By Swami Harshananda
Manasā literally means ‘created by mind’.
Manasā is the goddess controlling all the reptiles, especially the snakes. Her worship is very common in Bengal and Assam. The tale narrates that when the people of the world were unable to bear the affliction created by snakes, they approached the great sage Kaśyapa. Snakes were his off springs. For assistance, he created the goddess Manasā by using his mental powers (manas = mind) as the presiding deity and controller of the reptiles.
Life of Manasā
She pleased Śiva and Viṣṇu through her severe austerities and obtained several boons from them. Jaratkāru was her another name. She was married to a sage whose name also was Jaratkāru. They gave birth to a son named Āstika. He later on succeeded in stopping the sarpayāga or serpent-sacrifice of the king Janamejaya, the son of Parīkṣit.
Different Names of Manasā
She is known by many other names that includes:
Repetition of her twelve names is said to give full protection against the poisonous reptiles.
Idol of Manasā
- Her idols show her as a goddess with two arms, one holding a snake and the other in abhayamudrā.
- She may also be shown with four arms and a seven-hooded snake, as a parasol, along with her husband, sage Jaratkāru, and her son Āstika.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore