Naga

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Naga (devanāgarī: नाग nāga) is the Sanskrit word for a deity in the form of a very great snake (specifically the King cobra), found in Hinduism and Buddhism. The use of the term nāga is often ambiguous, as the word may also refer, in similar contexts, to one of several human tribes known as or nicknamed "Nāgas"; to elephants; and to ordinary snakes, particularly the King Cobra and the Indian Cobra.

Initiates

According to H. P. Blavatsky, the Serpents are "emblems of wisdom and prudence" and also "the symbol of the adept, and of his powers of immortality and divine knowledge."[1] Therefore, in one of its applications, the term Nāga refers to the Initiates:

The Nâgas of the Hindu and Tibetan adepts were human Nâgas (Serpents), not reptiles. Moreover, the Serpent has ever been the type of consecutive or serial rejuvenation, of IMMORTALITY and TIME.[2]
The earliest Initiates and Adepts, or the “Wise Men,” for whom it is claimed that they were initiated into the mysteries of nature by the UNIVERSAL MIND, represented by the highest angels, were named the “Serpents of Wisdom” and “Dragons.”[3]

Blavatsky showed how some exoteric religious myths used the word in this sense:

This is also proven in the ancient Sûtras and Buddha’s biographies. The Nâga is ever a wise man, endowed with extraordinary magic powers, in South and Central America as in India, in Chaldea as also in ancient Egypt. In China the “worship” of the Nâgas was widespread, and it has become still more pronounced since Nâgarjuna (the “great Nâga”, the “great adept” literally), the fourteenth Buddhist patriarch, visited China. The “Nâgas" are regarded by the Celestials as “the tutelary Spirits or gods of the five regions or the four points of the compass and the centre, as the guardians of the five lakes and four oceans” (Eitel). This, traced to its origin and translated esoterically, means that the five continents and their five root-races had always been under the guardianship of “terrestrial deities”, i.e., Wise Adepts. The tradition that Nâgas washed Gautama Buddha at his birth, protected him and guarded the relics of his body when dead, points again to the Nâgas being only wise men, Arhats, and no monsters or Dragons. This is also corroborated by the innumerable stories of the conversion of Nâgas to Buddhism. The Nâga of a lake in a forest near Râjagriha and many other “Dragons” were thus converted by Buddha to the good Law.[4]

A similar symbol for the Initiates was that of a dragon, especially in China.[5] Blavatsky wrote:

In every ancient language the word dragon signified what it now does in Chinese—(lang) i.e., “the being who excels in intelligence” and in Greek drakon, or “he who sees and watches.” In China “the Dragons of Wisdom” were the first disciples of the Dhyanis, who were their instructors; in short, the primitive adepts of the Third Race, and later, of the Fourth and Fifth Races.[6]
This “Dragon” having a septenary meaning, the highest and the lowest may be given. The former is identical with the “Self-born,” the Logos (the Hindu Aja). He was the second person of the Trinity, the Son, with the Christian Gnostics called the Naasenians, or Serpent-Worshippers. His symbol was the constellation of the Dragon. Its seven “stars” are the seven stars held in the hand of the “Alpha and Omega” in Revelation. In its most terrestrial meaning, the term “Dragon” was applied to the Wise men.[7]

Sesha Naga

In Hindu mythology, seshanāga or Shesh Nag (also known as Ananta) is a massive serpent that floats coiled in space, or on the universal ocean, to form the bed on which Vishnu lies. Its name means "that which remains", from the Sanskrit root shiş, because when the world is destroyed at the end of the kalpa, Shesha remains. Occasionally, Shesha is shown as a five headed snake. But in his real form he has 1000 heads with each one wearing a crown.

Sesha is referred variously as Adisesha (the first Sesha), or Anantasesha (Endless Sesha). According to Mme. Blavatsky, Ananta is a symbol for space (and therefore primordial matter):

Sesha-Naga, the King of the “Serpent” race, is synonymous with Ananta, the seven-headed Serpent, on which Vishnu sleeps during the pralayas. Ananta is the “endless” and the symbol of eternity, and as such, one with Space, while Sesha is only periodical in his manifestations.[8]
The Hindu serpent Sesha or Ananta, “the Infinite,” a name of Vishnu, whose first Vahan or vehicle on the primordial waters is this serpent . . . Sesha or Ananta, “the couch of Vishnu,” is an allegorical abstraction, symbolizing infinite Time in Space, which contains the germ and throws off periodically the efflorescence of this germ, the manifested Universe.[9]

See also

Notes

  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 364.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 404.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 215.
  4. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 78
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 404.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 210.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 355.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 78
  9. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 73.