netherworld holding his tail, and the gods in heaven his neck. At Vishnu's bidding they pulled first this way, then that, twisting the mountain back and forth thus churning the Ocean of Milk. Out of the ocean depths came first the moon; then the lotus-eyed goddess Lakshmi with four arms and open palms, bestowing good fortune on her children; then the wish-fulfilling Cow Kamadhenu; then the jewel Kausthubi. Vishnu plucked that Jewel and placed it upon his chest.
Now the ocean began to boil, foaming and heaving till poison rose out of it emitting a loathsome stench. Lord Shiva bent down with cupped hands and scooped up the poison, and raised it to his lips and swallowed it, saving the world from its misery; and his throat turned blue and iridescent as a peacock's breast. Shiva placed the crescent moon in his hair and smiled, raising his right hand in blessing, thumb and fingertip touching in the circle of life.
Then cream rose in the ocean and from it stepped the white-bearded, white-robed Divine Physician bearing inexhaustible Amrita, the Nectar of Immortality, in a silver vessel. He placed it in the hands of the Lord. And into the core of every soul the Lord poured a single drop of this Amrita, even as a living seed is pressed into the dark unyielding earth, each drop containing an ocean of Bliss; and some seeds lie barren till the body dies, and some seeds sprout. And that Bliss was Vishnu Himself.
Lord Vishnu said: "I am the Self of all souls, the most beloved of all lovable things, for the body is loved only for My dwelling within it."
And whenever humankind forgets the Lord, when evil overtakes the world, He takes form and walks the earth as man; so he came as Nara-Narayana, two-in-one, and as Rama; so also he came as the blue Lord Krishna.
Chapter 2 - The Story of the Cow of Plenty