More Mohini Trickery

Here is another story about the female trickster goddess Mohini, an avatar of Vishnu.

At one time there was a war between the lesser gods (Devas) and the demons (Asuras). The Asuras were beating the Devas, so the gods went to Lord Brahma as asked him for help. Lord Brahma told the gods to churn the ocean, as butter is churned, and that the Devas would obtain the nectar Amrit – which would make them immortal and powerful. And able to defeat the Asuras.

But churning the ocean was such a big job that the Devas asked the Asuras to help them. Gods do odd things. “Help us make something that will help us defeat you.” Some sort of deception must have been involved, and the Asuras helped to churn the ocean. Or the Asuras figured that they were stronger than the Devas and they would just get the Amrit from the Devas, and then use its power themselves. After a while the churning was sufficient to create the Amrit. The Devas and Asuras began to fight for the Amrit. Now, it seems to me that both groups deserved some share of the results of all the churning, but that’s not what Vishnu wanted. He became Mohini and she used her beauty and charms to seduce both groups. Both the gods and the demons were enchanted by Mohini. She convinced both groups to allow her to distribute the Amrit. She had them form two lines: one of Devas and one of Asuras. She began handing out the Amrit, but only to the Devas. One of the Asuras, Rahu, was outraged and decided to disguise himself as a Deva, to get the Amrit for himself. He snuck between the sun god (Surya) and the moon goddess (Chandra). They noticed that Rahu was not a Deva, and told Mohini. She used a magic discus to decapitate Rahu, but he had already drank the Amrit, thus he was immortal. He became a disembodied head named Ketu, while his body stayed Rahu. Out of spite, Rahu and Ketu swallow the sun and moon, causing eclipses.

We see that Mohini is not so much a force for justice here, but more a force for making the world work the way she wants it to. And she was also partially tricked by Rahu. This is a common fate for tricksters, they seem to bring out the trickery in others.

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