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Vasuki

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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     Vasuki (Sanskrit: वासुकी, वासव) is a naga, one of the King serpents of Hindu and Buddhist mythology. He is a great king of the nagas and has a gem (Nagamani) on his head. Manasa, another naga, is his sister.Vasuki is Shiva's (The destroyer) Snake. Vasuki is known in Chinese and Japanese mythology as being one of the "eight Great Naga Kings" (八大龍王 Hachi Ryuu-ou), amongst Nanda (Nagaraja), Upananda, Sagara (Shakara), Takshaka, Balavan, Anavatapta and Utpala.

Legends of Vasuki

Vasuki is famous for coiling around the neck of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva blessed Vasuki and wore him as an ornament. The most famous legend in Hinduism in which Vasuki took part was the incident of Samudra manthan, the churning of the ocean of milk. In this legend, Vasuki allowed the devas (gods) and the asuras (demons) to bind him to Mount Mandara and use him as their churning rope to extract the ambrosia of immortality from the ocean of milk.[1] Vasuki is also mentioned and used as a tightening rope in other Hindu scriptures, such as in each of the Itihasas (Ramayana and Mahabharata).

In Buddhist mythology, Vasuki and the other Naga Kings appear in the audience for many of the Buddha's sermons. The duties of the naga kings included leading the nagas in protecting and worshiping the Buddha, as well as in protecting other enlightened beings.

Vasuki's Naga priest is Tatig Naga.

 Descendants

Vasuka (or Vasuki) is the name of a small Nair and pedireddla clan found near Mannarasala in Travancore and also Visakha district in Andhra Pradesh. They claim that their ancestors were Nāga serpents spared when the Khandava Forest (modern day Delhi) was burnt and cleared by Krishna and the Pandavas to make way for their capital Indraprastha


One of the three kings of Nagas. He managed to tie a rope around Mount Mandara at the churning of the ocean and thus many beings arose in the world. He once appeared in human form an caught leprosy. His daughter used some of the magical potion substance, amrita to cure him. She ran out of ointment and needed more for Vasuki’s thumb. When she went to get more she was captured and Vasuki’s thumb remained tainted. Vasuki made a deal with the Garuda to not eat all the snakes and Nagas. In return he would give Garuda one snake a day. Vasuki ruled the kingdom near Kailasa.

Krishna refers himself to being Vasuki in terms of being a serpent or a being of love. Vasuki in Buddhism is stated to have attended the Buddha in his teachings. Vasuki also refers to a race of Nagas, snake-like beings who claim to be the children of a great serpent who was killed in a great forest fire in present day Punjab that was created by Lord Krishna and Lord Arjuna.

Other Naga Kings were Ananta and Takshaka.

Protection

In India, Vasuki [also Basuki,] the naga king, has the gem, Nagamani, on/in his head. It is a universal panacea and is a bestower of fortune. Manasa Devi, the serpent goddess, is Vasuki's sister. She is mostly identified with the cobra, but she can cure any snakebite; indeed, any adversity. A popular Indian film shows Manasa coming to visit a man in his prison cell. She drinks his offering of milk, then leaves, opening the cell for him on her way out.

Nagas are said to have raised their hoods to protect the Buddha, and other jinas [[[spiritual]] victors] like the Jain saint Parshva. However, at least 1500 years before Buddha Shakyamuni's enlightenment when Ananta or Muchilinda with his many heads sheltered him, the mythic image of nagas doing homage to a great yogi was well-known

Often represented in art are the serpent Shesha, on which Vishnu reclines during his cosmic sleep; the faithful Mucalinda, who shelters Gautama Buddha during a storm; and Vasuki, the cosmic serpent who is "roped" into Churning the Sea of Milk.

Genius Loci

They are considered nature spirits and the protectors of springs, wells and rivers. They bring rain, and thus fertility, but are also thought to bring disasters such as floods and drought.
 
Fertility

Nagas are especially popular in southern India where some believe that they brought fertility to their venerators. Because of its shape and its association with renewal, the serpent is a phallic symbol. This powerful emblem of fertility is thought to bring plentiful harvests and many children -- images of nagas adorn houses and shrines and temples. It is said that when a king once banned snake worship, his kingdom suffered a drought, but the rains returned once the king himself placated Vasuki.
 
Wisdom

Naga is one of a handful of rare words surviving the loss of the first universal language. In Buddhism, Wisdom has always been ties, symbolically, to the figure of the Serpent. In the Western Tradition it can be found as used by the Christ in the Gospel of Saint Matthew (x.16), "Be ye therefore as serpents, and harmless as doves."

Nagas appear on the balustrades of temple causeways and platforms ("naga bridges"), where they personify the rainbow as a bridge between the earthly and celestial worlds.

Nagarjuna of India, for example, is shown with an aura, or halo, of seven serpents which is an indication of a very high degree of Initiation. The symbolism of the seven serpents, usually cobras, are also on Masonic aprons of certain systems in the Buddhistic ruins of Cambodia (Ankhor) and Ceylon. The great temple-builders of the famous Ankhor Wat were considered to be the semi-divine Khmers. The avenue leading to the Temple is lined with the seven-headed Naga.

Immortality

In all mythological language the snake is also an emblem of immortality. Its endless representation with its tail in its mouth (Ouroboros), and the constant renewal of its skin and vigor, enliven the symbols of continued youth and eternity.

The Nagas also carry the elixir of life and immortality. Now Kadru, the maternal naga ancestor, once enslaved Vinata, mother of birds. To ransom her, the Garuda stole amrita, the elixir of immortality, from the gods. Before the serpents could even have a taste, Indra stole it back again, however, a few drops of amrita fell to earth. The serpents slid through it which is why their skin now has the capacity of renewal.

According to another tale, the Nagas cut their tongues on the grass when licking up the drops and since then their tongues have been forked. According to Kurt Schwenk, ("Why snakes have forked tongues," Science vol. 263, 1994) the evolutionary success of advanced snakes is partly due to their special tongues. The forked tongue allows the snake to simultaneously sample two points along a chemical gradient, which is helpful in instantaneous assessment of trail location. It may also play a role in mating.

Vasuki:

An Indian Naga serpent-dragon, one of the eight dragon kings. The most famous legend in Hinduism in which Vasuki took part was the incident of Samudra manthan, the churning of the ocean of milk. In this legend, Vasuki allowed the devas (gods) and the asuras (demons) to bind him to Mount Mandar and use him as their churning rope to extract the ambrosia of immortality from the ocean of milk. Vasuki is also mentioned and used as a tightening rope in other Hindu scriptures, such as in each of the Itihasas ( Ramayana and Mahabharata ). In the Bhagavad-Gita (Chapter 10, Verse 28), in the middle of the battlefield "Kurukshetra," Krishna explains his omnipresence by proclaiming, "Of weapons I am the thunderbolt; among cows I am the surabhi. Of causes for procreation I am Kamdeva, the god of love, and of serpents I am Vasuki."

In Buddhist mythology, Vasuki and the other Naga Kings appear in the audience for many of the Buddha's sermons. The duties of the naga kings included leading the nagas in protecting and worshiping the Buddha, as well as in protecting other enlightened beings. Vasuka (or Vasuki) is also the name of a small Nair clan found near Mannarasala in Travancore. They claim that their ancestors were Nāga serpents spared when the Khandava Forest (in present day Punjab) was burnt down by Lord Krishna and Lord Arjuna.

Source

www.ancientworlds.net