Articles / Tantra
Kurma Nadi: Churning the Ocean for Nectar
Just before you obtain the best and brightest (the nectar), you sometimes go through the darkest phase of life (the poison). —Pandit Rajmani Tigunait
According to a fascinating mythological story, there is a divine nectar hidden in the depths of the ocean that grants immortality to those who find it. The gods were able to obtain this nectar with the help of a cosmic kurma (turtle), who provided the stability for the churning rod. In the same way, we gain access to the elixir of life inside us when we have mastery over the kurma nadi—the force of physical, mental, and pranic stability.
In this vintage article from 1990, which has just been republished for the first time here on the Himalayan Institute’s Wisdom Library, Pandit Tigunait explains how, like Shiva, we can convert the “poison” we must imbibe into “nectar” by learning to work with our foundation. We do this through a set of physical, energetic, and meditative practices that focus on the kurma nadi—the base of the spine and centermost part of our being.
This is what Patanjali discusses in Yoga Sutra 3:32 (Kurmanadyam sthairyam) when he advises us to meditate on the kurma nadi. When we find and embrace the steadiness of the tortoise within, we gain access to the richness of the kundalini shakti that lies hidden in all of us, and are able to rise above dualities such as bad and good, pain and pleasure, and poison and nectar.