|8 ‘Naga Panchami’ Vrata`-Origin and Procedure of Worship|
When Rakshasas and Devas undertook the task of churning the Ocean to seek the emergence of ‘Amrit’, several entities got materialised among whom was a Horse named ‘Uchhaih Shrava’ with a white body but black in hair. Kadru the mother of Nagas (Snakes) remarked to her ‘Sapatni’ (co-wife) Vinata that Ucchhaih Shrava was white in body but black in hair, but Vinata replied that the horse was all white.The ‘Sapatnis’ took a bet and to prove her point, Kadru called her Naga sons to paint the horse hair white all over.The Naga sons did not to do so as it was immoral and an angry Kadru gave a ‘Shaap’(curse) to her sons that after the Great Battle of Maha Bharata between Pandavas and Kauravas, a Pandava King named Janamejaya would perform a ‘Sarpa Yagna’ in which the entire ‘Sarpa Vamsa’would be destroyed. The ‘Naga Ganas’ were afraid of their mother’s curse and with the help of Vasuki approached Lord Brahma who assuaged their fears and said that ‘Tapasvi’Brahmana called Astika, son of Jaratkaaru, would save a sizeable snake population from destruction. Lord Shri Krishna also confirmed the fact to Yudhishtara of Pandavas in the Epic of Maha Bharata that some hundred years hence King Janamejaya would perform ‘Sarpa Yagna’ or Sacrifice of Serpents to avenge the death of his father King Pareekshit who died of the bite of Taksha the most obnoxious serpent following a curse of a Brahmana son of a Sage in meditation for an insult caused by the King to the Sage by hanging a dead snake around the Sage’s neck. The intervention of Astika to stop the Sarpa Yagna of burning crores of poisonous snakes in the ‘Homaagni’ or the Sacrificial Fire was held on a Panchami Tithi Day when the Snake Vamsa was rescued and that was why Naga Panchami, the fifth day of Shravana Shuddha Fortnight came to be observed. Thus worship of poisonous Snakes on that day by way of washing and feeding them at their pits with milk as also performing formal Pujas with flowers, ‘Dhup’by incense sticks, ‘Arati’ with camphor lighting or Oil-soaked cotton vicks, and Naivedya with ‘Kheer’ to the Serpent. Brahmanas recite Mantras like the following to protect the devotees:
Sarva Nagaah preeyantam mey yey kechit Prithivithaley,
yey cha helimarichistha yentarey Divi samstithah/
Yey Nadeeshu Mahanaga ye Sarasvati gaaminah,
yey cha Vaapee tadagashu teshu sarveshu vai namah
(May all Nagas whether on Earth, Sky, Swarga, in the Sun rays, Sarovaras or lakes, wells or other water bodies, be appeased as we greet these deities again and again). After the formal worship, Brahmanas are treated by good food commencing with sweets and savouries and by ‘dakshinas’ or cash and gifts.The ‘Sarpa Vrata’ is best observed in the Panchami Tithis of all the months by worshipping the Twelve leading Snakes named: Ananta, Vasuki, Shankha, Padma, Kambala, Karkotaka, Aswatara, Dhrita Rashtra, Shankhapaala, Kaaliya, Takshaka and Pingala. Sincere devotion to Naga Devas by peforming the Pujas would save the entire family of ‘Naga Bhaya’ or the Fear of Snakes as also of Snake bites to the entire generation of their lives. Nag Puja also bestows health, longevity, and great peace of mind.
Sage Sumantu quoted to King Shataani the conversation between Maharshis Kashyapa and Gautama about the features, appearances and types of serpents: During the Jeyshtha and Ashaadha months, serpents tend to very aggressive and the male /female variety turns into mutual union. During the rainy season, the female snake conceives and remains pregnant for four months and during the Kartika month delivers two hundred forty eggs but by the dispensation of Mother Nature only a very few remain intact. The mother snake retain the eggs for six months and seven days after their emergence, the baby serpents assume black colour. Normally the life span of a serpent is twenty years but it is a known fact that every day there is a threat of life to the reptile from peacocks, human beings,chakora birds, cats, pigs, scorpions, as also by cows, buffalos, horses and camels which kill the snakes by their horns and feet. After a bite, its poison gets immediately gets replenished. A serpent has two hundred feet enabling tremendous speed in mobility but in a stationary state not visible. It has a mouth, two tongues, thirty two teeth and four
extended teeth called makari, karaali, kaalaratri and yamaduti stated to signify Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra and Yama. There are eight reasons as to why a snake bites, viz. by way of hard weight, erstwhile enemity, fear, arrogance, hunger, speedy production of excessive poison, safety of its progeny and provocation.A snake bite is normally irrevocable causing death.But, depending on physical indications of the affected person, there certainly are ‘Aoushadhis’ which could do miracles!
Seven Stages of physical features as per the speed impact of the poison after the snake bite: In the first stage of the speed effect, the indication is ‘Romancha’or stiffening of body hair; in the second stage, there would be excessive sweating; in the third stage, there wuld be body shiver; in the fourth stage hearing capacity is affected; in the fifth stage, there would be hiccups or gulping sounds; in the sixth stage the neck gets dropped; in the seventh stage, poison gets spread all over the body.
If eye-vision is diminishing and the whole body has a burning sensation, then probably the skin of the poisoned person is affected; a pounded mixture of ‘Aaak Jad’, ‘Apamaarg’, ‘Tagar’ and ‘Priyangu’ in water should reduce the impact of the poison.
Since blood flow into the skin pores is spreading poison, the person feels excessively thirsty and might even swoon and hence cold items be provided with a grinding of ‘Usheer’ /’Khas’, ‘chandan’, ‘kuut’, Tagar’, ‘Neelotpal’, ‘Sinduvaar Jada’, ‘Dhuter jad’,
‘Hing’ (Asafoetida), and ‘mircha’ should help; if not: ‘Bhatakatayya’, ‘Indrana jad’, and ‘Sarpagandhi’ should be ground in a mix and administered; if this mix is also ineffective, grinding of Sinduvar and Hing powder be given as a drink with water; these powders could also be used as ‘Anjan’ and ‘Lepa’.
If poison enters ‘pitta’ into blood, the patient jumps up and down, the body becomes yellowish, vision becomes yellowish too, the person gets thirsty and swooning; at this stage, a mixture of Peepul, honey, mahuva, ghee, ‘thumba jad’ and Indrayana Jad should all be ground together and along with Cow’s urine made into a paste as powder, lepana and Anjana.If poison enters ‘Kapha’ due to Pitta, the body becomes stiff, breating becomes difficult, throat makes sounds, and ‘lar’ comes out of mouth; then ‘Peepul, mirch, sounth, sleshmataka of bahuvara vriksha/tree and lodh and Madhusara’ should be mixed (grinding) and an equal part with cow’s urine and used as a lepana /anjana.
If poison enters Vaata with Kapha, the affected person’s stomach gets bloated and vision gets blocked, then ‘Shona (Sonagaachha) jad, Priyal, Gajapeepul, Bhaarangi, Vacha, Peepul, Devadaru, Mahuva, Madhusara, Sinduvara and Hing’ should be powdered (grinding) in ‘golis’ and make the patient eat, as also use as lepana/anjana.
If poison enters ‘Mazza’ due to Vaata, the affected person gets blinded and all body parts get disfunctioned, then a mixture of ghee, honey, sugar with Khas, ane chandana be pounded and given as a drink, or administer its powder through inhaling.
If poison enters majja to ‘marmasthaan’, all body parts fail and the body drops on the Earth; by cutting the veins blood is not shown, then the ultimate medicine prescribed by Lord Rudra would be ‘Mritasanjeevani Auoshadhi’ viz. Peacock Pitta and Marajarika Pitta, Gandhanadi jad, Kumkum, tagar, kut, Kaasamarda’s chhaal, Utpal, Kumud and Kamal all in equal parts along with Cow’s urine be mixed (grinding) and use a nashya/anjana; by so doing Kalasarpa becomes a Hamsa (swan).
Sage Kashyapa advised humanity through Gautama Muni, that recital of the following Mantra especially after sincerely performing Naga Panchami Vrata on the Panchami Tithis of Shravana Shukla, Bhadrapada Shukla as also Ahwin Shukla months viz.
Om Kurukulley phat swaha. Recital of the Mantra is a Heavy Security Shield and no snake of any description would and could approach the devotee concerned.
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