Kurma Avatar 1
Vishnu's second incarnation was kurma or tortoise. Indra was once cursed by a sage which deprived him and other God's of all their powers. All good that prevailed in the universe started to decay as the energy of the God's had been lost. The demons emerged powerful and the tussle between devas and asuras, ie Gods and demons, became intense. The Gods started losing ground and became disheartened. They turned to Vishnu who suggested to them to extract amrit, nectar of life from dugdh sagar the ocean of milk. To achieve this he advised the God's to gather one of every kind of plant and herb that grew in the world and throw them into the ocean of milk. The ocean should then be well churned until amrit came out. The Gods took the mountain Mandara to the Ocean of Milk to use it as a churning stick. Vasuki, the king of serpents, came to be the rope by which the churninig stick could be rotated. As a tortoise Vishnu served as a pivot by supporting the mountain on his back. The asuras were also asked to help them. In this painting asuras are seen at the head of the serpent Vasuki facing his hot breath, while the devas hold the cool tail end.The painting is in Andhra Pradesh folk style.
Kurma Avatar 2
The churning of the Ocean of Milk for fourteen days threw up a lot of things: amrita or nectar in a vessel held by the divine physician Dhanvantri, It also brought up Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune and beauty, sura or wine, chandra the moon, Rambha the apsara or nymph, Uchchaisvas a beautiful white horse, kautubha a jewel, parijata the celestial wishing tree, Surabhi the cow of plenty, Airavata a white elephant, sankha a conch shell of victory, dhanus a mighty bow and vish ie poison. These are seen in the painting which is in Madhubani style.
Kurma Avatar 3
When Dhanvantri emerged from the ocean with a kalasha (vessel) full of amrita both devas and asuras wanted to have it. A problem of sharing arose.The devas thought that if amrita was given to the troublesome asuras they would become more powerful and would create still more troubles. So Vishnu came in disguise as a beautiful woman called Mohini and attracted attention of all. Mohini offered to distribute amrita. This was accepted by all and Mohini asked them to make two rows, one of devas and other of asuras. Distribution started with amrit first to devas . When Mohini came to asuras the nector was exhausted. Only one asura was able to get a share as he had quietly slipped into the row of devas. This mischief was seen by Chandra the moon who cut this asura into two pieces. These two pieces came to be known as Rahu and Ketu. The legend that prevails till date is that all three ie Chandra on one side and, Rahu and Ketu on the other, are always at war which is the reason for lunar eclipse.