Myth of the Kumbh Mela

The story of the Maha Kumbh Mela comes from the Vedic scripture called Shrimad Bhagavatam. This ancient tale has many inner meanings that are understood by the wise men of India. These stories are sometimes told in song and acted out in dance dramas where children play the many parts. It began when the Devas (Angels) and the Asuras (Demons) decided to cooperate and churn the primal ocean. They were seeking the various secrets that lay hidden within it’s depths, including the nectar of immortality.

Churning the Ocean of Milk

The gods and demons, working together, churned the primal ocean for the various secrets that lay hidden within it’s depths.

The Gifts from the Ocean

All kinds of herbs were cast into the ocean and fourteen Ratnas (gems or treasures) were produced from it.

The Gods take the Nectar

Fierce fighting ensued between the Devas and the Asuras. To protect it from the Asuras, Garuda flew away from the battlefield.

12 Days of the Gods Equal 12 Years

For twelve days and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the gods and demons fought in the sky for possession of the Amrita.

Offering the Nectar to the Ganges

Garuda stopped at these four holy places. Hardwar, Prayag, Nasik and Ujjain before he finally arrived into the safety of heaven.

The Myth of the Kumbh

The story behind the myth of the Maha Kumbh Mela comes from the Vedic scripture called Srimad Bhagavata. It began when the Devas (Angels) and the Asuras (Demons) decided to cooperate. They formed this alliance to jointly churn the primal ocean for the various secrets that lay hidden within it’s depths, including the nectar of immortality.

They planned to share all the gifts, with each group receiving a gift in turn. However, Vishnu told the Devas that he would arrange for them alone to obtain the nectar. 

The medieval Hindu theology extends this legend to state that while the Devas were carrying the amṛta (nectar of Immortality) away from the Asuras, some drops of the nectar fell at four different places on the Earth: Haridwar, Prayaga (Prayagraj),[3]. Trimbak (Nashik) and Ujjain.[4]

ln another version: According to astrologers, the ‘Kumbh Fair’ takes place when the planet Jupiter enters Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries. According to mythology , ‘Devas’ (angels) and ‘Asuras’ (demons) churned the ocean to obtain Nectar and when the coveted ‘Kumbha’ of Nectar (Amrita) which gave immortality was obtained, one of the ‘Devas’ (Garuda) whisked away the ‘Kumbha’ away from the ‘Asuras’ and evading the ‘Asuras’ only, stopped at these four holy places. Hardwar, Prayag, Nasik and Ujjain before he finally arrived into the safety of heaven.

The Churning of the Ocean

The samudra manthana (Sanskrit: समुद्रमन्थन, lit. churning of the ocean) is one of the best-known episodes in the Hindu philosophy narrated in the Bhagavata Purana, in the Mahabharata and in the Vishnu Purana.

The samudra manthana explains the origin of amrita, the nectar of immortality.

 A few drops of Nectar are supposed to have spilled over on the water at these four places and sages, saints and piligrims started periodically to flock to each of these ‘Tirthas’ to celebrate the divine event.

If you want to see the movie version, think Bollywood now. (about 42 min) Shiv Mahapuran Episode 7, The Churning of the Sea. (see below or use this youtube link)

Meaning Behind the Myth

In hindu mythology there is a story where gods and demons work together to churn the ocean. normally they always fight and never cooperate with each other. but this was a different case. the reward was too big to forget their animosity temporarily


They were churning the ocean in hope of getting soma (divine nectar which will make them immortal) and other precious treasures and wealth from the ocean. moreover the task was so gigantic, that they needed each other support to accomplish it. so they had to agree to work together.

While they were churning the ocean, first of all a very deadly poison came out from it. which lord shiva drank. after the poison many things came out from the ocean like lakshmi (goddess of prosperity and beauty), goddess of wine, moon, rambha the nymph , white horse, kaustubha a jewel, parijata the celestial tree, surabhi the cow of plenty, airavata a white elephant, dhanus a mighty bow, sankha a conch shell came.

But since they were churning the ocean for soma to become immortal… they kept on churning the ocean and in the end divine nectar came out and as per the legend who ever drinks this nectar will become immortal.

Bas relief ‘Churning of the ocean of milk’ – Angkor Wat. Cambodia

Although this story looks like a myth but this is the story of every meditator or seeker on the path of truth. when you start meditation then the content from our unconscious mind starts surfacing to the conscious mind. as a meditator you have to witness many such unconscious desires and thoughts which were buried deep with in your unconscious mind.

These desires could be of fame, sex, power, money, vehicle or being immortal… (these are the same things which are mentioned in the above stories). these desires have to be witnessed and one should keep on practicing meditation. after your meditation goes deep, you might get some occult powers or become famous or become powerful… as a seeker you should not stop here and start using these powers. ignore the occult powers and keep on witnessing the mind. keep on following your spiritual path.

As your witnessing becomes deep and mature then one day you will get the samadhi experience that is mentioned in the above story as divine nectar (soma). soul is always immortal. samadhi is a state of self realization. you come to realize your true nature.

The moral of story is that you have to have to dig deep within you to find your true nature. be a passive watcher of whatsoever comes from your mind. you don’t need to indulge in these desires but just be a passive watcher of these desires and transform these desires into highest form of energy e.g. sex into love, hate into compassion etc. the real thing is to achieve your buddhahood.

Your mind is a big ocean of memories and experiences. you have to churn your mind with meditation or devotion.


Thanks to the Spiritual Indian website for this information. click here

Ocean of Milk – Kshir Sagar

In Hindu cosmology, the Ocean of Milk (kṣīroda, kṣīrābdhi, Kṣīra Sāgara, or Pārkaḍal (Tamil)) is the fifth from the center of the seven oceans. It surrounds the continent known as Krauncha.[1] According to Hindu mythology, the devas and asuras worked together for a millennium to churn the ocean and release Amrita the nectar of immortal life.[2] It is spoken of in the Samudra manthana chapter of the Puranas, a body of ancient Hindu legends. It is called as Thirupaarkadal in Tamil and is the place where Vishnu reclines over Shesha Naga along with his consort Lakshmi.[3]

From Wikipedia click here

Vishnu and Lakshmi on Shesha Nāga, c. 1870. click here


Hindu history also contains a story about the churning of the Cosmic Ocean in order to obtain Amrita – the nectar of immortal life. At the suggestion of Vishnu the (devas) and (asuras) churn the primeval ocean in order to obtain Amrita which will guarantee them immortality.

To churn the ocean they used the Serpent, Vasuki, for their churning-string. For a churning pole they use Mount Mandara placed on the back of a Great Tortoise – the Kurma Avatar of Vishnu. As the gods and demons churned the sea, a terrible poison issued out of its depths which enveloped the universe.

The devas and asuras approach Shiva who took the poison into his throat and swallowed it. Shocked by his act, Goddess Parvati strangled his neck and hence managed to stop it in his neck and prevent it from spreading. However, the poison was so potent that it changed the colour of his neck to blue, thereby earning him the name of Neelakanta (blue-throated one).[4]

When the Amrita finally emerged along with several other treasures the devas and asuras fought over it. However Vishnu in the form of Mohini the enchantress manages to lure the asuras into handing over the Amrita to her, which she then distributes to the devas.

Svarbhanu, an asura, disguises himself as a deva and tries to drink some Amrita himself. Surya (the sun-god) and Chandra (the moon-god) alert Vishnu to this deception. Vishnu then decapitates Svarbhanu just as he is about to swallow the nectar, leaving his head and beheaded part of body immortal.

Later the head part is known as Rahu and the beheaded part is known as Ketu. According to Bhagavata, outcome of the churning of Ksheerasagara is Halahalam (terribly destructive poison), Amrita (nectar) with Dhanvantari (physician of Gods), Lakshmi (Goddess of Riches), Jyestha (Goddess of Poverty), Chandra (the Moon), a white elephant named Airavata, a horse named Uchchaisrava, Kalpavriksha (the tree that yields whatever is desired).

The Churning of the Cosmic Ocean (the Milky Way) is told in several ancient texts, notably in the Valmiki’s Ramayana Canto 45 [5] and in the Mahabharata.[6]


Some relationships between the Milk Ocean and Goloka, the planet of Krishna may be found. Krishna is the same as Vishnu, who lives in a white castle on the Ocean of Milk and on other hand, Krishna is the same as Vishnu, but He lives on Goloka, a planet of cows (Sanskrit: “Go” – cow, “Loka” – world).

Other milky oceans are the yoghurt ocean, and the ghee ocean. These oceans are representative of the meaning that Absolute Truth is also sweet and wonderful – it suggests that humans not only live on Earth with a salt water ocean only, but also that there are other oceans like the sweet water ocean among these 7 oceans that humans may aspire to live in.

The material world is compared to the ocean of fault, especially in Kali-Yuga, so a way to go out of this matter is to enter the ocean of bliss – in the eternal world of Vaikuntha. The supreme planet in that ocean of Truth is Goloka, though only a few persons out of thousands and thousands may come to the conclusion of Absolute Truth and may subsequently live on this planet of cows, where the Milk Ocean exists.


Thanks to the Wikipedia website for this information. click here

The Legend

The medieval Hindu theology extends this legend to state that while the Devas were carrying the amṛta away from the Asuras, some drops of the nectar fell at four different places on the Earth: Haridwar, Prayaga (Prayagraj),[3]. Trimbak (Nashik) and Ujjain.[4] According to the legend, these places acquired a certain mystical power and spiritual value. A Kumbh Mela is celebrated at these four places every twelve years for this reason. People believe that after bathing there during the Kumbha mela, one can attain moksha.

Indra, the King of Svarga, while riding on the elephant Airavata, came across Sage Durvasa who offered him a special garland given to him by Shiva. Indra accepted the gift and placed it on the trunk of the elephant as a test to prove that he was not an egoistic deva. The elephant, knowing that Indra had no control over his own ego, threw the garland on the ground.

This enraged the sage as the garland was a dwelling of Sri (fortune) and was to be treated as a prasada or religious offering. Durvasa cursed Indra and all devas to be bereft of all strength, energy, and fortune.[1]

In battles following the incident, the Devas were defeated and the Asuras, led by Bali, gained control over the universe. The Devas sought Vishnu‘s help, who advised them to treat the Asuras in a diplomatic manner. The Devas formed an alliance with the Asuras to jointly churn the ocean for the nectar of immortality and to share it among themselves. However, Vishnu told the Devas that he would arrange for them alone to obtain the nectar.

The churning of the Ocean of Milk was an elaborate process: Mount Mandara was used as the churning rod, and Vasuki, a nāgarāja who abides on Shiva’s neck, became the churning rope. The Asuras demanded to hold the head of the snake, while the Devas, taking advice from Vishnu, agreed to hold its tail. As a result, the Asuras were poisoned by fumes emitted by Vasuki.

Despite this, the Devas and the Asuras pulled back and forth on the snake’s body alternately, causing the mountain to rotate, which in turn churned the ocean. When the mountain was placed on the ocean, it began to sink. Vishnu, in the form of the Kurma turtle, came to their rescue and supported the mountain on his shell.

The Samudra Manthana process released a number of things from the Ocean of Milk. One was the lethal poison known as Halahala, which in some versions of the story, escaped from the mouth of the serpent king as the demons and gods churned. This terrified the gods and demons because the poison was so powerful that it could destroy all of creation.

Then the gods approached Shiva for protection. Shiva consumed the poison to protect the three worlds but it burned the throat of shiva. As a result, his throat turned blue and was hence called Neelakantha (the blue-throated one; “neela” = “blue”, “kantha” = “throat” in Sanskrit).


All kinds of herbs were cast into the ocean and fourteen Ratnas (gems or treasures) were produced from it and were divided between the Asuras and the Devas. Though usually the Ratnas are enumerated as 14, the list in the scriptures ranges from 9 to 14 Ratnas. Most lists include:[2]

According to the quality of the treasures produced, they were accepted by Shiva ( because of consuming the poison), Vishnu, Maha rishi’s (for the accepting kamadevi), or Surabhi, which was given by Vishnu, the Devas and the Asuras. There were three categories of Goddesses which emerged from the ocean;

  • Lakshmi: the Devi of Fortune and Wealth, who accepted Vishnu as Her eternal consort.
  • Apsaras: various divine nymphs like Rambha, Menaka, Punjisthala etc., who chose the Gandharvas as their companions.
  • Varuni: taken – somewhat reluctantly (she appeared dishevelled and argumentative) – accepted the Asuras.

Likewise, threetypes of supernatural animals appeared:

  • Kamadhenu or Surabhi (Sanskrit: kāmadhuk): the wish-granting cow, taken by Brahma and given to the sages so that the ghee from her milk could be used for Yajna and similar rituals.
  • Airavata and several other elephants, taken by Indra.
  • Uchhaishravas: the divine seven-headed horse, given to Bali.

Three valuables were also produced:

  • Kaustubha: the most valuable ratnam (divine jewel) in the world, worn by Vishnu.
  • Parijat: the divine flowering tree with blossoms that never fade or wilt, taken to Indraloka by the Devas.
  • Sharanga: a powerful bow, symbolic of the Asuras’ belligerence.

Additionally produced were;

  • Chandra: the moon which adorned Shiva’s head.
  • Dhanvantari: the Vaidya of the Devas’ with Amrita, the nectar of immortality. (At times, considered as two different Ratna)
  • Halahala: the poison swallowed by Shiva.

The Amṛta

Finally, Dhanvantari, the heavenly physician, emerged with a pot containing the amṛta, the heavenly nectar of immortality.

Fierce fighting ensued between the Devas and the Asuras for it. To protect it from the Asuras, Garuda took the pot and flew away from the battlefield.

The Devas appealed to Vishnu, who took the form of Mohini and, as a beautiful and enchanting damsel, distracted the Asuras; then, she took the amṛta and distributed it among the Devas, who drank it.

An asura named Rahuketu disguised himself as a deva and drank some nectar. Due to their luminous nature, the sun deva Surya and the moon deva Chandra noticed the switching of sides.

They informed Mohini who, before the nectar could pass the asura’s throat, cut off his head with her discus, the Sudarshana Chakra.

However, some of the nectar had managed to get down his throat and he did not die: from that day, his head was called Rahu and his body Ketu, which both later became planets. The story ends with the rejuvenated devas defeating the asuras.

Comparative mythology

This myth has been analyzed comparatively by Georges Dumézil, who connected it to various Indo-European myths and even the European medieval legend of the Holy Grail, reconstructing an original myth (the “ambrosia cycle”, or “cycle of the mead“) about a trickster deity who steals the drink of immortality for mankind but fails in freeing humans from death.

Dumézil later abandoned his theory, but the core of the idea was taken up by Jarich Oosten, who posits similarities with the Hymiskviða.

In this Old Norse poem, a sacred mead is prepared by cooperating gods and giants (who might respectively correspond to Devas and Asuras), with the gods ultimately winning the drink; the serpent Jörmungandr takes the place of Vasuki, although its role in the story is different.[7]

Another Version of the myth

History: It is described that while Durvasa Muni was passing on the road, he saw Indra on the back of his elephant and was pleased to offer Indra a garland from his own neck. Indra, however, being too puffed up, took the garland, and without respect for Durvasa Muni, he placed it on the trunk of his carrier elephant. The elephant, being an animal, could not understand the value of the garland, and thus the elephant threw the garland between its legs and smashed it. Seeing this insulting behavior, Durvasa Muni immediately cursed Indra to be poverty-stricken, bereft of all material opulence. Thus the demigods, afflicted on one side by the fighting demons and on the other by the curse of Durvasa Muni, lost all the material opulence’s in the three worlds.

Lord Indra, Varuna and the other demigods, seeing their lives in such a state, consulted among themselves, but they could not find any solution. Then all the demigods assembled and went together to the peak of Sumeru Mountain. There, in the assembly of Lord Brahma, they fell down to offer Lord Brahma their obeisances, and then they informed him of all the incidents that had taken place.

Upon seeing that the demigods were bereft of all influence and strength and that the three worlds were consequently devoid of auspiciousness, and upon seeing that the demigods were in an awkward position whereas all the demons were flourishing, Lord Brahma, who is above all the demigods and who is most powerful, concentrated his mind on the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus being encouraged, he became bright-faced and spoke to the demigods as follows.

Svarbhanu, an asura, disguises himself as a deva and tries to drink some Amrita himself. Surya (the sun-god) and Chandra (the moon-god) alert Vishnu to this deception. Vishnu then decapitates Svarbhanu just as he is ab

Lord Brahma said: I, Lord Siva, all of you demigods, the demons, the living entities born of perspiration, the living beings born of eggs, the trees and plants sprouting from the earth, and the living entities born from embryos—all come from the Supreme Lord, from His incarnation of rajo-guna [Lord Brahma, the guna-avatara] and from the great sages [rsis] who are part of me. Let us therefore go to the Supreme Lord and take shelter of His lotus feet.

For the Supreme Personality of Godhead there is no one to be killed, no one to be protected, no one to be neglected and no one to be worshiped. Nonetheless, for the sake of creation, maintenance and annihilation according to time, He accepts different forms as incarnations either in the mode of goodness, the mode of passion or the mode of ignorance.

After Lord Brahma finished speaking to the demigods, he took them with him to the abode of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, which is beyond this material world. The Lord’s abode is on an island called Svetadvipa, which is situated in the ocean of milk.

The Supreme Personality of Godhead directly and indirectly knows how everything, including the living force, mind and intelligence, is working under His control. He is the illuminator of everything and has no ignorance. He does not have a material body subject to the reactions of previous activities, and He is free from the ignorance of partiality and materialistic education. I therefore take shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord, who is eternal, all-pervading and as great as the sky and who appears with six opulence’s in three yugas [Satya, Tretä and Dväpara].

When offered prayers by Lord Siva and Lord Brahms, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Visu was pleased. Thus He gave appropriate instructions to all the demigods. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is known as Ajita, unconquerable, advised the demigods to make a peace proposal to the demons, so that after formulating a truce, the demigods and demons could churn the ocean of milk. The rope would be the biggest serpent, known as Vasuki, and the churning rod would be Mandara Mountain.

Poison would also be produced from the churning, but it would be taken by Lord Siva, and so there would be no need to fear it. Many other attractive things would be generated by the churning, but the Lord warned the demigods not to be captivated by such things. Nor should the demigods be angry if there were some disturbances. After advising the demigods in this way, the Lord disappeared from the scene.

One of the item come from the churning of ocean of milk  was nectar which will give strength to demigods. For twelve days and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the gods and demons fought in the sky for possession of this pot of Amrita.

From this nectar some drops spills at Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik while they were fighting for nectar . So on earth we celebrate this festival to get the pious credits and meet the purpose of life that is going to back to godhead  our eternal home where our father is waiting for us. This is opportunity we get after associating with saints or holy man who follow scriptures. In fact, Kumbh mela provides us this great opportunity to purify our soul by bathing in holy river and serving saints.

Thanks to the KumbhMela2013website for this information. click here

Thanks to the Maha Kumbh Festival for this information. click here

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