In his work on " Tree and Servient Worship" Mr. Fergusson has urged the desirability of workers in the rich field of Indian Antiquarian research collecting information regarding the worship of the snake, which is known to prevail in various forms in many parts of India. The accompanying instalment of rough jottings and sketches, made at various times, has been worked up by me into the present imperfect shape during the Christmas holidays. It is now submitted to the Society in the hope that this paper, although doubtless full of faults, may at least induce discussion, and thereby assist in placing me on the right track, and in awakening further interest in this important subject amongst those who have better opportunity than I have of following it up. The snake as a personal ornament, or as a canopy surmounting the figure, is not, of course, confined to representations of Siva, and in the collection of the deities of the Hindu Pantheon that I have been able to make, the five-headed snake (Nag panchamukhi) is to be seen overshadowing Vishnu, Garuda and others. The Sesha or Ananta in the pictures of Vishnu is well known. Still, as Moor says at p. 36 of his Hindu Pantheon, " As emblems of immortality, serpents are common ornaments with many deities. But Mahadeo seems most abundantly bedecked with them ; bound in his hair, round his neck, wrist, waist, arms and legs, as well as for rings, snakes are his constant attendants." The serpent appears on the prehistoric cromlechs and menhirs of Europe, on which, as stated in my paper on the Kamaon Rock-carvings.

 

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Rough Notes on the Snake Symbol in India - J H Rivett-Carnac - 1879

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