Nagas - semidivine demons
Nagas - semidivine demons or demigods with a snake trunk and one or several human heads. The most ancient Indian legends mention that the civilization of Nagas was powerful at the dawn of mankind; they inhabited under the mythical mount Meru.
In the first book of the "Mahabharata" ("Adi Parva" or "The Beginning") Nagas are described living on land. Then Brahma had opened wide land and they were descended under it. Having moved in the subterranean world, Patala, nagas had built to him(her)self dazzling palaces shining with gold and jewels. The wise dragon Vasuki became the tsar (king) of Nagas and ruled in their subterranean city Bhogavati, filled unprecedented on land treasures.
Tsars (Kings) of Nagas
In the Indian myths names of many tsars (kings) of Nagas are named among which the most known are: thousand-headed dragon Shesha supporting Earth and serving by a bed for Vishnu during his sleep at the ocean in intervals between creations of the world; Vasuki, used by gods and demons in the capacity of ropes at the Churning of the ocean for the purpose obtaining of amrita - a beverage of immortality; Takshaka and Ayravata. Regal snakes, three-headed, five-headed, seven-headed, ten-headed are powerful and wise, their heads are topped by precious coronas; for their virtue (and often for long self-sacrifice or asceticism) they have got into favour and friendship of gods.
Outside of India Nagas are compared with local snake-like deities.For example, with lu in Tibet, naty in Burma, praya nak in Laos, dragons - lungs in China.
Descriptions and images of Nagas
Nagas are described in many Vedic texts, epic poems, puranas, Buddhist sutras, and also in some canonical Buddhist texts, for example, "The Jataka". Their images are presented on bas-reliefs of Angkor in Cambodia, on bridges of Nagas in the temple of Phimai in Thailand, in Phnom Rung temple, disposed on the royal road from Angkor to Phimai and in other places.
Inspite of the abundance of mentions about Nagas in the Old Indian literature, their appearance is always too general (if they are not imaged in the form of people). The impression is created that compilers of legends simply did not know, how these beings looked, and nearly always (consciously or unconsciously) identified them with snakes. Such are nagas and on bas-reliefs created in much more late times.
How Nagas looked?
Nagas had one or several (two, three, five, seven etc.) human heads without a hair and a trunk with a widened neck of a cobra with one pair of legs or quite without legs. Nagas were coloured in blue, green, red, black and white colours and wore various clothes. For example, Shesha was imaged in a purpuric vestment with a white necklace round his neck, the sister of Vasuki, perfectly folded Jaratkara, - apparelled in beautiful clothes and decorated with jewelry.
"[Nagas] from a stem of Vasuki... were blue, red and white colours: all of them had huge, abominable trunks overfilled with deadly venom. Their names - Kotika, Manasa, Purna …
[Nagas] from the family of Dhritarashtra. These snakes … could move with a speed of the wind and were awfully venomous. Here they are - Shankukarna, Pingalaka, Kutharamukha …" ("Mahabharata")
On frescos of Sigiria which some explorers compare with Lanka from the "Ramayana", the Royal Palace in Bangkok and some other places there are images of perfectly folded girls or women with a green skin. Perhaps, it is the most realistic images of Nagas?!
According to the "Mahabharata", "some of them [Nagas or dragons] were small, precisely mice, others were in an elephant's trunk, third resembled on … elephants … with all diversity of their colours …"; "all … monstrous snakes possessed such huge force and were such colossal value that when mounted on tailings, resembled mauntain peaks. Some of them come up in length one yodzana, and some even in two yodzana".
Capacities and habits of Nagas
Old Indian legends have handed down to us much more data on capacities and habits of Nagas. So, it almost everywhere speaks that nagas were extremely venomous creatures and their bite and breath were considered fatal. Fatal (or having a huge hypnotic force) was even a gaze of Nagas.
Venom of Nagas (Vasuki, Takshaka etc.) was often compared with a fire, a lightning and could incinerate all alive. The following fragments from the "Mahabharata" as if prove it:
"Their awful venom could burn, as a flaming flame";
"From igneous snake venom the house on a stage has flared at once and... has tumbled down as if bringed down by a lightning".
Nagas were unusual clever and artful creatures. Their basic tactics of conducting struggle with people, gods and demons were an ambush, an unexpected assault, magic and venom.
Nagas were considered as wise men, magicians and wizards, capable to revive dead and to change the external appearance. They perfectly possessed the art of maya, could penetrate through a hard fabric, suddenly occur and disappear. Being great sorcerers, nagas had capacity to call for fire, rains, storms and other physical elements of the nature.
According to one legend, Apolloniy Tiansky - contemporary of Jesus Christ, the main representative of new Pythagorean school - had been trained magics by Nagas of Kahmir.
In mythology of the Vajrayana nagas were revered as savers of trues of the Buddhism. In mythology of the Mahayana there are mentions of how the known Buddhist reformer Nagardzhuna had got the sutra "Pradzhnjaparamita" from Nagas which safeguarded it until people have not ripened to undestand it. The court historian of emperor Akbar Abul Fazl (XVI century) have written in his book that in ancient times the book "Nilmat" (it has laid in the basis of the "Nilamat Purana") come to the surface from the depths of Nilanag lake in Kashmir. This book contained a detailed description of Kashmir and its history. This book has allegedly been written by Nilanag - Blue Naga.
Nagas - immortal beings-werewolves, able to fly
Some Nagas, for example, Takshaka, knew how to fly:
"They looked, how the sovereign of dragons … Takshaka …, has flyed…, blazing bright as if lotuses of all colours, paints, and, it appears, a hair of heaven flies apart from it extensively. From igneous snake venom the dwelling on a stage has flared at once, and hardly imperial court had time to escape, has crashed down, precisely tumbled down by a lightning".
The "Mahabharata" tells that Nagas have received immortality, having tried amrita, but thus their tongues have bisected, because they had to lick amrita from acute stems of a grass kusha.
Nagas could transform into men and not infrequently had intimacies and marriages - both with man, and with women.
Marriages of Nagas with people
Nagas lived often enough in a human appearance among people. Similarly people sometimes lived together with Nagas in their world. And in that and the other case full-blown descendants were born from marriages of people and Nagas. The example to that is the wise man Astika who was born from the marriage of Vasuki sister, nagini Jaratkaru and the wise man Jaratkaru and have left after himself children and grandsons. Women of nagas - nagini, famous for their beauty, quite often became wives of mortal tsars (kings) and heroes. So, the hero of the "Mahabharata" Ashvatthaman, son Drona, married the queen-Nagini; tsarevna-Nagini Ulupi has spent one night with other hero of the "Mahabharata", Ardzhuna, and Nagini Kumudvati became a wife of Kusha, the son of Rama.
In ancient India Nagas was connected with fertility of fields and a grain yield. In China they considered as earth deities - savers of five orbs and four cardinal points and centre.
See my photos of serpent-like creatures in the section "Disappeared inhabitants of the Earth in the sculpture and painting of Thailand and Cambodia"
© A.V.Koltypin, 2009
I, A. Koltypin the author and translator of this work give permission to use this for any purpose except prohibited by applicable law, on condition that our authorship and hyperlink to the site http://earthbeforeflood.com is given.
The section "Aboriginal inhabitants"
Read my works "Great antediluvian civilizations of Fomorians, Rakshasas, Viyevichs and Nagas. General characteristic and their role in the world history", "Blue skin as an attribute of longevity" and "Giants and titans - predecessors and contemporaries of people. What was the growth of gods and demons?"