Image of Naga couple at the Hoysala temple

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: Elapatra’s Suggestion to His Snake Brothers

Note: In the previous post, we read about Elapatra’s advice to his snake brothers. Elapatra had heard the conversation between Brahma Deva and other devas about how only the sinful snakes would perish in Janamejaya’s snake sacrifice and how the virtuous snakes would be saved.

Even though these words gave some relief to Vasuki, they did not remove his anxiety completely because the future still felt uncertain. 

In this post, we will find out how the devas sought help from Brahma Deva for Vasuki.

A very important cosmic event took place soon after Elapatra’s advice to his snake brothers. It was the Samudra Manthan where the devas and asuras got together to churn the ocean.

Vasuki, the chief of serpents who was gifted with great strength, offered to become the churning cord. After the Churning was over, Vasuki presented himself to Brahma Deva. The devas also went with Vasuki and told Brahma Deva that Vasuki was constantly concerned about the fate of  the serpent race. He suffered from great anxiety because of his mother’s curse. The devas represented Vasuki as their friend and someone who had helped them. They requested Brahma Deva to be gracious to Vasuki and remove the root cause of his sorrow.

Note: I like this story because it shows the devas asking for help from one of the Tri-Devas for a friend. The devas tend to be grateful for the kindness and friendship they receive and repay it accordingly.

Brahma Deva replied to the devas, “O immortals, I have thought about the solution. Let the chief of snakes do what his brother Elapatra suggested. Rishi Jaratkaru has been born and is engaging in hard penances. Let Vasuki bestow his sister to the sage at the right time. What Elapatra said about the son born of the union of Vasuki’s sister and the sage is true. He will be a wise Brahmin full of energy and will stop the snake sacrifice as soon as the sinful serpents have perished. No virtuous serpent will be harmed in the sacrifice.”

Hearing Brahma Deva’s words, Vasuki immediately commanded all the serpents to watch rishi Jaratkaru and notify him as soon as he came looking for a wife.

Note: In the next post, we will find out how rishi Jaratkaru got his name.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: The Meaning of the Name Jaratkaru

Mahadev drinking the Kalakuta poison (Image By Author Sister Nivedita and Ananda Kentish — credit details at the end of the post)

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: The Tired Gods are Re-Energized by Narayana to Continue Churning

Note: In the previous post, we read about how the waters of the churned ocean took on the qualities of nectar as the extracts of trees and herbs mixed with it. Those who drank the water became immortal. However, even though the water took on nectar-like qualities, the nectar that everyone was hoping for did not arise from the ocean. After churning for a long time, the Gods were exhausted to a point where they could churn no longer. They resumed after receiving blessings from Narayana.

In this post, we will read about all the glorious things and beings that emerged from the ocean as the churning continued. We will also encounter the situation that occurred when the deadly Kalakuta poison emerged from the ocean.

After some time, as the churning continued, the mild moon of a thousand rays emerged from the ocean, then came Goddess Lakshmi who was dressed in white, then Soma, then came the white horse Uchchaihsravas, and then the celestial gem Kaustubha which Narayana wears on his chest.

Soon after emergin, Lakshmi, Soma, and Uchchaihsravas approached the high gods (the Trinity: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva).

Then the event everyone had been waiting for happened: Dhanwantari arose carrying with him the white pot of nectar in his hands.

As soon as the asuras saw Dhanwantari, they cried out aloud, “The nectar is ours!”

After Dhanwantari, the huge elephant Airavata who had two pairs of tusks arose from the ocean. Indra, the wielder of the thunderbolt, took the elephant as his vehicle.

The churning continued and the last thing to come out of the ocean was also the deadliest – the Kalakuta poison. As soon as it appeared, it blew up into a huge fire with gaseous fumes and engulfed the entire earth in its venom. The mere smell of that deadly substance filled the three worlds with fear and confusion.

The Neelkantha Mahadev Temple in Rishikesh: Image by Rahuldewangan – Own work, Public Domain,

Lord Brahma sought help from Shiva, who swallowed that poison for the safety of all creation. The Divine Maheshwara (Shiva) held it in his throat, and from that time onwards, he is known as Nilakantha (blue-throated) Mahadev.

Note: In the next post, we will read about the Devas and Asuras fighting for the nectar and how Narayana intervened.

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Next Post: Vishnu’s Mohini Avtaar

Image Credit: Author Sister Nivedita and Ananda Kentish Nandalal Bose –, Public Domain,

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Previous Post: The Churning of the Ocean Begins

Note: In the previous post, we read about how Brahma and Vishnu gave the gods and asuras permission to churn the ocean for nectar. We also read that they used Mount Mandara as a churning rod, the king of tortoises as the base for the rod, and Vasuki (the serpent chief) agreed to be used as the churning rope. Thus the churning began. 

I would like to point out that all this is deeply symbolic of certain spiritual practices and also, possibly, related to the preparation of certain medicines. I don’t have specific details, but those who would like to find out more are encouraged to seek it through spiritually advanced teachers. To start with, here’s an article that explains the yogic allegory of Samudra Manthan. This article explains it from the perspective of Kriya Yoga, and this thread on Quora has several other explanations.

In this post, we will read about what happened when the churning began. These events are also symbolic in nature.

While churning the ocean, the asuras held Vasuki on the side of his hood and the gods held him on the side of his tail. Ananta, the mighty snake, was on the side of the gods. Ever so often, he would go on the other side to raise and drop Vasuki’s hood. 

Because Vasuki’s body was being stretched during the churning, he issued black vapors and flames from his mouth. 

These vapors and flames, aimed towards the sky when Ananta raised the hood, turned into clouds with lightning. And the clouds burst forth into rain which refreshed the tired gods. Since Mount Mandara was also twisted during the churning, its flowers fell on all sides refreshing those who were engaged in churning the ocean.

Then a tremendous roar resounded from the depths of the ocean. It sounded like the great roar that is heard at the dissolution of the universe. Many aquatic animals and beings of the lower regions were crushed and killed by the great Mount Mandara. Also, large trees were torn out, from their roots, as the mountain whirled. These trees along with the birds that lived on them were flung into the churning ocean. Every time these trees rubbed against each other, the friction caused flames to blaze up and the fire spread to the slopes of the mountain burning lions, elephants, and other creatures that lived on it. After some time, Indra caused a heavy downpour of rain to extinguish the fire.

Thus the churning continued with the ocean full of trees and herbs that constantly rubbed against each other as they were tossed about in the waters. After some time, the gum of several trees and herbs that had the properties of amrit mingled with the ocean’s water. The celestials drank that water containing plant extracts mixed with a liquid extract of gold and attained immortality. 

As the churning continued, the herb and tree extracts caused the milky waters of the deep ocean to turn into clarified butter. 

However, even though the waters of the ocean were filled with the properties of amrit, the real amrit that everyone was hoping for did not arise. By now, the gods and asuras were so exhausted that they had no more strength left to churn further.

Unable to proceed, the gods approached the boon-granting Brahma and said, “O sire, nectar has still not arisen from the ocean and we are very tired to churn further. Now, our only hope is if Narayana helps us.”

Upon hearing their problem, Brahma requested Narayana to help the gods, and Narayana blessed them with further strength to churn the mountain.

Note: In the next post, we will read about the glorious beings that arose from the ocean as the churning continued and what happened when the deadly Kalakoot poison emanated from the waters.

Next Post: Neelkantha Mahadeva Saves the World From the Kalauta Poison

Table of Contents (The Complete Mahabharata in Simple English)

Image Credit: By 245CMR – Own work based on: Sagar mathan.jpg, CC BY 3.0,