Snakes: Divine Snakes Worshiped in Hinduism
In Hindu culture snakes are not considered just as some reptiles. They have a significant place in the daily lives of Hindus. Many Hindu scriptures are filled with fables and stories about snakes or Naga devatas. Let us know more about the snakes that are worshiped in Hindu culture.
Snakes worshipped in Hindu culture:
Ananta, Pingala, Vasuki, Takshak and Karkotaka are some of the Snakes that are mentioned in Hindu scriptures as divine. They are honored and worshiped by the Hindus. Some of the details of the snakes are as follows:
It is a thousand headed giant snake on which Lord Vishnu reclines. Ananta is also known as Shesh Nag or Ananta Nag. The posture of Lord Vishnu on Ananta is known as Ananthasayana. The thousand heads of Ananta can rise over the deity of Lord and has power to hold earth. In fact it is mentioned that earth is located on the hoods of Ananta. Literal meaning of Ananta is ‘One who is endless’. Ananta or Shesha nag is the symbol of Eternity.
Vasuki is the king of snakes who has gem in its hoods which is called Nagamani. Vasuki is also mentioned in Buddhist, Japanese and Chinese literatures also. In Bengal Manasa devi is worshipped who is known as the sister of Vasuki. Vasuki is mentioned in Srimad Bhagavaam in the episode of Samudra manthan. Vasuki was used as rope to tie the Mandaranchal mountain in the pastime of Samudra manthan.
Pingala is the chief of Nagas who is described in the story of ‘Four Great Tresures’ in Indian and Buddhist literature. Pingala was mentioned as the protector of the treasure hidden at Kalinga.
Takshak is mentioned in Srimad Bhagavatam as the snake who killed King Parikshat, the first recipient of Srimad Bhagavatam. Takshak took the form of an apple and bit King Parikshit, just to substantiate the curse of the sage.
Karkotaka was Nagavanshi king who was the divine leader of the snakes. Devasri Narada Muni cursed him once as he deceived him once. When he got trapped in some fire one day, King Nal saved him. Then he helped King Nal in his reunion with his wife Damiyanti.
Snakes are worshipped on the day of Naga Panchami which falls on the fifth day of Shrawan month. The devout Hindus get up early in the morning and have holy bath. They go to temples of Naga Devatas and worship all paraphernalia. They bath the deity with milk and offer flowers and fruits.