Somanathapura Keshava Temple: Mohiniavatara

Mohini - A sculpture depicting female avatar of Vishnu carved on the outer wall of Somanathapura Keshava Temple in Karnataka, India

Mohini – A female avatar of Vishnu

Mohini – A female avatar of Vishnu
Mohiniavatara is a minor avatar of Vishnu in which he transforms himself into a seductress. Note: Moha means infatuation or crush. Mohini means seductress.

According to Hindu mythology, Mohini is a by-product of the Samudra Manthana (Churning of the Ocean of Milk), a collaborative effort by devas (demigods) and asuras (demons) to produce amrita, the nectar of immortality. In the Samudra Manthana, using the seven-headed snake called Vasuki as the rope and Mount Mandara as the churning rod, the devas and asuras tugged Vasuki to churn the ocean for thousands of years to produce amrita. To enable churning, Vishnu assumed the form of a turtle (See Kurmavatara) and positioned himself under Mount Mandara to act as a pivot.

Once the churning produced amrita, asuras cleverly stole all of it. When Vishnu realized that asuras have amrita, he appeared as a beautiful young woman, a femme fatale, who enticed the asuras and successfully grabbed amrita back from them and gave it to the devas.

Related Images
Mohini Pillar standing inside the navaranga of the Belur Chennakeshava Temple
Dashavatara (Ten incarnations of Vishnu) – A painting in the Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals

Related Pages
Hoysala Temples:
Somanathapura Keshava Temple
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Bracket Figures
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Navaranga
Belur Chennakeshava Temple – Garbhagriha Outer Wall
Kappe Chennigaraya Shrine
Badami Chalukya Temples:
Badami, Cave – 1, Cave – 2, Cave – 3, Cave – 4
Durga Temple at Aihole
Vijayanagara Temples:
Hampi Virupaksha Temple Murals
Angkor Wat Temples:
Angkor Wat Temple, Angkor Wat Bas-Reliefs, Banteay Srei Temple in Cambodia

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