March 2nd, 2008 by sabrina

Manasa is the Hindu Goddess of snakes and poison. She is the sister of Vasuki, King of the snakes, and daughter of Shiva. Shiva accidentally fathered her when some of his semen landed on a statue of a girl that had been carved by Vasuki’s mother. When Shiva found out that Manasa was his daughter, he took her home with him, but his wife Chandi took an instant dislike to her. They quarreled back and forth (Chandi even burnt out one of Manasa’s eyes), until finally Shiva had to make her leave their home. She married the sage Jaratkaru, but even then Chandi was not finished with her. She advised Manasa to wear snakes on her wedding night, and then threw a frog into the room. The snakes went crazy, and Jaratkaru ran away in fright. He did eventually return, but the damage was done. Manasa was not a happy Goddess.

Despairing that she did not have enough worshippers, Manasa worked to increase her following. One man in particular, Chand Sadagar, refused to worship her. He was a devotee of Shiva and Chandi, and would not turn away from them to Manasa. Manasa vowed to make him pay for his disrespect, and sent her serpents to kill Chand’s sons. She ruined his businesses and left him in despair. Finally, at the urging of his wife, Chand offered Manasa a flower, although he did not look at her as he did so. Manasa accepted this token, and restored Chand’s sons and fortune to him.

Manasa is always depicted with snakes, usually cobras. Her name means “intention”, and she is also known as Vishahara (remover of poison).

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