Oceans In Mythology

- June 8, 2020


Since antiquity, oceans have been an integral part of our stories. From the epic tales of Rama and Vishnu to the legends of Saraswati and Hanuman, oceans have played a major part in our Puranas. Here are some such stories and incidents. 

Saraswati deposits Vadavagni into the ocean 

A long time ago, a war was waged between the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas of the world. The destruction resulted in the birth of Vadavagni, an all-consuming fire that lay waste to everything in its way. Troubled by the havoc wreaked on earth, the gods turned to Lord Shiva for help. Shiva decided it would be best to request goddess Saraswati to deposit the Vadavagni in the vast ocean. When he approached Saraswati, the goddess replied she wouldn’t be able to accomplish this in her current form. So Shiva asked her to take the form of a river. Just like Ganga originated from Shiva’s hair, she originated from the Plaksha, the sacred fig tree. She flowed north towards Pushkar and then turned west where she came to be known as Nanda. Then she turned north again and flowed into the ocean and released the fire, saving the earth from turning into ashes. 

Read Amar Chitra Katha’s Saraswati to find out why she was called Nanda. It is available on the ACK Comics app, and on major e-tail platforms like Amazon, Flipkart and others.

The Churning of the Ocean

The timeless tale of the churning of the ocean is very famous. The story goes like this. Lord Indra insults sage Durvasa, an incarnation of Shiva. Durvasa curses him for his folly, causing all the gods to slowly start losing their power. The asuras take advantage of this and attack the gods, who seek refuge in Lord Brahma, who in turn calls upon Vishnu for help. Vishnu asks the gods to make peace with the demons and invite them to extract the nectar of immortality from the ocean. Agreeing to the gods’ proposal, the gods and demons start churning the ocean milk together. They take the assistance from mount Mandara, which acts as a rod, and Vasuki, the king of snakes, who acts as a rope. Slowly, the elixir is obtained, along with a lethal byproduct, an intoxicant that is consumed by Lord Shiva. However, with the nectar now up for grabs, the gods and demons get into a terrible fight, with the demons getting their hands on the nectar through their relatively increased strength.. Unfortunately for the asuras, Vishnu shows up, disguised as Mohini, the most beautiful woman in the three worlds, and tempts them into giving away the amrita. He then serves it to the gods, restoring their power and making them immortal.

Read the entire story in Amar Chitra Katha’s The Churning Of The Ocean. It is available on the ACK Comics app, and on major e-tail platforms like Amazon, Flipkart and others. 

Hanuman Flies Across The Ocean 

In the Ramayana, when Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, the king of Lanka, Rama’s army sets on the mission to find Sita. Hanuman, Angada, and Jambavaan head south until they reach the ocean. The come across the vulture king, Sampati, who tells them that if they are to reach Sita, they will have to leap across the ocean to Lanka. Only Hanuman was capable of covering such distance in a single bound. However, before Hanuman can make the jump, a huge mountain called Mainaka appears and blocks his path, asking him to wait for a while. Hanuman politely refuses and leaps towards Lanka. As he sails across the sky, a horrible sea monster called Surasa surfaces, with her jaws wide open. Surasa was actually a goddess in disguise, sent by the gods to test Hanuman. She tells Hanuman that if he can only pass through her mouth, if he can escape her powerful jaws. Hanuman counters, saying he doesn’t think her jaws will beagle to contain him. Then, Hanuman starts to make himself bigger and bigger. Accordingly, Surasa also keeps stretching her jaws wider and wider. Then, in a flash, before Surasa can react, Hanuman makes himself tiny, and crosses through her widespread jaws in a flash!

Our ACK Junior title ‘Hanuman’s Leap to Lanka’ is the perfect way to retell this story to kids between ages 3 and 6. It is available on the ACK Comics app, and on major e-tail platforms like Amazon, Flipkart and others.

Rama Requests The Ocean For Help 

During the beginning of Yuddha Kand, when Rama and his army begin their journey to Lanka, they find themselves in a fix, because of the lack of access across the ocean to the island kingdom. Rama decides to make a plea to Sagara, the god of the oceans, to help them, and meditates and prays for three days. However, Sagara doesn’t respond. When Rama’s patience reaches its peak, he starts to attack the ocean itself, shooting flaming arrows into it. He then starts to mount his Brahmastra on his bow, prepared to shoot. A terrified Sagara appears before Rama and tells him that water can’t turn solid for them to pass as it is bound by the laws of nature and cannot change for anybody. The ocean god, however, provides an alternate solution. He tells the Ayodhya prince that if Rama’s army were to build a bridge across the ocean with stones that bore Rama’s name, Sagara would ensure the stones would float and he would personally bear the weight of Rama’s entire army, allowing them to cross the ocean. 

If you haven’t read Valmiki’s Ramayana, you can read all six volumes together, either through our ACK Comics app, or via print editions available on major e-tail platforms like Amazon, Flipkart and others.