In Praise of the Serpents

Image of Nagas in Nagaloka contributed by Mohonu.

“O Serpents, subjects of King Airavata, you are splendid in battle and shower weapons in the field like lightning-charged clouds driven by the winds! 

You are handsome and of various forms and decked with many coloured earrings, you children of Airavata, you shine like the Sun in the firmament! 

On the northern banks of the Ganges, there are many habitations of serpents. There I constantly adore the great serpents. Who except Airavata would desire to move in the burning rays of the Sun? When Dhritarashtra (Airavata’s brother) goes out, twenty-eight thousand and eight serpents follow him as his attendants. You who move near him and you who stay at a distance from him, I adore all of you that have Airavata for your elder brother!

O Takshaka, to obtain the earrings, I adore you also. You, who formerly dwelt in Kurukshetra and the forest of Khandava! 

Takshaka and Aswasena, you are constant companions who dwell in Kurukshetra on the banks of the Ikshumati! 

I also adore the illustrious Srutasena, the younger brother of Takshaka, who resided at the holy place called Mahadyumna with the intention of becoming the chief of the serpents!”