(Last Updated on : 19/03/2010)
Manasa is famous as the goddess of serpents, very powerful and worshipped in different forms and with different names throughout India. The goddess is worshipped mainly during the rainy season, when the snakes are most active. There is a belief that Manasa protects the people from snake bite. Goddess Manasa is also linked with fertility and worshipped for the revival and protection from several incurable diseases. She can be worshipped in the form of an idol or even as a formless power. She is known as the daughter of famous sage Kashyapa and Kadru, the sister of serpent king Sesha and also the sister of Vasuki, one of the most important Nagas. Manasa is known to be a pre-Aryan goddess who is most commonly worshipped in different parts of Bengal. She is ritually invoked with sacrifices and offerings. The tale of Manasa is called 'Manasamangal' where the story of her gaining recognition and attainment a place among the Hindu pantheon of gods and goddesses are depicted. She is also the name of a form of Vishnu born out of Sambhuti, along with the gods Abhutarajasas in the Rawala Manwantara.
Legend of Goddess Manasa
Manasa Devi was the daughter of Lord Shiva
by a beautiful mortal woman. She was not liked by her step-mother, Bhagavati or Parvati
; so she took up her abode on earth with another daughter of Shiva, named Neta. Manasa wished to receive the worship due to goddesses and knew that it would be easy to obtain the same if she could once secure the devotion of a very wealthy and powerful merchant-prince of Champaka Nagar, by the name of Chand Saudagar in Bengal. He was a widower and had six sons. He was very attentive to his sons so that they never felt the absence of their mother. For a long time she tried to persuade him; but he was a stout devotee of Shiva himself, whom he was not going to desert for a goddess of snakes. Manasa thus destroyed the beautiful garden of Chand many times and every time Chand used to restore the beauty to his garden by the help of his magic power, which he had received from Shiva.
Once Manasa took the guise of a beautiful maiden and appeared before the widower Chand, who was enchanted by her beauty. He decided to marry her but the lady asked for the magic powers of Chand to be bestowed on her before the marriage and Chand did the same. Then Manasa showed her original self and again told Chand to worship her but that time also Chand rejected her demand. Then six of the sons of Chand were killed by snake bites with the instructions of Manasa and Chand remarried and got a son and named him Lakshmindara. Lakshmindara grew up to be a handsome young lad and Chand selected a beautiful girl Behula to be married with him. The couple was engaged and wedding date was fixed. In those years Manasa did not give up her hope and appeared again with her resolve to subdue Chand by killing Lakshmidhara.
Manasa killed Lakshmidhara and at last, due to the love and devotion of Behula Lakshmidhara was brought back to life and Behula convinced her father-in-law to worship the Goddess Manasa and thus Chand agreed and promised to worship Manasa by using his left hand to perform the rites. This was accepted by Manasa and Chand worshipped Manasa with all his devotion. Thus this legend of Goddess Manasa gave Manasa Devi much reputation and people worshipped her in all parts of India.