Ambrosia of Immortality

The elixir of immortality or simple wisdom?

Balinese Painting: E74177A

Balinese Painting: E74177A
Photographer:  © Australian Museum

The story from ShadowLight Productions in San Francisco, USA.

Heaven is often viewed as a peaceful place. But this creation story reveals the struggle that afflicted the whole universe. War erupted between the gods who had all the privileges and the demons who wanted to get their status back. Tired of fighting and seeking solution they went to Vishnu, the Preserver. Vishnu told them to obtain the essence of life in the form of the elixir of immortality. To do so they needed to churn the Ocean of Milk, for which the skills of the gods and strength of the demons were required. This earth-shattering enterprise demanded uprooting a great mountain and convincing the King of Snakes to act as a rope to spin the mountain. Although the gods and demons were sceptical at first they gradually became consumed with succeeding in this momentous challenge and investment of faith.

And so the churning began. The wise ones gazed into their minds and saw universe upon universe being created, preserved and destroyed. “They called the creator Brahma; the preserver Vishnu, and destroyer Siva.” They counted eons, looked through light years, examined thoughts, and finally distilled their wisdom into stories for us to cherish. Their insights brought them to an understanding of simple truths that day and night, hot and cold, soft and sharp, pleasure and pain and good and bad come together. Nothing exists without its opposite and the secret is to keep everything in balance.

The Ambrosia of Immortality was created and performed by ShadowLight Productions in the late 1990s with shadow-puppet masters I Wayan Wija and Larry Reed.

Explanation: Ambrosia - in Greek and Roman mythology is the food of the gods, believed to confer immortality.

Dr Stan Florek , Database Manager
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