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In Hindu mythology, Amrita (Sanskrit, literally: "no death") is the drink of the gods, which grants them immortality. It is thus equivalent to the nektar of classical mythology and the magic mead of the Norse gods. Its meaning parallels that of the Greek food of the gods, ambrosia, which also means "no death." The earliest record of the word amrita is in the Rig Veda where it is frequently employed as a synonym for soma.

According to various Hindu legends, there was a time when the gods lost their immortality and their dominance over the asuras (anti-gods, equivalent to the Titans of classical mythology). They decided to go to the god Vishnu for guidance. In those days, the oceans were made of milk and Vishnu said that if they churned the sea, they might produce amrita, the elixir of life. The gods then took Mt. Madara and turned it upside-down to use as a churning stick and wrapped Vasuki, king of the nagas (snake spirits) around it three and a half times. Vishnu took the form of a turtle (the "Kurma" avatar) and swam to the sea bed to act as the pivot for the churning-stick. The gods took one end of Vasuki and the asuras the other and by pulling alternately on the great snake-king, spun the mountain back and forth. Many good things came out of the ocean of milk, culminating in Dhanvantari, the first physician, carrying a golden pot of amrita.

Yogic philosophy believes that a life-giving fluid can flow from the crown chakra in certain meditative states. This fluid is referred to as amrita. It is considered quite a boon: some yogic texts say that one drop is enough to conquer death. Note that kundalini, the "serpent power," is said to be coiled three and a half times around the base of the spine, just as Vasuki was coiled three and a half times around Mt. Madara.

In Vajrayana Buddhism, amrita (Tibetan, bDud.rTsi) is a drink which is imbibed at the beginning of various rites, including abhisheka ("initiation"), homa ("fire ritual") and ganachakra (the "tantric feast").

Amrita is also a common first name in India and Nepal, as the masculine "Amrit" and the feminine "Amrita."

See also


  • Dallapiccola, Anna. Dictionary of Hindu Lore and Legend. London: Thames & Hudson, 2002. ISBN 0-500-51088-1