Vasuki: The Loyal Snake Companion

Written By Jason Kim

Writing stories of mythical proportions.

Lord Shiva, with his long hair and crescent Moon on his forehead, is a powerful deity. But have you ever wondered about the snake wrapped around his neck? His name is Vasuki, and he is more than just a reptile from Hindu mythology. Let’s dive into the story of Vasuki, the snake God and Lord Shiva’s beloved companion.

Vasuki is one of the supreme snakes or Nagas in Hinduism. He is worshipped on Naga Panchami, a special day dedicated to snakes. The three coils of Vasuki represent the three states of time and reality. Lord Shiva, being the master of snakes, is all-powerful and fearless. With Vasuki by his side, Lord Shiva shows that he cannot be discouraged by any adversity.

But how did this beautiful companionship come to be? It all started with a great battle between the gods, known as the Devatas, and the demons, called Asuras. After the Devatas lost the battle, they formed an alliance with the Asuras for a special reason. They decided to churn the Ocean Of Milk to find the nectar of immortality, known as Amrit.

As part of the churning process, both the Devatas and the Asuras pulled at Vasuki, who was wrapped around Mount Mandara. During the churning, a deadly poison called Halahal emerged from the ocean. This poison was so powerful that it could destroy the entire universe. To save everyone, Lord Shiva bravely drank the poison. Devi Parvati, his wife, placed her hand on his throat to prevent the poison from spreading through his body.

vasuki snake

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Witnessing Lord Shiva’s noble act, Vasuki and his fellow snakes were moved. They decided to join Lord Shiva in drinking the poison to show their solidarity and love. Lord Shiva was impressed by their devotion and blessed Vasuki, making him the Lord of Snakes. As a symbol of their strong bond, Lord Shiva wore Vasuki as a necklace, promising to always protect him. And Vasuki took a vow to stop the poison from spreading beyond Lord Shiva’s neck.

There are also other stories and myths about Vasuki and Lord Shiva. Some say that Vasuki sought Lord Shiva’s protection and relief from the pain caused by the poison. Lord Shiva blessed him and made him the snake lord, ensuring Vasuki’s safety and well-being. It is believed that Vasuki had a wife named Shatashirsha, who was also a snake.

The image of Vasuki around Lord Shiva’s neck holds spiritual significance as well. It represents the Kundalini energy, which is the spiritual energy found within humans. The snake around Lord Shiva’s neck symbolizes the rise of this energy from the base chakra to the seventh chakra. It also signifies the freedom from the concept of time, as the three coils of the snake represent the past, present, and future.

The Extraordinary Friendship: Lord Shiva and Vasuki, the Fearless Snake

Once, during the Samudra Manthan, the churning of the Ocean of Milk, a deadly poison called halahala emerged. It posed a grave threat to all the beings in the three worlds. To safeguard them, Lord Shiva fearlessly decided to consume the poison. Alongside him, some courageous snakes in the water also took the risk, including Vasuki, who was bound as a churning rope to Mount Mandara.

vasuki snake

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Vasuki, displaying immense loyalty, bore the burden of the deadly poison without a single complaint. Impressed by his unwavering devotion, Lord Shiva decided to adorn him permanently around his neck as a symbol of their unbreakable bond.

Another legend recounts how Vasuki, feeling distressed after consuming the poison, surrendered to Lord Shiva. He sought guidance, asking why his body was injured and why he had lost his Yogic strengths. Lord Shiva lovingly reassured him, explaining that his ego had clouded his mind during the churning process, but now he would regain his strength through the divine elixir, Amrita.

As the Supreme Lord had promised, Vasuki absorbed the energizing fragrance of Amrita and once again became a powerful serpent. From that moment forward, he became Lord Shiva’s devout devotee, humbled by the honor of being placed around his neck.

In yet another tale, Lord Shiva assisted the Devas when three wicked Asuras created invincible fortresses. These fortresses could only be destroyed by a single arrow, which had to penetrate all three cities simultaneously. Lord Shiva, armed with a mighty bow and arrow, patiently waited for the opportune moment when the cities aligned.

Using Vasuki as the bowstring, Lord Shiva struck the arrow at the heart of the converged cities, causing them to collapse. Vasuki faithfully served Lord Shiva whenever needed, always ready to offer his support to his beloved master.

The Mystical Connection: Lord Shiva and Snake King Vasuki

Vasuki, with its venom and deadly fangs, represents strength in its most potent form. The three coils of the snake symbolize the everlasting cycle of time, encompassing the past, present, and future. Snakes, being among the most dangerous creatures in nature, evoke both fear and respect. Lord Shiva’s decision to wear a cobra around his neck signifies his fearlessness and his dominion over all three realms, or lokas. It is said that Lord Shiva embraces the snakes to offer them warmth and protection from the extreme temperatures of Kailash, his divine abode.

Beyond its symbolic value, the connection between Lord Shiva and Vasuki holds spiritual significance. Deep within each of us lies a dormant energy known as the Kundalini. Just as the coiled serpent, representing the Kundalini power, lies sleeping at the base of our spine in the Muladhara Chakra, it governs various bodily systems such as the skeletal structure, pelvis, hips, legs, and excretory system.

Legend has it that as one’s inclination towards spirituality grows, the Kundalini awakens and ascends, just like the snake. As individuals draw closer to their true selves, the snake within begins its upward journey. When one achieves oneness with their higher self, the Kundalini is said to be fully awakened, or “jagrit.” This awakening represents a profound connection to the spiritual realm.

The snake also serves as a symbol of human desires and passions. In Christianity, the serpent misleads Adam and Eve, leading them into committing a sin. Therefore, Lord Shiva’s choice to wear a serpent around his neck carries a powerful message for all devotees. It signifies that by harnessing our inner strength, willpower, and seeking happiness within ourselves, we can overcome our desires and find fulfillment without looking to external sources.

The Courageous Snake: Vasuki, the Friend of Gods

Vasuki was the second king of the nagas, a powerful serpent race. Vasuki had a beautiful gem called Nagamani, which sparkled on his head like a precious ornament. His elder brother was Shesha, the first king of the nagas, who served as the divine bed for Lord Vishnu. And his sister was Manasa, another graceful naga.

vasuki snake sister

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Vasuki was always by Lord Shiva’s side, coiling around his neck as a loyal companion. Shiva, the mighty god, had blessed and adorned Vasuki, considering him a cherished ornament. It was a sight to behold, seeing Vasuki gracefully winding around Shiva’s neck in Hindu art. The ancient tales often depicted this unique bond between the snake king and the mighty deity.

In Chinese and Japanese mythology, Vasuki was also known as one of the “eight Great Dragon Kings.” Alongside other dragons like Nanda, Upananda, Sāgara, Takshaka, Balavan, Anavatapta, and Utpala, Vasuki was celebrated for his strength and wisdom.

Legend has it that Vasuki was born to the sage Kashyapa and Kadru. He played a vital role in the famous legend of Samudra Manthana. Vasuki willingly allowed the devas (gods) and asuras (demons) to bind him to Mount Mandara. Both sides needed him as a churning rope to extract the precious amrita, the divine nectar, from the Ocean of Milk. Vasuki’s unwavering support and sacrifice proved instrumental in this grand feat.

In the epic Mahabharata, Vasuki faced a great challenge. He was cursed by Kadru, his own mother. Kadru had a devious plan, and she wanted Vasuki’s help in executing it. She asked him to hold onto the tail of the divine horse Ucchaishshravas, along with his other siblings, to make it appear black. Kadru intended to cheat her sister Vinata in a wager. But Vasuki, being honorable and wise, refused to be a part of her deceitful plan.

As punishment, Vasuki and his brothers were condemned to be sacrificed in a snake sacrifice conducted by King Janamejaya. However, Vasuki sought refuge with the devas (gods) and decided to participate in churning the ocean instead. He believed that by doing so, he would not only save himself but also his fellow nagas from harm’s way.

Seeking guidance, Vasuki consulted his wise siblings, who resided in the netherworld. One of them, Elapatra, overheard a secret conversation between Brahma and the other deities. He learned that a child born to their sister, named Jaratkaru, and a sage with the same name, would become their savior. Filled with hope, Vasuki arranged for his sister’s marriage to the sage.

vasuki snake

True to their destiny, Jaratkaru and the sage had a son named Astika. Astika grew up to become a brave and righteous young man. He brought an end to King Janamejaya’s persecution of the nagas, saving Vasuki and his brethren from the snake sacrifice.

And so, the courageous snake Vasuki, through his friendship with Lord Shiva and his unwavering determination, showed us the power of loyalty, sacrifice, and the importance of doing what is right.


Why does Shiva have a snake?

Have you ever wondered why Lord Shiva, the powerful Hindu deity, wears a snake around his neck? It’s not just because the snake, Vasuki Naga, made a promise to protect him from poison. The snake holds a deeper meaning. It reminds us, his devotees, to control our egos and to stay humble. Lord Shiva wears the snake as a necklace because he was pleased by its unwavering devotion.

What is Lord Vishnu’s snake’s name?

Lord Vishnu’s snake is called Shesh Naga. Shesh Naga and Vasuki are siblings, but Shesh Naga is older than Vasuki.

What is Shiva’s snake’s name?

Lord Shiva’s snake is Vasuki Naga. You can always find Vasuki coiled around Lord Mahesh’s neck. It is said that Vasuki is there to protect Lord Shiva from the effects of the poison he once swallowed. This poison turned his throat blue, earning him the name “Neel Kantha.”

What kind of snake is Vasuki?

Vasuki is a cobra, one of the most remarkable and feared snakes. In Hinduism, Vasuki is even known as the King of Snakes.

Where is Vasuki’s abode?

Vasuki’s home is with Lord Shiva in the divine abode of Kailash. As Vasuki is always wrapped around Lord Shiva’s neck, he is known to reside there.

Is Vasuki known in any other cultures?

Yes, Vasuki is mentioned in Chinese and Japanese mythology as well. The story of a great and wise snake often traces back to Vasuki Naag.

The story of Vasuki teaches us about devotion, sacrifice, and the consequences of ego. Lord Shiva and Vasuki’s bond is a symbol of trust, protection, and the importance of humility. So, whenever you see Lord Shiva with Vasuki coiled around his neck, remember the lessons they impart and embrace the virtues they represent.

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