What is the symbolism of Five-headed cobra in Hinduism? In Hindu scriptures and in religious pictures, we see the reference of Five-headed cobra, what it signifies? Do Five-headed cobra really exists? For this doubt in his Satsang, Sri Sri Ravishankar Guruji of Art of Living, explaining it his own words….
If you look at the mythological pictures, you will find Mahavir sitting with a five headed cobra behind him. Or Lord Vishnu is sitting in meditation and there is a cobra behind him. Even in the pictures of Rishis, you will find a cobra with its hood open at the back.
Have you seen such pictures? It is a very subtle thing!
See, when you are sitting in meditation, what is happening? Your consciousness is getting alert, opened and awakened, as though in your back ground there is a thousand headed cobra. Cobra signifies alertness.
How many of you feel a lot of alertness in the back of your head during meditation? A sort of wakefulness!
So the cobra is a symbol of the energy that raises and opens up; energy which is alert and at the same time restfulness.
It is not that there was really a cobra at the back of their head, it is a symbol of wakefulness in the deep state of rest, and that is meditation – totally restful, wanting nothing, doing nothing, being nothing and being open, like the hood of a cobra; alert without any effort.
There are two types of descriptions for this. In one they talk about a Cobra, and in another they talk about a flower; it is like a thousand-petaled lotus, blossoming on the top of the head; on the crown chakra.
So some describe it as a flower, very delicate, and some describe it as a cobra which means alert. Both fit very well.
Now if you don’t feel like that, then that means you have stuffed yourself with too much food. Then you won’t find any cobra, you will only find a buffalo, because you have stuffed yourself so much and you feel so dull.
That is why, world over people always talk about fasting and prayer; fasting and meditation. At the same time you should not fast too much. Sometimes people fast all day and then eat too much at night. That is no good. Fasting has some rules that need to be followed.
Naturopath and Doctors will tell you how you should begin a fast and how you should slowly come out of it.
Sometimes in Navratri we fast, and in the name of fasting, we feast.
People say, ‘We will not eat any grains, we will only have potato’, and we eat French fries and everything else.
‘We will not have rice, but we will only have idly.’
This is cheating I tell you. Real fasting does not include eating halwas (sweet dish) and puris (fried pancakes). It is a wrong type of fasting. You should not fast like that.
Alpahara Mitahara – a little bit food and easily digestible food.
That also counts as fasting. Little bit fruits and water.
So when body is not so heavy and dull, then it blossoms and meditation happens better.
At the same time too much fasting makes your Pitta go high and then also you cannot meditate. That is why drink enough water so that the Pita in your body does not go high.