The word “Naga” comes from Sanskrit, and nag is still the word for snake, mainly the cobra, in India’s languages. It is a term used for beings associated with water and fluid energy. In myths, legends, scripture and folklore, “naga” comprises all sorts of serpent creatures, usually dwelling in the ocean.
All nagas are considered the offspring of the sage Kashyapa, the son of Marichi. Kashyapa is said to have had, by his twelve wives, diverse progeny that included reptiles, birds, and all sorts of other beings. They are denizens of the netherworld city called Bhogavati.
Nagas are cherished by both Hindus and Buddhists. In Hindu legend, a giant naga named Ananta serves as a coiled mattress for the god Vishnu as he sleeps and dreams the universe into creation. Another story tells of the god Krishna defeating a poisonous naga and dancing upon its head in victory.
In Tibetian Buddhism, nagas are susceptible to suffering caused by mankind’s carelessness and basic ignorance of proper conduct in nature and disrespectful actions in relation to our environment. As a result, nagas often retaliate towards humans when they behave with such ignorance.