Incorporation of Snake Cult in Indian Religion

Topics: Shiva, Snake, Vishnu Pages: 6 (1804 words) Published: August 7, 2011


India has seen the birth of many cults and religions. A lot of factor governs the beginning of these cults. It is common knowledge that many deities in Indian religion were began to worship out of fear. As humans it is soothing for us to believe in a super power which is capable of giving as well as ridding us off our problems. This principle applied for animals too and it became the basis of animal worship in India, as all the existing creatures are either useful of harmful to humans so it is better to worship them. Naga clan of ancient India were the first clan to begin the snake worship. Not only Hinduism but also Buddhism and Jainism are worshiper of snakes. Worshiping the deities of natural elements like water, springs and rivers also are symbolized by the waving form of snakes.

Snakes are mostly depicted as gigantic cobras with many hoods or human upper torsos and serpent body and are believed to live in patal loka. Different religions have adopted snake worship for their own reasons. But there has always been a fear of snakes in human beings as they were the reason of many deaths. People also believed that if angered and disrespected snakes will course them and that action may result in sickens or death, and so they started worshiping and offering milk to snakes to please them.

Worshiping sun and snake with prayers and rituals have been practised in India even before the Vedic times. Snake or serpent worship is one of the oldest “denominations” of Hinduism. There are various myths associated with the beginning of the snake worship in India. It is believed that the custom of worshiping snakes was incorporated from the “Naga clan” of ancient India, and the Indo-Aryans carried forward the tradition by continuing to worship various snake deities. According to Puranas, snakes were believed to be offspring of Sage Kashyapa and Kadru. Whereas according Brahmanda Purana snakes were produced from water. The Linga Purana has totally different say on this, it believes that the snakes were produced from the first tear Brahma shaded after realising his inability to create universe single-handedly. Having such a close contact of snakes with varies sages and deities can also be one of the reason of worshiping snakes and association it with mainstream deities. There is mention of snake worship in Atharva Veda too. In Rig Veda, there are hints of snake worship, where earth is considered as the Sarpa-rajni or "the queen of the serpents or the queen of all that moves”. On the walls of temples of Medieval era were founded the engraved paintings of snakes. This shows the existence of snake worship from early medieval era and in fact it started 500 years before Buddha’s birth. This tradition is still alive in India and in its religions as well as it got spread across different countries of the world.

There are eight pre-eminent snakes mentioned in Hindu mythology having their association with one or the other god or goddess. Sheshnaga, a snake with 1000 heads and a messive hood is believed to have been born of what was left after the universe had been created. She is the couch of Vishnu on which lord rests. It is even believed that earth rests on him. This snake is worshiped as manifestation of lord Vishnu. Ananta, a very long snake, and dark blue in colour is also considered as manifestation of lord Vishnu. This snake is endless, and believed to encircle the whole earth. Vasuki is also considered as one amongst the royal snakes and Naga king with 7 heads. Vasuki means the divine being. He was used as a Churning rope for sumndra manthan. Mansadevi is considered as a queen of snake. She is sister of snake king vasuki. She is goddess who can save mortals from snake bite. Takshaka, saffron coloured snake with 9 hoods is worshiped as lord of nagas. Kaliya, was a five headed demon serpent living in river yamuna. He was a curse for people of...
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