Here is a collection of stories that I have heard / read while growing up and / or googled now to tell my daughter :)

Hope you / your children enjoy it as much as we did.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Avataras of Lord Vishnu - Kurma - Part 1

In this story the next avatara of Lord Vishnu, Kurma makes an entrance. A lot of things happen in this story - asuaras defeat devas, lord Vishnu marries Goddess Lakshmi, we come to know why eclipses happen :)

Without further ado, here we go. Long Long ago there was a sage by name Dhurvasa. He was a very powerful sage and know all over the worlds for his kind heart and anger. He was known to become angry at little things and curse people. One day when he was roaming the world he came across tree filled with beautiful pink flowers. The flowers were soo beautiful and the aroma coming from the flowers made Dhurvasa's heart fill with happiness. He took a few flowers and made a garland. Once the garland was completed he wanted to give it to someone who deserves the beautiful flowers. We started walking towards Devaloka.

As we know, Indra is the king if gods. The devas had defeated the Asuras and Indra was feeling very proud of himself. He started thinking "I am the lord of all gods. I am great". He started becoming arrogant and disrespectful of others. To show off how great he was he started travelling out on his beautiful, 4 tusked white elephant called Airavata.

When he was travelling his kingdom on Airavata, he saw sage Dhurvasa coming from the other side. Indra saw the sage and did not get down from the elephant to bow to the maharishi. Dhurvasa did not notice this as he wanted to hand over the garland to the king of gods. He handed the garland over tot Indra and said "Oh! King of heaven, take this garland. It befits you. The flowers are soo precious and rare that they always stay fresh and the scent is so heavenly that it brings peace to the heart.".

Indra takes the garland and carelessly throws it on Airavata's head. As animals have more sensitive nose than humans, Airavata could not stand the smell from the garlanad. He took the Garland in his snout, threw it on the ground and stomped on it in rage. When Sage Dhurvasa saw this he got very angry, he said "O! Indra, you insolent.... you have forgotten how to respect others, you have become too proud of your strength and vigor you have forgotton how to behave.. you should be taught a lesson"

Indra suddenly realised who was infront of him, remembered all the other times SAe Dhurvasa had become angry and cursed people. King of gods or nor he realised he better make ammends quickly. He jumped from Airavata and fell on Dhurvasa's feet and said "O sage Dhurvasa, please forgive me. I was not thinking, I have learnt my lesson, please forgive me.. I should have bowed to you as soon as I saw you... "

Dhurvasa realsied Indra is not really sorry and is trying to pacify him. He snorted with anger and said "Now when you realise I am going to curse you, you prented to be sorry.. And you are thinking that I am a fool who will beleive you! You should indeed be thought a lesson, I curse you and the devas to loose your power and your vigor. You will not have any energy and will always be tired... "

Indra was scared, in panic he fell on the sage's feet and cried "No.. please have mercy.. do not do this to me and the other devas. oh! great sage have mercy". But Dhurvasa was still very angry he turned and walked away. Indra wanted to run behind the sage and ask for mercy but he could feel his energy seeping away, he tried to run and fell down on the floor as he was very tired and became unconciois.

After sometime he woke up and staggerred back to his palace to see all the other devas - agni, vayu, varuna also feeling tired and listless. He sat with them and explained his encounter with Sage Dhurvasa and his curse. All the other devas were panic stricken and did not know what to do. Just then a guard burst in shouting "Devendra Devendra Help Help, the asuras.. the asuras are at the gate.. trying to break in... save us".

Indra and the gods were petrified. The asuras and devas fought often and the devas won most of the times because of thier strength, now they were weak and tired and did not even have strength to stand leave the strength to fight. Indra told the guard "Inform everyone, we are not fighting, we do not want our brothers to die, leave the kingdom and flee". The other gods could not belive their ears and they told Lord Indra not to be a coward, but then realised the truth in what Indra said. They left the kingdom and ran.

The asuras seeing the devas flee gave chase. The Asuras laughed at hem and called them cowards and chased them out of devaloka. The King of asuras Bali - crowned himself the king of devaloka.

The devas staggered off to Lord Brahma - the creator. They fell on Brahma's feet and asked his help. Indra told him everything that happened between him and Sage Dhurvasa. And then of the asuras attacking them.

Brahma could not belive his ears. He told Indra "O! Indra, how can you behave so arrogantly, that too towards a sage.. a sage like Dhurvasa, how many times have I told you to leave your pride and behave like a leader, because of your arrogance you have caused the downfall of devas". Hearing Brahma, Indra was very downcast. He could see the mistakes he did, and reaslised because of him the other devas were paying the price.

Brahma saw the change in Indra and realised that Indra has learnt his lesson. Brahma also was a little worried, the devas were supposed to take care of the natural elements required for the worlds to function, with asuras ruling heaven he wondered what will be he fate of the worlds. He said "Indra, it is late now. we cannot go back to Dhurvasa and ask him to show mercy. He will get more angry and will not help us. The only person who can help you now is Lord Vishnu, let us go to him and ask for help. I will also come with you."

Hearing this the devas breathed a sigh of releif, they could feel a little strength returning to their bodies. They knew Lord Vishnu will not let them down. He always had a solution to their problems. Along with Lord Brahma the devas went to Vaikunta. On seeing them Lord Vishnu asked Indra with a twinkle in his eyes "O Indra, what is wrong, you have come to see me with all the devas and looks like you have dragged Brahma into this. What have you done now?"

Indra was filled with mortification. He fell on his knees in front of the lord and said dejectedly "O Lord, stop making fun of me, you know everything. you are sarvantaryami. Please take pity on me and help us. I do not want my friends and followers to suffer because of my stupidity. Please help"

Brahma said with a smile. "Vishnu, stop toying with Indra, he has learnt his lesson. Now we need to find a way to restore him back in devaloka"

Vishnu smiled and said "O Indra, I cannot help you, the only people who can help you are the asuras and sarpas". Hearing this Indra's head jerked up, all the other devas were dumbfound as everyone knew the asuras were the sworn enemies of Indra and he never did get along well with sarpas.

Vishnu smiles and said "Have you seen the ocean, when I went down there to retreive the vedas from Hayagreea, I was amazed by the amount of secrets the ocean hides in its depths". The gods were puzzled and shook their heads trying to understand the cryptic meaning behind the words of the Lord. Vishnu smiled and said "hmm... amrita"

Agni and Vayu first realised what the Lord was saying. Agni shouted "Amrita.. oh! lord am I hearing this correctly? Amrita.. If you drink Amrita you will always be extrordinarily powerful, your vigor will never disappear, you will never die or age"

Indra immediately asked "Oh Lord, how do we get Amrita from the ocean, and why do we need the help of asura's and sarpa's? If we take their help don't we have to give them something in return?"

Vishnu said "It is not very easy Indra, Amrita needs to be churned from the Ocean, for that you need a churner. Go and request mount mandara. Then you would need a rope to churn the ocean, ask Vasuki to be your rope. He might be willing to help you if you promise him some nectar. and about your other concern do not worry I will take care of it. I cannot reverse the effect of Dhurvasa's curse but I can slow it, Indra ensure you get Amruta in your hand before you loose all your energy".

Hearing this Indra understood why they need the help of Asura. As lifting mount Mandara in normal conditions was impoery difficult, in their weakend conditions it would impossible. Hearing the final words of Vishnu, the devas bowed their heads to the great lord, they could feel energy seepin back into their body. When they were about to leave Lord Vishnu called Indra and said "Indra, when you start churning the ocean, hold vasuki's tail". Indra wondered about this cryptic remark and stored it in his head and turned back towards devaloka.

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