For long, as much as India has been given a special place in spirituality by the western world, she also has been given a scornful image as being a land of snake charmers. Would you agree ? Or is there a misunderstanding? Could the word 'snake charmer have a much deeper meaning to it? I wonder.
Snake, an elongated reptile devoid of legs has been associated in Hindu and Yogic world with one's Kundalini, or the coiled primal energy to enlightenment. Like a snake that lives majorly in burrows and in camouflage, this energy is said to lie potent but unused at the bottom of one's spine, at the base of one's central nervous system. As one practices yogic way of life and meditates deeply, it is said that one can slowly but surely invoke this energy alongside the spine that leads to different levels of awakening and mystical experience, culminating at crown chakra, producing an extremely profound transformation of consciousness. Interestingly, this practice which involves introspections and deeper processing of the knowledge received, brings us to another characteristics of serpents. While many animals, birds and mammals including humans have outer ears, this presumed deaf reptile which has a well-developed inner ear, is said to use its entire body as it lays or slithers across the terrain as its outer ear. When one contemplates on the old adage that tells us that we have two eyes (ears, nostrils as well) but one mouth to be more receptive to inputs and talk (and eat) less, this hearing ability of a snake furthers its personification of the kundalini power, to being receptive; key in one's goal to achieve higher understanding.
In India, many God and Goddess have been depicted with snakes as ornaments as well as embellishments. Goddess Shakthi with her foot above a serpent. Would it be root chakra in a lay man's terms? Shiva lingam, the image of unity of energy and matter is surrounded by a hooded serpent. Could it be the depiction of our sacral chakra? Lord Ganesh has a serpent around his stomach and hood above the navel. May be the solar plexus chakra? Lord Shiva with serpent around his neck and Lord Vishnu with the hood spread above his head. Could it be throat chakra and crown chakra? Lord Nataraj, who is said to create and destroy worlds as he dances is depicted with serpents adorning many parts of his body. Serpents as lowly as they seem, have a greater meaning in their depictions in the Hindu and yogic realm.
Coming back to India being called land of snake charmers, maybe we need to take pride in it? Looking away from the mundane reference that one makes of it, we can view it from a different perspective. There are many saints and sages in India who have reached supreme awareness resulting in the utmost satisfaction and bliss. Could it be that when people from other parts of the world, visited India were awe-struck by these blessed souls and their ways of life? And hence India became known as the land of Sadhus and snake charmers? In essence, we hail from a country which has a rich culture and also has tapped into man's capabilities of ultimate happiness and joy by charming the serpents of kundalini to rise to the levels that one is capable of. I guess, we are all 'snake charmers' in our own right, hailing from a mystical country that has for eons been known to harness the vital energy in our beings and raise it to the charkas of our ability, providing the best at it.
Well, there is always two sides to a coin and let's look at the brighter side of things. India, the land of snake charmers, and now the world follows ...