Kurma is the second avatar of Sri Maha Vishnu. Half Man, Half Tortoise avatar of Vishnu. To understand the relevance of Kurma avatar we need to study the backdrop to this. The story introduces to us the Devas and the Rakshasas. The reincarnation of Kurma Avatar is because of three. Devas, Rakshasas and Goddess Lakshmi.
Yes, Goddess Lakshmi.
Goddess Lakshmi is a sign of wealth and purity. She is prayed by everyone. Goddess Lakshmi is impartial and used to bless anyone irrespective of their identity.
Characteristics of Devas and Rakshasas:
Devas were liberal and rich. They believed in worshipping many gods. Like Rudra, Vishnu & Brahma. Devas as an institution were evolved, but they had a fear and insecurity of losing it all. Rakshasas were bold, brilliant but uneducated and barbaric. They were rigid. This was a bigger problem for their survival. Rakshasas were poor and poverty-ridden.
With nothing to do, Rakshasas always tried to fight, destroy and snatch the wealth from Devas. Unlike Devas, Rakshasas believed in the concept of Ekam – One God. Rakshasas were believed to be living in the underground, which is called as Patala.
We, humans, are above the Rakshasas but below the Devas. Devas are highly knowledgeable but insecure, we humans can go beyond the Devas. That’s possible if we follow the path of spiritual learning with the merging of Knowledge and Emotions.
Story of Goddess Lakshmi
Goddess Lakshmi is known for bringing wealth to the person. She doesn’t stay in a place where there are fear and insecurity Lakshmi automatically moves from there. Unfortunately, Devas though evolved, had a fear of losing things. Indra was a rich person but filled with arrogance. One day, his arrogant behaviour angered Rishi Durvasa. Rishi cursed him poverty and destruction of wealth.
Goddess Lakshmi leaves the Indra. There is a competition between Devas and Danavas to find Lakshmi. Indra gets worried that Lakshmi might go to Rakshasa and that’ll make them rich. He goes to Brahma & Vishnu and seeks for help in bringing Lakshmi back to Devas side.
Alakshmi or Daridra Lakshmi or Moo Devi or Jaistha Devi – Elder sister of Lakshmi
We will now talk about Alakshmi or Daridra Lakshmi or Moo Devi or Jaistha Devi. Daridra Lakshmi is the opposite of Lakshmi. Elder sister follows Lakshmi and signifies fights and downfall in that home. Our elders would frequently tell us to clean cobwebs as soon as they were made. It’s a belief that entry of Daridra Laskmi will mean that entire wealth is destroyed and the signs of her arrival are the cobwebs in the corners of the house.
To bring back Lakshmi, for the first time both Devathas and Rakshas come together. Both of them go to Sri Maha Vishnu and asks for a solution.
Vishnu says we need to churn the Kshirsagar (Ocean of Milk) if we are to bring Lakshmi back to this world. Both the Devas and Asuras joined hands and planned for it. Manthara parvath was used as a pole and Adhishesha, the serpent-god was used as rope. But the question was how will the Mountain sit in the ocean? Once brought into the Ocean of Milk, the Mountain would get drowned.
That was the moment. Sri Maha Vishnu reincarnated as Kurma (tortoise) and the mountain was placed on the tortoise. Skimming of Ocean of Milk begins and several wealthy objects come out of the ocean. As they come out, Devas take all of them. Rakshasas are concerned about Lakshmi so they don’t touch anything.
The objects include Kamadhenu, Kalpatharu, White Elephant or Airavath etc. After a while comes alakshmi, the poisonous and inauspicious sister of Lakshmi. Devathas and Rakshasas are uncomfortable and can’t take the smell of alakshmi. They pray to Lord Shiva, the renouncer and the destroyer. Lord Shiva accepts their prayers and drinks the poisonous alakshmi.
Coming Back of Lakshmi to her new home:
Finally, after continuous churning of the ocean of milk, Goddess Lakshmi comes out. She has to decide where to go. Both Devas and Rakshasas pray for Lakshmi. Lakshmi quietly goes to the tortoise and then to Vaikuntam. Goddesses Lakshmi thus becomes the wife of Sri Maha Vishnu. She does this because she cannot choose someone behind her and it’s Vishnu who got her out and saved from pain. So as gratitude, she goes to Sri Maha Vishnu. Thus becoming, Sri Maha Lakshmi.
Will the disappointed Devas and Asuras stop Samudra Manthan now?
No, they don’t. The whole drama of Samudra Manthan was to bring back wealth to the world. That is why Sri Maha Vishnu decides to take the Kurma Avatar and helps Sri Maha Lakshmi.
The process of Samudra Manthan would be completed only if immortal amrut is obtained from the Ocean of Milk. The process continues, Amrut comes out and the battle for it emerges between Devas and Rakshasas. That story is for some other day.
The reincarnation of Sri Maha Vishnu into Kurma Avatar was to restore wealth in the society. A key component of the human process and human development. This avatar of Sri Maha Vishnu is the reason for the wealth around us. Lakshmi Mata is an impartial person and she keeps moving from one person to another. Remember to work hard and follow your Dharma, Lakshmi will never leave you and if you don’t have her, she will soon find you and serve you!