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Vasuki: The Story of Lord Shiva’s Snake Companion

By November 23, 2021October 19th, 2023No Comments
vasuki snake image

Imagine a picture of Lord Shiva. What did you see? A strong man with long hair, a crescent Moon over his forehead and a snake wrapped around his neck. We all know that the Moon is Chandra Dev. However, how many of you know about the snake? Have you ever wondered why Shiva has a snake? Let’s take a look at the story behind this association of the lord of snakes, Vasuki, and the Lord of All Destruction.

Known as the “Destroyer”, Shiva is a fascinating Hindu God who never sticks to any stereotypes of the usual Gods of the religion. He is the God who always meditates or Yogi who’s achieved energetic equality as ‘Ardhanarishwar’. Ashes of the material world and its belongings cover his body completely. Amongst all this, the most striking aspect of Shiva’s image is the snake in his neck, Vasuki.

So, looping lovingly and protectively around his neck, it represents more than just the reptile in Hindu mythology. Let us discover more about this snake God that is wrapped around Lord Shiva’s neck and is also known to be one of his favourite companions.

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Who is Vasuki?

The symbolism surrounding Vasuki Naga is pretty popular and well-known. In Hinduism, he is one of the supreme snakes or Nagas and is worshipped on Naga Panchami. The three coils of Vasuki represent the three states of time and reality. In addition, Lord Shiva is all-powerful, invincible, and fearless because he is the master of snakes. With Vasuki around his neck, Lord Mahesh has implied that he cannot be discouraged by any adversity. As we all know, snakes are the most dangerous reptiles ever to exist, and the fact that they are ruled by Lord Shiva states that he is the most powerful. 

All the myths surrounding Vasuki and Lord Shiva say the same thing: Mahadev is a benevolent deity who would do anything to protect his devotees and anyone who was suffering. Although it is essential to look at the symbolism behind their pure relationship, it is all the more important to pay attention to how this beautiful companionship came into being. 

Why is there a Snake in Shiva Neck?

“Who is Vasuki?” As per the scriptures of Bhagavat Purana and Vishnu Purana, after a massive fight between Devatas under the leadership of Indra and Asuras under the command of Bali, Devatas lost badly. After the suggestion of Lord Vishnu, Devatas formed an alliance of peace with Asuras for a distinct reason. That was Samudra Manthan, the churning of the Ocean Of Milk to release to find the ‘Amrit’ (nectar of immortality).

The two battling sides decided to divide into opposing teams, pulling at Vasuki wrapped around Mount Mandara as a coil.  Amongst the many things that were churning out, there came the fatal ‘Halahal’ poison. Moreover, a lethal substance so powerful it has the ability to kill the entire creation of the Universe. To stop it from spreading, Lord Shiva consumed the poison as he was the only one strong enough to do it. People say that Devi Parvati placed her hand to stop it in his throat. Even though he was in agony, Shiva could keep the poison in his throat and survived.

Seeing this, Lord Vasuki and his devoted subject snakes were moved. To show their solidarity and love for Shiva, they drank the poison with him. So, this pleased Shiva a lot, and to honour their dedication, he blessed the Lord of Snakes and wore him as a necklace. Moreover, the story further states that it is then that Vasuki took the pledge not to let the poison spread beyond the neck of the Lord Of Destruction and helped stop it at his throat.

Also Read: Why Does Lord Krishna Wear A Peacock Feather?

Some Other Stories About Vasuki

Similar to the above-mentioned tale, there are several other stories and myths surrounding Lord Shiva and Vasuki. In some editions, Lord Vasuki, along with his devotee snakes, came to Lord Shiva to ask for his protection. In other ones, Lord Shiva drank the poison and gained high respect from not just the other Gods and Goddesses but also snakes.

It is believable that in the former story, Vasuki Naga was suffering from the intense and lethal effects of the poison he had consumed during the churning of the Ocean of Milk. Vasuki arrived at Lord Shiva’s feet and begged him to relieve him of this pain. Lord Shiva took pity on Vasuki and gave his blessings to be the snake lord. Following this, Vasuki was safe and was no longer feeling any pain. Since then, Vasuki has pledged his undying allegiance or loyalty to Mahadev. Moreover, it is also believed that Vasuki had a wife. Vasuki Snake wife name was Shatashirsha. 

Spiritual Significance

There are two important interpretations of the Lord Shiva snake – Vasuki, around Lord Shiva’s neck. The first is that of Kundalini energy, or spiritual energy found in humans, which arises from the base chakra ‘Muladhar’ to the seventh chakra ‘Sahasrara’. Moreover, the yogi form with the snake around the neck denotes that the Kundalini has risen along the throat chakra ‘Vishuddha’ and continues its path. In addition, there are images of the multifaced serpent fanning the head of the Lord, which represents that the Kundalini has risen all the way to the seventh chakra through heavenly guidance.

The second important interpretation is regarding the three coils of the snake. Furthermore, these three coils each represent the past, present and future. It denotes that the yogi is free of all concepts of time and its associated bonds, like death and passing. This is what makes Shiva the Ultimate Yogi.

Frequently Asked Questions  

1. Why does Shiva have a snake?

Lord Shiva has a snake, Vasuki Naga, around his neck not just because Vasuki made a promise to stop the poison from spreading but also as a reminder for devotees to control their egos. Moreover, the symbolism of the snake is that Lord Shiva wore it as a necklace after being pleased by its devotion.

2. What is Lord Vishnu snake name?

Lord Vishnu’s snake is the Shesh Naga. Both of them are siblings. Moreover, Shesh Nag is known to be older than Vasuki.

3. What is Shivji snake name?

Lord Shiva’s snake was Vasuki Naga. Vasuki rests in a coil around Lord Mahesh’s neck. People say that he is in this position to protect Lord Shiva from the effects of the poison he drank. In addition, this same poison gave him the name of “Neel Kantha” or “The One with a Blue Throat”

4. What kind of snake is Vasuki?

Vasuki is a cobra. Cobras are known to be one of the most feared and marvellous snakes. Along with this, the Vasuki snake is also the King of Snakes in Hinduism.

5. Where is Vasuki's abode?

Vasuki lives with Lord Shiva in Kailash. As he is always wrapped around Lord Shiva’s neck, Vasuki is known to live with him.

6. Is Vasuki known in any other cultures?

Vasuki is mentioned in Chinese and Japanese mythology. The mention of a great savoir snake tends to root back to Vasuki Naag.

Also Read: Is Ravana The Father Of Sita?

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Chetna Kaushik

About Chetna Kaushik

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