The creature compendium is back and we’re off to Asia again. I’ve seen images of the naga plenty of times, but never knew what they represented until now.
The naga is the name for a group of serpentine creatures associated with bodies of water and the king cobra. The naga is sometimes treated as a minor-deity, and representations of the naga can be found guarding temples throughout Asia. The naga may change between human and serpent form at will. Its legends have roots in Hindu and Buddhist mythology.
In Hindu mythology, the naga are creatures that guard rivers and springs, and can influence the weather. Therefore, the naga are also associated with fertility (rain), floods, and droughts. They are said to guard treasures, and are the also the enemy of the Garuda. They are protectors of the environment, and will punish those that abuse it.
In Buddhist mythology, the naga is also said to guard bodies of water, and is sometimes equated with the Chinese dragon. In one story, a naga protected the Lord Buddah from a storm. Wise nagas also consulted with the Lord Buddah about how to be reborn as humans, and follow the path to enlightenment.
Traditional representations of the naga vary from country to country:
- Dragons as Water Sprits
- Nagas of India ~ Including a legend of a naga princess
- The Naga in Fables and Fairytales
Region of origin: Asia
Obviously, this was a very pared down summary. I am sure there are legends local to each country and region. The first painting is also obviously a modern, stylized interpretation of the naga. I’m actually a fan of the Indian version. I’m not sure walking around in the dark and stumbling across a giant seven headed cobra statue would be very reassuring, guardian or not.