The Vishnu Purana

Being thus instructed by the god of gods, the divinities entered into alliance with the demons; and they jointly understood acquirement of the beverage of immortality. They collected various kinds of medicinal herbs, and cast them into the sea of milk, the waters of which were radiant as the thin and shining clouds of autumn. Then they took the mountain Mandara for the staff, the serpent Vasuki for the cord, and commenced to churn the ocean for ambrosia. The assembled gods were stationed by Krsna at the tail of the serpent; the Daityas and Danavas [two classes of demons], at its head and neck, Scorched by the flames and emitted from his inflamed hood, the demons were shorn of their glory; whilst the clouds, driven towards his tail by the breath of his mouth, refreshed the gods with revivifying showers. — from the Vishnu Purana, I, 143-147 (trans. H.H. Wilson)

The Vishnu Purana is considered one of the most important of the 18 religious Hindu texts known as the Mahapuranas. Presented as a dialogue between a teacher and his student, the Vishnu Purana broaches important topics of Hindu mythology, including the above passage in which life is churned from the ocean by gods and demons as part of a Hindu creation story. According to other texts, the Vishnu Purana originally ran to 23,000 verses; however, in extant copies, there are only 7000 verses. Historians and philologists set the date of work’s composition between the first and fourth century B.C.

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