Kurma Avatar is known to be the second avatar of Lord Vishnu’s ten incarnations. Just to recap a little bit, the ten incarnations were a necessity to bring in cosmic order in this universe. The second incarnation of Lord Vishnu is about a tortoise that saved the golden mountain Mandara and resolved a fight between the demi-gods and the demons.
Rishi Durvasa saw Lord Indra on his white elephant one fine day and out of respect offered the lord his marigold garland. Lord Indra, being too proud of his wealth and power, refused the garland and threw it on his elephant who then threw it on the ground. Rishi Durvasa was very furious with this behaviour and cursed the lord by saying that because of your arrogance, you will lose all your samriddhi (luxury/grandeur/power/wealth) one day.
The curse soon turned out to be true when the demons launched a very powerful attack on the heavens and the demi-gods were faced with many casualties. Unable to control this situation, the demigods turned to Lord Vishnu for his guidance.
Lord Vishnu, a very wise lord advised the demi-gods to make peace with the demons and offer them to work together. The demi-gods did as told and spoke to King Bali of the demons. Lord Indra told King Bali about the Amrut (nectar) that could make them Amar (immortal). The demons with the greed of living forever quickly agreed to this offer. They however had different plans. Upon obtaining the nectar they wanted to steal it and keep it all for themselves.
With extensive efforts, the demi-gods and the demons carried the Mandara mountain, a golden beauty to the ocean to use as a churner. Vasuki took the role of a rope to help the mountain turn. The parties faced a lot of trouble while churning the ocean as soon after a few churns, the mountain sank deep into the ocean.
Lord Vishnu had to come to the rescue. He took the incarnation of a tortoise known as the “Kurma Avatar” and placed the mountain on his back. The mountain could turn easily now and the demi-gods and demons could obtain the nectar at last.
During this entire process, a lot of precious things came out of the ocean. The first thing that came out was the deadly black poison which would have led to the demolition of the entire world. The demi-gods requested Lord Shiva’s help. Lord Shiva held the black poison in his hand and drank it splattering a few drops here and there. This led to the creation of poisonous creatures like scorpions and snakes. While drinking the poison, his throat burned and it turned blue giving him the name – “Neelkanth”.
There were many magical creatures, fragrances, gems and herbs that were obtained from this act. Last came in the nectar. As planned, the demons stole the nectar and kept it for themselves. Lord Vishnu, to help the demi-gods, took the form of feminine beauty – Mohini and tricked the demons. Demons gave away the nectar and demi-gods drank it till the very last drop. This is how the gods were bestowed with immortality and the demons with the introspection of their actions. This is the story behind Lord Vishnu’s Kurma avatar.