The Significance of Naag Panchami
By Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj
Naag Panchami is observed during the Hindu calendar month of Shravan. The word ‘Naag’ means snake or cobra. It is a special day of worshipping snakes by the Hindus. It is one of the most popular festivals which is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm. It is celebrated two days after Hariyali Teej.
Why do we celebrate Naag Panchami? There was once a king, Parikshit Ji who went hunting in the jungle. He went very far inside the jungle and started feeling thirsty. He then went to a nearby ashram. The sage in that ashram was sitting in samadhi (deep meditation). King Parikshit asked for water. But the sage who was deep in samadhi, could not hear anything as none of his sense organs were working.
King Parikshit felt insulted and humiliated, as he had the pride of being the king of entire India. He then picked up a dead snake with his bow and put it around the sage’s neck. When the sage’s sons came, they saw the dead snake around their father’s neck. “Who did this mischief? they cried out. They went into samadhi and found out that it was done by King Parikshit. They cursed Parikshit – “In one week, Takshak naag (cobra snake) will bite you and you will die. This is your punishment.” Then as the story goes, King Parikshit heard the Bhagwat from Sukhdev Paramhans. Nevertheless, Takshak bit him and he died.
King Parikshit’s son, Janmejay, got very upset and wanted to avenge his father’s death. He did a yagya (yogic sacrifice) and the invocation in his yagya was that all cobras in this world may come and fall in the sacrificial fire and get burnt. As he chanted the mantras, all the cobras started coming out from their natural habitat and falling in the fire pit and getting burnt to ashes. Narad ji happened to be passing by and saw this scene.
He called out to Janmejay Ji. Janmejay greeted and did pranam to him. Narad Ji asked, “What are you doing?” Janmejay replied, “A cobra bit my father. I am going to destroy all cobras.” Naradji advised him, ”See, this is Brahma’s creation. You shouldn’t do this. One cobra bit your father. You could have burnt that particular cobra. Why burn all the cobras of the world? This is a sin. The Vedas say, do not indulge in violence against any creature and you are committing violence against so many of them.”
Janmejay immediately stopped the sacrifice. Narad Ji said, “Ask for forgiveness from the remaining cobras and worship them so that in the future, people will know that killing such innocent creatures is a big offence. Janmejay then worshipped the cobras and set this ideal that on today’s date everyone should worship cobras, meaning respect them and do not commit any violence against them. This is the significance of Naag Panchami.
*A brief introduction of Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj*
(Known by His devotees as Shri Maharajji)
The original title of Jagadguruttam (‘Greatest Spiritual Teacher of the World’) was bestowed upon Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj on January 14, 1957 by ‘Kashi Vidvat Parishad’ (a council of 500 greatest scholars saints of India). He composed divine texts like ‘Prem Ras Madira’, ‘Prem Ras Siddhant’, and ‘Radha Govind Geet’ to lead us on the right path of devotion. He also gave priceless monuments as gifts to the world which include - Bhakti Mandir located in Bhakti Dham, Mangarh, Prem Mandir located in Vrindavan Dham, and Kirti Mandir located in Barsana Dham. Shri Maharajji also built hospitals for the impoverished, the Jagadguru Kripalu Chikitsalaya in Vrindavan, Jagadguru Kripalu Chikitsalaya in Barsana, and another one in Pratapgarh. All three help millions of underprivileged to gain free access to medical care. His Kindergarten, School, and College for impoverished girls Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat Education is located in Kunda and provides completely free education.