What Is The Importance Of The Cobra Necklace In Hinduism?
What does a cobra symbolize in Hinduism? What is the role of cobra in Indian mythology? Are there any deities that use snakes as a necklace? Do snakes have any spiritual value in India? If yes, what is the importance of the Cobra necklace Hinduism?
My name is Hannah Bennet and I am a theologist with a focus on snake symbolism. I am also a correspondent writer for the Snake Store® Team. snakes are one of the most mystifying creatures and connected with spiritually elevating connotations across many cultures. Today, I am going to reveal the ancient meanings of snake symbolism and the importance of Cobra Necklaces in Hinduism.
Cobras are revered as sacred beings from ancient times to modern India. Snake necklaces are often worn as a representation of the deity, Shiva, and his neck dwelling cobra. These jewelries symbolize divine knowledge, heightened spirituality, fertility, protection, and balancing the spiritual energy.
In this article, we are going through the following subtopics extensively;
- The roots of serpentine influence in Hindu culture from historic and geographic points of view
- A look at the snake symbolism and its different meanings
- The importance and reasons for wearing a cobra necklace in Hinduism
They say, studying a culture makes a person a part of that specific culture; are you ready to take in a fragment of the ancient Hindu religion? Let’s get started.
1- Symbolism of Cobra in Hinduism
Before getting into what Cobra necklaces signify according to the Hindu religion, we should take a step back to see the bigger picture. What do I mean by that? I am talking about the spiritual symbolism of cobras in Hinduism.
a) The Sacredness of Cobras
Hindus and Buddhists hold very special regards for snakes, particularly cobras. They look at the snake as an incarnation of immortality in our dimension.
The very process of shedding their skin is a metaphorical representation of renewal and leaving behind what has become old. While the snake remains the same, it even comes back with a more beautiful skin.
This symbolism is related to the Hindu belief about death and life. According to the Brahmanic tradition, once a person dies, they return once more into the cycle of life- otherwise known as Samsara. Unless the person’s soul is ascended to a higher level of consciousness and has reached the bodiless state of Nirvana, or the ultimate bliss.
b) Geographic Influences on the Hindu Beliefs
India is a home to several snake species, some of which are fatally poisonous. In essence, snake bite is one of the most common causes of death across the Indian subcontinent.
Historians believe the close contact of the natives with endemic species was gradually remodeled into a cultural influence. Snake charmers, snake medicines, and snake worshiping are the most famous cultural practices involving these mysterious creatures.
However, the existence of these respected animals goes far back in history and to many thousands of years ago. Several temples are adorned with serpentine figurines, and there are many mentions of both sacred and vengeful snakes in Hindu mythology, and the holy books of Vedas as well as Puranas.
c) Snakes in Modern India
Snake worshipping is a traditional practice and more common in specific parts of India. The Mannarasala Temple in Kerala boasts over 10,000 snake imagery and is recognized as the most fascinating snake temple worldwide.
Another example is the Nag Panchami event. It is an annual festival celebrated all over the country by feeding milk to cobras, worshiping snake idols, and visiting serpentine temples.
Snakes in India are treated as divine and linked to spiritual values. In fact, these exotic creatures play a significant part in the Hindu mythology. If you have a knack for mythical legends, you can read the complete account of snakes in mythologies in ancient cultures.
2- Main Motifs Associated with Cobras
Studying legends and religious beliefs in Hinduism, it is hard to ignore the emphasized role of cobras. They have slithered their way through Indian history for thousands of years. Unlike Christianity, many of these motifs hold supernatural and divine associations that are crucial to godly tasks as well as human life. Have a look at the most important roles of snakes in Hindu Symbolism and their meaning;
a) Symbol of Infinity
Snake symbolism is strongly connected with the notion of infinity in Hinduism. The Ananta Serpent is a cobra that is an equivalent to the Ouroboros Snake in Greek mythology; it is the ultimate emblem of divine infinity with an endless coil.
Ananta floats over the ocean of creation at the center of the universe. In addition to the never ending coils, this cosmic cobra has 6 hooded heads. Ananta is mentioned in the book of Bhagavadgita, as a seat to Vishnu or the god of preservation of life in the Hindu trinity.
b) Emblem of Desire
Hindu spiritualism also associates snakes with the word Kama, which literally translates to desire. The philosophy of this symbolism explains that desires, much like a snakebite, result in an ever growing suffering. This suffering is an inseparable part of the living and cyclic lifetimes, as snakebite is an inseparable part of the snakes.
Snakes are linked to sexual energy and desire for love in the Hindu doctrine as well.
c) Priesthood & Purity
The cast of Brahmins, or the priesthood class of Hinduism, are entitled to wear a sacred thread diagonally across their upper body. Similar to the thread worn by Ganesha, the elephant headed Hindu deity. This thread represents a cobra and stands for purity of the body, beholding the ultimate knowledge and discipline.
d) Cobras as Kundalini Energy
Kundalini is described as a form of a serpent, coiled at the base of the spine. Once a person is spiritually awakened, this hidden sexual energy rises up and turns into a powerful spiritual bliss and enlightenment. The kundalini energy is also termed as the serpent's power and often depicted as a sacred female cobra.
e) Symbolizing Destructive Characteristics
The Hindu trinity concept represents a universal order; there are three primordial sets of energy, including the creating force, the preserving energy and lastly the destructive tendencies, also known as the Tamas. It also mentions that the destructive tendencies are as important as those that create. Tamas exist in order to balance life as a whole.
Snakes are substantially associated with devouring the living creatures and responsible for the death of both humans and animals. This represents their universal destructiveness and hence a symbol of the destructive face of nature.
f) Representing Poisonous words
Cobras don’t open their mouths until it comes to the moment of poisoning their victim. This is a fact and a perfect metaphor for poisonous speech; words that hurt, poison the mind, and cause suffering.
The forked tongue of snakes also has a symbolic meaning among the Hindus. They believe the snake tongue represents “double talk” and deceitfulness of a poisonous personality that has not been yet revealed.
g) The Demigod Serpents or Nagas
Nagas are ancient mythical serpents and belong to a species of cobras that are native to another planet not so far from the earth. They are worshiped as semi sacred creatures, and given important roles such as the holders of time, protectors of underground treasures, granting favors to Hindu deities whenever necessary.
Although Nagas are vengeful and aggressive occasionally, and generous and devoted to Hindu gods most of the times. These cobras are very large. Instead of slithering horizontally, they walk in a vertical motion. When it comes to symbolism, they are marked as the givers of fertility and steadfastness.
There are several notions that define the snake motifs in Hinduism, including divine roles in the heavenly cosmos, protectors of the underworld, to the givers of fertility and takers of life. However, these symbols have one thing in common; all the snakes in Hinduism are sacred and characterized with supernatural abilities. If interested, you can read our article on snake symbolism in the jewelry world.
3- The Importance of the Cobra Necklace in Hinduism
Snakes are recognized as sacred ornamental elements. According to Shaivism tradition, which is one the major branches of Hindu religion, snakes are a prominent ornament. The gods and goddesses are usually adorned with a cobra around their necks. Let’s find out what is the symbolic role and the founding roots of cobra necklaces in Hindu jewelries.
a) Hindu Deity & the Cobra Around His Neck
Shiva holds the role of the destroyer in the Hindu trinity concept, who is usually represented with his neck garlanded with a coiling cobra.
This snake is named Vasuki. Portrayed as a mighty cobra,this sacred serpent is the epicenter of the worshiping practices in Naga Panchami, the annual snake festival in India.
Some legends explain that Vasuki was an ordained Shiva devotee who after long years of worship, was blessed by the deity. Thereafter, His neck became the snake’s permanent dwelling.
However, the Hindu philosophers argue that the snake around Shiva’s neck carries a more profound meaning than what meets the eye. It represents the everlasting cycle of life. Vasuki is also recognized as an emblem of the center of the universe and named as the king of all Nagas.
His presence around Shiva’s neck suggests the inevitability of desire to cycles of life on earth. And since Shiva is established as the god of destruction, desire is ever loyal and devoted to his presence.
b) Snake Jewelry in Hinduism
Snake jewelries are a popular ornament among the Hindus, and worn by men and women for the magnificent aesthetics as well as spiritual reasons.
From the ancient yogis, to traditional religious individuals, and modern Isha mediators, snake rings have long been worn as a symbolic form of kundalini energy. It is believed that wearing a serpentine ring assists flowing the energy through chakras and eliminates the stagnancy of the wearer’s vital forces.
Snake necklaces are also used to stabilize the body, receive protection and transform the negative events in the destiny into positive ones. Occasionally, snake necklaces are accompanied by images of the gods and goddesses. This is particularly common among the Shaivism followers who hold a strong affinity to the divine cobras.
It is alleged that the touch from these sacred snake figurines on the skin can manifest in the form of elevated spirituality and even receiving divine guidance.
Snakes are a powerful ornamental motif in Hinduism that is most commonly used in forms of rings and cobra necklaces. While they are solely elegant accessories in most modern cultures, Hindus attach powerful symbolism to each of these jewelries that deepen their significance even more.
4- Meaningful Expressions with Snake Necklaces
After reading this article, you have learned about the symbolism and mythological highlights of snakes in Hinduism. Together, we’ve also reviewed the reasons behind the rise of snake motifs as strong and religious symbols in the subcontinent. By putting all of this information together, you can recognize the deep meaning behind snake jewelry, especially cobra necklaces in Hindu religion.
Whenever you need to buy a meaningful gift for a friend or get yourself an expressive pendant, you exactly know what to look for. Moreover, you have learned a wealth of knowledge that can beat all the conversation starters at the next cocktail party.
Speaking of symbolic snake jewelries, discover this exceptional Collection of Snake Necklaces that combine excellent craftsmanship and serpentine symbolism. In addition to a wide assortment of designs, you can buy a snake necklace that carries a message and lasts a lifetime.