Mythological reality of Nāgmaɳi

By | October 23, 2013

Nāgmaɳi (& other maɳis) in mythology

Nāgmaɳi (‘snake’s gem’ or ‘cobra pearl’) is repeatedly mentioned in the Hindu Puraɳas. There are many folk tales about it. Many people claim they have seen it and they have different stories about it. The hidden treasure in the Pashupati temple is reported to have the possession of not only Nāgmaɳi, but also Gajamaɳi ‘elephant pearl’ and Pārasmaɳi ‘philosopher‘s stone’ which is believed to change all base metals into gold. The Mahabharata tells the story of a gem in the forehead of Açvattʰāmā, which Arjuna seized to punish him.

Nāgmaɳi in the market

A website from Bhuvaneshwar, India (www.dict.hinkhoj.com) gives different varieties of snake pearl images in an advertisement together with the miraculous benefits from each of the varieties. 

The Navabharat Times daily (navbharattimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1225086.cms) [8th September 2005] and the 11th June 2011 coverage of the news channel Aajtak (www.aajtak.intoday.in/videosection.php/videos/karyakramsubsec/48784/1/87/Aaj-Taks-look-at-the-reality-of-gem.html) have published exclusive reports on how many religious, orthodox and innocent people are being cheated in India in the name of Nāgmaɳi.

Nāgmaɳi not a physical reality?

We have also been hearing several miraculous stories from our elders and friends and playmates. Until our student Ram Prasad Gyanwali (pc) called to our notice we were unaware that the snake‘s pearl is a mythological reality.

What herpetologists & zoologists say

We have also contacted two or three zoologists, two of which have dedicatedly worked on herpetology, the science of amphibians and reptiles. Karan Bahadur Shah, a Professor at Central Department of Zoology in Tribhuvan University, who has done in-depth study on herpetology in the University of Munich, Germany for several  years, says that the snake‘s pearl is a mythological reality. Professor K.R. Khambu, a PhD in herpetology also supports Professor Shah.

Empirical reality of Nāgmaɳi

In sharp contrast with the view of Prof. Shah and Prof. Khambu, Krishna Prasad Oli, a lawyer and a PhD in geography, who is noted for his interest in herpetology says that not only serpent‘s pearl but also the crystal formation of elephant, frog, man and wood is possible and is a physical reality.

In this debate Binod Khanal from Chitwan joins with a report that he has witnessed seeing a Nāgmaɳi in his own house. Almost 19 years ago two or three snake charmers came to his house. They were in search of snakes. One of them discovered and identified a track of a snake. He followed the track and dug up a cobra. He brought the cobra in front of Binod‘s house, opened the cobra‘s mouth, got a knife and pulled out a piece of something that looked like the snake‘s flesh. The snake charmer asked for some mustard oil and dipped the fleshlike object into the oil. In about 20 minutes he took out a shining object of orange color. The snake charmer identified the object as the Nāgmaɳi, ‘the cobra pearl’.

Conclusion in a dilemma

The developing stories here are in sharp contrast with each other: one of them, a layman, inexpert, less expert but empiricist and pragmatic claim in the field, reports that the cobra pearl is a reality and the other one represented by professors of zoology and experts and researchers on herpetology reserves that it is a mythological reality.

Category: English My Papers

About Madhav P Pokharel

Professor Emeritus (Linguistics), Tribhuvan University Chief Editor: जगदम्बा नेपाली साहित्यको बृहत् इतिहास [Jagadamba Comprehensive History of Nepali Literature] (Ongoing project) President: Nepal Development Research Institute (NDRI) Japan Foundation Fellow (1994-95 and 2009-2010) President: Linguistic Society of Nepal (2000-2001)

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