Tattoo – The Churning of the Milky Ocean

Hi Gang,

My tattoo artist finished touching up the art on my back. It’s an interpretation of The Churning of the Milky Ocean, a bas relief on one of the walls of Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Here’s the final product:

The Churning of the Milky Ocean Tattoo

The story behind the art goes something like this…

Without evil, good could not exist. The ancient population of Cambodia illustrated the concept as a giant tug of war. The rope in this case is a huge serpent (Vasuki) wrapped around a mountain. As each side pulls and gains momentum the mountain spins, churning the oceans of the universe. This churning creates the essence of life and immortality. Meanwhile, Vishnu orchestrates the whole thing as a sort of mediator.

The Devas (the guys on the right) are widely accepted as the good guys – and the Asuras (the guys on the left) are thought of as the bad guys. Gods vs. demons. But in this instance, neither is truly good or evil. They are in constant conflict yet they are working together. In the Churning, the two sides team up to achieve everlasting life.


Your pal,


  1. Jason

    joe the:
    You’re right. I am one milky white sunuvabitch. Pasty even.

    Jim Pony:
    Very kind of you to notice, sir. Yeah, I’ve put on about 15 pounds. Been lifting a few times a week and eating as much as humanly possible.

  2. Vikram

    Just came across this when I was performing a search for images of “Churning of the Ocean”. The story is actually from Hindu mythology from ancient India. The legends spread to Cambodia and other S.E.Asian countries with the spread of Hinduism. “Samudhra Manthan” (Churning of the Ocean) represents much more than the coexistence of good and evil. Concentration is the mountain balanced on the giant tortoise represented by Vishnu (Supreme Reality). Concentration on the Supreme demands that you withdraw yourself from the world like a tortoise. Concentration is constantly under the forces of good and evil. When it remains focussed on Vishnu, a balance of these forces alone can produce great gifts from the Milky Ocean(Mind which if infinite like an ocean). It is upto every man to harmonize his positive and negative influences and put them to good use. The mountain used as a yoke is called Mandhara (Man=mind, Dhara=line..’Holding the mind in a single line”).The giant snake used to churn the ocean is Vasuki, which represents desire constantly under the control of good and evil. You can achieve pure dhyanam only when your desires are held in control. The path to realizing the Supreme is not easy. Concentration is often distracted by worldly pleasures (the many gifts that arise from the ocean) and later tested by pain and instability (the poison that fumes from the mouth of the serpent). Shiva, the Destroyer, is the ultimate ascetic Yogi(Meditating man) who swallows this poison and balances it in his throat for the good of all. All the riches that erupt from the churning are the siddhis(spiritual powers) to be gained. They culminate with Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity. Finally, Mohini (God Vishnu in the form of a beautiful maiden) emerges to delude your mind with pride, which the devas could see but the asuras couldn’t.

  3. JJ

    Thank you so much for this! I only had a very novice understanding of the story – just some things I learned from Graham Hancock’s writings.

    Much appreciated.

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