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Sheshnag (5 Headed Snake): Myth Or Reality

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Updated: Friday, August 17, 2012, 15:51 [IST]

Snakes are considered holy by Hindus. They are revered through festivals like Nag Panchami and worshipped via the Snake-goddess Manasa. The Sheshnag is basically a 5 headed snake that plays a very important role in Hindu mythology. There are various myths surrounding this snake and here are some of the most important ones.

Sheshnag: Myth Or Reality

Mythical Importance Of Sheshnag:

  • This mythical 5 headed-snake stands with its fangs open over the head of Lord Vishnu. The coiled body of the snake forms the throne on which Lord Vishnu is reclining. Thus, this snake is is worshipped by Hindus as it is the seat of Lord Vishnu's who is one of the Holy Trinity in Hinduism.
  • Krishna, Lord Vishnu's avatar was born to Devika and Vasudeva on a very stormy night. When Vasudeva was braving torrential to carry baby Krishna across the river to Gokul (to keep him safe), the Sheshnag rose from the river and shaded the father and child like an umbrella
  • Both the Devas (Gods) and Asuras (Demons) wanted 'amrit' (elixir or eternal life), but to get it, they had to whip up the great seas of the world (Samudra manthan). The Sheshnag had then become the rope with which the seas were churned.

The Sheshnag In Karnataka?

Due to all these mythical references, Hindus believe that such a snake with 5 heads actually exists and is considered holy by them. A few years back, the picture of a 5 headed snake was released over the Net and that created quite a stir among Hindus. This snake was supposedly seen in a temple called Kukke Subramanya in Karnataka. So, could the myths about this snake be true?

Although it is a tempting thought to believe, it is a scientific impossible. Here are some of the scientific evidence against the existence of 5 headed snake that Hindus believe in.

  • There has been recorded scientific evidence of snakes having up to 2 or 3 heads. However, there are no records of snake that has 5 heads.
  • Snakes usually have multiple heads only due to a genetic deformity called polycephaly. Just like some human conjoined twins are rarely born with 2 heads and one body, multiple headed snakes too are born due a similar biological deformity.
  • Another important point is that the photograph shows the snake with its 5 heads raised, ready to strike. But even if a snake is born with 5 heads, it can never stand up like that because its morphology would not support the weight of 5 heads.

Truth or fiction, we don't know if a 5 headed snake could exist in reality. But, the place that the Sheshnag has among the Hindu gods is sacred. Do you think that the Sheshnag actually exists on the Earth?

Topics: myths, snake, hinduism
Story first published:  Friday, August 17, 2012, 15:39 [IST]
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