Page:Guide to health.djvu/144

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Chapter XII



There is no limit to the superstitious current among us in regard to snakes. From time immemorial we have cultivated a terrible fear of the snake; we even dread the very mention of its name. The Hindus worship the serpent, and have set apart a day in the year (Nagapanchami) for that purpose. They suppose that the earth is supported by the great serpent Sesha. God Vishnu is called Seshasayee, as he is supposed to sleep on the Serpent-God; and God Siva is supposed to have a garland of serpents round his neck! We say that such and such a thing cannot be described even by the thousand-tongued Adisesha, implying our belief in the snake's knowledge and discretion. The serpent Karkotaka is said to have bitten King Nala and deformed him, so that he might not suffer any harm in the course of his wanderings. Such conceptions are also to be met with among the Christian nations of the West. In English a man is very often described to be as wise and cunning as a serpent. And in the Bible, Satan is, said to have assumed the shape of a serpent in order to tempt Eve.

The real reason for the popular dread of snakes is obvious. If the snake's poison should spread