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Decoding The Samudra Manthan

In my last post, I shared a story with all of you - the Samudra Manthan. Now that you’ve had some time to digest that beautiful, epic tale, I want to share with you the symbolism behind that story & how it applies to our lives.

The Samudra Manthan, or “The Churning of the Ocean of Milk,” is truly a reflection of our own struggle & can teach us so much.

Sage Durvasa is you, the reader. We all feel that urge to curse the heavens at times - whether we are religious/spiritual or not. The devas (gods) represent your higher self, which is connected to the divine. The asuras (demons) represent your ego.

In the Churning of the Ocean of Milk, the ocean represents our consciousness. When the ocean is churned by the devas & asuras, this represents our consciousness being churned by our higher self & our lower self. Expanding further, this represents the struggle between consciousness & ego, good & bad, light & dark, etc. Our higher self & lower self are working together to churn our consciousness, but for their own interest. The interest of the higher self is balance, optimal health/well being, & the greater good. The interest of our ego is indulgent & selfish.

When the devas & asuras churned the ocean of milk, halahala arose from the ocean. The halahala is poison & represents the negativity that rises to the surface of your consciousness as you begin a spiritual practice. It’s natural to feel this way when we start to stir up our consciousness. As the higher self & lower self struggle to churn our consciousness, we experience pain & suffering, evil/harmful thoughts, negative emotions such as anger, pride, doubt, delusion or despair. This poison can potentially destabilize a person & pull them away from the path of liberation & optimal health.

Lord Shiva consumed the halahala that rose from the ocean. This represents our higher self destroying the negativity that is meant to poison us & throw us off of our higher consciousness & purpose.

Lord Dhanvantari carrying the sacred nectar arises from the ocean. This represents the divine healer in all of us bringing forth that which will strengthen our higher self. The devas received this nectar. That represents our higher self filling up with spiritual power, liberation, & optimal health. There is wholeness & eternal bliss as our consciousness expands beyond our physical body & mind.

To make this simple, this story represents our path to our higher consciousness. We struggle against our ego, there are challenges, road blocks, mental anguish - you name it. However, we must push beyond the ego, beyond the poison that clouds us & binds us to our lower self & keeps us from our higher consciousness & optimal health.

Every detail of this story is a symbol. Let me know if you have any insights into what the other symbols of this story might represent!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little dive into the epic tales of Ayurveda. Stay tuned for more Ayurvedic content!

Be well, sweet beings.



**Image Details: "Carved narrative lintels were installed above the doorways of Khmer temples, marking the transition to a sacred space. Illustrated on this lintel is the Churning of the Sea of Milk, an essential Hindu creation story in which gods and demons unite to release the elixir of immortality.

The sculpture features a reduced cast of characters intricately carved in a dynamic regional style. In the centre is Mount Mandara transformed into a post supported on the back of the cosmic turtle Kurma, an avatar of Vishnu. Around the shaft is the multi-headed naga serpent Vasuki whose body is twisted to stir the sea. Seated on a lotus blossom above is the great four-faced god Brahma. Featured at either end are nagas emerging from the mouths of makaras, protective composite creatures with elephant-like trunks, bulging eyes and fearsome teeth."

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

This piece dates back to the 11th century.


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