Thursday, November 26, 2009

Serpent or Cobra speciality

Some parts of southern India is believed to be once covered with dense jungles, during the ancient times. Snakes and cobras were abundant in the jungle during that period. When people here started converting the forest land into agricultural land, these reptiles started to become extinct or had no place. Many of them where killed without any reason. Then problems started arising one after the other. Most of these problems were because of the ancestors who killed snakes or pelted stones at these reptiles for their safety. The people had to face unknown kinds of skin diseases and other family related problems because of this. Ultimately the root of such problems were found in horoscopes and they called it "Sarpadosha".

The cobras were believed to be equivalent of a brahmin(a hindu priestly class person). The cobras in this land were treated like gods and worshipped. To get rid of this Sarpadosha, the people started following many kinds of serpent god related celebrations. They also installed the holy stones with serpent god's image carved on them, and called it as Stone serpent( Naganakallu in kannada language).

In some places they also built small shrines. These shrines were called Nagabrahmasthana or shortly as Brahmasthana. There annual celebrations such as Nema or Naga darshana were conducted. Nagabrahma mandala, Dakkebali, Ashlesha bali etc. were also conducted during some auspicious days.

Dakkebali celebration

Learn more about Dakkebali celebration at this famous page:

Nagabrahma Mandala

Dakkebali celebration

Tulunadu is that part of Dakshina Kannada region(South kanara district) in Karnataka where people communicate in Tulu language. Here, Serpent or Cobra worship is done in a special way. One can see Cobra worship performed extensively here, than in any part of the world. Every town, every village and every family have the stone snakes installed for worship.

This part is also called Nagaloka(Serpent world) or Nagarakhanda(Serpent zone). There are many types in Serpent worship.

Installing stone snakes, offering of milk to serpent god, to perform Tambila, to make the serpent god possessed in someone, Ashlesha bali, Dakkebali, Nagamandala.

There are 3 ways of performing the Nagamandala:

1) ¼ mandala of sacred 4.
2) ½ mandala of scared 8.
3) Full mandala of sacred 16.

Nagamandala is performed in an open place or vast field. Nagapathris(one who gets possessed)and vaidyas make this ritual a huge success. The Areca flowers are piled up like anything, for this ritual. Nagamandala is a religious activity here.

Kukke Subrahmanya in South kanara district of Karnataka, India, is a holy place to get effective results or remedies for any kind of Sarpadosha. Here the people who are in trouble because of Sarpadosha come to the temple and ask the priests to help them perform the Ashlesha bali. This place is said to have more power than any other holy place for such a ritual related to the Nagas(cobras).

When a cobra is seen lying dead anywhere, Sarpasamskara is performed to come out of the Sarpadosha. As the cobra is said to be of the Brahmin caste, these last rites and rituals are necessary, according to Hindus.

A similar Serpent god related "Srimad Anantheshwar temple" of GSB community at Manjeshwar, Kerala State:

Rath for the Shashti celebration at Manjeshwar:

Holy chariot named Chandramandala for the Shashti celebration:

Gold Lalkhi taken for Utsav celebration at Manjeshwar, on the Panchami day:

Ratharohan at Manjeshwar temple:


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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Enchanting dance of cobra

Serpent King Thakshak’s story:

King by name Parikshith, the grandson of Arjuna ruled over Hastinapura after the reign of Pandavas. Once when Parikshith went for hunting, he felt thirsty. He went to a nearby hut. it belonged to sage Shameek. The king called out loudly to help him get some water. But as the sage was in deep meditation he could not hear any of the King's words. The king got annoyed.

He brought a dead snake from the nearby forest and put it on the sage Shameek's shoulder and around the neck. Yet the sage didn't show any signs of coming out from his meditation posture. The king left the place egoistically. Soon after, the sage Shameek's son returned to the hut, got burnt with anger and fury on finding his father’s salvation being disrupted. He cursed the King that he would die on the seventh day with the bite of Thakshak king of venomous snakes. Sage scolded his son for this revengeful act and said, "Devotees of the Lord are not rightful of this act of cursing someone. It is the Divine himself who will carve the path of repayment of our deeds.”

Later, the King realised his mistake and readily accepted the curse. He thought of hearing the Shri Mad Bhagwat Puraan, a holy book, for the whole week before his death and for the purification of his sinful deed. He was inside the palace for all seven days with tight security around in order to escape this death. But Indra, the king of devathas disguised in the form of a Brahmin and came with a basket of fruits. And the serpent king Thakshak hid himself in the form of a small worm in one of those fruits. The Brahmin said he wanted to offer those special fruits to the king and got permission from the guards to enter the palace. As he was offering those fruits to the King, the King saw the small worm in the fruit. He carelessly took it in his hand and placed it on the silky cloth on his shoulder. Suddenly, the worm transformed itself into a huge snake, Thakshak and bit hardly on the king’s face. Then, the huge Cobra snake vanished through the window after it’s job was accomplished. The king’s efforts to escape from death went in vain. But his decision of hearing the holy Bhagawath Puraan led him to Vaikunth, the abode of Lord Vishnu, on the day of his cursed death.

Now, the dead King’s son, Janamejaya vowed to take revenge of his father’s death. He organised a yagna called “Sarpa yaga” to destroy Lord Indra and all the kinds of snakes on the earth.

Brahspatiji, the guru of devathas, came to Indra’s rescue and asked Janamejaya to stop the yagna as this led to only more and more sins. He further explained that this hateful revenge did not let him realise that the curse had led his father to the purest path of salvation and inturn he would only take the lives of millions of snakes on the earth, a sin in itself. Then Sage Vasista asked Janamejaya to perform construction of Vishnava temples to redeem the sins of killing innocent snakes during Sarpa Yagna.

Serpent dance in movies:

Cobra snake is thought to be equivalent of a brahmin(a hindu priestly class person) in India. Indian mythology and scriptures reveal many stories related to these snakes. Indians treat cobra snakes equal to that of gods. Every year Nagpanchami is celebrated in most parts of India to pay special respect to the serpent god. On this day, stone snakes are bathed with milk, honey, tender coconut water, turmeric etc. And decorated with Areca and ketaki flowers. They have special respect for these Cobras. According to the Hindus in this region, a person or his descendants will suffer from unknown skin diseases or family related problems if he/she kills a cobra snake. Even stone pelting to cobra snakes can bring some untold sufferings. Snake charmers in India have spread myths which are totally misleading.

Indian movies are sometimes filmed on these snake related stories. A few are very interesting to watch even to this day . One of them is actress Sridevi's Nagina(1986).

Sridevi in "Nagina"

Waheeda Rehman in "Guide"

Reena Roy in "Nagin"

Naga Mani or cobra pearl:

There are so many legends that throw light upon the mystic "Nagmani". An Ichhadhari(a power to transform oneself into any form of being) nag or Cobra develops this nagmani in it’s mouth after completion of it’s 100 living years. When it doesn’t use it’s venom for any purpose, it gets converted into a precious Nagmani. It then preserves the mani within the throat all the time. Whenever it wants to use it as a bait for catching the prey, it keeps the mani on a rock or on the ground which illuminates the whole area in red light. Then whichever creatures that comes close to it or found in that light are eaten by this cobra.

According to the Hindu mythology, there is a separate place called “Naglok”( serpent world), meant for all types of cobras and snakes which are Ichadharis. This has been given in some indian epics. Scientific research also proved that snakes can stay underground without oxygen for several months during it’s hibernation period. Also they are the only creatures other than human beings that possess the power to awaken kundalini shakthi. In fact snakes get thier kundalini awakened naturally unlike humans who strive with great efforts and sadhanas.

The person who wishes to get this nagamani tries to spot the glow of red light in any jungle or an open place. When he is sure about it, he climbs a nearby tree and throws a large iron tavva or a big iron vessel on it with a rope carefully. Then the cobra bites and hits it’s hood to the iron vessel till it dies. The cobra tries to regain the mani till its last breath. If anyone comes in front of the male cobra(nag) when it dies, the image would be captured in the eyes of it and the female cobra(nagin) later chases that person and bites him till the person dies.

This whole venture is dangerous as well as risky. If the snake commits suicide the curse of the Snake will befall on the collector and his descendants. Because of this sinful act, there are families which are still unable to come out of the curse of the Cobra snake. In the holy books, it is said that Lord Shiva gave Nagamani to all Nagadevathas(snake gods) and not to selfish humans.

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