In Hindu belief, the tortoise is nothing less than the foundation of the universe. In one Vedic myth, a great flood regularly occurs every four billion years and completely dissolves the earth. The god Vishnu then returns as his second avatar (or, earthly incarnation), the tortoise Kurma. On his back rests Mandara Mountain (the eastern mountain of the four buttresses of the World Mountain/Mt. Meru); it serves as the gods’ churning rod to remake the earth from the sea of milk. In another Hindu story, the tortoise Chukwa serves as the underlying foundation for the “elephant-Atlas”, Maha-pudma.
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