Stories involving the serpents are still very much a part of contemporary cultural traditions in predominantly Hindu regions of Asia . In India, sarpas are considered nature spirits and the protectors of springs, wells and rivers. They bring rain, and thus fertility, but are also thought to bring disasters such as floods and drought.
At one time there were many prevalent different renditions of the serpent cult located in vedic India. The following is a sukta from paippalAda samhitA, which describes of serpent deities. Ritualistically the sukta is employed in sarpa-balI , nagAstra prayoga, nAgapAshA prayoga and combined with nIlarudra mantras for atharvanIya rUdraM. In the srauta yajurvedic context
this group of stanzas are
recited over the place where
a lotus leaf,a gold plate and a
golden figure of a man have been place over the hoofprint of a horse in a rite called rukmAdyupadhAna,near the start of the agnicayana procedures. In yajurvedic grihya sphere this mantras are employed in ashaleshA balI rite and shravanA karma .
(normalized ekashruti version )
( पैप्पलाद ऋषि । सर्प । अनुष्टुप )
नमो ऽस्तु सर्पेभ्यो ये के च पृथिवीम् अनु ।
ये अन्तरिक्षे ये दिवि तेभ्यः सर्पेभ्यो नमः ॥
ये चामी रोचने दिवो यश् च सूर्यस्य रश्मिषु ।
येषाम् अप्सु सदस् कृतं तेभ्यः सर्पेभ्यो नमः ॥
या इषवो यातुधानानां ये वा वनस्पतीनाम् ।
ये वावटेषु शेरते तेभ्यः सर्पेभ्यो नमः ॥
( translation )
Homage be to the serpents,whichever ones[move]along the ground,those in the mid space,[and]those in the sky ,to those serpents,homage!
And those in the bright vault of the sky,and those in the rays of the sun,those whose seat is made in the water,to those serpents,homage!
To those who are the arrows of the sorcerers ,or to those of the trees,or to those which lie in holes in the ground,to those serpents,homage!