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Nāga (Sanskrit; Tib. ཀླུ་, Wyl. klu) — serpent spirits classified as one of the eight classes of gods and demons, or as animals or demi-gods. They are said to live beneath the surface of the earth or in the water, and in trees or rocks, and are believed to be endowed with magical powers and wealth, as well as being responsible for certain types of illnesses (Wyl. klu’i nad) transmitted to humans.

When Buddha Shakyamuni was meditating under the Bodhi tree, just before attaining awakening, a storm arose, and the naga Muchalinda (Skt. Mucalinda) protected the Buddha to be from the rain.

It is said that Nagarjuna retrieved the Prajnaparamita Sutras from the nagas, after it had been entrusted to their care by Buddha Shakyamuni.

There are different classifications, yet one prominent list is the eight great nagas or eight naga kings, of which again there are different enumerations.

Virupaksha, the guardian king of the West, is the leader of the nagas.

Practices Related to the Nagas

Alternative translations

  • Serpentine water spirits (Dorje & Coleman)
  • Serpent deities


  1. This is the most popular practice in the Longchen Nyingtik tradition.
  2. This is the practice used at Shechen Monastery in Nepal.

Further reading

  • The Encyclopedia of Tibetan Symbols and Motifs, Robert Beer. Shambhala (1999), page 70-73.

Internal links

Template:RW content

Page is sourced from

www.encyclopediaofbuddhism.org Nāga