After Lord Indra vanquished the invisible demon Vritasura, the Kalakeya demons that were surrounding him fled and hid in the ocean. Even though they were hiding, they continued to harass and torture human beings and other living creatures. Under the cover of darkness, they wrecked havoc and destruction in the whole existence. They did not even spare the Rishis performing various austerities to awaken to the Truth. They would visit different ashrams at night and devour the unsuspecting Rishis. In the morning light, the heap of bones would reveal the destruction that happened in the night.
The majority of humans, in order to escape the attack of the Kalakeya demons started leaving their homes and hiding in caves in the mountains. A group of brave archers gathered together and tried attacking the demons, but to no avail, as the demons were unseen.
In their terrible plight, the devas approached Lord Vishnu for a solution. Lord Vishnu revealed that Kalakeya and his army of demons had taken refuge in the ocean and the only way to oust them is if the ocean itself dried up. The demons would then be forced to come out in the open. Once they are exposed, the devas and the humans will be able to vanquish them. Lord Vishnu then advised them to go to Rishi Agastya and request him to drink up the ocean.
At the request of the devas, Rishi Agastya drank the ocean. In no time all the seas were devoid of water and the Kalakeya demons were exposed. The devas immediately started killing them and wiped them out completely, freeing the world from them. The devas then requested the Rishi to re-fill the oceans, however, the rishi replied that was no longer possible for him to do as he had already digested the water.
In a later issue, we will see how the devas request the Ganges to flow down from the heavens and fill the oceans again.
Let us try to interpret this story.
Water is symbolic of our emotions and is full of the demons of sentimentality. Because of these demons, we are unable to perceive life clearly as it is. In order to have clarity of perception, every spiritual aspirant has to work to kill these demons of sentimentality otherwise they create inner turmoil, disturbance and chaos in our lives, and obscure the truth.
The chief demon is Kalakeya or time. Unnecessary sentimentality devours our time. If someone hurts me, I spend the next few hours sulking and thinking of how deeply he has wounded my feelings. Rather than focusing on advancing my own life and developing myself, I have wasted the limited and precious time allotted to me in sentimental thoughts of the person who hurt me. Such emotions are of the lower psychic nature which is a hindrance to our spiritual growth.
Similarly, every parent loves his or her child. However, because of the sentimental attachment to the child, the parent is not able to see the child clearly for who he is. Only when we are free of these demons of sentimentality, can the river of knowledge represented by the Ganges flow into us.