[Advaita-l] Shiva consuming hAlAhala - an interpolation in samudra manthana

D Gayatri dgayatrinov10 at gmail.com
Thu Aug 11 06:57:40 CDT 2016

Sri Krishnamoorthy gaaru

In the critical edition of the Mahabharata (which IMO, should be taken as
our first level of standard), there is no mention of Vishnu taking the form
of tortoise. It is instead the king of tortoises named akUpAra  who
supports the Mandara mountain.


On 11 August 2016 at 17:03, R Krishnamoorthy <srirudra at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear
> Sri Mahavishnu took Kurma avatara to balance the Manthara mountain says
> the version I had heard in Amrutha manthanam.
> R. Krishnamoorthy
> On 11 Aug 2016 16:06, "D Gayatri via Advaita-l" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-
> vedanta.org> wrote:
>> The samudra manthana (churning of the ocean by devas and asuras) episode
>> is
>> famous and is told in many ancient works like the Mahabharata (Adi
>> parvan),
>> the Vishnu Purana, the Ramayana and the Bhagavata Purana and some other
>> Puranas. One of the incidents that is allegedly a part of this episode is
>> the drinking of hAlAhala poison by Shiva. It is now a days almost taken
>> for
>> granted that in the samudra manthana story, Shiva drinks the hAlAhala
>> poison to save the worlds. However, this incident of Shiva drinking the
>> poison is not present in the critical edition of the Mahabharata and nor
>> is
>> it present in the Vishnu Purana. In this post, I will briefly touch upon
>> the absence of the hAlAhala incident in two important works, the
>> Mahabharata and the Vishnu purana.
>> 1. Mahabharata (Adi parvan)
>> First let us look at a non-critical edition of the Mahabharata, the one
>> translated by K M Ganguly.
>> http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m01/m01019.htm
>> [But with the churning still going on, the poison Kalakuta appeared at
>> last. Engulfing the Earth it suddenly blazed up like a fire attended with
>> fumes. And by the scent of the fearful Kalakuta, the three worlds were
>> stupefied. And then Siva, being solicited by Brahman, swallowed that
>> poison
>> for the safety of the creation. The divine Maheswara held it in his
>> throat,
>> and it is said that from that time he is called Nilakantha
>> (blue-throated).]
>> In the above non-critical edition, Shiva drinks the poison that comes out
>> of the churning of the ocean. However, this is clearly an interpolation
>> because the critical edition of the Mahabharata does not contain these
>> verses.
>> In his preface to the Adi parvan of the Mahabharata, Vishnu Sukthankar
>> states that the hAlAhala incident is mentioned exclusively in most
>> Southern
>> manuscripts, but is completely absent from the Northern (that includes the
>> Eastern, Western and Northern) manuscripts. Hence this is treated as an
>> interpolation and removed from the critical edition of the Mahabharata,
>> prepared by Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI).
>> Here is a brief summary of the episode in the critical edition of the
>> Mahabharata -
>> 1. Mount Mandara is uprooted by the snake Ananta (Adi Sesha).
>> 2. The snake Vaasuki is used for churning the ocean and the mountain rests
>> on King of tortoises akUpAra during churning.
>> 3. Puffs of smoke and fire come out from Vasuki's mouth during churning
>> 4. The devas and asuras and snakes become weak during the churning
>> 5. Narayana grants them strength to continue churning at Brahma's request.
>> 6. Sun, Moon, Sri, Liquor, White Horse, Kaustubha come out of the ocean
>> during churning.
>> 7. Finally Dhanvantari comes with the Amruta.
>> 8. Vishnu bewitches the asuras by taking  female form and gives the Amruta
>> to the gods for drinking. The asura Rahu manages to drink it by taking the
>> form of a deva.
>> 9. A fight occurs between the devas andd asuras and Narayana and Nara help
>> the devas defeat the asuras.
>> In this entire incident Shiva is completely absent and so is hAlAhala.
>> 2. Vishnu Purana
>> In the Vishnu Purana, the poison comes out of the ocean during the
>> churning, but it is not consumed by Shiva. Instead it is taken by the
>> snakes. Shiva is present but he just seizes the moon that comes out during
>> the churning. Here is the VP translation by Wilson -
>> http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/vp/vp044.htm
>> [From the ocean, thus churned by the gods and Dánavas, first uprose the
>> cow
>> Surabhi, the fountain of milk and curds, worshipped by the divinities, and
>> beheld by them and their associates with minds disturbed, and eyes
>> glistening with delight. Then, as the holy Siddhas in the sky wondered
>> what
>> this could be, appeared the goddess Váruní (the deity of wine), her eyes
>> rolling with intoxication. Next, from the whirlpool of the deep, sprang
>> the
>> celestial Párijáta tree, the delight of the nymphs of heaven, perfuming
>> the
>> world with its blossoms. The troop of Ápsarasas, the nymphs of heaven,
>> were
>> then produced, of surprising loveliness, endowed with beauty and with
>> taste. The cool-rayed moon next rose, and was seized by Mahádeva: and then
>> poison was engendered from the sea, of which the snake gods (Nágas) took
>> possession. Dhanwantari, robed in white, and bearing in his hand the cup
>> of
>> Amrita, next came forth: beholding which, the sons of Diti and of Danu, as
>> well as the Munis, were filled with satisfaction and delight. Then, seated
>> on a full-blown lotus, and holding a water-lily in her hand, the goddess
>> Śrí, radiant with beauty, rose from the waves. ]
>> In the Ramayana and Bhagavata Purana and some other Puranas however,
>> hAlAhala comes out of the ocean during churning and is consumed by Shiva.
>> But since this incident is markedly absent from both the Mahabharata and
>> the Vishnu Purana, it can be deemed a later interpolation.
>> Regards
>> Gayatri
>> _______________________________________________
>> Archives: http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/
>> http://blog.gmane.org/gmane.culture.religion.advaita
>> To unsubscribe or change your options:
>> http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/cgi-bin/listinfo/advaita-l
>> For assistance, contact:
>> listmaster at advaita-vedanta.org

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list