Today we talk and understand, the Vedic way of expressing ones gratitude to Nature. We believe that God resides in everything. Rather it is the will and wish of God, that He created us, the non living and the living. We both co-exist. We believe (even science today believes) that we have come from the non-living. Science believes that there is ‘chetan’ (atoms) in everything and we believe that there is ‘chaitanya'(God) in everything. The Theory of evolution as suggested by Darwin has already been proposed many thousand years back by us in the form of 10 avatars (incarnations) of Vishnu.
So with this broad outlook we will look into the festival of Nag Panchami (नाग पंचमी) being celebrated today. It is a festival celebrated to worship the Serpents. The serpents are representatives of the reptile world.
As civilisation thrived, we had to cut down forests to make big towns and cities to accommodate more and more people. We knowingly had to drive out the reptiles from their natural habitats. As these reptiles cannot speak and express their emotions to us, for a few time they must have resisted but after finding their fight futile, they sacrificed their homes and went deeper into the jungles.
Our Rishis had a great intellect and an emotional heart. They felt that we need to express our gratitude to this class of animals who are sacrificing their homes for Humans. So they inculcated this practise of celebrating Naag Panchami.
On the occasion of Nag Panchami also want to talk about, the Naga people and Naglok, and giving a broader cultural and social outlook towards the society at large.
Were Nag people humans? Were they part of India? Yes 100%. They were humans and they were a part of India. We have had social and cultural relations with all the different tribes which exist in India even today.
Even today, in modern India, we have the Nagaland. The people residing there are called Nagas. It is just one tribe residing there, from many.
From our history we are all familiar with Vasuki, the serpent King. Just feel like sharing an anecdote about Him. Vasuki has played an important part during the churning of the ocean. Vasuki took part in the incident of churning of the ocean (samudra manthan) by allowing both the devas and the asuras to bind him to Mount Mandar, which was used as a blender in the churning of the ocean to extract “amrut” (nectar). Today it is found that Mount Mandaar or Mandar Hill or Mandar Parvat, as it is popularly known, is located in Banka District, in the State of Bihar in India. A the temple of Lord Shiva, called Vasukinath, literally meaning “the Lord of Vasuki”, is just a few kilometres away from Mandar Parvat, in the State of Jharkhand, in Dumka District.
I believe that this is my countries history and the Serpent King must have played an important part during the debates and discussion which the Devas and the Asuras had during the yesterday years. All these serpents, devas and Asuras were basically humans but names of different types of people who got their names from their characteristics. And the Serpents must have been the anchors of the debate or discussion which took place between the Devas and the Asuras.
Lord Krishna in His celestial song, Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta has called the serpent Vasuki as one His “vibhuti’s.” सर्पाणामस्मि वासुकि: (Amongst the serpents, am Vasuki. And it is this Vasuki, which can be seen around the neck of the lord or lords, Mahadev.
We know and have read about the Nagalok and how Arjun was married to a Nagkanya Ulupi, who gave him a son Iravan, who had participated in the Mahabharat war. And also a reference to that when Bheem, the second Pandav, was poisoned in his childhood and was drowned into a river, it was the Nag people who had saved him. Bheem’s strength is attributed to the potions given to him by them.
So friends, Nag people have been an integral part of our civilisation from years and we have had cultural and social relationships with them. We might have adopted this Nag pooja from them.
So, my readers, our festivals have a divine but cultural and social outlook too, which we need to understand and not laugh upon them. The westerners may call us the land of serpents, but we are far more ahead in our understanding about nature and humans, unlike them. Hence, we need to develop our own understanding about all our festivals.