The relationship between Samudra Manthan and alcohol came up in a comment thread to another question, with one commenter stating that alcohol was forbidden in Hinduism because Daanavs drank alcohol and lost the chance at the amrit (nectar of immortality).

I tried to follow up on this thread myself, and came across these seemingly contradictory bits of information:

Varuni or Sura, goddess and creator of alcohol - taken - somewhat reluctantly (she appeared dishevelled and argumentative) - accepted the demons. [source = wiki mentioning Horace Wilson's translation of Vishnu Purana]1


According to the Vishnu Purana, during the Samudra manthan or "churning of the ocean", the daityas came to be known as asuras because they rejected Varuni, the goddess of sura "wine", while the devas accepted her and came to be known as suras. [source = wiki mentioning Roshen Dalal's Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide]2

Then there's the point that Varuni is the consort of Varuna - who is a Sura - the god of water, but also has the distinction of being referred to as an Asura in the Rig Veda.

Given all this, can someone clarify what exactly was going on with Varuni (and wine!) during the Samudra Manthan? Do the epithets 'suras' and 'asuras' have any relationship to 'sura' ie. 'wine' and if so, what is that?


While I cannot quote anybody famous, I tried some research. Pls see dictionary meaning of sura-http://spokensanskrit.org/index.php?tran_input=sUra&direct=se&script=hk&link=yes&mode=3 सूर m. sUra teacher सुर m. sura image of a god
सूर m. sUra Crown flower plant [Calotropis Gigantea - Bot.] सुर m. sura image of deity [idol] सुर m. sura symbolical name for the number thirty-three सुर m. sura idol
सुर m. sura sage Chances are this is the real spelling of 'sur' rather than 'sura' with a long 'a'. Regarding Asura. I read this-http://www.fridaygurgaon.com/news/5487-navaratri-overcoming-our-mahisasuras.html. So is Asura is one who has strayed from spiritual path, then, Sur is probably one who is living on spiritual path.


Though I didn't understood your question, here are my thoughts:

To churn/stir the samudra the energy of suras is not enough, so invited asuras(their half brothers). Churning gives them amrutham (nectar which gives immortality). Suras are stvik by nature and asuras have more rajs & tamas. A wiki on them may be found here, here and here

satvik by products generated during churning are taken by suras(what ever they took, they use for prosperity of universe and its beings) where as rajas & tamas by asuras. wine/alcohol by nature makes one out of his own control, you know the effects of alcohol consumption on health & family. So it is taken by auras. Next came amrutham! to prevent asuras taking amrutham, lord vishnu took the form of lady and started distributing from the end of suras. asuras got much attracted towards that beauty & with the intention to see her for long time stood last in the queue. Their evil mind prevented them form thinking that by their turn how much amrutham would be left. Then intelligent asura rahu took the form of sura and joined between suras, to have amrutham. for more information on the connected happenings, refer this and this wiki articles

  • hey, thanks for the answer, but that's not at all what I'm asking :) I'm just wondering that Varuni is a goddess and a wife of Varun, a sura, and one source says 'Varuni went to Asuras' and one source says 'Varuni went to Suras (and that's where the names Suras and Asuras came from!' so, what the truth about whether Varuni went to Asuras or Suras (hopefully with citations from some scriptures). – Shisa Jun 20 '14 at 5:29
  • Apologies, but I'm flagging your answer as 'Not an answer', since it doesn't actually try to answer my question. :/ For purpose of SE, if one is not clear what a question is asking, one should ask for clarity before attempting to answer. Only then can this site work out to be a great and informative resource! – Shisa Jun 20 '14 at 5:31

My apologies upfront for having no indepth knowledge of puranas, yet trying to give my understanding. I believe that the development of science and technology reaches a flash point every 5000 years and there would be a mass destruction of nature including living beings. But mother nature recycles everything and in due course a new life starts with everything afresh. When the new era starts, normally the habitation is concentrated near the perrenial flowing water source or on the sea shore. Air is taken for granted and cannot be seen. But the water is. So people thought the god governing water shall be the numero uno. Hence Varuna being the god of seas might have taken the highest position. As the spiritual awareness increased, more realities came to fore. Hence Varuna and Indra took the back seat and trinity occupied the key positions. If Varuna happens to be one of the 12 Adityas which means he is the son of Aditi still why he is branded as an Asura rather than a devate? Also in surya namaskar, with each pose we chant one of the 12 names of surya and Varuna is not one of them (Mitra, Ravi, Surya, Bhanu, Khaga, Pooshan, Hiranyagharbha, Maricha, Aditya, Savita Arka Bhaskara). Can anyone please throw light on this?

  • This doesn't provide the answer to the question. If you have any questions please ask here. – Triyugi Narayan Mani Jul 3 '17 at 7:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .