|Garuda carries off naga in LA then gets the surprise of its life as it is nearly strangled, brought down, and the snake slithers away unscathed, Echo Park (Ranger Kate/laist.com).|
|Fantasy? Buddha protected by 7-headed naga.|
|Unbelievable REALITY: 7-headed cobra naga born in India (beforeitsnews.com)|
- Mañjerika-bhavana under Mt. Sineru (Sumeru),
- Daddara-bhavana at the foot of Mt. Daddara in the Himālaya,
- Dhatarattha-nāgā under the Yamunā river,
- Nābhāsā Nāgā in Lake Nabhasa,
- Nāgas of Vesāli, Tacchaka, and Payāga (D.ii.258).
|Some nagas live in rivers as serpentine behemoths, like this Amazon arapaima.|
Two other nāga tribes are generally mentioned together, the Kambalas and the Assataras. It is said (SA.iii.120) that all nāgas have their young in the Himālaya.
But originally the offspring of the first attempts of such unions were "watery and delicate" (J.vi.160).
|Spitting cobra (Profberger)|
They are carnivorous (J.iii.361), their diet consisting chiefly of frogs (J.vi.169), and they sleep, when in the world of humans, on ant hills (Ibid., 170). The enmity between the nāgas and the garulas is proverbial (D.ii.258).
|Naga (dragon) adorns temple ceiling, Kiyomizu-dera, Japan (Divemasterking2000/flickr).|
|With devi (Game of Thrones)|
The best known of all nāga is King Mahākāla, the ruler of Mañjerika-bhavana. He lives for an entire kappa (age, aeon, epoch, a variable "world period") and is a very pious follower of the Buddha.
|Some identify with nagas|
Other nāga kings are also mentioned as ruling with great power and majesty and being converted to the Buddha's path, for example, Aravāla, Apalālā, Erapatta, Nandopananda (and perhaps the most famous of all, Mucalinda, the seven-headed hydra cobra who protected the Buddha), and Pannaka. (See also Ahicchatta and Ahināga). In the Atānātiya Suta (D.iii.198f.), speaking of dwellers of the Four Great Sky Kings (Cātummahārajika) world, the nāgas are mentioned as occupying the Western Quarter, with Virūpokkha as their king (regent for Sakka, the king of these four kings).
|Naga, dragon ceiling, Engakuji Temple, Kamakura, Japan (Ezioman/flickr.com)|
The nāgas had two chief settlements in Sri Lanka, in Nāgadīpa and at the mouth of the river Kalyānī. It was to settle a dispute between two nāga chiefs of Nāgadīpa, Mahodara and Cūlodara, that the Buddha paid his second visit to Sri Lanka. During that visit he made a promise to another nāga-king, Manjakkhika of Kalyānī, to pay him a visit, and the Buddha's third visit was in fulfillment of that undertaking (Mhv.i.48f.).
The nāgas form one of the guards set up by Sakka on Mt. Sineru against the titans or asuras (J.i.204). The nāgas were sometimes worshipped by human beings -- as in China, Cambodia, and Mesoamerica -- and were offered sacrifices of milk, rice, fish, meat, and strong drink (J.i.497f.) [and possibly human sacrifices judging from Aztec and Mayan carvings].
wish-fulfilling gem" of the nāgas is famous for its beauty and its power of conferring wishes to its possessor (J.vi.179, 180).
The word nāga is often used for tusker elephants and as an epithet of other "great beings" like the Buddha and the arhats, and in this connection the etymology given is āgum na karotī ti nāgo (e.g., MNid.201). The Bodhisatta -- the Buddha striving for supreme enlightenment before succeeding -- was born several times as king of the nāgas: Atula, Campeyya, Bhūridatta, Mahādaddara, and Sankhapāla.
In the accounts given of the nāgas there is undoubtedly great confusion between the nāgas as supernatural beings, as mere snakes, and as the name of certain non-Aryan tribes, but the confusion is too difficult to unravel.