The Snake Goddess
The Snake Goddess7 mins 156 7 mins 156
Murli was a young man of about twenty-two. He would daily collect all the cattle of his village and took them to the nearby jungle in order to graze them. It was his daily routine, and he had a good name in his village. Everybody liked him because took good care of each and every cattle that he was given to grazing. He would take them to that part of the jungle where there was a lot of green and soft grass and leaves and left them to enjoy the delicacies. As long as the animals would fill their belly, he used to spend his time around them. Sometimes, he went into the denser part of the jungle in search of some wild fruits or any other eatables. The whole day he would remain in the jungle and returned to his village only in the evening, just when the sun would be making preparations to hide below the horizon. But he did not do all this for free. There was a price fixed for his work. It was fifty kilograms of paddy for each of the cattle and a set of new clothing at the end of the year. There were forty of cattle in his herd, and it brought him a good income. Apart from this, when any cow started giving milk, it was he who would use it for the first month, only then the real masters of the cow could consume it.
On one summer morning, Murli collected his animals and went into the jungle. The sun was very hard from the morning and he was also not feeling good. So, he thought to lay down under a wild tree. and take some rest before taking the cattle to the stream for drinking fresh water for bathing and drinking. So he lay down and covered his face with his towel. Soon he went into sleep. While he was in sleep, he saw a beautiful woman who was wailing sitting on the same rock in the middle of the jungle from which Murli kept a look on his herd of cattle. Then, the woman came down of that rock and came near the tree where Murli was asleep and told him that she was the goddess of the jungle and she was very sad because soon there would begin a great war between the Snake Goddess and the humans living in the periphery of the jungle and since he was was a human, his life was not saved there. When Murli asked her why the Snake Goddess was so angry with humans, she told him that the humans kill her children even though they don't do any harm to them. Every year a large number of her children were being caught and killed by humans. When Murli asked her mustering up his courage that the humans kill snakes because they are afraid of them, and that every year many people die because of snakebite. At this, the Snake Goddess said that she had strictly warned her children to go into human territory, but they have destroyed our home. Every year they move to another place to live peacefully with their family, but humans are so selfish that every time they widen the area of their destruction. Their indiscriminate cutting down of trees and destroying forest areas have driven the snakes out of their natural homes, so where will they go, if not enter the human territories. The Snake Goddess told Murli to leave the jungle immediately and never to come back there again. Saying this, the Goddess of Snake disappeared in the air. Just then, Murli's eyes opened. He was a large snake hissing and passing close by. He remembered each and every word spoken by the Snake Goddess, so he thought it better to go back to his village with the cattle. He gathered his cattle and went back. Seeing him return before time filled the villagers with surprise as it was the first time when Murli returned from the jungle so early. Murli told them each and every world the Snake Goddess had told him.
For one week no cattle from the village were sent to the jungle. They were fed with whatever could be available in the village. On the eighth day, the villagers called a meeting in which everyone was free to keep their opinion. Some people said that all the snakes should be killed along with the Snake Goddess otherwise they would create havoc in the village and in some days no one would be alive there while some other people's opinion was that they should do something to please the Snake Goddess and ask her forgiveness for their offense of killing her children. But there was a general disagreement in the meeting, so at last, Ramlal who was the head of the village took one-sided decision that the very next day all the people would go to the jungle with gifts as per their capacity and pray the Snake Goddess to forgive their offense and promise her that no villager would ever harm any of her young ones, rather they would do everything that was under their power for their safety. Since it was the decision of the head of the village, so every villager was bound to obey it. However, Ranga, the rival of Ramlal did not agree with him, and some of his men made a plan to foil his attempt to make peace with the Snake Goddess.
The next day, in the morning time, as per the instruction of the village head, all the villagers gathered in front of Ramlal's house, from where they together moved to the jungle. Ranga and his men also were with them. Everyone was carrying potful of milk, from their cows, for the Snake Goddess. Murli fearlessly led them through the jungle to the spot where he had the dream and where he had seen the snake just after opening his eyes. Ramlal had already ordered the villagers to keep a safe distance from that place, as anything might happen there. It was so scary a place that they felt that their last time had come. Following the instruction of the village head they all one by one put their offerings under the tree and stood away on one safer side of the tree folding their hands. Soon death-like silence prevailed there. No one dared to speak. Even the slightest rustle of leaves made a chill run through their spine...
A long-time passed. The sun was blazing overhead. The disappointment was clearly visible on everyone's face. They were waiting for the order of their leader to return to their home. Ranga and his men too were waiting with their sinister plan, but there was nothing, not even an earthworm did they witness. It seemed their attempt to make peace with the Snake Goddess would become futile. They made up their minds to return. But then, suddenly, with a deafening HISSSSS....a a huge snake descended from the tree and stood along the trunk. They had never seen a snake as big as this in their life. As it turned its fiery eyes towards the villagers, they all swooned and fell unconscious onto the hard dried land of the wild. Ranga too fell down unconscious. Then, it turned to Ramlal, who was still standing with his hand folded.
" Forgiveness"... Mother...Forgiveness !."
His heart too trembled with fear. For a moment he thought that his end had arrived.
" Calm down...Mother! Please calm down. We too are your children."
" No....! You're killers. You all humans are killers....but today you're at wrong hands. "
'If my life can pacify your anger, Mother Goddess, you may take my life. But as you have children, I too have children. Look! All the people fallen on the ground, are all my children. "
Ramlal closed his eyes. He had no courage to look into the Snake Goddess' mouth which she had opened wide and was ready to take him in. Just then, Ranga's awoke from swoon and finding Ramlal on the clutch of the big snake, his evil mind thought it was the best opportunity to take revenge on him. So he immediately drew out his dagger from his waist and threw it onto the snake to enrage its anger so that it might not loosen its clutch and let Ramlal go, and if the snake had not hit the dagger with its tail and deflected it in Ranga's direction, Ramlal would certainly have been mortally wounded. The dagger went right through Ranga's heart. The Snake Goddess then loosened her clutch and Ramlal was free. The snake then said in human's voice that man is not doing good by destroying the forest lands and killing other animals as like them other animals and birds also have the right to live. As their children are dear to them, so are the children of other animals.
Ramlal made a promise to the Snake Goddess that now no villager would hurt or kill any snake. They will also not harm the other animals and birds by cutting down trees and destroying forests; rather they would protect the forest from those who harm them. The Snake Goddess liked it. The friendly and cooperative gesture of the villagers gradually soothed her anger, and now she was able to see and understand the things very clearly. She, then, turned towards Ramlal and told him that his villagers could graze their animals in the jungle so long as they would not cause harm to any of her young ones as well as the other creatures of the jungle. Thereafter, to show her love for Murli, she held her golden hood right above his head casting a shadow over him, and remained in that position for sometime. Then, she regurgitated a shining stone like thing out of her mouth and putting it on her hand said, " Dear Son, you have become a great help for our race. God knows whether we'll ever see each other or not, but one thing is certain son and it's that we'll always remain grateful to you for what you've done for us. Pick up that gem and always wear it in your neck. It will protect you from all snakes and their poison." Saying this, she turned back and soon disappeared in the jungle. The villages returned to their village and lived happily thereafter.