Churning of the Sea
King Parikshit asked, "O great sage, how did God cause churning of the sea. What was the purpose behind it? Kindly tell me?" Shukdev says, "Parikshit, in the sixth Chakshush Manvantara,the demons king Bali had defeated the gods.
Indra had also lost his glory by insulting the garland which sage Durvasa had presented to him as a God's gift. Indra had put the garland in elephant's neck and then got it crushed under its feet. But now having lost his kingdom and struck by misfortune, Indra and other gods with Brahma prayed to the Lord . Melted by their prayers, God appeared before them. All the gods laid before Him and worshiped. The omnipotent God inspired the gods to churn the sea.
Lord asked the gods to churn the sea and produce nectar. He also advised them to take the help of demons in that great task. Drinking the nectar one becomes immortal. God asked the gods to put various medicinal plants and vegetations in Kshirsagar (sea of milk) and churn it by Mandarachal Mountain moving it with the help of Vasuki the naga. God promised them of all help from His part.
Thereafter, Indra and other gods went unarmed to the demon king Bali and told him of their intention. Demons too liked the idea. With a friendly attitude then the gods and the demons together uprooted the mount Mandarachal. But they could not carry it to the sea. Lord appeared on Garuda and carried the mountain to the sea.
The gods and demons had promised Vasuki, the Naga his due share in the nectar. So Vasuki allowed them to use him as a rope, wound around Mandarachal as a means to move it. In the incarnation of Ajit, Lord told the gods to hold the head of Vasuki. But the demons suspecting some mischief said they would hold the head and asked the gods to hold the Naga from the tail for churning. Thus the gods held the tail while the demons took hold of Vasuki's head.
Thus they began the churning. But as soon as the churning began the mountain started sinking for not having a firm base. Lord then took Kachchhap (tortoise) incarnation and supported Mandarachal on His back. On the mountain also Lord appeared in Sahastrabahu form, and held it. The gods and the demons churned the sea for long but nothing emerged. So, Lord Ajit himself began to churn the sea. First of all, it was Halahal, the deadly poison to emerg. The intensity of the poison began to torment every being. To save their subjects from it, Prajapatis prayed Lord Lord Shiva. The life-giver, Lord Bholenath (an epithet of Lord Shiva) drank all the poison. By the impact of the poison, Lord Lord Shiva's throat turned blue in color. Hence Lord Shiva got the name Nilakantha.
Emergence of Gems & Nectar: After Lord Shiva drank the poison, the gods and the demons began to churn the sea again with greater enthusiasm. Now, Kamadhenu, the divine cow emerged. She was useful for Yagya etc. so the sages received it. Then a horse named Uchchaishrava, emerged and taken up by Bali the king of demons. The horse was followed by Airavat the elephant. Indra took it. The divine gem, Kaustubh Mani, emerged then. Lord Ajit took it on His chest. Then emerged the Kalpvriksha, the divine tree that reached the heavens. Then the elves emerged. They all accepted to serve Indra in Heaven.
Goddess Lakshmi emerged after the elves. All the azimuths were lighted because of her brilliance. Everyone was attracted towards her beauty, generosity, youthfulness, appearance and glory. Devaraj Indra presented a throne for her to sit. Rivers brought water for her ceremonial bath. The earth presented medicinal bath. Cows gave Panchganyas and Vasant (spring) presented many kinds of fruits and flowers. The sages welcomed Lakshmi with Rigsuktas (hymns of Rigveda). Gandharvas sang in her praise. Then taking the lotus in her hand, Lakshmi took a seat on the throne. Sea donned her with a beautiful silk saree. Varun presented a garland. Saraswati gifted her with a necklace of pearls. Brahma presented lotus while Nagas presented two earrings.
After the singing by Brahmins in her praise, Lakshmi took lotus garland in her hand and put it around Lord Vishnu's neck in a gesture of accepting Him as her husband. Jagatpita, Lord Vishnu too gave Lakshmi a supreme position in His heart. Lakshmi was followed by Varuni who was taken up by the demons.
The gods and the demons began to churn the sea again. At last lord Dhanvantari emerged with an urn of nectar. It was Dhanvantari who developed Ayurved, the ancient Indian system of medicine. As soon as the demons saw the urn, they snatched it and ran away. A row then began among the demons over the drinking of nectar. Consoling the gods, Lord appeared among the demons in the guise of an extremely pretty woman, Mohini.
Distribution of Nectar by Lord as Mohini: The demons who were fighting over the potions of nectar forgot everything when they saw Mohini, who was actually a guise of Lord Vishnu. Lured by her prettiness the demons came to Mohini and requested her to solve the dispute for them. Illusioned by God, the demons even gave the nectar to Mohini and sat peacefully showing their confidence in her. In Mohini's guise, Lord thought that the demons were congenitally cruel and giving nectar to them would be akin to feeding sakes with milk. Their evils would increase.
So, Mohini offered the nectar to the gods only while offered wine to the demons. When the nectar was being distributed, a demon named Rahu took the guise of a god and sitting among them drank the nectar. Suurya and Chandra spotted him and revealed his identity to God, who at once beheaded him. But, by then Rahu had drunk enough nectar.
Churning of the Ocean
Sage Lomesh narrated the tale, which described how Indra lost heaven after he showed disrespect to Vrihaspati--
Once, Indra was enjoying the songs sung by Gandharvas when sage Vashishth arrived. But, Indra was so engrossed in music, that he forgot to welcome his distinguished guest. Sage Vashishth was enraged by his behaviour and went away fuming with anger.When the demon King Bali--the lord of Patalloka, learnt about this incident he attacked Indraloka with a large army. A fierce battle took place in which all the deities were defeated. Bali and his army brought all the wealth to Patalloka. But the demons were not destined to be the owner of this plundered wealth for too long as the whole wealth got submerged into the ocean. Bali was surprised and asked Shukracharya about the reason. Sage Shukracharya revealed to Bali that he could not enjoy the splendours of deities' wealth because he had not performed 100 Ashwamedha yagyas.
The deities, after being defeated went to seek Lord Vishnu's help. Lord Brahma was also present with them. After giving a deep thought to the whole issue, Lord Vishnu advised them to patch up with the demons so that all the wealth could be retrieved from the ocean bed.The deities went to Patal-loka and convinced the demons to participate in the churning of the ocean. When the process of churning of the ocean began, Mandarachal mountain was used as a churner and the serpent -Vasuki as the rope.Both the parties immersed the Mandarachal mountain into the ocean but it sank down, as there was no base upon which it could be placed. So, Lord Vishnu took the form of a tortoise and held the mountain on his back.
Churning of the ocean resulted into the emergence of many things like Chandrama, Surabhi (cow), Kalpa tree, Kaustubh, Uchchaihshrava (Horse), Eravat (elephant), goddess Laxmi, poison, ambrosia, intoxication etc.When poison emerged from the sea bed, neither the deities nor the demons made any claim for it. The poison was so venomous that the whole world started getting inflamed by it. Lord Shiva then drank the Halahal poison and thus the world was saved.Lord Vishnu accepted goddess Laxmi as his consort.
The Emergence of Ambrosia
When Dhanvantri appeared with a pot of ambrosia in his hands, a demon named Vrishparva snatched it from him. All the demons then fled to Patal loka with the pot of ambrosia.Lord Vishnu disguised himself as an enchanting beauty and went to Patalloka. There, he found all the demons quarrelling among themselves. Each of them wanted to have his own share of ambrosia.The demons were stunned by Mohini's beauty the moment they saw Lord Vishnu in the form of a beautiful lady. Mohini took control of the ambrosia pot and summoned the deities to Patal loka.
All the deities and demons were made to sit in separate rows. Mohini then started distributing ambrosia to the deities. A demon named Rahu, who had disguised himself as a deity was also sitting among the deities. Hardly had Rahu gulped down some ambrosia then Mohini severed his head on the information given by chandrama (Moon).The severed head of Rahu tried to take revenge by swallowing chandrama, who took the refuge of Lord Shiva. Shiva kept chandrama within the lock of his hair. Meanwhile, Rahu too came chasing chandrama and Lord Shiva wore his head as a garland in his neck.