SHIVA – The Source of Life Skills : Mohini
After a day Vasuki recovered its mettle and the churning was restarted. After several days of toiling again, rare object started emerging from the milky ocean. The first such object was a beautiful celestial maiden, Lakshmi, whom Lord Vishnu took for his wife. That was followed by Airawatha whom Indra took for his vehicle. He also owned Kamadhenu, the holy cow that provided anything instantly that was asked of. Lord Shiva accepted the serpent ‘Karkotaka’ and adorned it on his chest as a garland. Lord Dhanwantari emerged from the ocean with ambrosia called the Ayurveda. Finally there emerged a vessel that contained the nectar i.e. amrit.
The Asuras snatched it and ran away before the Devas could reach to it. They reached Patal Lok, the nether-world with the vessels containing the nectar. The Devas were in panic. It was mainly for their recovery from old age that the ocean was churned with tedious efforts and all those efforts went into vane now. They pondered. Finally Lord Vishnu came out with a plan which was acceptable to everyone.
Accordingly, Vishnu transformed himself into the most fascinating damsel named ‘Mohini’ and singing and dancing she reached the nether world. The Asuras were about to open the lid of amrit container when they saw the wonderful lady. They became breathless and spell-bound in the infatuating figure of Mohini. All the Asuras wanted to marry her and they started quarrelling with each other in their mission. Finally Mohini herself submitted a proposal. She said: “I shall serve the nectar to all of you. Please come and lineup. While I serve, all of you must close your eyes. After I serve the nectar, I shall address you and then you can open your eyes. I shall be the wife that Asura who would open his eyes the last.”
The Asuras, who had never known discipline hitherto, obeyed her in letter and spirit and they sat lined up in strict discipline closing their eyes.
Time flew by. Nobody received the nectar on his open palms nor was any sound of Mohini heard. One Asura chief opened his eyes impatiently and there was no trace of the lady. He shouted up and all of them, one after the other, opened their eyes. They knew that they were deceived.
Mohini reached the heaven with the vessel containing the nectar. As she was dividing and serving it, the Sun God and the Moon God were kept in guard at the entrance, for no Asura penetrates to the secret place.
Two Asuras, Rahu and Ketu, took the guise of the Devas and entered the hall. Mohini served nectar into their palms which they swallowed. As they opened their mouth to swallow the nectar, the guards, the Sun and the Moon observed their canine teeth and identified that they were Asuras. The Sun and the Moon alarmed and alerted Lord Vishnu who throwing his disc separated their heads from their torso. The portion below their neck fell dead. The other portion having consumed the nectar kept alive.
To take vengeance on the Sun and the Moon, Rahu and Ketu came forward and swallowed them. But since their body was separated with Vishnu’s disc the Sun and the Moon were released as they reached the cut off part of the neck. The swallowing of the Sun and the Moon by Rahu and Ketu is called the Solar and Lunar eclipses respectively.
KK Shanmukhan ( To be concluded )