Snake Bites

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From Hindustan Times.

Snake dies after biting priest
Indo-Asian News Service
Ranchi, July 11, 2005

A snake bites a priest. The snake vomits blood and dies. The priest recovers — it all happened in a Jharkhand village and is being attributed to Lord Shiva’s blessings.

The man who was bitten and lived to tell the tale was the priest of the Nag Devta (Snake God) temple in Badapaghar village of Dumka district, 450 km from here.

“Lord Shiva’s charisma saved me,” the priest was quoted as saying in local newspapers after he was bitten by a five ft snake in the temple premises. The snake vomited blood and died immediately after biting the priest, who is recuperating in hospital.

“Usually a person does not survive if the snake dies or gets killed after biting. The priest has not only survived but is also behaving normally,” said a villager.

The above-mentioned miracle reminded me about this below.

Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog

Good people all, of every sort,
Give ear unto my song;
And if you find it wondrous short,
It cannot hold you long.

In Islington there was a man,
Of whom the world might say
That still a godly race he ran,
Whene’er he went to pray.

A kind and gentle heart he had,
To comfort friends and foes;
The naked every day he clad,
When he put on his clothes.

And in that town a dog was found,
As many dogs there be,
Both mongrel, puppy, whelp and hound,
And curs of low degree.

This dog and man at first were friends;
But when a pique began,
The dog, to gain some private ends,
Went mad and bit the man.

Around from all the neighbouring streets
The wondering neighbours ran,
And swore the dog had lost his wits,
To bite so good a man.

The wound it seemed both sore and sad
To every Christian eye;
And while they swore the dog was mad,
They swore the man would die.

But soon a wonder came to light,
That showed the rogues they lied:
The man recovered of the bite,
The dog it was that died.

— Oliver Goldsmith

To better understand the miracle of the snake and the man, do read the explanation of the poem above.

Everything depends on the following lines: “And while they swore the dog was mad,/ They swore the man would die.” They could be making either of two mistakes:

1) They think the man is as good as he seems; they don’t suspect that he is (in his selfishness) circulating a more deadly poison than any mad dog could offer.

2) They know how corrupt the man is, since they are likewise corrupt, themselves. But they don’t realize the power of their corruption, and how easily it is translated into wickedness, even murder.

In both cases the dog is a figure of sensibility, the mad philosopher/prophet/poet who either heals or infects the community. In the first case, the dog works in the service of the community by purging it of an isolated villain. Yet this is, on the outside, indistinguishable from the second case, where the community is attacked, and where the dog is an enemy. The real situation of sensibility is somewhere between the two: the community is at large corrupt, but the dog-bite is an act of martyrdom. The dog hasn’t, as in the first case above, simply exposed the wicked man; it has exposed the whole community’s belief in the harmlessness of corruption (here, selfishness).

So it was not Lord Shiva after all.

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