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Sep 25, 2010

COBRA LEGENDS :

Copy rights of the content in this article are with the respectable Author.
- Dr. Farokh Master.

There are many snake legends in the Puranas which are popularly known and cited. Some of them are given below:

The Goddess MANASA, who is worshipped in connection with the festival is identified as the sister of the legendary serpent king `Vasuki'. According to the Mahabharata, she was married to the sage Jaratkaru and was the mother of Astika. Legend has it that Astika saved Nagas from being exterminated during the serpent sacrifice performed by Janamejaya Manasa is believed to afford protection against snake-bite and is called `vishahari' (poison remover) She is represented as a beautiful woman of golden colour sitting on a water lily and covered with snakes.

In South India, termite mounds are especially worshipped since Cobra snakes are said to live in them.

The Supreme Lord, Vishnu, is always depicted as resting on the many headed cobra in an ocean of milk (kshirsagar).

Lord Ganesh is shown with a weapon called Naga-bana (snake arrow). Lord Shiva is popularly depicted wearing a garland of cobra round his neck.

In one of the system of Yoga, known as Kundalini Yoga, the Supreme power Kundalini is shown as a coiled female cobra which generally ascends the spinal column.

The seal of some of the Maharajas of Orissa picture the crest of the Cobra with a human face under its expanded hood and surrounded by the insignia of royalty.

In Chamba, Kangra and Kashmir, temples are dedicated to various Nagas like Shesh Nag, Basak Nag, Takht Nag, Prittam Nag, Sabir Nag, Santan Nag and many others which are worshipped in human form. Over each human form, however there is a hood of there snake heads.

Coiled serpent images are found all over India. In Saurashtra every village has a serpent temple (sermalia). In Saurashtra, near Dhangadhra, there is a "Sarmalia" which consists of a tiled roof room inside which is kept a coiled cobra snake image. During the Nag Panchami celebrations the Maharajah of Dhangadhra visits this temple and offers his turban to the deity. It is said that a live Cobra visits the place and moves into the turban for sometime. Naga worship is very common in the South. For example in Mysore state, people keep images of coiled beneath a Ficus tree. The images are worshipped for getting children, wealth, rain or longevity. In Andhra Pradesh, the Cobra snake worship is done on Nag Panchami day. In Madhya Pradesh too, this festival is observed with great gusto.

In Tamil Nadu, there are many places where snake images are worshipped. In Kerala, the famous artist Raja Ravi Varma ruled a small feudatory kingdom from a place called Mavelikara. Near this town one observes till today a small monument called Kawus erected in a corner of the residential houses of Nair. This monument consists of a plat form bearing a motif of cobra snake hoods. The inmates of the house offer food to Snake Gods. This is supposed to keep the wealth intact in the house. The scientific explanation for this is that rats come to partake the food. The snakes then come after the rats. Rats that damage food grains in the house are thus killed or destroyed by the snakes; thereby keeping the wealth'-food grains unharmed.

Similarly about 10 miles from this town is a village called Mannarshala which has an old "snake-God "temple. There are a large number of hooded cobra images scattered all over the temple premises. During the afternoon and evening, when the routine worship is being done, apart from other devotees, a large number of patients come here for a cure of their illness, which consists of symptoms like developing patches of falling skin on the face and hands. These patients were suffering from psoriasis.

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