Also known as:

Naginis (females)

Naga means “snake,” and the Nagas are a vast class of powerful snake spirits featured in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain mythology and beloved by independent practitioners, too. They are pre-Hindu, tribal spirits renowned for their beauty, wisdom, and magical powers. The category Naga encompasses a vast variety of serpent spirits. Dragons may be categorized among the Nagas. Nagas live underwater (oceans, lakes, wells, springs, rivers) and underground, especially in subterranean caves converted into magnificent jeweled palaces. Termite mounds may mark the entrance to a Naga’s lair. Some Nagas live within trees or beneath them. Nagas also possess their own realm, the subterranean metropolis, Bhogavati.

They are guardians of Earth’s treasures including minerals, metals, and gemstones. Nagas guard anything of value found within Earth. Petroleum deposits may be under their dominion. Nagas are associated with ancient tree veneration, fertility, and healing. They’re associated with illness, too. Many Nagas have notoriously short fuses. People aggravate them, whether by stupidity or by rude or destructive behavior. Nagas are guardian spirits and must be propitiated before anything they guard is disturbed or even approached. It is especially crucial to maintain cleanliness and purity of natural sources of water as these are the Nagas’ homes. They punish those who pollute air, earth, and water.

Nagas express frustration, anger, and unhappiness by causing illness, especially those ailments that manifest on the skin, ranging from acne to leprosy. They have dominion over skin disorders and may be petitioned for cures, too. Nagas may also cause infectious disease and mental disorders.

Boils allegedly may result from chopping down trees without requesting permission and forgiveness from Nagas dwelling within.

• Blessings of the Nagas include fertility, wisdom, and wealth.

• Really angry Nagas cause disasters.

Center of Naga veneration may originally have been Kashmir. The Nagas are described as Kashmir’s first inhabitants. Myth and geology agree: the Vale of Kashmir was once filled with water like a huge reservoir or lake bounded by mountains. Myth explains that land was eventually elevated from the waters and placed in the Nagas’ care. (Geology suggests that earthquakes aided this process.) Some five-hundred-twenty-seven named Nagas were traditionally worshipped in Kashmir. A court historian for the sixteenth-century Mughal Emperor Akbar listed seven hundred places in Kashmir sacred to the Nagas. From Kashmir, veneration spread throughout the subcontinent, the Himalayas, and southeast Asia, especially Cambodia and Indonesia.

Nagas are pivotal to the plot of Shekhar Kapur’s comic book series Snake Woman.


Nagas may manifest as snakes, as snake-human hybrids, or as people with something serpentine about them, possibly jewelry or a crown. Serpentine Nagas may have five, seven, or more heads. Many Nagas are brilliant magicians and skilled shape-shifters.


Snake stones, votive slabs bearing images of snakes, are placed beside wells or sacred trees by women petitioning the Nagas for personal fertility.

Spirit ally:



Snakes of all kinds, dragons




  • Garuda
  • Klu
  • Manasa
  • Naga Kanya
  • Parnashvari
  • Shiva
  • Vajrapani


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.