Sri Padmanabhaswamy Original Photo of Vault B.

Does sacred snake symbol on door B represent Good omen or Bad omen in Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple?


Most earth-centered or pagan cultures worshipped the serpent. It represents rebirth (because of its molting), protection against evil, either male of female sexuality, rain and fertility, a mediator between the physical and spiritual world.... It also represents female energy or lifeforce in goddess worship, sometimes linked to the eastern Kundalini force or a supposed "goddess within." The list of meanings is endless, but in the Bible it usually represents sin, temptation, destruction, and Satan. The circular image of the serpent biting its tail links the mythical significance of the serpent to that of the sacred circle. See uroborus and Spiral.

I would like to give some examples of this. Maybe the history of Egypt is the best known. The ancient Egyptian mythology states that the world was created by four powers, or Gods. One was the sun God of Amun-Ra which took the form of a snake and emerged from the water to inseminated the cosmic egg which was created by the other gods. It was said that all life on this earth stemmed from this egg.

We of course know also of the many struggles between Seth and Osiris, the lord and judge of the dead. The father of Horus Seth and the brother of Osiris tried to kill Osiris and take the world for themselves. So the story goes, that on one attempt to take Osiri's life, a God named Hathor transformed itself into a poisonous snake called Agep and killed the would-be assassins. That snake also guarded the wheatfields where the spirit of Horus was said to live. This brought the sheaf of wheat to be regarded as the symbol of reliving, or rebirth. This symbol is also used in our second degree.

In another we learn that a God, Isis, was transformed into a fire spewing cobra (called Uraeus in Greek), and symbolized the bearer of this symbol that he was in possession of the secrets of the material world. The Pharaohs therefore wore the symbol of Uraeus on their head as a symbol of sovereignty, or royalty. This snake worn on the head also indicated the possession of the so-called third-eye, from which nothing could be hidden, in this or in the next world.

Other examples of the snake:

The same interpretation is made by the practitioners of Yoga, who claim that ones inner strength is like a coiled-up snake which is deep within oneself. By practicing Yoga, this snake will extend itself through the several so-called Chakras, and eventually reach the head and form the third eye.
The Hindu also principally follow this thinking, that at that moment when the snake, or spirit, awakes through strict religious practices and rises into eternity, one can reach the ultimate state of humanity.

In Greek mythology also, the snake plays an important role. It is said that the Zeus freed eagles at each end of the world. The place where these two eagles met was the center of the world, the center of the earth. This center, sometimes called the navel of the earth, is guarded by a snake, called Pytho. Above this navel the Oracle of Delphi, called Pythia, was constructed. We see this Oracle play an important role in the life of Pythagoras.
The snake is also used by Chinese mythology. The Chinese maintained that the world was surrounded by two intertwined snakes, which symbolized the power and wisdom of the creator. (Ying/Yang) However, the snake was also said to cause the devastating floods, as the movement of the water resembled a snakes movement.

The Aztecs too placed high regard for the snake, which they called by the almost unpronounceable name of Quetzacoatl. This snake was feathered so that it could communicate with the Gods. The use of this snake is widespread, the most famous of stories entails an Aztec King who seeks immortality, and to find it sets out to sea on a raft laden with snakes. The soothsayers claimed that one day, a new god would return from the seas. That he will have long blond hair, blue eyes, and will be wearing a brighten armor. This vision was very much taken advantage of in 1519 when the Spanish conqueror Ferdinando Cartez invaded Mexico.

The Australian Aborigines see the snake as the beast that will make them man by devouring them as boys, and re-emerging as man. Do we not see similarities between his and the story where the Jonas traveled the seas, to be devoured by a whale, and spewed out three days later a new man? It is also similar to Baptism, which took place in the river Jordan on Easter, where people would be submerged in the water, where it was said that a beast of the underworld devoured their soul, after which one would re-emerge a new man. In these stories, the characters are often given a new name after such a rebirth, after being added to a new group of people. Do we not see this phenomenon in our own degrees, where through initiation, passing and raising a new name is given?

The snake as a duality:

We can conclude from these examples, that the snake has both positive and negative images. In positive stories it creates the world, in others, it causes flooding, devastation, even death. The snake therefore is usually portrayed as a duality.
In “The Book of the Dead”, we learn that snakes were the first to acclaim Ra when he appears from the surface of the waters, and hence, snakes were referred to as the lowest strata of life. Therefore man, who is considered to be at the very top of the strata of life, wearing a snake as in our aprons, continually reminds us of where we came from, and of what we are in search.

In The Book of Numbers, for example, we find the story whereby the serpents sent by God cause many of the children of Israel to perish, but His chosen people were restored to life by the same serpents (Numbers 21:6-9).

We learn in another example that in Paradise there are two trees, the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. Symbolically the tree of life holds the world together in harmony and represents truth. The other tree gives the temptation of body, of earthly things, and discord. Again, a duality between harmony and disharmony, good and bad, truth and lies is present. We know what happens with the snake and the apple. But how can the snake, a symbol of evil, be used to tempt Eve? For in the Bible, God declares after creating the heaven and the earth in 6 days, that "I am the creator of good and evil."

If we follow this logic, then the snake should not be seen as a tool of evil, but a tool of good, which was created by God and which taught men the notion of choices by eating an apple from the tree of knowledge, of the duality of this world of two opposites, life and death, happiness and sadness. It is through the work of the snake, that man is the only being on earth with the power to choose between this duality, to be given a choice, and have a free will to choose. The snake therefore symbolizes something very important. It is a symbol to which we must work to rise above the material to a wider and higher knowledge of the world. The snake helps us bring out our inner strength.

Many philosophers refer to the snake in the same way. In the famous story by the German philosopher Goethe called "The Green Snake" we learn of a king who enters a mysterious temple where he through comparisons and choices is taught how to gap the bridge between the human mistakes and the ideal state. The snake plays an important role in this story.
This story is reflected in Italian Freemasonry, where the Brethren often wear a green band on their arms, symbolizing this quest. History also shows that the Italian Fascists, who regard Masonry as an enemy to their ways, referred to masons as "Serpente Verte", or green snakes.