Kurma, or Turtle, is the second incarnation of Hindu God Vishnu. Hindu devotees also refer to this avatar as Adi-Kurma and the Tortoise incarnation. This Avatar was taken by Vishnu to help the Devas acquire the Amruta, or elixir of life, during the Samudra Manthan or churning of the ocean.
The information about the Kurma Avatar is mainly found in the Bhagavad Purana (Canto 8 Chapter 7), Agni Purana and Ramayana (Balakanda Chapter).
The Asuras (demons) and Devas (demigods) approached the Milky ocean to perform the churning.
was chosen as the churn drill. The huge snake Vasuki volunteered to be the Churning rope. Mandara Mountain
The Devas took hold of the tail of Vasuki and the Asuras took hold of the mouth the snake. But as
had no fixation (below or above) it started to sink down. Mandara Mountain
Sri Hari Vishnu then took the form of a turtle or Kurma and lifted the mountain on his back and kept the mountain in the right position and made it possible for the churning of the ocean or Samudra Manthan to take place.
Some Hindu scriptures mention that the Kurma incarnation lifted the mountain higher than what was needed. Then Lord Vishnu took the form of the eagle and sat on top of the mountain and it came down to the exact position.
There are some claims that there is a lake in the
Himalayas known as Indradyumna and the Kurma incarnation lives in it.
Kurma Jayanti, or the day when the incarnation happened, is observed on Purnima or full moon day in the month of Vaisakha.