Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What are Nagas/Serpent Spirits? (video)

(Wisdom Quarterly) Nagas (Reptilians, serpent spirits, shape-shifters, transformation beings, extraterrestrial rulers on Earth) are part of the history and mythology of India and Buddhism.

They refer not only to human groups (such as those in Nagaland, India) but more pointedly to the non-human entities worshipped by various groups around the world.

The feathered serpents of Mesoamerica, strikingly similar to the Khmer culture of Angkor Wat, Cambodia are two excellent examples of such worship. The art and stone megaliths are almost identical, as are their histories of conquests, human sacrifice, and self-destruction. They grow to greatness but at a terrible price.

The Chinese fascination with dragons is likely indicative of Naga influence as is the snake motif of American corporations and political leaders, where they are more commonly referred to as Reptilians.

Dragons, after all, were a central part of Christian lore until relatively recently. But there was a time when it would have been unthinkable not to believe in "dragons" and literal "serpents," be they demons, maniacal tyrants, or entities of great power as described in Buddhism. (Alex Collier and others describe their current activities in the pages of Wisdom Quarterly).

Nagas in Asia

(DeschKaschperle) Champa was an Indic civilization that flourished along the coast of Vietnam for almost 1,000 years -- until the capture and destruction by the Vietnamese of the Cham capital of Vijaya (located in what is now Binh Dinh Province) in 1471. Nagas were part of the art and mythology of Champa.

As Hindus and speakers of Sanskrit, the medieval Cham were heirs to the civilization and mythology of India, in which Nagas played an important role. Nagas are beings that have the capacities of both humans and serpents. They can live underwater, fly, or reside underground. Some have the power to transform and assume either human or serpent form. Numerous stories about Nagas are to be found in the Mahabharata, the great epic of Indian civilization.

Nagas had an additional significance in Cambodian civilization. Legend has it that the Khmer are descended from the union (miscegenation) a brahmin from India named Kaundinya and a local Naga princess named Soma. The legend implies that Cambodia originally was the land of the Nagas and that its civilization is the result of the Indianization of its native peoples.

Due to the cultural connection between Champa and Cambodia, Nagas became significant to the Cham as well. In 657 A.D., the Cham king Prakasadharma claimed to be descended from Kaundinya and Soma through his mother, a Khmer princess.

The works of art presented in this video are housed in the museums of Vietnam. They include:

  • Statue of Vishnu sitting on a coiled Naga: Vishnu is recognizable from what he is carrying. The motif is probably borrowed from the Buddhist legend of the serpent king Mucalinda, who used his hood to shield the meditating Buddha from the rain. The statue also recalls the motif of Vishnu lying asleep at the bottom of the ocean on the body of the serpent Shesha.
  • Statue of a Dharmapala with Nagas as jewelry: This Buddhist statue of a temple guardian draws on a Hindu theme that connects Shiva with serpents and has Shiva using serpents as personal ornaments.
  • Architectural ornament of a makara disgorging a Naga: The makara is a mythical sea monster with the head of a crocodile and the trunk of an elephant. It is commonly invoked as a motif in Cham and Cambodian architecture. It is generally shown disgorging some other being, a person, deer, or Naga.

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