Indian Snake-Worship Cult Takes On World Bank

July 16, 2008 at 7:52 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )


A strange new war has broken out in the remote Himalayan statelet of Nagapur, pitting ancient Serpent Deities against the global bureaucrats of the World Bank.

Not to be confused with Nagaland, Nagapur is a small “princely state” in the Himalayan foothills between Uttar Pradesh and Nepal.  Its highest peaks get winter snow, its lowest plains join the heatchoked tiger-and-orchid jungles of the Terai, but all within a hundred-odd square miles.

Nagapur was mentioned in the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata as one of the “cities” of the Nagas or semi-divine were-snakes.  Nagapur is still noted for its tantrik snake temples, some of them decorated in medieval Nepalese style with “obscene” carved wood sculpture.  The former ruling family claimed descent from an ancestral cobra, the Sheesh Nang.

The Ahirajahs of Nagapur maintained a degree of independence under the Moghuls, then under the British Raj, but the Indian government abolished their “Purse” in 1957.  At present several rival branches of the family claim Pretender status, but all are reduced to genteel poverty at best.  Until recently their political significance was nil.

In the past few years however one clan of the family has achieved some degree of notoriety thanks to its connections with an emerging “Fourth World” resistance movement in Nagapur.  Poor peasants and “tribals” who depend in part on the forest for economic sustenance have struggled against various “Green Revolution” agricultural policies, dams, and development projects, some launched by the Indian Government and others by Global institutions such as the IMF and World Bank.

The resistance is not centrally organized but manifests as a loose front of NGOs, political parties, cooperative economic and agricultural ventures, and religious organizations.  At its extreme edge it has given birth to several rival small and ineffective guerilla “armies”, officially denounced by the moderate wings of the movement, but (according to the Indian Government) secretly supported and funded by them.

Full Story: Hungry Ghost

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