mohini noticed this and deceived that Asura in to drinking Visha by not giving him the Amruta Potion.
In this way all the Gods drank the Amrut while the Demons were deluded in to drinking the Visha.
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