The Naga Snake healing dance from the Nayiks
The snake-bite healers related to the old Shaivite community – and thus often related to jogis – have a prominent place in India as well as many other countries from Sri Lanka to Egypt. Their actual and foremost role is to drive away the snakes from the villages during the harvest season and the rainy season and to heal the snake-bites, which in fact, represent a high rate of mortality in the villages of India. The snake or “naga” is considered as a deity by these casts as well as by the rural population and is revered by various religious communities. The most common is the community of the deity Gogaji who has a small temple in the village of Sekawadah, maintained by one of the members of the group, who himself is a bhopa devoted to this deity.
Gogaji was a disciple of Gorakhnath who lived in the X century and was himself a disciple of Matsyendranath, a saint advocating equality of casts; Gorakhnath is also the guru of Nath-Jogis.
“Two sisters with identical appearance and the same face got married to the same king, but none of them was capable of giving birth to a child.
The eldest one decided to go to see the great master Gorakhnath to ask him to use his powers to help her so that she can bear a child. The guru asked her to return later on to be able to accede to her request. The youngest one, who had clandestinely followed her sister, heard the conversation and came to the great master in place of her sister. Gorakhnath, who believed he was dealing with the elder one, gave her the power to have a child. When the elder one came back, Gorakhnath, despite the misunderstanding, refused to grant her the favour that he could have granted only once. The youngest one thus gave birth to twins.
The furious eldest sister came back to see Gorakhnath who, given his supernatural powers made a snake enter the womb of the woman. Thus was born Gogaji. According to the tradition, the king had to make the son of the eldest girl his successor, that is, Gogaji. Thus, he became the king. The furious twins, Arjan and Serjan, fought Gogaji who defeated them and killed them. His mother, offended by such fratricidal violence, ousted him from the court. A despondent Gogaji came to confide in Gorakhnath who advised him to seek death through the act of “Samadhi”, a true ritual suicide. Gogaji rode a horse into the forest and after having dug a hole, sunk his body into the earth. His head alone stayed above the ground. A cow came and fed him her milk so that he could survive. Miraculously, Gogaji was transformed into a cobra and wrapped himself around the cow’s neck.”