From time to time, the Lord assumes different forms out of His will and accomplishes deeds that are difficult for others to perform. At the time of the churning of the ocean, He personally assists the celestial beings to regain their power and glory which they lost owing to Durvasa’s curse. The Lord’s leela is perceived in this act of Kamya karma, an act done with the explicit purpose of attaining a specific gain, pointed out Sri B. Damodhara Dikshitar in a lecture.
The very idea of gaining freedom from death is most attractive. The celestial beings and the demons are all set to put in their best effort to grab the fruit of their desire, but many hurdles crop up. The Mandara mountain is to be placed in position as the churning rod and Vasuki to be utilised as the rope. The Lord takes the form of a tortoise, finally leading to the realisation of the nectar. Without His munificence the celestial beings would not have gained their objective.
God is seen as the granter of boons by many who seek Him for this purpose. He is also seen as the protector and unfailing refuge to those who are in distress. Lord Krishna identifies four kinds of people who seek Him for various purposes — those in distress seeking alleviation, those seeking wealth, those seeking knowledge and those who seek liberation. Propitiating God with a specific purpose is the way in which one generally connects to Him. While such efforts may lead to fulfilment of desires, spiritual growth is achieved only by acts done with no personal gain in view. An act dedicated to the Lord absolves one of the effects of karma.
The irony in this context is that the nectar of the ocean is preferred to the Lord who is the “nectar incarnate.” Thiruppanazhwar hails the deity of Ranganatha as the nectar which his eyes have feasted on and that he does not wish to attain anything further.
A true bhakta wishes to be of service to the Lord at all times, with his mind fixed on Him uninterruptedly. In worldly perception, other goals may seem attractive, but to the realised soul, moksha is the most difficult goal to achieve and is possible only through His grace.