Last Updated: June 12, 2018

Definition - What does Naga mean?

Naga is a Sanskrit word meaning “snake,” “serpent” or “cobra.” In Hindu, Buddhist and Jain mythology, a naga is a half serpent and half human, semi-divine creature.

According to the legend, the nagas once inhabited Earth, but became too numerous. Lord Brahma sent them to naga-loka, also called patala-loka, a luxurious underworld kingdom where they guard treasures and palaces. Although potentially dangerous, they were ordered to bite only those who were evil or who were destined to die.

Yogapedia explains Naga

Nagas are usually attractive creatures that are depicted as human from the waist up. In some traditions, they also live underwater in the bottoms of rivers, lakes and the oceans. The nagas can assume full human or full serpent form and, while dangerous, they often help humans and the gods.

In some parts of India, nagas are worshiped as protectors of water sources and bringers of fertility, even though they may also cause drought and floods.

Some of the nagas include:

  • Sesha, ruler of the nagas who protects the sleeping Vishnu
  • Manasa, the fertility goddess who also protects against snake bites
  • Ananta, the symbol of eternity
  • Muchalinda, who protects the Buddha while he meditates

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