Puranic encyclopaedia

by Vettam Mani | 1975 | 609,556 words | ISBN-10: 0842608222

This page describes the Story of Vasuki included the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani that was translated into English in 1975. The Puranas have for centuries profoundly influenced Indian life and Culture and are defined by their characteristic features (panca-lakshana, literally, ‘the five characteristics of a Purana’).

Story of Vāsuki

One of the famous Nāgas (serpents).


The uragas and nāgas (serpents) were born to Prajāpati Kaśyapa by his wife Kadrū. Vāsuki, the eldest son of Kadrū spent his childhood with his parents.

Difference of opinion.

Vinatā and Kadrū staked on the colour of the tail of Uccaiśśravas (A horse obtained at the churning of the sea of Milk. To win the stake, Kadrū asked her sons to hang on the tail of Uccaiśśravas as black hairs. But the truthful Vāsuki was not prepared to do so. Kadrū cursed Vāsuki and the others who sided with him. From that day onwards Vāsuki and those who were cursed, separated from their mother and formed into a serpent group. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapters 37 and 48)

The length of Vāsuki.

The Devas and the asuras decided to get Amṛta (Ambrosia—the celestial honey of immortalily) by churning the sea of milk. The Devas went to bring Mandara-mountain, to be used as the churning rod. Their attempt was futile. The asuras made a trial with the same result. The Bhūtagaṇas (Guards) of Śiva also made a vain attempt. On the instruction of Viṣṇu, Garuḍa went and brought the mountain as easily as an eagle takes away a frog. Now Vāsuki should be brought. The Devas and Gandharvas failed in that attempt also. Garuḍa who was haughty of his strength and speed, went to the city of the nāgas (serpents) and requested Vāsuki to come to the sea of Milk. Vāsuki replied that if the matter was so urgent he had no objection for being carried to that place. He took the middle part of Vāsuki in his beak and flew up higher and higher and reached beyond the horizon. Still the lower half of Vāsuki was lying on the ground. So he took Vāsuki in his beak as folded in two. Still the result was the same. Garuḍa became aware of the impossibility of carrying Vāsuki and returned, ashamed and disappointed. Viṣṇu rebuked him for his arrogance. After this, Śiva stretched his hand to Pātāla. Vāsuki became a small bangle on that hand. Thus Vāsuki was brought to the shore of the sea of Milk. (Kamba Rāmāyaṇa, Yuddha Kāṇḍa).

Other details.

(i) For the safety and protection of the Nāgas (serpents) Vāsuki gave his sister Jaratkāru as wife to the hermit Jaratkāru. (See under Jaratkāru).

(ii) The nāgas anointed Vāsuki as their King. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Dākṣiṇātyapāṭha, Chapter 36).

(iii) When Vāsuki saw the serpents, born of his family, falling into the sacrificial fire of Janamejaya and dying in large numbers, he sent his nephew Āstīka to find out a way to rescue the perishing nāgas. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 53, Stanza 20).

(iv) Vāsuki participated in the birth festival of Arjuna. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 122, Stanza 71).

(v) Vāsuki advised the Nāgas to give the divine juice to Bhīmasena, in accordance with the request of Āryaka. (See under Bhīmasena).

(vi) Vāsuki stays in the palace of Varuṇa worshipping him. (Mahābhārata Sabhā Parva, Chapter 9, Stanza 8).

(vii) Arjuna once allured the sister of Vāsuki. (Mahābhārata Virāṭa Parva, Chapter 2, Slanza 14).

(viii) In Tripuradahana (the burning of Tripura) Vāsuki acted as the bow-string of Śiva and as the axle of his chariot. (Mahābhārata Karṇa Parva, Chapter 34, Stanza 22).

(ix) In the fight between Arjuna and Karṇa, Vāsuki was a well-wisher of Arjuna. (Mahābhārata Karṇa Parva, Chapter 87, Stanza 43).

(x) The Devas anointed Vāsuki as the King of the Nāgas. (Mahābhārata Śalya Parva, Chapter 37, Stanza 30).

(xi) Vāsuki gave Subrahmaṇya two followers named Jaya and Mahājaya. (Śalya Parva, Chapter 45, Verse 52).

(xii) Vāsuki is one of the seven nāgas which hold up the earth. (Mahābhārata Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 150, Stanza 41).

(xiii) When Balabhadrarāma went to Pātāla after his death, Vāsuki had gone there to receive him. (Mahābhārata Mausala Parva, Chapter 4, Stanza 15).

(xiv) Once Vāsuki and Vāyu tried to find out who was the more powerful of the two, in consequence of which contest Mount Trikūṭa was broken from the vicinity of Mahāmeru and was thrown into the southern Sea. (See under Trikūṭa).

(xv) Words such as Nāgarāṭ, Nāgarāja, Nāgendra, Pannaga, Pannagarāṭ, Sarparāja, and so on are used as synonyms of Vāsuki in Mahābhārata.

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