Sunday, July 29, 2012

Spiritual Significance of Naga Panchami & Garuda Panchami

Spiritual Significance of Naga Panchami- rituals and significance- Garuda Panchami- Nag Panchami

The celebration of Naga Panchami is the victory of Lord Krishna over the mythical Kaliya, a monstrous black serpent that was killed by Krishna in the Yamuna river. Kalia had terrorized the villagers and Krishna was assigned to tame him. It is believed that the tussle that happened between Krishna and Kalia- the serpent is so famous that when Krishna emerged winner, he stood on the hood of the snake and the Snake acquired the feet impressions of the Lord as a mark of servility. The story is called as the “Kaliya Mardan” It is also believed that seeing the footprints of Lord Krishna- the Avataar of Lord Vishnu, Garuda(the eagle) who is the natural enemy of the serpent, does not harm it. There is an interesting story of why the Eagle and the Snakes are mortal natural enemies.
Snakes and serpents have great place and position in our ancient Hindu mythology. Basically during this time, when it rains and all the pits and holes are filled with water, snakes and other rodents come out of their hiding. There are hundreds of cases of snake bites and people and farmers especially and all those living near fields and grounds of dying of snake bite. Hence our ancients developed this ritual of worshiping the snakes that are most seen roaming out of their homes during this time, to appease them and request them not to bite people.
The following Sanskrit names of Eight Great Nāgas, namely,
Ananta, Vāsuki, Padmanābha, Kambala, Shankhapāla, Dhārtarāshtra, Takshaka, and Kaliya:
अनन्तं वासुकिं शेषं पद्मनाभं च कम्बलम् |
शंखपालं धार्तराष्ट्रं तक्षकं कालियं तथा ||
Naga Panchami in South India-Kerala
Naga Panchami is a huge festival in the state of Kerala, as the state houses theAnanta Padmanabha temple, where Lord Vishnu has tamed Sheshnaag- the King of the serpents and is in sleeping position on the body of Sheshanaag.
Manasa Puja, Worship of the Serpent Goddess, sister of Vasuki- the snake that was used to bind the mountain during the Samudra Manthan.
During the monsoon season, Goddess Manasa is worshiped, mainly in the eastern Indian states of Bengal, Assam, Jharkand, and Orissa, throughout the months of June, July and August (Ashad- Shravan), a time when the snakes leave their nesting ground and come out into the open and become active. Devotees pay obeisance to goddess Manasa and perform various ‘pujas’ or rituals to appease her.

Garuda- the Eagle God and Naga- the Serpant King- their story and mythology

Indian Mythology has its place for animals and birds as Gods and demi-gods in the same lineage of our mainstream Gods too. Snakes (Naga Panchami)are worshipped, so is a tortoise(Samudra Manthan), Bear (Jambhavant in Ramayan), Monkey(Hanuman in Ramayan and Mahabharata), Cow (Kamadhenu), Elephant (Ganesha),Peacock is the Vahana of Lord Muruga or Karthikeya, Tiger (as the Vahana-mount of Goddess Durga) so on and so forth.
Similarly the Eagle or the Garuda has a special place in our epics and stories. Garuda is also known as Pakshi Raja (the king of Birds)

Garuda, the divine eagle, is the vehicle, or Vahana, of Hindu God Vishnu. Nagas or Snakes are his permanent enemies. There is an interesting story in the Purana that explains why Garuda and snakes are enemies.
Garuda Panchami is a special day of worshipping Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. The festival of Garuda Panchami is celebrated on the 5th day of the waxing moon phase (Shukla paksha) in the month of Shravan (August-September). Nag Panchami is on the 23rd July 2012
Garuda Gayitri Mantra

“Om Thathpurushaya Vidhmahe.
Suvarna Pakshaya Dheemahe.
Thanno Garuda Prachodayath”||1||
Garuda Panchami is celebration of devotion of Garuda towards his mother Vinita. This day is observed especially by mother and sons to share the same spirit of love, affection and devotion between each other. The deity of Garuda is worshipped on this day. Mothers pray for better health and future of their children. They bless their children so that they get the strength and devotion of Garuda to execute devotional activities.
Story of Garuda:
Sage Kashyapa had two wives named Kadru and Vinita. Kadru gave birth to thousand snakes who are considered to be the ancestors of the Snakes on earth. Vinita gave birth to the powerful Garuda.
Once Kadru and Vinita put a bet on the color of the tail of the horse Uchaishravas – a seven-headed flying horse that was obtained during the churning of ocean orSamudra Manthan. Kadru(mother of the snakes/serpents) claimed the color was black and Vinita (mother of powerful Garuda) claimed it was white. The stake was whoever lost the bet will serve the other. Kadru cheated by asking her sons, the Nagas, to hang on to the tail of Uchaishravas. Thus the white tail of the divine horse turned black as the nagas hung on to them. Vinita and Garuda were thus forced to serve Kadru. They were treated badly by Kadru and her sons.
Later the nagas agreed to free Garuda and his mother if he brought the Amrit, or Elixer /Ambrosia which was in the possession of Indra, the king of Devas or demi gods. Garuda got Amrit from heaven and freed himself and his mother from servitude.
But the cheating and the insult suffered made Garuda the arch rival of Nagas.

Garuda with the pot of Nectar/Ambrosia
Garuda – The embodiment of Strength and Service:
When Garuda stole the pot of Nectar/ambrosia from Indra, who was jealous of the Mighty birds strength, Vishnu was impressed with Garuda integrity as he did not take even a drop of the tempting nectar for himself and asked Garuda to ask a boon. Garuda immediately said that he wanted a position higher than Vishnu. Vishnu the eternal trickster that he was, asked Garuda to adorn his flag and sit atop the flagstaff. Garuda was so taken over by the Bhakti of the great Lord Vishnu that he promised to be his mount or Vahana.
Garuda is renowned for his great speed. He ranges in the sky like a meteor, throwing the clouds topsy turvy. The gush of wind produced from his wings causes a tremor in the mountains, a strong flutter in the water of the sea and overturns a large number of trees.
Garuda was married to Unnati, which means ‘the spirit of progress’. They had two sons – Sampati and Jatayu, both of whom play important roles in the Ramayana. He has many names as is suitable for a god who can assume all forms. He is Rakta-paksha, ‘Blood [red] winged’, Gaganeshwara, ‘Lord of the sky’, Suvarna kaya, ‘Golden bodied’, Sweta-Rohita, ‘The White and Red’, Khageshwara, ‘ King of the birds’, Taraswin, ‘The Swift’, Rasayana, ‘Who moves like Quicksilver’ and Vajrajit, ‘Conqueror of the Thunderbolt’. He is also known as “the senior servant of Hari [Vishnu]“, Hanuman being the junior servant. Garuda keeps appearing in stories about Vishnu but his stature arises from the fact that he renounced and restrained his colossal powers to serve the universe.
With Regards
Nagesh Kaikini - Mysore.

1 comment:

  1. celebrate south india famous festival nag panchmi and understand its significance and story behind it with