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

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Thu Aug 11 18:15:04 CDT 2016

On Aug 11, 2016 4:06 PM, "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
> famous and is told in many ancient works like the Mahabharata (Adi
> 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
> 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
> 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
> for the safety of the creation. The divine Maheswara held it in his
> and it is said that from that time he is called Nilakantha
> 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
> manuscripts, but is completely absent from the Northern (that includes the
> Eastern, Western and Northern) manuscripts.

The famous Nilkanth temple in the Himalayan region has this story:



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
> 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
> this could be, appeared the goddess Váruní (the deity of wine), her eyes
> rolling with intoxication. Next, from the whirlpool of the deep, sprang
> celestial Párijáta tree, the delight of the nymphs of heaven, perfuming
> world with its blossoms. The troop of Ápsarasas, the nymphs of heaven,
> 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
> 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