Indra was despondent and by the time he returned to his capital city Amaravati, he was completely lost as to what he needed to do. As a result, all three worlds lost their vigor, where vegetables, plants and herbs withered and died; sacrifices no longer offered; devout exercises and practices no longer performed; men did not give charity; all the human faculties of sense were obstructed by cupidity and lust. The three worlds had a few golden rules – when there was energy there was prosperity and all energy depended on prosperity driving it more and more. And in this situation, since prosperity had deserted the three worlds, there was no energy, no excellence, no vigor or heroism among men, no courage and no strength.
In such a situation when the three worlds were divested of all prosperity and deprived of energy, the asuras (sons of Diti) and the enemies of the gods put in place their plans to end the dominance of the gods over the dominion. Given that they had been enemies of the gods since times immemorial they decided that the time was ripe for them to stamp their authority on the three worlds. And when their armies completely routed the armies of the gods and made them flee, Indra and his gods took refuge with Lord Brahma.
When Brahma heard of all that happened, he suggested that Indra approach Lord Vishnu, and accompanied Indra to the northern shore of the sea of milk where the protector of all creation resided. Pleased with the devotion and prayers of Indra, Vishnu spoke thus
“Do as I say. Join forces with the asuras and both groups should cast all sorts of medicinal herbs into the sea of milk. Then, using the mountain Mandhara as the churning stick, the serpent Vasuki as the rope, churn the sea for ambrosia. In order to convince the asuras to assist you in this endeavor, you must establish peace with them and promise to share with them an equal measure of the ambrosia.
Knowing that drinking the ambrosia, the Amrita, they will be blessed with immortality, they will surely agree to assist you in this endeavor. Rest assured Indra, I will ensure that the enemies of gods shall not drink any of the ambrosia and that their share in this endeavor will be limited to putting in only the required efforts.”
Following Vishnu’s instructions, Indra then entered into an alliance with the asuras and they began the joint undertaking of the churning of the sea of milk. They collected various kinds of medicinal herbs and cast them into the sea. They then uprooted the mount Mandhara to use it as the staff and requested the serpent Vasuki to be the rope to churn the sea. Vishnu had asked the gods to be at the tail end of the serpent and the asuras to be near the neck and head of Vasuki. As a result the asuras were scorched by the flames emitted from the inflated hood of the serpent while rain bearing clouds were driven to the serpent’s tail due to its warm breath, which ensured that the gods were refreshed with reviving showers.