Nagas and Naginis, while the same species, look different. Naginis, female Nagas, are usually very beautiful. They are human to their waist and have the body and tail of a cobra from the waist down. Nonetheless, they have lovely faces and beautiful eyes, and they have the ability to transform themselves into beautiful women or cobras. It is common to hear of a mortal man being lured into the Naga domain by a Nagini.
Nagas, the Nagini's male counterpart, are not so attractive. They, too, are human from the waist up and cobra from the waist down, but they have slate-colored skin.1 In addition, they have snake-like eyes, and they are the reason why people have nightmares about snakes.
Regardless of sex, the Nagas and Naginis covet things, especially jewelry. Some are also reported to have multiple heads.
Nagas and Nagini are said to be a tribe of snake deities in the mythology of India, and they were the descendants of Kadru and Kasyapa. Some live in underwater palaces in Bhagavati, their city, while others live in Nagablea, which was under the Earth.
For the most part, it is hard to say what the Naga's relationship with humans was. In others, they were helpful and benevolant. Therefore, it false to say that Nagas were feared. As a matter of fact, in Indian mythology, there are no tales of the Naga being slain by heros. However, that's not to say that Nagas were peaceful. They had one avowed enemy, the Garuda Bird.
Since Nagas lived underground, they would also travel underground, sometimes coming to the surface for air.With their travels, they created the great underground caverns and tunnels of South-East Asia.
Like the Eastern dragons, the Nagas were also said to have divine pearls.
The Nagas had rulers; one of the major ones being Ananta-Shesha,another Naga king, Muchalinda, protected Buddha during a storm by transforming himself into a cobra and wrapping himself around Buddha.2 In Hindu mythology, Karkotaka was the king of the Nagas who could control the weather, especially the rain fall.
In the epic Mahabharata, the Naga king Takshaka was said to aid in revenge. A hermit was insulted by Parikshit, a Raja; the monk's son sought out the Naga king and begged him to avenge the offense made to his father. The Raja was not afraid, however, as his fortress was in the middle of a lake, where he thought the Naga king could not reach him.
Monks attended the fortress, bringing gifts of fruit for the Raja. When the very last fruit was opened, an insect rose from it. It was a strange insect, as it had red eyes. It proceeded to transform into the Naga king, who then strangled the Raja in his coils.
Kings Of Nagas
Sesha, the Endless
History: Ananta is the thousand-headed serpent of Hindu Mythology. It created amrita, the elixir of immortality. Amrita was created by the churning of the Ocean. Vishnu, the god of life, sleeps on this creature's back as it floats through a "sea of milk". Ananta only sleeps, however, during the between the periods of creation... that is to say, when the Lord of Creation sleeps, during the night of Brahma, Brahma is reborn. In addition, Ananta spews fire to destroy of creation as a part of the cylce of creation.
Symbolism: Ananta has a sort of dual nature: it allows the god of life to sleep on its back, but it also destroys creation.
History: Muchalinda is said to be the King of the Nagas in India. He is a gigantic cobra snake being who could transform himself into a human being if necessary. He saw that Buddha, while meditating under a Bo tree, was going to be in trouble, as a thunderstorm was about to start. So, the King of the Nagas transformed himself into a full cobra form. With this, he wrapped himself around the tree and Buddha seven times, thus giving him shelter in his time of need.
Symbolism: Muchalinda is seen as a protector of Buddha and someone who gives shelter.