Nag Panchami is the occasion meant for remembering the snakes and paying obeisance to them. ‘Naga’ is the word for the snake and ‘Panchami’ is the fifth lunar day. Naga Panchami falls on the Panchami day of the bright fortnight of the Moon during the month of Shravan (July-August), when people offer worship to serpent Gods and perform rituals in their honor.
The secrets of the Nagas
The meaning of the Sanskrit word ‘Naga’ may be the snake, but the term doesn’t denote only the reptile. It represents great energies, which are in the form of electrical forces. These are present all over the cosmos and operate at different levels, from the material plane to that of ultimate consciousness.
It can be said that space consists of many hollows or holes, through which various currents in their subtle forms are always flowing. These currents can be said as the energies that arise in such holes and move through the channels. In a figurative sense, these energy flows can be equated to the movement of the Nagas, the serpents.
The human body is also similar, which has in it numerous channels. These channels form part of the entire system of the body such as the digestive, respiratory and the circulatory systems, and also the brain, and it is through these channels that prana, the vital life force flows in various frequencies. It is this critical activity which can be said to keep us alive and kicking.
Worship to Gods
By honoring the Nagas, we are not only showing respect to these fellow creatures of ours on earth but are also honoring none other than Lord Shiva himself. This Lord adorns his body with snakes and is rightfully hailed as Nageshwara, the Lord of the Snakes.
While the snake acts as an ornament to this supreme divinity, for the other supreme God Vishnu, the snake remains as the bed on which this Lord always rests in his abode of Vaikunt.
Thus the snake-worship is no mere serpent-veneration but opens the gateway for the worship of the supreme forces of the universe.
Kundalini is a power that occupies a pride of place in the realm of spirituality. Known as the Kundalini Shakthi, it is the intense energy of a higher level of prana and supreme awareness. This is often compared to a snake and customarily depicted in the image of a serpent. This force remains coiled in the energy center called the Muladhara Chakra or the earth chakra, located at the base of the spine, just like a snake remains coiled when it is dormant. This is believed to be the life energy which is in its sleeping state.
The ultimate purpose of the spiritual practice of Yoga Sadhana itself is said to be the awakening of this all-important Kundalini. Once this is achieved, the Shakthi will send powerful positive energies in the form of currents up the spine and also spread them throughout the body and mind. This happening is generally compared to the rising of a snake and the spreading of its hood. This immense energy will then get extended beyond the individual to the entire universe, and raise the self to the level of the infinite.