To each one his own

SamudraManthan was a joint exercise in which both devas and daityas exerted their might under the watchful eye of Vishnu.  It was unique in the sense that the eternal foes had submerged their differences in order to gain the common objective of having amrit, the potion that imbued immortality.
The first result of the churning was halahala, the world’s most potent poison, and Shiva volunteered to deal with it effectively to put the world out of the harm’s way.  Amrit too came out of the churning, though Vishnu through His Mohini guise managed to spend it almost entirely on devas.   Other offerings of the ocean were no less precious.  Out came gracious Lakshmi and before anyone of the gathering could utter a word, she chose Vishnu as her consort.  There were apsaras like Menaka and Rambha as well, physically enchanting and talented in amatory arts, who said they would like to keep company with Gandhrvas, the divine musicians.  Then appeared a tipsy and dishevelled goddess, Varuni, patron of liquor, and  daityas welcomed her as their very own.  Two other feminine entities, Jyeshtha and Nidra, epitomes of misfortune and sloth, also joined them.  Now the leaders came forth to stake their claim.  Vishnu said He would be happy with the Shankha and Kaustubhmani.  The Conch served as the trumpet for war and Kaustabha jewel made the wearer invincible.  Shiv laid claim to the luminescent Chandra, the moon, to highlight his hair.
When the ocean threw up the divine elephant, Airawat, Indra, the deva king, forthwith took its possession.  Indra’s opponent Bali, the Daitya king, had to be content with a seven-headed horse,  Uchcheshrava.
Even Varun, the god of water and clouds got, as a consolatory prize of sorts, an umbrella.  The tree Parijaat which bore flowers that never withered, was taken away by devas to spread good cheer in the heaven, while the wish-fulfilling cow, Kamdhenu was kept aside for rishi-munis to felicitate performance of yagyas.  Thus the great churning had something or the other for everyone who lent a hand to it.

Ancients Speak
Suman K Sharma

If we look at it dispassionately, the distribution of the spoils of labour involved in the churning was uneven, if not unfair. First, the leaders, from Vishnu down to Varun had had their pick.  Then Vishnu cheated daityas of their share of ambrosia.  If that was not enough, devas and their human- supporters – rishi, munis – got all that was good and positive; while daityas were left with things like misfortune and sloth.
But that is how the Creation seems to work.  Why did the gargantuan dinosaurs have to disappear fromthe planet and a puny little creature like man become the master of all?  Look at the mankind itself.  How come that some societies are much more gifted by nature in resources than others?  How is it that a few men get a disproportionately large share of the community’s wealth while the majority has to live from hand to mouth?  “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need,”that, according to Karl Marx, was the inspiration of  communism, which aspired to attain the objective “from each according to his ability, to each according to his contribution to social product.” But the world saw how this idealfailed in the Soviet Union and how it survives only in name in China.  Equality in distribution of product of labour, it would seem, has remained a mirage for ever.
Do the propensities of individuals contribute largely to their getting a fair deal in life?  Note how poorly the daityas, associated with tamoguna – all that is murky in human nature – got paid off poorly for all their exertions, despite having superior strength and seniority in birth.  A point to ponder.


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