Deities & Mythology

Kurma (Tortoise) Avatar of Lord Vishnu & Saturn

Kurma (Tortoise) Avatar of Lord Vishnu & Saturn

Lord Vishnu is believed to be the creator of all forms of life. The Kurma Avatar is known to be the second avatar of Lord Vishnu. The word Kurma means Tortoise – symbol of perseverance.

Why did Lord Vishnu incarnate as Kurma (Tortoise) ?

The rivalry between Devas and Asuras was getting worse! Sage Durvasa presented a garland to the Deva king Indra. But Indra disrespected him and put the garland on his elephant Airavarta. When the sage noticed this he cursed Indra! This curse hurt the Devas camp and they grew weaker and weaker!

When Indra went to Brahma for help, he advised him to pray to Lord Vishnu!

Lord Vishnu provided a solution to Indra! He asked him to churn the ocean for the Nectar of Immortality (Amrit) – and said thus “You need to drink the Amrit that is the only way for you to become strong again and survive the curse of sage Durvasa and fight against the Asuras”.

Indra was puzzled as to how he is going to get this mighty task accomplished! Lord Vishnu asks Indra to seek the help of the Asuras for this and promise them the Amrit in return for their favor!

Lord Indra followed Lord Vishnu’s advice and convinced the Asuras!

The churning began by using the Mandara mountain as the churning rod and the snake vasuki as the rope! Both the Deva and Asura teams were on the job to gain Amrit by churning the ocean! But unfortunately the Mandara mountain began to sink! Lord Vishnu incarnated as Kurma Avatar and provided support for the Mandara mountain by acting as the base!

The Kurma Avatar of Lord Vishnu is associated with the planet Saturn!

What is the significance ?

Mount Mandara was unstable and hence the Kurma avatar signifies stability which is an important aspect of Saturn! Being stable despite temporary setbacks is a Saturnian quality!

Most of the avatars of Lord Vishnu involves fighting against evil! But in HIS kurma avatar his main purpose was to provide support and help! Again this is another quality that Saturn is trying to teach us! Being in service! Serving the less fortunate is one of the best remedies for Saturn!

When in danger the Tortoise withdraws itself into its shell! This is nothing but the concept of meditation! When we have to face problems in the outer world we can gain the much required strength by the connection with our own inner self! Meditation is a way to withdraw from the outer world and find peace and strength from our inner being! Hence meditation and the ability to withdraw from our senses is yet another great remedy for Saturn! In fact Saturn wants us to depend on our own inner strength and not rely on happiness and joy just from the outer world!

Due to their long lifespan, slow movement, sturdiness, and wrinkled appearance, they are an emblem of longevity and stability in many cultures around the world! In astrology Saturn is the significator of Longevity! Saturn is also a slow moving planet and hence associated with delays of all sorts! We all know about the story of Tortoise and Rabbit – “Slow and steady wins the race” – a very important teaching of Saturn! There are no shortcuts for success under the influence of Saturn! But hard work, patience and perseverance are ALWAYS rewarded!

The tortoise makes his home wherever he decides to stop and rest.

Tortoise is content and at peace on his journeys. This quality of dispassion is very much connected to Saturn! We face the harsh lessons of Saturn only until we learn to be dispassionate and turn inward! Being comfortable and feeling at home wherever you are is something we learn from Saturn!

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Archana Patchirajan

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