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Story of Kadru – Mother of Nagas or Snakes

Kadru was the daughter of Daksha Prajapati. She was one of the wives of Sage Kashyapa. She gave birth to a thousand nagas or snakes including Shesha and Vasuki. The snakes she gave birth are considered to be the ancestors of the Snakes on earth.

How Kadru became the mother of Thousand Serpents?
Legend has it that pleased with her service, Sage Kashyapa asked her what boon she wanted. She asked for a thousand sons. Sage Kashyapa blessed her. After some time Kadru delivered a thousand eggs. She kept them in a warm pot for 500 years and the the thousand eggs Kadru burst letting out a thousand serpents.

Kadru Causing Eternal Rivalry between Garuda and Snakes
Sage Kashyapa had another wife named Vinita. She gave birth to the powerful Garuda – the vehicle or vahana of Vishnu.

Once Kadru and Vinita put a bet on the color of the tail of the horse Uchaishravas – a seven-headed flying horse that was obtained during the churning of ocean or Samudra Manthan.

Kadru claimed the color was black and Vinita claimed it was white. The stake was whoever lost the bet will serve the other.

Kadru cheated by asking her sons, the Nagas, to hang on to the tail of Uchaishravas. Thus the white tail of the divine horse turned black as the nagas hung on to them.

Vinita and Garuda were thus forced to serve Kadru. They were treated badly by Kadru and her sons.
Later the nagas agreed to free Garuda and his mother if he brought the Amrit, or Elixer of life, which is in the possession of Indra, the king of Devas or demi gods. Garuda got Amrit from heaven and freed himself and his mother from servitude.

But the cheating and the insult suffered made Garuda the arch rival of Nagas. Thus Kadru was responsible for many of her sons getting killed.

 Kadru Cursing Some of Her Sons

When Kadru asked her sons to hang on to the tail of horse Uchaishravas, some of them did not obey her orders as they found it was against Dharma. For disobeying her, Kadru cursed them saying that they would all be burnt in the Sarpasattra of Janamejaya.