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Manasā, also Mansā Devi, is an Indian folk goddess of snakes, worshipped mainly in Bengal
Bengal
and other parts of North and northeastern India, chiefly for the prevention and cure of snakebite and also for fertility and prosperity. Manasa
Manasa
is the mother of Astika, sister of Vasuki, king of Nāgas (snakes) and wife of sage Jagatkāru (Jaratkāru).[1] She is also known as Vishahara (the destroyer of poison), Nityā (eternal) and Padmavati.[2] In the Puranas, sage Kashyapa
Kashyapa
is her father, Lord Shiva is a father figure to her. Manasa
Manasa
is depicted as being kind to her devotees, but harsh to people who refused to worship her.[3] Denied full godhead by her mixed parentage, Manasa's aim was to fully establish her authority as a goddess and to acquire steadfast human devotees.[4]

Contents

1 Origins 2 Iconography 3 Legends

3.1 Mahabharata 3.2 Puranas 3.3 Mangalkavyas

4 Worship 5 Notable temples 6 See also 7 Notes 8 References

Origins[edit] Originally worshipped by Adivasi
Adivasi
people,[citation needed]she is now regarded as a Hindu goddess rather than a tribal one.[5] She is the daughter of sage Kashyapa
Kashyapa
and Kadru, the mother of all Nāgas. Manasa is identified as the goddess of fertility and marriage rites and was assimilated into the Shaiva
Shaiva
pantheon as a relative of Lord Shiva, as she had a brother-sister bond with Lord Ganesha.She is also worshipped in south India. Iconography Iconography[edit]

Manasa
Manasa
with Astika
Astika
on her lap, 10th century Pala bronze from modern-day Bihar.

Manasa
Manasa
is depicted as a woman covered with snakes, sitting on a lotus or standing upon a snake. She is sheltered by the canopy of the hoods of seven cobras. Sometimes, she is depicted with a child on her lap. The child is assumed to be her son, Astika.[1][6] She is often called "the one-eyed goddess" and among the Hajong tribe of northeastern India
India
she is called Kānī Dīyāʊ (Blind Goddess) Legends[edit] Mahabharata[edit] The Mahabharata
Mahabharata
tells the story of Manasa's marriage. Sage Jagatkāru practised severe austerities and had decided to abstain from marriage. Once he came across a group of men hanging from a tree upside down. These men were his ancestors, who were doomed to misery as their children had not performed their last rites. So they advised Jagatkāru to marry and have a son who could free them of those miseries by performing the ceremonies. Vasuki
Vasuki
offered his sister Manasa's hand to Jagatkāru. Manasa
Manasa
gave birth to a son, Astīka, who freed his ancestors. Astika
Astika
also helped in saving the Nāga
Nāga
race from destruction when King Janamejaya decided to exterminate them by sacrificing them in his Yajna, fire offering.[7] Puranas[edit]

The goddess Manasā in a dense jungle landscape with snakes.

Puranas
Puranas
are the first scriptures to speak about her birth. They declare that sage Kashyapa
Kashyapa
is her father, not Shiva as assumed by many. Once, when serpents and reptiles had created chaos on the Earth, sage Kashyapa
Kashyapa
created goddess Manasa
Manasa
from his mind (mana). The creator god Brahma
Brahma
made her the presiding deity of snakes and reptiles. Manasa gained control over the earth, by the power of mantras she chanted. Manasa
Manasa
then propitiated the god, Shiva, who told her to please Krishna. Upon being pleased, Krishna
Krishna
granted her divine Siddhi powers and ritually worshiped her, making her an established goddess. Kashyapa
Kashyapa
married Manasa
Manasa
to sage Jaratkaru, who agreed to marry her on the condition that he would leave her if she disobeyed him. Once, when Jaratkaru
Jaratkaru
was awakened by Manasa, he became upset with her because she awakened him too late for worship, and so he left her temporarily. On the request of the great Hindu gods, Jaratkaru
Jaratkaru
returned to Manasa
Manasa
and she gave birth to Astika, their son.[8] Mangalkavyas[edit]

Mud idol of Manasa
Manasa
in the Sundarbans, West Bengal, India.

The Mangalkavyas were devotional paeans to local deities such as Manasa, composed in Bengal
Bengal
between the 13th and the 18th centuries. The Manasa
Manasa
Mangalkavya
Mangalkavya
by Bijay Gupta and Manasa
Manasa
Vijaya (1495) by Bipradas Pipilai trace the origin and myths of the goddess. However these stray further from Puranaic references probably die to creative licenses exercised. Later, the sage Jaratkaru
Jaratkaru
married Manasa, but Chandi ruined Manasa's wedding night. Chandi advised Manasa
Manasa
to wear snake ornaments and then threw a frog in the bridal chamber which caused the snakes to run around the chamber. As a consequence, the terrified Jaratkaru
Jaratkaru
ran away from the house. After few days, he returned and Astika, their son, was born.[9]

A scene from Manasa
Manasa
Mangal.

Accompanied by her adviser, Neto, Manasa
Manasa
descended to earth to see human devotees. She was initially mocked by the people but then Manasa forced them to worship her by raining calamity on those who denied her power. She managed to convert people from different walks of life, including the Muslim
Muslim
ruler Hasan, but failed to convert Chand Sadagar . Manasa
Manasa
wanted to become a goddess like Lakshmi
Lakshmi
or Saraswati. To get there she had to achieve the worship of Chand Sadagar
Chand Sadagar
who was extremely adamant and took oath not to worship Manasa. Thus to gain his fear and insecurity, Manasa
Manasa
one by one killed his six sons . At last Manasa
Manasa
conspired against two dancers of Indras Court who loved each other, Anirudha and Usha . Anirudh had to take birth as Lakhinder, Chand and Sanaka's seventh son. Usha took birth as behula and married him. Manasa
Manasa
killed him but Behula floated on water for nine months with the dead body of her husband and finally brought back the lives of the seven sons and the lost prosperity of Chand. At last, he yielded by offering a flower to the goddess with his left hand without even looking at her. This gesture made Manasa
Manasa
so happy that she resurrected all of Chand's sons and restored his fame and fortunes. The Mangal kavyas say that after this, the worship of Manasa was popular forever.[10] Manasa
Manasa
Mangalkavya
Mangalkavya
attributes Manasa's difficulty in attracting devotees to an unjust curse she gave to Chand in his previous life. Chand then retaliated with a counter-curse that worshiping her would not be popular on earth unless he worshiped her also.[11] In many renditions of the myth, Manasa
Manasa
is depicted as being quite dependent on Neta (traditionally imagined as a washerwoman) for ideas and moral support. In fact, of the two, Manasa
Manasa
is often the stupider one - a curious instance of anthropomorphism. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy
Ananda K. Coomaraswamy
and Sister Nivedita say, "[The] legend of [ Chand Sadagar
Chand Sadagar
and] Manasā Devī, [...] who must be as old as the Mykenean stratum in Asiatic society, reflects the conflict between the religion of Shiva and that of female local deities in Bengal. Afterwards Manasā or Padmā was recognized as a form of Shakti, [...] and her worship accepted by Shaivas. She is a phase of the mother-divinity who for so many worshipers is nearer and dearer than the far-off and impersonal Shiva...".[12] Worship[edit] Generally, Manasa
Manasa
is worshiped without an image. A branch of a tree, an earthen pot or an earthen snake image is worshiped as the goddess,[1] though images of Manasa
Manasa
are worshipped too. She is worshiped for protection from and cure of snake bites and infectious diseases like smallpox and chicken pox. The cult of Manasa
Manasa
is most widespread in Bengal, where she is ritually worshiped in temples. The goddess is widely worshiped in the rainy season, when the snakes are most active. Manasa
Manasa
is also a very important fertility deity, especially among the lower castes, and her blessings are invoked during marriage or for childlessness. She is usually worshiped and mentioned along with Neto, who is called Neta, Netidhopani, Netalasundori, etc. in various parts of Bengal. In North Bengal, among the Rajbanshis, Manasa
Manasa
(called Bishohora, Bishohori or Padmavati) is one of the most important goddesses, and her thaan (shrine) may be found in the courtyard of almost every agrarian household. Among the lower-caste Hindus of East Bengal (present-day Bangladesh)too, she is worshiped with great pomp. Manasa
Manasa
is an especially important deity in Bengal
Bengal
for the mercantile castes. This is because Chando of the Manasamangal was the first to initiate her worship, and Behula, the heroine of the Manasamangal was a daughter of the Saha clan (a powerful trading community). Manasa
Manasa
is also worshiped extensively in Assam, and a kind of Oja-Pali (musical folk theatre) is dedicated entirely to her myth. Manasa
Manasa
is ceremonially worshiped on Nag Panchami
Nag Panchami
- a festival of snake worship in the Hindu month of Shravan
Shravan
(July–August). Bengali women observe a fast (vrata) on this day and offer milk at snake holes.[13] In South India
India
people started recently worshipping Goddess Manasa Devi[14] Temple in Mukkamala located in West Godavari, Andhra Pradesh. Notable temples[edit]

Manasa, Prehistoric & Archeological Gallery, Chittagong University Museum.

Mansa Devi
Devi
Temple, Haridwar

Mata Mansa Devi
Devi
Mandir, Panchkula, near Chandigarh.

Mansa Devi
Devi
Temple, Kandra, Jharkhand

See also[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Manasa.

Chand Sadagar

Notes[edit]

^ a b c Wilkins p.395 ^ Dowson, John (2003). Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythologyand Religion, Geography, History. Kessinger Publishing. p. 196. ISBN 0-7661-7589-8.  ^ McDaniel p.148 ^ Radice, William (2001). Myths and Legends of India. Viking Penguin Books Ltd. pp. 130–8. ISBN 978-0-670-04937-0.  ^ McDaniel p.148 ^ Chaplin, Dorothea (2007). Mythlogical Bonds Between East and West. READ BOOKS. p. 28. ISBN 9781406739862.  ^ Wilkins p.396 ^ Sharma, Mahesh (2005). Tales from the Puranas. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. pp. 38–40. ISBN 81-288-1040-5.  ^ McDaniel p.149-51. ^ Coomaraswamy, Ananda K.; Sister Nivedita (2003). Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists. Kessinger Publishing. pp. 324–30. ISBN 0-7661-4515-8.  ^ McDaniel p.152 ^ Coomaraswamy, Ananda K.; Sister Nivedita (2003). Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists. Kessinger Publishing. p. 330. ISBN 0-7661-4515-8.  ^ McDaniel (2002) p.55-57 ^ "Sri Manasa
Manasa
Devi
Devi
Temple in Mukkamala Peetam". Sri Sri Sri Vasavi Kanyaka parameswari. 2016-06-24. Retrieved 2017-11-17. 

References[edit]

McDaniel, June (2004). Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls: Popular Goddess Worship in West Benegal. Oxford University Press, US. p. 368. ISBN 0-19-516790-2.  Wilkins, W. J. (2004). Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Puranic (First published: 1882 ed.). Kessinger Publishing. p. 428. ISBN 0-7661-8881-7.  McDaniel, June (2002). Making Virtuous Daughters and Wives: An Introduction to Women's Brata Rituals in Bengali Folk Religion. SUNY Press. p. 144. ISBN 0-7914-5565-3. 

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 25407

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