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Snake Spirituality

Once upon a time a young snake belonging to a breed that had not been seen hitherto appeared in the Snake Temple [Sarppakkavu] in God’s Own Country. “I come from the universe,” the new arrival declared rather majestically. “I am on a spiritual quest,” he added. He went on to say many things like: he was a celibate, he had completed the char dham yatra, his aspiration was to become a viswaguru, and so on.   

“He’s king cobra,” the oldest viper among the snakes in Snake Temple said. The other snakes looked at King Cobra in admiration.

King Cobra was very eloquent. He spoke words of apparent wisdom. He enlightened the snakes in the Snake Temple on their ancient heritage. “Our gods had serpents for bed, serpents as crown on head,” he said. “Serpents are divine. We snakes should be united.”

The rat snakes and wolf snakes and vipers and kraits and each and every snake in the Sarppakkavu were impressed by the eloquence of King Cobra. All these snakes of different breeds and classes and families were living together in harmony in Sarppakkavu ever since anyone of them could remember. Yet they were impressed by this newcomer’s spiritual exhortation to be united against some invisible enemy.

Sarppakkavu is a common phenomenon in certain parts of Kerala. It is a temple dedicated by people to snakes. Snakes are fed and worshipped. Snakes live happily ever after like in fairy tales there.

“I have even spent a whole hour in meditation in a cave in Kedarnath,” King Cobra declared to the fawning audience. The snakes found him admirable. King Cobra was different. In appearance. In manners. In eloquence. In every way. He had eleven large scales on the crown of his head. He had a glittering blue line all along his back. He was majestic. He was a king indeed.

He became a Messiah.

“Stay with us and teach us.” The snakes in the Snake Temple pleaded with him. They were mesmerised with King Cobra’s aura. They were delighted to have a King which they never had so far.

King Cobra said, “My mission is to teach all the snakes in the universe about their great ancient heritage. I must move on.” Deep inside he longed to stay here, in this Sarppakkavu where so many varieties of snakes lived together. He wanted to eat them all. One by one. One by one. His hunger was insatiable. His hunger was spiritual. His hunger was cosmic.

The snakes in Sarppakkavu pleaded. When the pleading became a clamour, King Cobra raised his hood as high as he could and said, “I am your humble servant. I should obey your wish. But I have dedicated my entire life to the cause of Lord Vishnu whose bed was our ancient ancestor. I am a celibate snake with spiritual aspirations.” He didn’t add that he was an avatar of God Vishnu.

The snakes in Sarppakkavu did not understand much but they liked the way King Cobra spoke. He sounded sweet. He looked royal. He was divine.

“According to the tradition of human beings who feed us, asceticism is for the old age. When you are good for nothing else and have done with all eating and mating and every good thing, you take up sannyasa. You are so young. And Handsome. Enjoy your life here with us. The humans here are good. They will give us the best food.” One of the rat snakes said.  

That is just what King Cobra wanted. But he pretended not to like it. With much dithering and dilly-dallying and display of divine dishumdashum, King Cobra accepted the people’s wish. “Janta’s ka wish is God’s wish and I bow humbly to it,” he said as he kissed the very earth in front of him.

The snakes in Sarppakkavu admired him, his words, his regular addresses called Saanp ki Baat. Until the oldest viper noticed that the snake population in Sarppakkavu was dwindling rather drastically. “Every snake in Sarppakkavu should reproduce aggressively,” King Cobra was speaking in his latest edition of Saanp ki Baat.

The vipers soon found out that King Cobra’s food was snakes. He was eating the snakes in Sarppakkavu one by one. One by one. The intellectual among the vipers wrote a poem about a god who began to eat his own creation. The intellectual disappeared the very next day.

Sarppakkavu began to feel that something was amiss. There was a strange feeling in the air, a feeling that they had never experienced at any time in their existence which was never threatened, thanks to the human adoration of snakes. But now it was different. They began to feel apathy towards something. Towards someone. Towards one another. And they thought the solution was King Cobra. He said, “One Snake Nation, One Snake Language, One Snake Ideology.”

The snakes looked at each other. There was mistrust in every eye. So no one spoke anything. They just lay prostrate before King Cobra.

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  1. Saanp ki baat :) my god...what an analogy...when the cobra 🐍 gobbles up and chants one snake country, one language...i think many are confused whether to oblige , retort or keep quiet....lay prostrate before cobra. perfect end...and more than perfect satire.... wish cobra worshippers read this!

    Dropping by from a to z "The Pensive"

    1. This will madden the bhakts, I know. But someone has to do the dirty job of telling the king about his nudity.

  2. Hari OM
    Great fable-making!!! This one's into the top five of my faves from you this April. YAM xx

  3. //The intellectual among the vipers wrote a poem about a god who began to eat his own creation. The intellectual disappeared the very next day.// I burst into laughing! Nicely written satire.

    1. Vanishing tricks are the favorites of certain governments.


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