Myths / Mythologies / Legends


archived 11-05-99
Archive file# m110599c
donated by L. Savage


The Nagas of Indian mythology were a race of serpent demons. There name means 'those who do not walk, who creep.' Most often they manifested themselves as beasts with bodies that were half-man, half-serpent, although sometimes they assumed the shape of a dragon, or simply appeared in the guise of a cobra. A precious gem was embedded in their throats or skulls, and this emdowed them with great magical powers.

They haunted lakes and rivers, but their true domain was a vast, idyllic region below the sea. In Patala, their underwater habitat, they hoarded great amounts of jewels and precious metals. Here the demons dwelt with their seductive mates, the Naginis who, ike mermaids, seduced mortals into the briny depths.

The Nagas were greatly feared for their venom, which they used to lethally wound all those wealthy enough to be enticing prey. The Nagas once fatally wounded a king renowned for his riches, and famous for his benevolence. The kind's son obtained revenge by slaughtering thousands of serpents with a poweful incantation. The Nagas finally hired a wise man who, with a counterspell, put a stop to the mass execution of the demons.

A good examole of the Nagas' greed is the story of how they got their forked tongues. When the elixir of immortality was being rationed by the gods, the Nagas grabbed the cup containing the sacred potion. The gods reclaimed the cup but, during the struggle, a few drops were spilled onto the ground. The Nagas eagerly licked them up, but the cutting grass, covering the earth, split their tongues which from then on remained forked.

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