Importance of Naga WorshipThe religious tradition of this land regards Naga, the snake or serpent, as a divinity. The ancient people, both feared, and revered snakes and this belief continues to this day. Many legends and scriptures associate the Gods with the snakes. While Lord Vishnu, the God of protection and preservation has the serpent Adhisesha as his couch, Lord Shiva, the God of destruction, always adorns himself with another serpent around his neck. Our mythology claims that our Earth rests on Shesh Nag and that we experience earthquakes when he shakes his heads. Thus, snakes have always carried a lot of religious and spiritual significance.
Antiquity of Nag PanchamiThe snake-worship has a very ancient origin as references to it are found even in the Vedic texts. While there are distinct hints about snake-worship in Rig Veda, the earliest of Vedas, the Yajur Veda provides more specific details about the custom. There are specific pieces of evidence of this worship continuing in the post-Vedic periods too. While different serpent forms like the Nagas and the Sarpas find mention in the great epic Mahabharatha, Lord Krishna goes a step further in his exposition of the sacred Bhagavad Gita, wherein he avers that he is represented by Vasuki, the great Sarpa, and Ananta, the great Naga. The Bhagavata Purana, another holy text paints the picture of 12 mighty serpents including Vasuki forming the reins of the Sun God’s chariot and each of them being held as sacred during a particular month of the year. Panchatantra, the very famous fables too speaks in good detail about the serpents being held in high reverence by our ancients. Stone carvings of snakes are also found in many Hindu temples, whereas images of rituals related to snake-worship find a place in the internationally renowned Ajanta caves.