(1) S'rî S'uka said: 'De Sura's invited the king of the snakes, Vâsuki, promising him a share and wound him around the mountain to serve as a churning rope. Thereupon commenced they in great glee with the job of trying for the nectar, o best of the Kurus. (2) Lord Hari took him first by the head and the godly followed His example. (3) The daitya leaders didn't like the arrangement and thought to the mature and outstanding knowledge of their study, their birth and experience: 'None of us will try the tail of the serpent because that is the inferior part'. (4) Seeing how consequently the Daityas kept silent, smiled the Supreme Personality. He gave up the front portion and grasped with the demigods the rear end. (5) Thus settling the positions for where to hold, did they, the sons of Kas'yapa [godly and demoniac], with great zeal churn to get the nectar from the ocean of milk. (6) As they were churning sank of its weight, having no support, that hill down in the water despite of it being captured by the strong, o son of Pându. (7) Heavily disappointed, dried all of the beauty of their faces up as they saw how their efforts by the stronger will of God were overruled. (8) When He saw how by divine intervention the mountain sank, expanded the Infallible Controller whose ways and powers are so inscrutable, Himself into the wondrous body of a giant tortoise, entered He the water and lifted He [Kurma] it up [see also Das'âvatâra-stotra verse 2]. (9) Observing it being lifted cheered up as well Sura as Asura to churn the body that as a big island on top of another one stretched out on His back for a hundred thousand yojanas. (10) The rotating of the mountain moved by the strong arms of the sura and asura leaders, my best, was by the original tortoise who bore it on His back considered an infinitely pleasant scratching. (11) Thereafter, to encourage them and increase their strength and vigor, entered Lord Vishnu the Asuras in the form of their own quality [that of passion], infused He the godly with divinity [the mode of goodness], and assumed He the form of ignorance with the king of the serpents. (12) On top of the big mountain as another mountain grasping Mandara with one hand, exhibited He thousands of hands while from the sky Lord Brahmâ and S'iva headed by Indra offered Him prayers and showered Him with flowers. (13) As well as on top as below, as with themselves, with the mountain and with the rope having entered as the Supreme, was the ocean that with great strength vehemently was churned, seriously agitated by the great rock, and were all the alligators disturbed. (14) The serpent king heavily breathing in all directions, spitted by the thousands of him fire and smoke and thus affected with the heat of his radiation the Asuras headed by Pauloma, Kâleya, Bali and Ilvala who all began to look like sarala trees scorched in a forest fire. (15) Also the godly were affected in their luster by his fiery breath that smoked their dresses, fine garlands, armament and faces; under the direction of the Supreme Lord it then profusely rained while breezes blew clouds of vapor from the waves of the ocean. (16) When the ocean to the best ability of the godly and Asuras was duly churned but no nectar appeared, began the Invincible One Himself to churn. (17) As dark as a cloud, in yellow silks, with lightning earrings on His ears, with His gleaming hair on His head disheveled, with His garland, reddish eyes and victorious arms securing the universe, churned He, after taking the snake, the churning rod for which the mountain was used and assumed He for that purpose a size as big as that of a mountain Himself. (18) After first highly agitating all kinds of fish, sharks, snakes, all sorts of tortoises, whales, water-elephants, crocodiles and timingilas [whale-eating whales], appeared, with all the churning going on, from the ocean a very strong poison called Hâlahala [or Kâlakûtha, see 8.6: 25]. (19) That potent unbearable poison, unstoppable spreading in all directions high and low, scared all the people who together with their leaders found no rest, o my best, so that they, not being protected, sought the shelter of Lord S'iva's lotus feet. (20) When they saw him who for the welfare of the three worlds together with his wife sat on his mountain [Kailâsa], he, the best of the demigods hailed by the saints who in austerity walk the path of liberation in service, offered they him their obeisances.
(21) The leaders of mankind said: 'O Lord of Lords, o Mahâdeva, o soul of each, o love of all, deliver us, who took to your lotusfeet, from this poison burning the three worlds. (22) You alone in the whole universe are the lord and master over bondage and liberation, you are the one we worship as persons seeking the fortune; you are the spiritual master to mitigate all distress. (23) By the modes of matter, by your own potency, do you execute the creation, maintenance and annihilation of this material world, o mighty one, when you manifest yourself, o greatest, as Brahmâ, Vishnu or S'iva. (24) You are the Brahman Supreme, the confidential of the cause and the effect of all the varieties of creation; you with all your potencies manifested are the Supersoul and the Controller of the universe. (25) You are the source of the [spiritual, vedic] sound, the origin of the universe, the Soul, the life breath, the senses and the elements, the modes of nature and the self-realization, the eternal time, the determination and the religiousness of the truth [satya] and truthfulness [rta]; it is unto you that one utters the original syllable consisting of the three letters [A-U-M]. (26) Fire, your mouth, represents the complete of all divine souls; the surface of the globe one does know, o love of all worlds, as your lotus feet; time is the progress of the aggregate of your demigods; the directions are your ears and the controller of the waters [Varuna] is your taste. (27) With the sky as your navel, the air as your breath, the sun globe for your eyes, the water indeed as your semen, the moon as your mind and the higher worlds, o Lord, as your head, is your self the shelter of all living beings high and low [compare 8.5: 33-43]. (28) With the oceans as your belly, the mountains as your bones, the plants, creepers and herbs as your hairs and the mantras as your seven layers [koshas], are, o Vedas in person, all the religions the core of your heart [see also 2.1: 32]. (29) The five options [basic texts] of philosophy [called Tatpurusha, Aghora, Sadyojâta,Vâmadeva, and Îs'âna] are your faces with the thirty-eight important mantras [*] that ascertain the reality of the Supersoul, the reality of you o Lord, celebrated as S'iva in the position of your self-illumination. (30) The waves of irreligion [lust, anger, greed and illusion] constitute but your shadow, the shadow on the basis of which there are so many types of creation; your three eyes are the goodness, the passion and the darkness; your simply glancing over brought about the analytic scriptures of the soul, o Lord full of verses, o god of the vedic literatures and their supplements. (31) None of the directors of the world, o Ruler on the Mountain, not Brahmâ, not Vishnu, nor the king of the Suras [Indra], can fathom your supreme effulgence, the impersonal spirit equal to gods and man, wherein the modes of passion, ignorance and goodness are not found. (32) In this world which, having originated from you, is being destroyed by the sparks of the fire from your eyes at the time of annihilation, have you burned to ashes Tripura [7.10: 53], the sacrifices of desire [see e.g. 4.5], the poison of time [in this story], and many other forms of trouble to the living beings; but these matters do, because you keep this world out of your mind, not serve the praise of you. (33) People who by the self-satisfied spiritual masters within their hearts think of your two lotus feet as moving with Umâ your consort do, later on in their penance, criticize your acts and consider you in the crematorium not always a nice person; they indeed being of such a shameless attitude do not understand your activities. (34) For the reason of that being transcendentally situated above the moving and the nonmoving, are you difficult to understand; and when it is not possible for even Brahmâ and the ones belonging to him to comprehend your reality as-it-is, o great one, how much wouldn't that be true for us? Even though we are but creations to the creation [that is of Brahmâ] do we, to our ability, offer you our prayers. (35) With all things transcendental we cannot see the actual supreme position of you who indeed are there for the happiness of the manifested world, o great controller not known in your activities.'
(36) S'rî S'uka said: 'Seeing their pernicious predicament spoke he, Mahâdeva, the friend of all living beings out of his compassion for the great sorrow to his consort Satî. (37) Lord S'iva said: 'Dear Bhavânî, how pitiable this situation of all the living beings, just see how threatening the present situation is because of all the poison produced from the churning of the ocean. (38) Feeling responsible for all of their lives must I indeed do something for their safety; considered their master is it my duty to protect the ones suffering. (39) Devotees protect with their own life other living beings who time bound, bewildered by the external energy, are of enmity with one another. (40) Doing good to others o gentle one, is the Soul of All, the Lord, pleased and because the Supreme Personality of the Lord is pleased are also I and all other moving and nonmoving entities happy; let me therefore drink this poison so that there from me will be the well-being of all creatures.'
(41) S'rî S'uka said: 'Lord S'iva, the well-wisher of the universe, this way addressing Bhavânî then began, with the permission of her knowing the best of him, to drink the poison. (42) Mahâdeva thereto took the widespread Hâlahala poison in his hand and drank it compassionately for the good of all living beings. (43) To him exhibited that poison from the water its potency by giving his neck a bluish line, the line that in the eyes of the saintly person is an ornament. (44) The saints as good as always voluntarily take upon them the sufferings of the common people; that action of theirs is truly the highest form of worship of the original person, the complete of the soul [see also 1.5: 17-19, B.G. 18: 68-69 and 4: 7-8]. (45) Hearing of that act of S'iva, the god of gods, the graceful one, was he highly praised by all the people, by the daughter of Daksha [Satî see also 4.3 & 4], and by Brahmâ and the Lord of Vaikuntha. (46) And to the little bit that was scattered here and there as he drank from the palm, attended some other known living creatures like scorpions, cobras and other poisonous animals and plants.