Manasa

Manasa

Queen of Snakes; Destroyer of Poison

ALSO KNOWN AS:

Manasi; Manasadevi

CLASSIFICATION:

Naga

Manasa, sister of Vasuki, the Naga King, is a snake goddess who is extremely popular among women in parts of India. Manasa heals, bestows, and enhances personal fertility. She grants wishes, protects against snakes, and provides wealth, abundance, and success. Manasa is a healing spirit; her specialty is infectious and contagious illnesses including smallpox and AIDS.

Once upon a time, Manasa married the sage Jaratkaru and strove to be the perfect wife. One day Jaratkaru fell asleep with his head in her lap. She didn’t move for hours lest she disturb him, but finally the sun set and she knew it was time for him to perform important evening rituals. Very, very gently and respectfully, she woke her husband. He was livid, claiming that he would have woken up on his own at the right time. Accusing Manasa of breaking her vow of obedience, he abandoned her.

Manasa can allegedly heal any snake bite, even those for which no known antidote exists. Herpetologists who search for unknown species might do well to cultivate a relationship with Manasa, just in case.

Ever since her husband’s rebuke and rejection, she has been a touchy, somewhat hypersensitive spirit who demands respect and devotion. She is jealous and may or may not be willing to share devotees with other spirits. (In other words, if you develop a close relationship with her, she may prefer that you not venerate other spirits.)

Manasa Demonstrates interest in people by causing their hair to mat. If she is aggravated or defending a devotee, her preferred weapon is snake bite. Snakes are her messengers.

MANIFESTATION:

Manasa may manifest as a beautiful woman or a snake. She rides through the sky in a chariot drawn by snakes. She may have one eye.

ICONOGRAPHY:

A woman covered or surrounded by snakes. Alternatively she stands upon one. She is wreathed by a canopy of seven hooded cobras.

ATTRIBUTE:

Lotus

Spirit allies:

Nagas; she travels in Shiva’s entourage and is sometimes called his daughter, but this may be intended to make her subservient to him instead of a competitor.

ELEMENT

Water

Time:

The Manasa Puja (feast) occurs during the Hindu month of Sravana.

OFFERINGS:

Flowers, fruit (especially bananas), milk, incense, vermilion powder, and/or terra cotta snakes.

SEE ALSO:

Mariamman; Naga; Shiva

SOURCE:

Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.

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