Don’t we all get goosebumps when we see a snake clip on social media or on television, forget about seeing one in real life, it would scare one to death! Is this the fear of venom that could poison us to death? This fear, despite holding the malice in our hearts against others, which is no lesser poisonous than snake venom. Let me spare you all readers of all this “Gyan” and take you into the mystical world of Nag people.
Snake People or otherwise popularly known as “Nag” in Hindi (thanks to Bollywood), carry a fair share of mentions in Hindu mythology. In Puranas, Nag people are described as both human beings and also at some places as snakes. These people were the worshipper of Snakes. In Mahabharata, there’s a dedicated chapter on a fierce fight between the King of Nag people “Takshak” and “Pandavas”. As per “Gandharva” Veda, powerful Aryans sometime made ‘Gandharva Vivah’ with the young girls of Nag clan. These young girls would then be thrown into promiscuity so as to lure in powerful male rulers from enemy states & put them to permanent sleep. It is said that these young girls from Nag clan could carry poison in their body which would be transmitted into male partner ‘s body during sexual intercourse. In Mahabharat, Arjun (a Pandava) made Gandharva Vivah with “Ulomi” a Nag girl.
Nag people lived for long in secluded parts of the Himalayas who had Nag as their tribe emblem. But how come Nag people ended up there in the Himalayas?
It all started when king Takshak opposed construction of Indraprastha city (now known as Delhi) by Pandavas as it was surrounded by beautiful “Khandav Van” (Khandav Forest), the humble abode of Nag people. Lord Krishna supported Pandavas & set fire to the Khandav Van. A large number of Nag were killed in Khandav Van fire. King Takshak begged Lord Krishna to save pregnant Nag females and infants and then Lord Krishna ordered the entire Nag clan to go away as farther as possible from the city. King Takshak along with remaining Nag clan then moved to the Himalayas, far far away from the humans.
It is a also a popular belief here that Lord Krishna after having conquered the mighty snake king ‘Kaliyanag’, who ruled the Yamuna river, commemorated as the ‘Kaliya daman’ in the scriptures, advised him to leave the river Yamuna and settle somewhere amidst the snowy peaks, Kalinag followed by many of his disciples, came over to stay around here and have stayed here ever since.
In Uttarakhand, Berinag is an area with a number of temples dedicated to the ‘Nag Devta’ (Snake God) like Dhaulinag, Kalinag, Feninag, Bashukinag, Pinglenag & Harinag. The most famous snake temple which is in Berinag (called as ‘Veninag’ locally) itself, is dedicated to one of the several manifestations of King Takshak.
The Legends have it that the place came to known as Berinag in commemoration of Nagveni dynasty king Beni Madhava,who ruled the region. It is also believed that when the ‘Pant’ Gotra (surname) people migrated to the Himalayan region in Uttarakhand from Maharashtra, in order to settle here, they saw numerous snakes of various hues & shapes, lying coiled all around the place in very large numbers and as a mark of reverence to them, they built a snake temple here in the fourteenth century A.D.
Near Kathmandu (in Nepal), there is a lake which is known as “Naghrid”. Legends have it that there lived the king of nag clan ‘Rajkotak’. An annual fair is still organized there. Some of the localities still call themselves descendants of Nags and speak language Nagbhasha.
But do Nag people still exist? Do they live among us? Well, in Uttarakhand, in some parts the Pant clan can still be seen frequently visiting Nag temples. Especially in Berinag, the popularity of Nag Temples gives the popular Hindu Gods’ temples stiff competition.
I, at times, believe that all this Nag clan thing is nothing but a myth as no concrete evidence is there. (at least I never met any Nag girl during my stay of 20+ years in Uttarakhand)
But I also think that the long existed co-existence of Humans & Nags is still apparent. The festival of ‘Nagpachami’ is the proof of an inter-religion adaptation. But still, mythology & legends only give us sly innuendos of any such real existence.
What do you think of Nag People? Have you ever come across any such legends? Please drop me note at:firstname.lastname@example.org
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