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    About Nagaraja

    Nagaraja - The King of Snakes


    Nagaraja is a title given to three main deities – Vasuki, Takshakaand Shesha– all of whom are children of the great sage KashyapKashyapKashyap
    Kashyap is regarded as one of the Saptarishis. He is also considered...
    and his wife, Kadru. She is the wife of the sage Kashyap and a daughter of king Daksha. She was the mother of thousand serpents and was a rival of her sister, Vinita The name NagarajaNagarajaNagaraja
    Nagaraja is a title given to three main deities – Vasuki, Takshakaand Shesha– all of whom are children of the great sage Kashyap and his wife, Kadru.
    is a conjugation of two Sanskrit words “Naga” and “Raja”. The word “Naga” means “snake or serpent” and “Raja” means king. Hence, the name Nagaraja means “king of snakes or serpents.” The deities are very important and popular among the Hindus and are worshipped with great devotion and passion all over the world.




    Vasuki is the snake and a great devotee of ShivaShivaShiva
    Shiva is one of the Supreme Gods of Hindu Trinity that ...
    and is present virtually always around the neck of the deity. It is believed vasuki He is one of the king serpents, given high privilege in Hindu mythology. He is depicted with a gem on his head. He is the snake of Lord Shiva and the brother of another snake named Manasa. He is the jewel of Shiva and sits around his neck. He was blessed by Shiva and thus given an important status. He was one of the main participants in the churning of the ocean. He was used as the churning rope and his one end was held by the demons and the other by Gods. His face was at the demons side and thus they were affected by his venom. was once blessed by Shiva and he wore Vasuki as an ornament around his neck.




    Vasuki is mostly depicted as a beautiful snake coiling around the neck of Shiva. In other depictions, Vasuki is portrayed as a long rope as a snake. Vasuki is shown as a rope in the scene of SamudraManthan, tied around Mount Mandara and being pulled from the two sides while the churning of the great ocean is being performed. He is also shown in the same form used as a rope tied to a boat and the horn of the Matsyaincarnation of Vishnu, portraying the scene of the great flood.




    Legends state that Indra, the king of gods, had become very arrogant and proud because of his position and powers. He left no occasion to show off his power and considered himself above all. Once he went out to roam leisurely in his kingdom on his favorite elephant Airavata. On his way, he encountered the great sage Durvasa. Durvasa was a very powerful and influential sage who was revered by all beings, including gods and was known to get angry very quickly. Everyone revered him and chose their words wisely while talking to him. Indra, however, did not even greet the sage properly and displayed a very casual temperament. But Durvasa was not enraged by this. Durvasa was carrying a very special garland made of flowers that never withered away and had a strong and unique fragrance. He gifted the garland to Indra. Indra took that garland and put in on Airavata's head very carelessly. However, due to the strong fragrance of the flowers, the elephant was unable to bear it and threw the garland down. This made Durvasa very angry, and his eyes became red filled with rage. At that point of time, Indra remembered the true power of Durvasa and realized that Durvasa would curse him. Indra hurriedly came down and bowed down to the sage asking for forgiveness. However, Durvasa told him that he had bowed down only because he had realized that he would be cursed. Durvasa then proceeded to teach Indra a lesson and cursed that Indra along with all the Devas would lose their powers and become feeble. Indra kept on apologizing, but the sage went away.

    Soon the curse of Durvasa became effective and all the Devas, including Indra, began to lose their powers and became exhausted. All of a sudden, the asuras attacked the heaven and Indra felt extremely terrified as he could not fight the demons and protect his kingdom. Even his army had become extremely weak. Everybody then approached BrahmaBrahmaBrahma
    According to Hinduism, the whole creation is the work of Trimurti (the Hindu Trinity)...
    to seek help. However, Brahma told them to go to VishnuVishnuVishnu
    Vishnu is one of the Supreme Gods of Hindus and is a part of Hindu Trinity,..
    instead. They then visited Vishnu and Indra told the whole incident to him. Vishnu then looked at Brahma and asked him Indra should be forgiven. Brahma replied that Indra had learned his lesson and should be forgiven now. Vishnu then told Indra that he along with the Devas should perform SamudraManthan, i.e., the churning of the great ocean. he told them that upon doing so, a divine nectar called Amrit The term ‘Amrit’ is used for the water or nectar of immortality. The word was used in Rigveda for the nectar which is drunk by Gods to gain immortality. It was one of the outcomes of samudra manthan. There was a curse on gods by Durvasa because of which they started becoming mortal and then they needed this drink for immortality. Later on the water which is given as prasadam to devotees in the temples is also called Amrit as it is believed to be blessed by Gods. It is the holy water which is sweet-tasting. It is consumed in the name of the God. would come out of it which would provide immortality and great power to whoever consumed it. The Asuras got to know about it as well, and they went towards the great ocean as well. However, the process of churning the great ocean was not possible for them as there was no fulcrum or proper mechanism for them. Upon this, the snake king Vasuki approached them and told everyone that they should use him as a rope. He also told them to wind him around Mount Mandara and pull him from two ends to perform the SamudraManthan. Eventually, with the help of Vasuki and blessings of Vishnu, Amrit came out the great ocean, and the Devas consumed it first, thus, restoring their powers.


    Another famous legend states that once Vishnu told Satyavrata ManuManuManu
    Manu, also popularly known Satyavrata Manu or Shraddha Deva Manu, is regarded as the ancestor of all humanity according to Hinduism.
    that a great flood was about to come which would submerge the whole world. He instructed Satyavrata Manu to gather the Saptarishisand with their counsel gathers all kinds of herbs, seeds, other living beings, etc. He told him to load all of them on a boat which would be sent by Vishnu on the day of the great flood. Vishnu told Satyavrata Manu to use Vasuki as a rope and ties the boat with the fish horn of his MatsyaMatsyaMatsya
     Matsya Avatar was the first Avatar of Vishnu, among the Dashavatara...
    form. Vishnu then disappeared, and Satyavrata Manu proceeded to do as he was instructed by the deity. On the day of the great flood, a boat was sent by Vishnu and Satyavrata Manu loaded all the beings and things on it. He tied the boat with Vasuki as a rope to the horn of Matsya and with the huge waves of the flood, the boat started to sail. Thus, Matsya, with the help of Vasuki, saved Satyavrata Manu and others from the great flood.


    Temples and Festivals


    Vasuki has several temples dedicated to him all over India. One of the most prominent temples of the snake king is the Vasukinag Temple at Bhaderwah in Doda district of Jammu & Kashmir. Another famous temple of Vasuki is the Nagvasuki NagvasukiNagvasuki
    Dotting to the whole world, the millionaire of saintly belief–India has penned down the history of many religions, in fact. India....
    Temple at Allahabad, located on the banks of the holy river GangaGangaGanga
    According to Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu in one of....
    . Nagvasuki Temple is one of the oldest temples of India, and a stone idol is Vasuki is placed in the center of the temple premises. One of the most important festivals associated with Vasuki is NagulaChavithi, which signifies the day when the serpent god helped in performing the SamudraManthan.




    Takshaka, also known as Tanaka, is also a Nagaraja and is believed to be a descendant of the city named Takshashila. Takshaka is believed to represent the dangerous and venomous aspect of the snakes. Various references have been made to the snake king in the Hindu epic Mahabharata.




    Takshaka is usually depicted as an anthropomorphic being with both human and snake-like features. Takshaka is portrayed to have large round eyes and is clad in a beautiful dress. He is adorned with jewels, ornaments, flowers, garlands and a crown. He is mostly portrayed to have seven heads and is generally accompanied by Dhanvantari.




    There are many Vedic texts and references that state that once upon a time there was a very powerful sage named Manasa. She was the daughter of Brahma and a great disciple and student of Shiva. She was also a great worshipper and a devotee of Vishnu. When she achieved womanhood, she married a great sage named Jaratkaru. The couple was blessed with a son named Aasthika. But when Manasa She is a Hindu folk serpent-Goddess who is worshipped majorly in Bengal and various north-east parts of India. She is worshipped for protection from snake-bites and long and prosperous life. She was married to a sage named Jaratkaru and with him she parented a son named Astika. She is depicted as a woman covered with snakes and sitting on a lotus. On her head, seven cobras make a hood-like structure. She is also known as the one-eyed goddess. She is mostly worshipped without an image, rather a branch of tree or an earthen pot or a snake image is used as her symbol and is offered prayers. was pregnant Jaratkaru He was a very learned sage who was married to the snake Goddess named Manasa and with whom he parented Astika. She is believed to practice severe asceticism. He didn’t have any inclination towards getting married but he was asked to so by his forefathers as they were destined to go to hell in the absence of any child of Jaratkaru sage. The couple didn’t share any emotional bond. He only impregnated her for his forefathers and left her all alone to give birth and then raise a child all by herself. They were married only for the sage to perform his “husbandly duties”. left his family and went away. Therefore, their son Aasthika was brought up by Manasa alone. Just like his mother, Aasthika received tutelage from Brahma and Shiva, as well.


    Around that time, there was a king called Janamejaya. His father was Raja Parikshit. Raja Parikshit was a great king himself. However, once he threw a snake on a sage to wake him up from his meditation and, as a result, he was cursed by the sage that he would soon die due to a snake bite. Eventually, in accordance with the curse, Raja Parikshit died of a snake bite, precisely by the snake named Takshaka. Takshaka was a great devotee of Vishnu and even received a boon from the deity. As it was already prophesied, he had to play the part of killing Raja Parikshit. It is believed that as soon as Raja Parikshit was bitten by Takshaka, Dhanvantari, who is regarded as the god of medicines, went out to collect some herbs to prepare medicine along with his followers in order to save Raja Parikshit. When DhanvantariDhanvantariDhanvantari
    Dhanvantri, also known as Physician of Gods and Guardian deity of hospitals...
    was collecting various items to prepare the medicine, Takshaka assumed the form of a wood stick of a sandalwood tree. Dhanvantari took Takshaka, presuming him to be a wood stick of sandalwood tree, along with him and carried him on his shoulder. Before he could go back to Raja Parikshit and save him, Takshaka bit Dhanvantari and killed him. Eventually, due to lack of medicine and treatment Raja Pariskhit died as well.


    In order to avenge his father’s death, Janamejaya organized a SarpaYajna, a ritual ceremony and offering to the deities for killing the snakes. Soon, the Yajna began and snakes from all over the world started falling and dying in the ceremonial fire of the Yajna. Numerous snakes fell into the fire and met the same fate, except Takshaka. He utterly prevented himself from going to the Yajna. While the yajna was going on, he was circling around the throne of Indra in the heaven. As soon as Janamejaya got to know that Indra was protecting Takshaka, he along with the saints started chanting very powerful mantras due to which Indra’s throne started to fly in the air and began coming closer to the Yajna’s fire. All the Devas and demigods were terrified and quickly went to Brahma for help in order to save Indra. Brahma then replied that they should approach Manasa as she would be able to help them. Everyone then went to Manasa and she told them that only her son Aasthika could help and save Indra. Manasa then told her son to save Indra by stopping the Yajna. Aasthika then proceeded towards the yajna and did as he was told by his mother. He stopped the yajna and rescued Indra and also prevented the killing of the snakes. After that, the snake god Takshaka thanked Manasa and Aasthika for saving everyone and blessed them. He told everyone that whoever would listen to their story will be protected from snake bites and their venom. He also added that the person would become free from the fear of snakes and will be blessed by the serpent gods themselves.


    Temples, Festivals, and Beliefs


    There are various temples serpent kings all over India. One of the most prominent temples dedicated solely to Takshaka is the Taxakeshawar temple in Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh. According to various legends, Takshaka is considered as a resident of the place and is believed to still live there. It is also believed that Dhanvantari stays here as well. The local doctors of Ayurveda, also known as vaidyas, first worship Dhanvantari here and then collect the herbs to prepare medicines. It is believed that the day, when the yajna was stopped by Aasthika, happened to be the auspicious Naga Panchami. Hence, the festival of Naga Panchami has become prominent since that time and it is one of the most important and popular festivals of the world. It is considered that worshipping Takshaka on Naga Panchami protects the devotees from snake bites, fear of snakes and all the evils of the world. Women who are childless usually offer prayers to the serpent god on this day to get the blessings and have children. It is also believed that seeing snakes in one's dream on this day, brings about enormous wealth for that person. Moreover, Takshaka holds great importance as it is a very popular belief that worshipping the serpent God with purity and sincerity removes the Kala Sarpa Dosh from a person’s kundli. This, ultimately results in removal of all the obstacles in one's life and paves the path to great success ahead.




    Shesha, also popularly known as Sheshanaga, Adishesha and Ananta Shesha, is the eldest of the Nagaraja brothers and is a great devotee of Vishnu. Shesha is believed to represent the friendly and protective aspect of the snakes; more specifically, in the context of protection of food from various rodents.




    Shesha is most often depicted as a huge snake floating in coiled position in space or on the KsheeraSagara. He forms a bed for Vishnu on which the deity rests and his consort LakshmiLakshmiLakshmi
    Lakshmi is a Hindu goddess who is regarded as the ultimate deity of wealth...
    massages his feet. Shesha is shown to have five, seven or a many thousand heads and wears the ornamental crown on each head.




    The name Shesha is a Sanskrit word which means “the remainder or all which is remaining.” This is by the legend that after the world is destroyed, Shesha will remain as he is. Shesha is regarded as not just an assistant of Vishnu but also his manifestation. It is believed that when Shesha uncoils, the time moves forward, and creation takes place in the universe, and when he coils back again, everything in the universe stops to exist. There are many temples of Shesha all over the world in which he is usually worshiped along with Vishnu. The city of Thiruvananthapuram, which means “city of Lord Ananta,” is named after him.




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