As you can see in many pictures of Shiva, he wears a naga wrapped around his neck.

Lord Shiva Credits for Image

So is there any reason behind keeping that naga around his neck, or is that a vahan for lord Shiv just like lord Ganesha has a rat or like the goddess Mata Ji who has a tiger?

I know that he is known as Pasupathinath, which means "lord of all creatures", and that he controls all the animals. Since snake is feared by most of us, is that the reason he wears them around his neck?

Also, does he wear just one, or there are multiple?

  • Nagas were very first Shiva linga worshippers Jun 7 '15 at 5:50
  • I think the ultimate god is the goddess (only Devi not durga,parvathi,sathi etc) In devipurana or devi bagavatha it is written that shiva played sivatandava after the death of sathi with her body rotated in his neck,hands,legs,hip wherever he rotated that places decerated by nagas or snakes.
    – user3403
    Jul 27 '15 at 8:24
  • MńagģSnake indicates kundalini shakthi if one dies shiva uoasena his kundalini will reach till neck wheres if one dies vishnu opens hismmi9p0⁷9⁹
    – Prasanna R
    Jun 12 at 12:59

There are many stories related to "Shiva wearing snake as necklace".

Snakes are meant to be dangerous reptile and is feared by many of us. Lord Shiva show us that he controls fear and death by wearing snake as ornament.

It is also said that the snake three rounds around Lord Shiva's neck depicts future, present and past. That states that Lord Shiva is Independent of Time and controls time.

There is a story that when the snake species were in endangered, they approach Lord Shiva for Shelter. Lord Shiva gave them shelter by letting them stay in Kailasa. But due to cold weather, the snakes used to approach Lord Shiva for warmth of Body. Thus, He as a protector used to wore these snakes as ornament to provide warmth.



A snake is also very sensitive to certain energies. Shiva has the snake around his throat. It is not just symbolic. There is a whole lot of science behind it. There are 114 chakras in the energy body. Out of these 114, people are usually talking about the seven fundamental chakras in the system. Among these seven fundamental ones, the vishuddhi chakra is located in the pit of your throat. This particular chakra is very strongly associated with the snake. The vishuddhi is about stopping poison, and a snake carries poison. All these things are connected.

The word vishuddhi literally means “filter.” If your vishuddhi becomes powerful, you have the ability to filter everything that enters you. Shiva’s center is supposed to be vishuddhi, and he is also known as Vishakantha or Neelakantha because he filters all the poison. He doesn’t allow it to enter his system. Poisons are not necessarily that which you may consume through food. Poisons can enter you in so many ways: a wrong thought, a wrong emotion, a wrong idea, a wrong energy or a wrong impulse can poison your life. If your vishuddhi is active, it filters everything. It saves you from all these influences. In other words, once vishuddhi is very active, that person is so powerful within himself that whatever is around him does not influence him anymore. He is established within himself. He tends to become a very powerful being.

  • 2
    Welcome to Hinduism.SE! You should cite sources. Mar 23 '15 at 17:27
  • From the content, I see you are a fellow follower of Sadhguru Jaggi, at least you should mention him as the source. Nov 6 '15 at 8:51
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    Shiva's center is Sahasrara chakra.
    – Pinakin
    Dec 13 '15 at 11:55

Lord Siva is know as Pasupathinath, the lord of all creatures. Being a lord of the animals he has complete control on their behavior. Since a snake is one of the most feared and dangerous animals in the world, the garland of snakes around the neck firmly establishes this fact even the snakes fear Him and remain under his control.

The snake stands for all the evil and demonical nature in the world. By wearing the snake around his neck, Lord Siva gives us the assurance that no evil can touch us or destroy us once we surrender to him, seek his protection and worship him with deep devotion.

The snake also stands for the power of kundalini, which is described as a coiled serpent lying dormant in the muladhara chakra of all human beings and descends upwards when one starts ones spiritual journey and becomes increasingly divine oriented. The snake around the neck of Siva conveys the meaning that in him the kundalini not only has arisen fully but is also actively involved in the divine activity by keeping an eye on all the devotees who approach Siva with their individual problems.

The snake also stands for all passions and desires. By wearing the snakes around his neck, Lord Siva conveys the message to all his devotees that He has overcome all desires and is in full control of Prakriti, or maya and its various machinations.


Lord Shiva wears snakes as his ornaments as well as for his Yajnopavitam (sacred thread). The snake Vasuki which often encircles neck of Lord Shiva can also work like Agni tatwa (fire element) for the Soma tatwa (moon) which is on the head of Lord Shiva. Thus by combining Agni and Soma, Amrita (immortal nectar) is produced which bathes Shiva. Now let's see all these things in scriptures:

- Snakes as ornament and sacred thread:

In the Skandha Purana, Kedar Khanda chapter 22, there is a description of form of Shiva. The verses which are relevant to the snakes are as:

यज्ञोपवितविधिना उरसा बिभ्रंत वृतम्॥
वासुकिं सर्पराजं च कंबलाश्वतरौ तथा॥ २२.३ ॥
कर्णद्वये धारयंतं तथा कर्कोटकेन हि॥
पुलहेन च बाहुभ्यां धारयंतं च कंकणे॥ २२.४ ॥
सन्नृपुरे शङ्खकपद्मकाभ्यां संधारयंतं च विराजमानम्॥
कर्पूरगौरं शितिकंठमद्भुतं वृपान्वितं देववरं ददर्शुः॥ २२.५ ॥
तदा ब्रह्मा च विष्णुश्च ऋषयो देवदानवाः॥
तुष्टुवुर्विविधैः सूक्तैर्वेदोपनिपदन्वितैः॥ २२.६ ॥ (Kedar Khanda chapter 22)

As a sacred thread he was wearing Vasuki, the king of serpents, as well as the Nagas Kambala and Asvatara on his chest. Karkotaka was worn by him in the ears as ear-rings and Pulaha as bangles round his arms. He appeared brilliantly shining with Sankhaka and Padmaka as his anklets. Suras saw the blue-throated mysterious lord, the most excellent one among Devas, white in complexion like camphor and accompanied by the bull.Then Brahma, Vishnu, the Sages, Devas and Danavas eulogized him with various hymns from the Vedas and the Upaniṣhads.

So, it is clear from above verses that Lord Shiva is wearing various serpents as his ornaments as well as the snake Vasuki as his sacred thread.

- Vasuki snake as Agni tatwa to the Soma (moon) on head:

The heat produced from the Vasuki snake which encircles neck of Lord Shiva can also cause the Soma (moon) element to exude Amrita (Immortal nectar) which then bathes Lord Shiva. In the Padma Purana Uttara Khanda chapter 10, we witness one such incident. The relevant verses are as:

एवं वदति संप्राप्तौ सुतौ स्कंदविनायकौ || २६ ||
तस्मिन्काले देवदेवो यतवागंगमर्दनम् |
चकार च करैर्व्यस्तैर्वासुकिर्भूतलेऽपतत् || २७ ||
हेरंबवाहनस्याखोः पुच्छं ग्रस्तमथाहिना |
स्वपत्रं ग्रस्तमालोक्य मुंचमुंचेत्युवाच ह || २८ ||
अत्रांतरे स्कंदवाहं क्षुब्धं वीक्ष्य महास्वरम् |
तद्भयाद्वासुकिर्ग्रस्तमाखुपुच्छमथोद्गिरत् || २९ ||
अथारुह्य हरस्यांगं गलमावेष्ट्य संस्थितः |
तस्य निश्वासपवनैरथ जातो हुताशनः || ३० ||
तस्योष्मणा चंद्र लेखा जटाजूटाटवी स्थिता |
सार्द्रतां तु तदा सायात्प्लावितं तद्वपुर्यथा || ३१ ||
तस्याह्यमृतधाराभिर्ब्रह्ममस्तकमालिका |
हरमौलिकपालानामभूत्संजीविता तदा || ३२ ||
पपाठ पूर्वमभ्यस्तं सर्वयोगश्रुतिक्रमम् |
श्रुत्वा परस्पराधीतं विवदंति शिरांस्यथ || ३३ || (Padma Purana 6.10)

When he was speaking like this, the two sons of Shiva, Kartikeya and Gajanana came there. At that time, the god of gods was massaging his body with his hands. Due to his hands being tossed about, Vasuki fell on the ground. Then the serpent Vasuki seized the tail of the mouse, the vehicle of Gajanana (Ganesha). Seeing his vehicle seized, he said: "Leave it, leave it." In the meanwhile, seeing the agitated vehicle, of a large note, of Skanda, Vasuki ejected, through his fear, the tail of the mouse, which he had seized; and then mounting upon Shiva's body, he encircled his neck and remained there. Due to its heat, the crescent moon remained in the forest of his matted hair. She (i.e. the crescent moon) then became wet, and bathed his body with Amrita (ambrosia); the row of the skulls on Shiva's head was brought back to life. And they recited all the sacred texts in due order, which they had formerly studied. The heads, hearing recital (of the sacred text) done by one another, discussed it.

Thus, in the above story it is clear that heat generated from Vasuki caused the Soma (moon) on the Shiva's head to exude Amrita (immortal nectar) which bathed Lord Shiva. Due to the effect of Amrita even the skulls which Lord Shiva was wearing came back to life and began to recite sacred texts.


Lord Shiva doesnit wear snake. Vasuki surrendered to Shiva, by yogic control the naga clan learned to convert poison (venom) and turned into diamond (mani). the heat from poison in Shiva's throat is again channeled into body of vasuki. Likewise there are other snakes that form anklets and bracelets of Shiva out of respect.

In same way anata sesha bears the burden of earth on his hood and also bears vishnu. This anata is none other than patanjali yogi who transformed into snake for sake of lord vishnu.


Kundalini is in serpent form .One gets ashta siddhis when kundalini raises up. All those maha siddhis are dangerous like the serpents. Since Shiva keeps keeps sidhis under his control and uses them for the welfare of world,it is represented as his abharana. Reference

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    I think you should write your answer in bit detail else it seems like a comment.
    – Mr. Alien
    Aug 7 '15 at 6:23

There is also deep symbolism in this as a snake is also associated with awareness:

A state of samadhi where there is nothing, just the inner sky of consciousness, is Shiva; where there is alertness and no action. To describe this alertness they put a snake around Shiva’s neck. So the serpent is a symbol of alertness.

In the state of meditation when the eyes are closed, it gives the impression that the person is sleeping, but he is not asleep, he is alert. To express this state of consciousness, a snake is shown around Lord Shiva’s neck.

Excerpts from a talk by Sri Sri Ravi Sankar: https://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/17184919/.../understandingshiva.pdf


Snake in shiva's neck and whole body means naga clan lived in through out india and vasuki surrounded mount kailash which symbolised to shiva's neck Shesha need to understand that sumeru to smudra snakes coiled indian oceans which symbolised by vishnu where sri in South same as Brahma in centre to east

  • 4
    Hello @Parmod and welcome to SE, it would help a lot if you could support your answer with citation of source/scriptures Jun 7 '15 at 16:00

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