Thunderbolts, Cows, Progeniture and Snakes – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 10, Vs 28-29

Lord Shiva's Thunderbolt
Lord Shiva with Trident and Thunderbolt

The Power of God & You

The manifestations of God in the world, in you, and in the entire universe.

The eighteen chapters of the Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Arjuna and his childhood friend and Guru, Lord Krishna. Arjuna has asked Him to explain how He, as Absolute God, exists within Creation (beginning with verses 19-20, “God in You”):

Thunderbolts, Cows, Progeniture and Snakes

Of weapons, I am the thunderbolt, and of cows I am Kamadhuk. Of progenitors, I am Kandarpa, and of serpents, I am Vasuki. 

Alternate translation:
Of instruments of power, I am the Thunderbolt. Of cows, I am Kamadhuk, the wish-fulfilling cow. Of progenitors, I am Kandarpa the inciter, and of snakes, I am Vāsuki, the hidden wisdom within.

The thunderbolt of Lord Shiva is called vajra, which means ‘hard and mighty’ and is associated with indestructibility, and consequently, with diamonds.

Kamadhuk, or Kamadhenu, ‘the wish-fulfilling cow’, is discussed in chapter three, The Golden Womb

Kandarpa, the progenitor, means ‘inciter’, from kan (satisfying) + darpa, from the root drip (extravagantly delighted).

Vāsuki, from vāsu, ‘indwelling’ and ki, ‘knowing’. Vasuki is the chief of three snake-kings. He is the serpent the gods and the demons used as a rope for twisting round Mount Mandara to churn the milky ocean and recover the amrita, the nectar of immortality. The nectar was lost in the deluge during the dissolution of the last Manvantara, the previous time period of Creation (306,720,000 of our years).

The other two snake-kings are Shesha, the ‘remainder’ after purification, and Taksha, ‘cutting through’.

The Remainder: The ingesting of the remainder on the part of the body leads to khechari mudra, ‘flying in the air seal’.

Cutting Through begins due to the purification process leaving behind only what is pure, the ‘remainder’, and refers to cutting through all the underlying causes of attachments. This can only begin after sufficient purification leaves a ‘remainder’ to be ingested.

Vasuki is the indwelling knowledge of this, as well as where it will take you. This knowledge is awakened by the guru and accessed through the God-practice taught by the guru (i.e., Lord Krishna). Then the ingestion of the Remainder and Cutting Through will come about on their own, naturally.

Previously, we talked about ‘flying up powerfully‘. When flying up becomes ‘sealed’, or ‘secured’, this is called khechari mudra.  At this point, one must know how to proceed and goes to guru for guidance. Thus does one’s ‘indwelling knowing’ (Vāsuki) become verified and one enters a new phase of surrender yoga sadhana.

Why snakes? Snakes represent desires, the underlying cause of attachments. They are ‘cut away’ by the purification process of khechari mudra, and putting into action the indwelling knowledge of Vāsuki.


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Of snakes I am Ananta, and of waters, I am Varuna. Of ancestors, I am Aryaman, and of that which holds things together, I am Yama.  

Ananta is seen as a snake with his mouth circling back to eat its tail. This circular formation symbolizes endlessness, the no-beginning-no-end of Eternity, the unlimitedness of God. Once again we ask, Why a snake? especially if snakes represent desires?

Ananta is the ultimate desire that keeps everything going. If we think of a desire as something we are attracted to and seek to have, it is understandable that desire makes the world go around. As Lord Krishna’s states, “I am that desire which is not contrary to dharma,” we learn of a desire that is God Itself. It is this longing for God/Truth that is this desire. It prompts us to seek God/Truth and to take up the God-practice that is yoga (uniting). 

Ananta, 1000 headed snake

Ananta is also depicted as a thousand-headed snake. The number 1000 expresses a multitude or totality of something, imperishability and infinity. The name Ananta means ‘infinite, immortal, unending, without limit.’

Varuna, from vri, ‘to surround, or envelop’, is Lord of the Waters, enveloping not only the earth, but the depths of the oceans and the all-enveloping surrounder of the denizens of the waters.

Varuna, Lord of the Waters

Varuna is lord of the waters of heaven, the ‘celestial waters’ in the head. We might think of this as soma or amrita, or any feature we might imagine as fluid-like, such as hormones seeping through the endocrine (ductless) glands.

Water also represents purification, and that from which manifestation arises.

We are climbing Jacob’s ladder.

Aryaman, ‘Chief of the Ancestors’ is ‘the dear friend and companion’. He presides over the lunar mansion of Uttara, meaning left, upper and north.

The path of the left is north, the upper-going, or ascendent path. Being chief of the ancestors, Aryaman is the chief of DNA in the body, and the direction, or path, by which the purified (or corrected) DNA (bindi), ascends. Thus is he a friend.

Yama is the King of Death. His father is Vivasvat, the Sun, and the Manu of our current Manvantara (time period). His mother’s name is Samjna, ‘together, the same, in harmony with’. 

Yama, Lord of DeathThe word yama means both ‘restrainer or subduer’ and ‘twins or pairs’. Yama restrains, or holds, pairs together as a unit, reminding us once again of DNA. 

The Sanskrit for ‘restrainer and subduer’ is samyama, the term Patanjali uses to demonstrate concentration, meditation and equanimity taken together as samadhi, ‘the little death’ of yoga (union), the last of the eight steps of Yoga. Interestingly, Yama is also the first step of Yoga consisting of five principles descriptive of God and You-as-you-really-are. Mastery of the yamas brings about successful yoga, special powers, and success in life.

Namaste (I bow to the divine one you really are),
Durga Ma

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One thought on “Thunderbolts, Cows, Progeniture and Snakes – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 10, Vs 28-29

  1. Dave K

    Kandarpa, standing on a bird, formed by 4 women, shooting a 4 tipped arrow from a bow that might make Cupid smile? I am very much enjoying this reading, yet I can’t help but wonder if there is a measure of whimsy included.


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