Significance of Snakes in Hinduism

Ravikumar Ambadi By Ravikumar Ambadi, 11th Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Religion>Hinduism

Hinduism believes the presence of divine power in all living creatures and all the rituals and customs in Hinduism favors a coexistence among all creatures. However, snakes are treated with a special regard.

Logic Behind Worshiping Snake Gods

Snakes have great significance in every religion. A serpentine is being considered the symbol of many things. It represents the sexual eager in some beliefs while it symbolizes rebirth in others. It reminds one about the death and at the same time it is being regarded as a cause for birth. No other creatures have this much importance in human life. Hinduism, being a philosophy that developed with a belief that nature is the god gives more importance to snakes than any other religion. Worshiping of Snake Gods is a common practice in Hinduism.
Kundalini Shakthi or the invisible energy that influence one’s life is believed to be seated at the lower end of the vertebral column. Various customs and rituals in Hinduism are aimed at bringing this energy to the top to attain divinity. According to Hinduism this energy cannot brought up in animals and hence they are not able to walk on two legs. It will be at the lower portion of the vertebral column when a man takes birth. As it starts moving upwards he will be able to walk on two legs. It will not go beyond the abdominal level in common people and to some it may go up to the chest level. When it reaches at the top end of vertebral column, he or she will attain divinity and will be regarded as god.
You need to have a strong control over your thoughts and emotion to reach at this level and the major hurdle in front of us is the ego. We have to kill the ego first and then with the regular practice of various rituals and customs in their real sense to reach at this level. Lord Shiva, who is portrayed as a person wearing skins of plants denotes the importance of removing the ego. A person without ego will not care much about physical appearance. Shiva, who is with a garland of snake around his neck, also symbolizes a person with Kundalini Shakthi at the top most position. Here the snake is being used as a symbol for Kundalini Shakthi.
Snakes are very vigilant creatures and prefer to fight with enemies always. That could be the reason for considering snakes as the guards of temples. Every Hindu temple you can see the idols of snakes outside the sanctum sanctorum. Every devotee who comes to visit the temple should and will pay a visit to these snake deities also.
Snakes frequently remove their skin by molting to get a new and fresh look. That could be the reason for considering them as the symbols of rebirth. According to Hinduism, when a person dies, his soul will go off from him and will take a new body. In other words, every birth according to Hinduism is a rebirth. Hence snakes are worshiped to have children. There is a temple in Kerala the southernmost state of India called Mannarasala, where most of the devotees are coming to seek blessings to have children. There is a special offering there known as Uruli Kamzhthal for this purpose. When a devotee offers this specific offering, he is donating an Uruli, a traditional vessel made in copper to the temple. Both the husband and wife will come together and put this vessel on the door step of the temple upside down. Then they will donate some specific amount to the temple authorities to perform monthly rituals. It is believed that within a year the devotee will have a baby. Once the child is born, the devotees will visit the temple once again and keep the vessel in the real position after performing a series of rituals.
Molting could be the reason for relating snakes to skin diseases. It is believed that all types of skin diseases will get cured with the blessings of serpentine gods.
There are some species of snakes such as rattle snakes that live on smaller animals and creatures such as rats. These snakes will function as biological pesticides. That could be the reason for considering snakes as protectors of farms. In ancient days in Kerala, there used to have a Sarppakavu, a place designated for serpentine gods in every paddy field. This designated area will have one or two huge trees and several smaller plants and bushes. It also will have an attached water body like a pond. These Sarppakavus played an important role in preserving the nature. Even now you can see many such Sarppakavus in Kerala, especially in Palakkad District.
Thus snakes and snake gods have great importance in Hinduism. As you see poisonous and non-poisonous snakes in the nature, you can see snakes or Nagas, as they called in Sanskrit with good characters and evil characters in many Hindu epics. Anantha Naga, Vasuki etc are the ones with divine power when Kaliya, who has been killed by Sri Krishna, is a snake with evil character. There are several rituals such as Sarppa Bali, Sarppam thullal, Ashtanaga Kalam etc to appease snake gods and all are being performed at regular intervals at various places.


Kerala Myths, Mannarasala, Sarppakavu, Serpentine Gods, Snake Gods, Snakes

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author avatar Ravikumar Ambadi
A freelance writer and activist. Also engaged in digital marketing. Takes up new challenges in digital marketing and trying new techniques to yield maximum results for the client

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30th Nov 2013 (#)


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