52. Snakes that fell into Agni

52. Snakes that fell into Agni

“Soota said, ‘The Sarpa Satra (snake-sacrifice) then commenced according to due form. The sacrificial priests (Yaajakaas in Sanskrit), competent in their respective duties according to the ordinance (Vidhi in Sanskrit), dressed in black garments and their eyes blood red from contact with smoke, poured clarified butter into the blazing fire, uttering the appropriate mantras.

“Causing the hearts of all the snakes to tremble with fear, they (Yaajakaas) poured clarified butter into the mouth of Agni uttering the names of the snakes. The snakes immediately began to fall into the blazing fire, deprived of physical feeling and piteously calling upon one another. Swollen and breathing hard, twining each other with their heads and tails, they came in large numbers and fell into the fire.

“The white, the black, the blue, the old and the young – all fell alike into the fire, uttering various cries. Those measuring a krosha (~3.66 km), and those measuring a yojana (4 krosha equals one yojana), and those of the measure of a Gokarna (distance between the ends of the fourth or ring-finger and the thumb, both being stretched out, is called gokarna), fell continuously with great violence into that first of all fires. Hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands of snakes, deprived of all control over their bodyparts, perished on that occasion.

“Among those that perished, there were some that were like horses, other like trunks of elephants, and others of huge bodies and strength like maddened elephants of various colours and venomous poison, terrible and looking like maces (Gada in Hindi) furnished with iron-spikes, of great strength, ever inclined to bite, the snakes, pained with their mother’s curse, fell into the fire.’”



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