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The figures on display at Bangkok airport are replicas of the famous yaksha at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaeo). In Thai, the figures are often simply referred to as yak (giant) and Thai children become familiar with these male and female giants from an early age.

If you’ve ever travelled via Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, you’ve probably seen at least one of these imposing figures with their fangs, painted faces and bulging eyes. Known in Buddhist mythology as yaksha, they are guardian warriors who keep away evil spirits and can be seen at a number of temples in Thailand. The figures on display at Bangkok airport are replicas of the famous yaksha at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaeo). In Thai, the figures are often simply referred to as yak (giant) and Thai children become familiar with these male and female giants from an early age. In the same way that children from English speaking countries may learn from picture cards that ‘a is for apple’ or ‘d is for dog’, Thai youngsters are taught that the consonant ‘yau’ is for yak.

The yakshas (Sanskrit: यक्ष yakṣa; Pali: yakkha) are a broad class of nature-spirits, usually benevolent, but sometimes mischievous or capricious, connected with water, fertility, trees, the forest, treasure and wilderness. They appear in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist texts, as well as ancient and medieval era temples of South Asia and Southeast Asia as guardian deities. The feminine form of the word is yakṣī or yakshini (Sanskrit: यक्षिणी yakṣiṇī; Pali:Yakkhini).

In Hindu, Jain and Buddhist texts, the yakṣa has a dual personality. On the one hand, a yakṣa may be an inoffensive nature-fairy, associated with woods and mountains; but there is also a darker version of the yakṣa, which is a kind of ghost (bhuta) that haunts the wilderness and waylays and devours travellers, similar to the rakṣasas.

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Churning Ocean Milk

A large statue at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok shows the story of The Churning of the Milk Ocean

In this Hindu legend, several treasures have been lost beneath the sea. These prizes include the nectar of immortality and are so valuable that one day the gods and devils agree to put aside their differences and work together to recover what had been lost.

To do this, they wrap Vasuki, king of the serpents, around a mountain, Mount Mandara. Then they alternately pull the snake’s head and tail back and forth in a giant tug of war, spinning the mountain as they do so, and churning the Milk Ocean. This is what the statue in the picture shows.

For a thousand years they spin the mountain round and round, churning the milk ocean, until one day the sea gives up its contents.

The first item to be released is a lethal poison known as Halahal. This poison is so powerful that it could destroy the whole of creation. But the god Shiva steps forward and swallows the poison. The universe is saved.

Next come all the other treasures that have lain hidden, including:Kaustubha, the most valuable jewel in the world
  • Sharanga, a powerful bow
  • Parijat, the celestial wishing tree with blossoms that never wilt or fade
  • Three types of supernatural animal, including Surabhi, the cow of plenty
  • Three goddesses, including Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune and wealth, and finally
  • Amrita, the nectar of immortality, carried by Dhanvantari, the doctor of the gods.

This story can be seen as a metaphor for our times.

With so much change happening all around us, it is easy to feel as if we are being pulled back and forth by gods and demons — and it is not always easy to tell which is which.

The first ‘treasures’ to have appeared certainly seem to have the potential to destroy the whole of creation. For some this might be the near-collapse of the financial system in 2008. For others Halahal is the extreme climate change and destruction of the oceans and other habitat that is already happening and accelerating.

The gods and demons in this story represent aspects of our own psyches. They pull us back and forth, and their churning of our inner ocean has the potential to bring forth poison or health, wealth, and other wonders.

The best way I know to obtain whatever treasure matters most to you is to follow the path of Inner Leadership: to centre and ground, make clear sense of your situation, find more opportunities to move forward, choose the one that is best for you (most aligned with your purpose and values), and turn it into an inspiring vision

Bangkok Airport The churning of the Ocean of Milk was an elaborate process. Mount Mandaranchal was used as the churning tool, and Vasuki, the king of serpents, became the churning rope. On the right side, 'devas' (guardian gods) pull the tail of the snake while on the left side 'asuras' (demon gods) pull the snake's head in the opposite direction. They pulled on it alternately causing the mountain to rotate, which in turn churned the ocean. By alternating back and forth, the ocean was "milked", forming the earth and the cosmos anew.

"The Churning of the Milk Ocean" - a mythological story adapted from Hinduism:Vishnu dancing on the top of Mount Meru.

The Samudra Manthana (Sanskrit: समुद्रमन्थन; lit. 'churning of the ocean') is a major episode in Hinduism that is elaborated in the Vishnu Purana, a major text of Hinduism.[1] The Samudra Manthana explains the origin of the elixir of eternal life, amrita.

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Indra, the King of Svarga, was riding on his divine elephant when he came across the sage Durvasa, who offered him a special garland given to him by an apsara. The deity accepted the garland and placed it on the trunk (sometime the tusks or the head of the elephant in some scriptures) of Airavata (his mount) as a testament to his humility. The flowers had a strong scent that attracted some bees. Annoyed by the bees, the elephant threw the garland on the ground. This enraged the sage, as the garland was a dwelling of Sri (fortune) and was to be treated as a prasada or a religious offering. Durvasa cursed Indra and all the devas to be bereft of all strength, energy, and fortune.

In the battles following the incident, the devas were defeated and the asuras, led by Bali, gained control over the three worlds. The devas sought Vishnu's wisdom, who advised them to treat with the asuras in a diplomatic manner. The devas formed an alliance with the asuras to jointly churn the ocean for the nectar of immortality, and to share it among themselves. However, Vishnu assured the devas that he would arrange for them alone to obtain the nectar.

The churning of the Ocean of Milk was an extensive process: Mount Mandara was uprooted and used as the churning rod and Vasuki, a naga who resided on Shiva's neck, became the churning rope after being promised that it would get its share. While carrying the massive mountain, several devas and asuras fell to their deaths and some perished due to sheer exhaustion. Vishnu flew upon his mount Garuda and revived them all, placing Mandara upon his mount to carry it towards its destination in the midst of the ocean. Reaching their destination, the great serpent coiled itself around Mandara, and Vishnu counselled the devas to tug from the head of the serpent. The asuras, observing this, refused to hold the tail of the serpent, perceiving it as inauspicious. The devas relented and held the tail henceforth. The churning commenced. However, Mandara was too enormous and sank to the bottom of the ocean, much to the despair of the devas and the asuras. Vishnu, in the form of his Kurma avatara (lit. turtle), came to their rescue and supported the mountain on his shell. When venomous fumes were emitted by Vasuki, the asuras were affected due to their decision to hold its head. The Samudra Manthana bequeathed a panoply of substances from the Ocean of Milk. One of them was the lethal poison known as halahala. In some variations of the story, the poison escaped from the mouth of Vasuki as the demons and gods churned. This terrified the gods and the demons because the poison was so powerful that it could destroy all of creation. The asuras were poisoned by fumes emitted by Vasuki. Despite this, the devas and the asuras pulled back and forth on the snake's body alternately, causing the mountain to rotate, which in turn churned the ocean. Shiva consumed the poison to protect the three worlds, the consumption of which gave a blue hue to his throat, offering him the epithet Neelakantha (the blue-throated one; "neela" = "blue", "kantha" = "throat" in Sanskrit).

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Statues at Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok Thailand

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