Janamejaya’s Snake Sacrifice and Nagas (Ann Grodzins Gold, Summer 2009)

Compiled by Ann Grodzins Gold, Syracuse University

Sources focused on the Mahabharata and other Sanskrit sources

Brodbeck, Simon. forthcoming in Religions of South Asia journal: “Janamejaya’s big brother: new light on the Mahabharata’s frame story.”

Gail, Adalbert. Parasurama: Brahmane und Krieger

Goldman. R. Gods, Priest and Warriors: The Bhrgus of the Mahabharata

Doniger (O’Flaherty), Wendy, “Horses and Snakes in the Adi Parvan of the Mahabharata” (in Margaret Case and N. Gerald Barrier, eds., Aspects of India: Essays in Honor of Edward Cameron Dimock, Jr. New Delhi: Manohar, 1986. pp. 16-44)

Doniger, Wendy, ed. Purana Perennis: Reciprocity and Transformation in Hindu and Jaina Texts

Karve, Irawati. Yuganta: The End of an Epoch

Kosambi, D. D. “The Autochthonous Element in the Mahabharata,” Journal of the American Oriental Society, 84 (1964): 31-44

Minkowski, Christopher. Snakes, Sattras, and the Mahabharata. In Essays in the Mahabharata, edited by A. Sharma, 384-400. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1991.

Minkowski, C. Z. “Janamejaya’s Sattra and Ritual Structure,” Journal of the American Oriental Society, 109 (1989): 401-420

Minkowski, C. Z. ” The Interrupted Sacrifice and the Sanskrit Epics,” Journal of Indian Philosophy 29 (2001): 169-186.

Reich, Tamar C. “Sacrificial Violence and Textual Battles: Inner Textual Interpretation in the Sanskrit Mahabharata,” History of Religions, 41 (2001): 142-169.

The Snake Sacrifice by Dr. Devdutt:

Mahabharata’s Snake Killings by Dr. Narendra Kohli:

(Note: Cut and paste the above into your browser’s address bar to read the essay.)

Assorted sources dealing with nagas and naginis, as well as snakes in regional folk traditions

Bhatti, H.S. “Folk Religion: Change and Continuity”

Davis, Coralynn V. 2008. Pond-Women Revelations: The Subaltern Registers in Maithil Women’s Expressive Forms. /Journal of American Folklore/ 121(481):286-318.

Logan, William, Malabar Manual.

Srinivasan, Doris M. ” Monumental Naginis from Mathura” in On the Cusp of an Era : Art in the Pre-Kusana World , ed. D.M. Srinivasan , Brill ; 2007


diverse work on narrative traditions & worship of the snake-deity & deified Rajput known variously in Rajasthan, Gujarat & Panjab as Guga, Goga Bap-ji, and Kesariya Kanvar (John Cort can provide references)

Additionally on nagas

Ayrookuzhiel, A. M. Abraham. The Sacred in Popular Hinduism: an
Empirical Study in Chirakkal, North Malabar. Madras, India: Published
for the Christian Institute for the Study of Religion and Society,
Bangalore by the Christian Literature Society, 1983. P. 16

Beal, Samuel, trans. Travels of Fah-Hian and Sung-Yun, Buddhist
Pilgrims, From China to India (400A.D. and 518 A.D.). 1964. 2nd ed. New
York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1969. Pp. 67-68

Clarke, Hyde. “Note on Serpent and Siva Worship and Mythology in
Central America, Africa, and Asia,” Journal of the Anthropological
Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 6 (1877): 247- 260.

Crooke, W. The Popular Religion and Folk-lore of Northern India. Vol.
2. 1896. 2nd ed. Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1968. See chapter, “Tree
and Serpent Worship”.

Fergusson, James. Tree and Serpent Worship. 1868.

Howey, M. Oldfield. The Encircled Serpent; A Study of Serpent Symbolism
in All Countries and Ages. New York City: Arthur Richmond Co., 1955.

Kumari, Dr. Ved. The Nilamata Purana, Vol. 1 & 2. Srinagar: J & K
Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, 1968.

Legge, James, trans. A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms; being an account
by the Chinese monk Fax-Hien of his travels in India and Ceylon (A.D.
399-414) in search of the Buddhistic books of discipline. New York:
Paragon Book Reprint Corp, 1965. P. 52

Mundkur, Balaji. The Cult of the Serpent: An Interdisciplinary Survey
of Its Manifestations and Origins. Albany, New York: State University
of New York Press, 1983.
——–. “The Roots of Ophidian Symbolism,” Ethos, volume 6, issue 3
(Autumn, 1978): 125-158.

Panda, Sadhu Charan. Naga Cult in Orissa. Delhi: B. R. Publishing
Corporation, 1986.

Sharma, Brijendra Nath. Festivals of India. New Delhi; Abhinav
Publications, 1978. Pp. 24-25, 89,

Sinha, Binod Chandra. Hinduism and Symbol Worship. Delhi: Agam Kala
Prakashan, 1983.
——–. Serpent Worship in Ancient India. New Delhi: Books Today, 1979.

Vogel, J. Ph. Indian Serpent-Lore; or, The Nagas in Hindu Legend and
Art. London, A. Probsthain, 1926.

Zimmer, Heinrich. Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization.
Joseph Campbell, ed. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press,

See also:
Grhya Sutras for sarpabali rituals during the rainy season.
Atharva Veda for hymns to ward off snakebite.