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Observations placeholder

Harivamsha Purana - Overcoming the serpent Kaliya



Type of Spiritual Experience


Snakes and serpents are oftena symbol of the kundalini experience, as such this symbolic statue and the picture may have more to do with how to handle energy flows than demons!

A description of the experience


 Kaliya (IAST:Kāliya, Devanagari: कालिय), in Hindu traditions, was a poisonous Naga living in the Yamuna River, in Vrindavan. The water of the Yamuna for four leagues all around him boiled and bubbled with poison. No bird or beast could go near, and only one solitary Kadamba tree grew on the river bank. It is association with the mythology of Krishna dancing and subduing the snake which is celebrated as Nag Nathaiya or Nag Nrithya. [Wikipedia]


Harivamsha Purana

 Chapter 12 - Subjugation of Kaliya

 (O janamejaya!) Reaching the river bank, kR^iShNa tightened his waist. The restless boy happily climbed on the branch of the kadamba tree.

The lotus eyed kR^iShNa with body dark as a rain cloud jumped from the branch of the kadamba tree to the centre of the lake, creating a loud noise.

When kR^iShNa jumped, the lake in yamunA was agitated and the waves spilled over to the banks, like a rain cloud split quickly with force.

The great serpent's residence was disturbed by the sound. He emerged from water with his eyes burning red with anger.

When kAliya, the king of serpent, shining as a group of dark clouds came out angrily, his eyes appeared red as blood.

He had five hoods. He breathed fire. His tongues moved in and out fast. His mouths were full of fire. His five hoods were terrifying.

He covered the entire lake with his powerful and fiery body. He appeared to be trembling with anger and burning with power.

Burning due to his anger, the water appeared to be boiling. yamunA river appeared to reverse the flow due to fear.

Seeing kR^iShNa playing like a child in the lake, he breathed fire and air from his terrible faces burning with anger.

Smoke and fire emerged from the mouths of the king of serpents. His fire of anger burned the trees near to the banks and quickly reduced them to ashes, as if signifying the end of yuga.

Great serpents with immense power - his sons, wives, servants and others arrived, spitting terrible and poisonous fire and smoke from their mouths.

All serpents coiled their bodies around kR^iShNa and bound him. His legs, arms and body were made motionless as if he was an unmovable hill.

The serpent kings started biting kR^iShNa with their sharp teeth through which poisonous water was flowing. However kR^iShNa was not killed.

Meanwhile, all the frightened cow tending boys went to vraja crying. With tears, they said these faltering words.

Drowning in kAliya lake, kR^iShNa has become unconscious. The king of serpents is about to eat him. Hence all of you should go there quickly.

Immediately, inform nandagopa and balarAma that the serpent is dragging kR^iShNa to the big lake.

Hearing these terrible words like a thunderbolt, nandagopa was overcome with fear and grief. He rushed to the lake, faltering.

The youth sa~NkarShaNa, along with children, young women and old people also reached the place where the king of serpents was playing in water.

nandagopa and all other gopa-s stood on the banks of the lake, crying aloud with tears flowing from their eyes.

They felt helpless, astonished and cried sadly shouting "O! My son. Shame on us" again and again.

Others cried: "We are finished". Overcome by severe grief, some others cried profusely. Women looked at yashodA, crying, "you are doomed".

Look at your dear son held, bound by the serpent body, being dragged by the king of serpents, as though he is dead.

yashodA, your heart is definitely made of iron. Even after seeing your son in this condition, why are you not shattered?

We see nandagopa in grief on the banks of the lake, looking at kR^iShNa's face without blinking his eyes.

Let us follow yashodA to the lake where the serpent lives. We will not return to vraja without dAmodara (kr^iShNa).

What is day without sun? What is night without moon? What are cows without bulls? What is vraja without kR^iShNa? Like cows without calves, we will not return home without kR^iShNa.

Hearing the women, residents of vraja and nandagopa crying thus as also yashodA weeping,

sa~NkarShaNa, who was having the same mind and body, who had split one body into two (with kR^iShNa) became angry. He spoke these words to the eternal kR^iShNaL

kR^iShNa, kR^iShNa with mighty arms! You always enhance the pleasure of cow tenders of vraja. Conquer quickly the king of serpents, who is armed with poison.

O my son! (dear brother), lord!, thinking that you are an ordinary human being, all our relatives and friends with human intellect, are lamenting.

Hearing these words of the son of rohiNi, with hints, kR^iShNa shook his hands and broke himself free from the serpent coils.

Stamping with his feet on the serpent's body raising up from water, kR^iShNa caught the serpent's hood with his hands and brought it down.

kR^iShNa quickly jumped on the serpent's huge middle hood. kR^iShNa wearing beautiful armlets, started dancing on the serpent's head.

Subdued by kR^iShNa, the serpent became afraid. He lowered his head and spoke these words with blood coming out from his mouths.

kR^iShNa with a charming face! I showed my anger without knowing you. My poison is destroyed and I am subdued by you.

Order me! What should I do with my sons, friends and relatives? Under whom should I be? Please spare my life!

Seeing the serpent with all his five hoods lowered, the lord (kR^iShNa), whose flag has the image of the enemy of serpents (garuDa), without anger, replied to the lord of serpents.

I will not give you place (of residence) in the waters of yamunA. Serpent, go the waters of ocean with your wives, relatives and friends.

If ever I find a serpent in this place or in water, he will be killed by me quickly, even if he is your servant or son.

Let this water be useful and good. You go to the great ocean. Living in this place is a great danger to your life.

When you live in the ocean, seeing the marks of my feet on your hoods, garuDa, the enemy of serpents will never harm you.

Carrying the marks of kR^iShNa's feet on his hoods, the great serpent left the lake as the gopa-s were watching.

When the serpent left admitting defeat, kR^iShNa came out of water and stood on the banks. The surprised gopa-s praised and circumambulated kR^iShNa.

All the forest going gopa-s were pleased. They told nandagopa: "You are satisfied and blessed to have such a son".

O sinless one! From today, kR^iShNa with long eyes is the shelter for gopa-s, cows and vraja.

The water of yamunA, served by sages has become useful and good. Now our cows can always live comfortably on its banks.

It is clear that, we gopa-s who live in the forest, did not recognize the greatness of kR^iShna who lives in vraja, like fire covered by ashes.

Thus all the gopa-s, struck with wonder, praised the indestructible kR^iShNa and returned to vraja like deva-s returning from chaitraratha.

Thus this is the twelfth chapter of viShNuparva of harivaMsha, khila of shrimahAbhArata, subjugation of kAliya.


The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

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