Monday, February 11, 2019



                                          (  Inside view of Vasuki naag Temple Bhaderwah.)


By Dharam kant Dogra
And. Chander Kant Sharma. ..Price Rs100/-
Aastha Prakashan, Jalandhar

Thanks to my friend and ex colleague Shri Dharam Kant Dogra for sending me a beautiful book titled" Shri Vasuki Nag And Nag Culture " authored by him .Before i say anything about the book, i need to say something about Shri Dharam Kant Dogra.

I came to know Dogra ji closely when he was posted as Manager at Kathua Branch of our bank. Together with him and Shri Sunil khosa, i organised a Multi Lingual Mushiara at Kathua aimed primarily at Business Development and Bank's public relation exercise. Many well known Urdu, Punjabi , Dogri and Hindi poets participated in this Event.That day, i came to know some facets of this multi-faceted personality known to me as Dharam Kant Dogra; A writer, traveler, photographer and a painter. There is hardly a place in beautiful Bhaderwah( his hometown ) that he has not photographed . And then , he shares all these photographs with his Facebook friends.


Since ancient times, Snake or serpent is one of the oldest mythological symbol. It has diversified metaphoric application throughout history. In mythology, the serpent symbolises fertility and procreation, wisdom, death, and resurrection (due to the shedding of its skin, which is not akin to rebirth ).

Naag or serpent worship is a reality across cultures in Asia.Some references to serpent reverence also crop up if we study history of ancient Aztec and Mesopotamian civilizations.In Ramayana and Mahabharata we find mention of serpent weapons like Nagastra and the Nagapasha –deadly arrows used in War. A snake adorns Shiva as the sacred Brahminical thread. In Hindu mythology, Kundalini is a serpent goddess that lies asleep at the base of the spine, coiled three and a half times around the first chakra.

A Dragon is an essential element of japanese, korean and Chinese mythology. Medusa in Greek mythology is a monster that has snakes all over its head .
Ancient Egyptians also worshiped snakes, especially the cobra. We also know that Glycon / Glykon, was an ancient snake god that had large and influential cult in ancient Roman Empire. Serpent worship was also prevalent in many African tribes.In Bulgarian mythology , Zmei , a scale-covered serpent-like creature is regarded as a benevolent guardian creature.
In india, A snake is dreaded yet worshiped .


Coming to the Book, i could gather from the very title that the subject required a thorough research and study. And my assessment proved correct as i read this crisply worded 109 page book.

The book's introduction starts with some beautiful Shlokas from Maha-Upnishad, Rig Veda and Panchtantra . Thereafter, the author straightaway comes to a chapter on NAGARAJ VASUKI .We are informed that ancient scriptures like Mahabharata, Bhagvat Geeta and Ramayana clearly mention Vasuki Naga. Naags like shesh, Vasuki, Takshak, karkotak, Airavat, Vaman, Neel, Kambal , Padma, Dhananjaya and many more are the children of sage Kashyapa born after he married Kadru . Vasuki , according to the author is also known as "The Head Of Nagas " or "The Nagraj" .Vasuki also finds mention in many other ancient texts like Amarkosh and Harivansh Puran.

In Bhagwat Geeta , Sri Krishna informs Arjuna :

"Sarpaa naam Asmi Vaasukih "
( Among serpents, I am Vasuki )

Vasuki Naag is repeatedly mentioned in Adi Parva, Anusasana Parva, Astika Parva, Shalya Parva , Mausala Parva of Mahabharata and in many Shlokas of kashmir's Neelamat Purana. The learned author goes on to inform us that this serpent Deity finds detailed mention in some more scriptures like:

(a) Kaushik Sutra of Athar Veda.
(b) Prajnaparamita Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism.
(c) Lotus Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism.

The influence of Naag Culture and worship of Naags is still prevalent in coastal areas of south India and remote and interior areas of Himalayas in north. The most prominent being Bhaderwah in J&K State.
Kalhana in his Rajatarangini mentions present Bhaderwah town as Bhadarvaksh. We are informed that the principal deity of Bhaderwah is Shiva Mahadeva with Malleshwari as kuldevi and Naagraj Vasuki as presiding deity .

As in kashmir, every water spring in Bhaderwah is known as Naag. At some places In bhaderwah area, water springs have a snake image drawn or carved on stone, wood or metal and kept at a conspicuous place. I personally found it in many water springs of Doda, Kishtwar and Udhampur districts . 
                               (A Naag temple near Patnitop.. photo Avtar Mota..)

                        (Inside view of Patnitop Naag temple..Photo.. Avtar Mota..)

The author informs us that Gotras of some locals in Bhaderwah are linked with Naags like Takshak Gotra. In many festivals like Naagpanchmi, Tihaar and Sharari , Hindus in Bhaderwah draw serpent images on doors, windows walls and pooja rooms. The town in itself is known as Vasuki kheshtra and so many temples lare exclusively meant for Naag worship. Among all these temples, the temple of Vasakdehra Nagar Bhaderwah is the most impressive and revered place of Naag worship.The temple is the focal point of all social , religious and cultural activities if Hindus of Bhaderwah .People in Bhaderwah call it as Darbaar Sthaan of Naagraj . They believe that the harmful effects of Kaal Sarpa Dosha are nullified by performing Pooja Archna at vasuki Nag Temple .

The ancient Vasuki Naag temple in Bhaderwah town has exquisitely carved and sculpted black stone images of Naagraj and Jimootvahan. The images stand on Padma or lotus flower. The raised hands of the idols carry Shankh ( Conch ) and Chakra( Disc). The idols have a canopy of nine cobra hoods over their heads that are decorated with crowns and ornaments. We are told that the temple had many inscriptions in Takri Language that got buried due to repeated and extensive renovations. Around the temple , there has been unauthorised encroachments . The temple Shikhra is Pyramidal.

Through this book, we come to know that Nagraj Vasuki is worshipped at many places outside Bhaderwah. Entire jammu province is dotted with temples and shrines dedicated to Naag devtaas. Prominent Naag Devta shrines are located at Billawar, Jagati, Pancheri, Mantalai, Gulabgarh, Kundal Tatapaani and many more places. Vasuki Naag temples are also located in Himachal Pradesh and Kerala.In Kerala, Sree Nagaraj temple Mannarasala, Pambummekkattu Mana temple Mala, Sri Nagraj Swami temple Vetticode and about 12 more prominent temples are dedicated to Vasuki Naag. A highly revered Temple in Allahabad tiwn is dedicated to Vasuki Naag . There is a grand Vasuki nag temple on the banks of river Bagmati in Kathmandu Nepal.Some temples dedicated to Vasuki Naag exist in Bali Indonesia . Temples dedicated to Naagraj also exist in SriLanka , Combodia and Thailand.


The genetic history of the diverse people of India informs us about the existence of four major branches comprising of the Austro-Asiatic speaking people (the Mundas of Jharkhand), the Ancestral North Indians (Euroasians/Aryans), the Ancestral South Indian (Harappans/Dravidians) and the Ancestral Tibeto-Burmese (speculated to be the Naagas). The major theory about Nagaas says that Moving from the North East, they came to India, SriLanka , Cambodia, Indonesia, southern China or possibly farther east. We don't know the actual incidences and events that may have occurred during the advent of the Naaga tribes with their ancestral beliefs making the form that reached the present day chaotic juxtaposition of infusing animal traits to humans beings .

Were these ancient Naaga tribes familiar to snakes ? Did they worship snakes? Did these tribes introduce serpent deities?

The answes to the above questions may vary . However , The most reasonable answers could be as under:

‌As tribe, with the serpent as a constant neighbour , Naagas developed rituals to appease it, tame it and use it as their totem. We find them developing head gears to appear more like it . Many prehistoric period cave paintings or stone / Rock carvings depict a man Dancing with a trident in one hand and a cow close by. Couldn't this be shiva ? And from shiva worship they might have learnt serpent or Naaga worship .

In Kashmir we have a history of existence of Naaga and Pisacha tribes. Heemal and Naegraai ( Naagraj) is the most popular folktale of kashmir
ln his Rajatarangini , Kalhana records the importance of naga cult in the lives of Kashmiri people in the eleventh century CE. He narrates the stories of about kings who supported Naaga Cult ; Susrava naga and his alliance with the Brahmana; the naga ancestry of King Durlabavardhana and the account of Naga Mahapadma, the tutlery deity of the Wular lake.

Abu’l Fazl, who came to Kashmir in 16th century writes :
" Apart from shiva ,Brahma and Durga , there are so many places where images of snakes have been carved or drawn and revered ."

Historian James T. Wheeler while speaking about Naagas in his work," A History of India" writes:

“In the process of time these Nagas became identified with serpents, and the result has been a strange confusion between serpents and human beings.”


The author informs us that aggressive attacks on Naagas as tribe by Aryans became reason for decline in Naaga population in north India . They were chased, hunted and driven away to far flung areas and interiors of Himalayas . Mahabharata also mentions about burning of khandav forest , a blaze in which a large number of Naags perished. When Buddhism spread in Asia, the Naagas and naag Culture immediately assimilated itself into this new faith.

The book is a treat to a reader and could serve as reference material to any person writing on Naag worship in our state with special reference to Bhaderwah's Vasuki Naag .

So long so much ..

( Avtar Mota)

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