This question is related to the account of Kurmavatara described in The Mahabharata Tarparya Nirnaya of Srimad Madhvacharya. I have pasted the slokha below for reference. For full text one can check the copy on archives

My question is what is the reference or basis for this account claiming that Vayu drank the poison, and Lord Shiva fainted after consuming the remaining? Is this described exactly this way in any of the Puranas? I don't recall right away though - hence this question.

Any context, explanations would be appreciated.

I am pasting part of the slokha below. Hope it comes out fine in all browsers.

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  • Some people are claiming that the emitting of poison,during samudra manthan itself interpolated one, as the same is not available in BORI's version of Mahabharata Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 2:06
  • The main content of the question is revolving around drinking of poison by Vayu/Shiva but not about Kurmavatara Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 3:36
  • That's correct @srimannarayanakv I will change the title.
    – Vidyarthi
    Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 6:14
  • @srimannarayanakv there is some room to think some of the Puranic stories involve possible interpolation, and extension of The Vedic references (the reference to kurma in Taittiriya Aranyaka for example, which has no association with churning the ocean). But it is hard to be certain one way or the other. That said, for Kurmavatara I won't necessarily take The Mahabharata as the reference, and I don't know what His Holiness Sri Madvacharya used as HIS reference, especially considering no Purana (that I am aware of) exactly says Vayu Bhagavan consumed the poison.
    – Vidyarthi
    Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 6:19
  • Also adding that Lord Shiva fainted etc, makes things is more sectarian. I don't know if all the scholars accept this as Sri Madvacharya's work (or is that disputed by any one?).
    – Vidyarthi
    Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 6:23

1 Answer 1


The English translation of the slokas 11 to 16, quoted by the OP, is as follows:

11 “Then, due to extreme weight, that golden mountain Mandara sunk to the Patala; At that time, You, in your avatara as Kurma, lifted the mountain, which could not be lifted by anyone else, easily on your back”.

12 “When You, the best amongst all, entered the churning rope Vasuki, and also entered the top, bottom and inside of the mountain, the strength of the devatas and asuras increased; Due to their arrogance, they started churning the ocean real fast such that it started harming the oceanic creatures”.

13 “When all of them got tired, You, the One without tiredness, started churning the ocean all by Yourself with excitement, in order to obtain the immortal nectar; At that time, the poison which could swallow the whole world emerged; As per Your orders, Vayu took that poison”.

14 “Kalakoota is the embodiment of Kali; Due to Brahma’s boon, nobody could stop it; None could even touch it; Vayu picked up a portion of the same, squeezed it, reduced its intensity and gave it to Shiva”.

15 “Shiva drank it, and fell down unconscious as soon as it reached his neck; He got up due to the power of Lord Hari’s hand touch; His neck became dark then”.

16 “After that, Vayu, keeping your orders in front, placed the poison in a golden bowl and drank it himself without reducing its intesity; It got digested for him”.

The translation of 17th sloka, which was felt necessary, is as follows:

17 “Shiva got a head ache due to the drinking of a small quantity of the Kalakoota; Kali, who was residing in the poison remaining in his hand, spread all over the world; Vayu did not undergo any distortion after drinking that poison”.

Appearance of hAlAhala poison, during the churning of Milk ocean and Shiva consuming it was mentioned in KMG version of Mahabharata, but not in critical edition of MAHABHARATA (P.507).

In Vishnu Purana, appearance of Poison was mentioned, but the same was taken by the snakes.

In Ramayana, it was mentioned that Shiva consumed the poison.

इत्युक्त्वा च सुरश्रेष्ठस्तत्रैवान्तरधीयत | देवतानां भयं दृष्ट्वा श्रुत्वा वाक्यं तु शार्ङ्गिणः || १-४५-२५ हालाहलं विषं घोरं संजग्राहामृतोपमम् |

Saying so Vishnu, the best one among gods, has disappeared then and there only. And on observing the scare of gods and also on paying heed to the words of the Wielder of Bow called shaar~Nga, namely Vishnu, god Shiva gulped that lethal poison, haalaahala , as if it is ambrosia.

So when the appearance of poison itself turns out to be an interpolated story, how come Sri Madvacharya claimed that Vayu consumed it?

It must be inserted by him, with a view to strengthening his theory of mention of incarnations of Vayu, as Sri Hanuman, Bhima and himself in Rig Veda, and to demean Shivism.

  • It does not look like the above verse from Ramayana is present in the critical edition, lending considerable credence to the hypothesis that this is an interpolation.
    – user17987
    Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 8:15
  • I don't have critical edition of Ramayana. If you have a link to the same online, please provide Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 8:23
  • Here is the link. You can do a text search with English fonts. bombay.indology.info/ramayana/welcome.html
    – user17987
    Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 8:26
  • Thanks. I will check up.@idolworshipper Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 8:35
  • The same story also appears in other Puranas. Brahma Vaivarta Purana says Lord Shiva was able to consume the poison due to the grace of Lord Hari. That said, while it is possible this is an interpolation, it cant be argued simply due to the difference of accounts in The Puranas. Many stories differ in The Puranas - Daksha's sacrifice, Lord Krishna rescuing Aniruddha, story of Matsyavatara etc. differ between the Puranas. His Holiness Sri Madvacharya's philosophy includes deity supremacy, but not sure if that was the reason, or if His Holiness used a reference (that possibly isn't extant today)
    – Vidyarthi
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 0:18

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