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Lord Shiva And The Story Of The Snake Around His Neck

Lord Shiva And The Story Of The Snake Around His Neck

Lord Shiva is considered as one of the prime deities in Hinduism and his stories date back into the creation of time. Often depicted as a blue-skinned God sitting in a meditative pose — you may have observed Lord Shiva with a serpent around his neck. Stories about his patient nature, wit and anger have now been adapted in various forms of media. But it is often the snake around his neck that raises enigmas among several. 

The story of Vasuki

According to Puranas, there has always been a mention of snakes in ancient scriptures. In fact, believing firmly in symbolism, Hinduism has many-a-lessons that communicate teachings or morals to us. In this case, the story of the snake coiled three around Lord Shiva’s neck like a garland is that of Vasuki

As per holy scriptures, Vasuki is regarded as the king of Naglok. Born as the second child to Kashyapa and Kadru, Vasuki was also a fervent devotee of Lord Shiva. It is also said that the worshipping of the ‘Shiva Linga’ began with those who belonged from the Nag caste. The earliest mention of Vasuki talks about his participation in the ‘samudra manthan‘ — which was the churning of the milky ocean.

Vasuki is coiled three times around Lord Shiva’s neck.

This act traces the beginning of what is today known as amrita, or the elixir of life. Vasuki, caught between the demons and the Gods as a churning rope, was used to stir the ocean for the elixir. This episode ended up injuring Vasuki, and as a result, his body was left bleeding. He also ended up consuming halala (poison) during this incident but did not complain about his plight to the Lord. Impressed by the depth of his devotion for him, Lord Shiva granted Vasuki immortality by allowing him to be wrapped around his neck.

Snakes and symbolism

In Hinduism and India, snakes are highly revered and worshipped in multiple varying ways. Every year, devotees find themselves worshipping the Nagraj on the occasion of Nag Panchami by performing Nag Pujas. 

On a different occasion, Vasuki was also played the role of a string that tied Lord Shiva’s bow which was later used by him to defeat three cities (Tripura Dahanam). Vasuki acts as a constant reminder of the divine as well as death. To those who are divine, he is the embodiment of his devotion to Lord Shiva, and to those who are not, he is a reminder of death and destruction. Apart from being an ardent devotee, he is also beloved to the Lord himself. It is also said that Vasuki is the medium through which lost souls find their way to Lord Shiva’s feet. 

The symbolism of having a snake wrapped around his neck also depicts Lord Shiva as a fearless, powerful God. Also referred to as Pashupatinath (God of animals), having a tame snake around his neck signifies how Lord Shiva can control the beastly nature of untameable creatures. Several interesting legends lead to Vasuki’s relationship with Lord Shiva. However, by wearing a snake as an ornament, Lord Shiva sends out a powerful message claiming to his devotees that states how overcoming sins and Ahamkara (ego) is under our own control. 

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