|Sakka (St. Michael) slaying the asura (demon) king or naga (dragon) by Tadolini|
|Kyauktan Yay-Le Pagoda, Burma|
The Nats are pre-Buddhist animistic spirits -- dryads, elemental fairies, earthbound devas -- feared and revered in Burma. As in India they are supplicated, worshipped, and appeased in exchange for "favors" or what European and American Wiccans might call "boons."
|Sujata and the nat/"dryad" Siddhartha|
This enabled him to gather the strength to pursue the goal of full enlightenment, which is accomplished by a balance of ease-and-effort. He began to care for his body and so was able to use it to reach the highest insight into the cause of suffering and freedom from it. He triumphed over the ultimate foe -- Mara, the personification of the defilements of the heart/mind (greed, hatred, delusion, and fear).
|Sakka King of Devas victory over naga (serpent)|
He is often portrayed sitting atop a three-headed white elephant, holding a conch shell in one hand, and a yak-tail whisk in the other (traditional signs of royal authority and prestige). In traditional Burmese Buddhist belief, Thagyamin rules Buddhist cosmological nat or deva plane called Trāyastriṃśa (Tavatimsa).
Thagyamin was designated the leader of the official pantheon of nats by the Burmese King Anawrahta in the 11th century in an effort to streamline animist practices among the populace and merge these practices with Theravada Buddhism. He is the only nat in the official pantheon not to have undergone a sudden and violent death.
|Michael on naga (catholictradition.org)|
- An ancient religious pilgrimage that now draws the secular
- Tripura is the third-smallest state in India, bordered by the states of Assam and Mizoram and by Bangladesh. The Kokborok-speaking Tripuri people (children pictured) are the major group among 19 tribes and many subtribes; Bengali people form the ethno-linguistic majority.