By Dr. Bharti Raizada
Snake brain lacks limbic system and cortex. Therefore, snakes cannot think and cannot have emotions. This means that a snake will do whatever it has to, without emotions. Even if you feed him, he will not develop loyalty towards you. He has no emotions for the people who feed him and the people who keep him as a pet. Snakes are usually solitary, they have no friends, and they do not socialize. Their brain does not understand communication and cannot process emotions. They have no attachment to other snakes and their own offspring. They do not bond with their mates. They are incapable of taking revenge.
They have no ears, arms, legs. They can sense the vibrations in the air. They are very good hunters. They can slither, glide, dart through the water, and climb up. They have no eyelids and stare fixedly.
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Their metabolism is very low and therefore their internal organs stay alive longer. They feel pain and fear long after decapitation and retain reflexes hours after death.
Snakes do not hoard and do not build. They do not kill or eat each other. They just fight and try to survive. They may hibernate together in large numbers as at that time there is no competition for food.
Snakes have only R (Reptilian) complex as the brain. This complex performs basic functions like fight or flight, hunger, temperature control, keeping safe and defending territory.
The limbic system controls mood and memory. It is responsible for mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, memory issues, and emotional imbalance. Cats, dogs, horses have limbic system surrounding the R complex.
Humans have one extra part of the brain called cortex. This is the outermost part of the brain. It is responsible for complex social interactions. The human brain is larger in relation to body size than the brain of animals. Monkeys and chimpanzees have smaller cortex as compared to humans.
A meditating person is supposed to quieten his or her mind, control emotions, and focus inwards. This means that he is not supposed to use the limbic system and cortex. The limbic system is the source of mood, emotions, or concern for loved ones. It means a person who is meditating is like a snake, with function up to the spinal cord and R complex.
Man is thought to be more developed than other animals because man has the capability to think, feel, make informed decisions, do complex interactions, etc. yet paradoxically we are told not to use this capability during meditation. While praying we are supposed to surrender completely to Ishwar. By suppressing, this capability to think about past, present, and future, enlightenment comes, the third eye opens, and the understanding of universe happens.
Remember, coiled snake like form of kundalini which goes from Muladhar chakra to top chakra during awakening.
Coming back to a snake, they are sacred for many. People worship them, offer them milk, and even keep them as pets. Vishnu is often depicted lying on Shesnag , who has a thousand heads. Shiva is depicted wearing Vasuki snake around his neck. There is a snake over Shivling. Ganesh is often depicted with a snake, which forms a circle around his belly. Kartikey is often shown with a peacock and a snake.
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I heard stories of Icchadhari naagins (snake). As per beliefs, snakes become icchadhari if they do penance for 100 yrs. and get blessings from Shiv.
Aadi shesha took revenge and killed Meghnath who had a boon that he can only be killed by a person who has stayed away from his wife for 14 yrs. Aadi shesha took human avatar as Laxman and stayed away from his wife for 14 yrs.
People believe that snakes guard wealth. Some believe that snakes are always paired and if someone kills one snake, the other comes back to take revenge.
There is a festival called Nag Panchami. On this day people worship snakes, offer them milk, sweets, sesame seed ladoos, etc. People do not dig or plow on this day to avoid any harm to snakes.
Shetpal village in the Sholapur district of Pune, Maharastra, India has many poisonous snakes. They roam freely in houses and outside. Snakes sleep with people in the house. People worship them and offer them milk, eggs, etc. There is a specific place in the house for snakes to rest. These poisonous snakes rarely bite village residents.
There are Naga temples in India where people worship snakes to attain or restore fertility.
Snakes appear in medical symbol also. It represents longevity, immortality, healing, and fertility.
So, there is a conflict here between people’s beliefs, practices, and science.
Science says that snakes are reptiles. They have no mammary glands and therefore cannot produce milk. In addition, they cannot digest milk. They are cold-blooded carnivores. So, what is the point of offering milk to snakes?
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Baby snakes do not depend on their mother’s milk to survive. They absorb the rest of the yolk in their eggs before hatching, and they can survive off the yolk for weeks. Baby snakes are usually independent since birth. They do not receive any teaching from their parents. If they do not guard their own children, how do they guard wealth?
Snakes have no affinity for people around them, worshiping them or keeping them as a pet. How do they answer human prayers and decide not to harm humans? Snakes do keep a check on the population of some insects and animals. However, are predators as well as prey.
Snakes do not live in pairs and have no way to think about revenge. According to science, if they are trying to mate, they may come to the place where the other snake was killed but that is not for revenge. They just follow the odor left by the killed snake.
So, again same question- why Vishnu, Shiv, Ganesh, Karthikeya have snakes and why are snakes considered sacred? I do not know the answer. I am guessing that snakes are able to attain ‘moksha’ easily because of their inability to do some things, which humans can. They do not struggle to choose between right and wrong, they are not attached to anything, they are detached from all emotional bonding. So, spiritually they may be nearer to Ishwar (God). There is some matching of frequency and vibration that makes them quiet and calm when they are near Devtas.
In case of Shiv ji, people say that Vasuki represents awakened kundalini at top chakra. Vasuki’s three coils around neck represent past, present, and future. Some say that Vasuki provided coolness to Shiv’s neck when he was drinking poison during samundra manthan. However, these beliefs do not explain Vishnu laying on snake or Ganesh wearing snake around his belly.
Bharti Raizada is a Chicago-based physician with special interest in spirituality and alien phenomena.