Leading from the front – example of Siva and Vishnu

The story of ‘Suras'(gods) and ‘Asuras'(demons)churning the ocean for the sake of ‘Amrit'(a divine drink which is supposed to ensure immortality) is indeed fascinating.
I will not narrate the full story here but will touch upon certain events which throw interesting light on the value system that existed during that time.
As most of us know, the mount ‘Mandara’ was used as the rod(or agitator) while the great mythological snake ‘Vasuki’ was used as the rope to tie the rod(or the agitator) to facilitate churning.
As it turned out,the snake spewed out so much of poison that it started to consume the whole universe. Both Suras and Asuras approached the chief of gods,the Lord Siva and pleaded for help. Instantly Vishnu(the foremost among gods)also appeared on the scene. Seeing the devastation being caused by the poison,He told Siva rather matter-of-factly : “As you are the senior-most among the gods, always leading them from the front,whatever appears first in the process of churning truly belongs to you. So,please accept the poison as your share and mitigate its devastating effect”. On his part Lord Siva didn’t hesitate even for a moment before consuming the poison in its entirety. And sure enough Siva ensured that the poison was frozen at his throat itself and didn’t move further down.
The entire episode speaks volumes about the character and the unwritten moral principles which were operating in those days. The unstated principle seemed to be that “If you are the leader,demonstrate your commitment to the cause of your inferior colleagues through concrete action”.

To continue with the story, the churning continued and all on a sudden the ‘Mandara’ mountain(which was being used as the rod to churn the ocean)fell off and sank to the bottom of the sea. Again,the Suras and the Asuras were in trouble. They approached Vishnu and sought His help. This time around Lord Vishnu himself promptly took the responsibility to salvage the situation. He took the ‘avatar’ of the so called ‘Koorma'(the divine Tortoise),lifted the mountain all the way to the surface of the ocean and helped them to keep churning. Thus there is one more exhibition of the same principle of shouldering responsibility in crunch situations by a leader(this time by Vishnu himself).

On a totally different note,I found one thing a little amusing in this story. As the churning continued for ‘Amrit’,there emerged Varuni(the goddess presiding over spirituous liquor known as ‘SURA’ and the daughter of the god Varuna). She was not accepted by Asuras while the Suras welcomed her. Apparently,the classification of Suras and Asuras is based on this preference for the ‘Sura’ drink / liquor by the gods. Isn’t it funny that all teetotallers like me will fall into the category of Asuras by this yardstick!.

Published in: on September 18, 2009 at 5:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

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