Naga in Sanskrit means “serpent”, is a member of a class of mythical semi-divine beings, half human and half cobra. They are a strong, handsome species who can assume either wholly human or wholly serpentine form and are potentially dangerous but often beneficial to humans.
However, the term nāga is not strictly used, sometimes it has been referred as elephant or actual snake, specifically King cobra or Indian cobra. In addition, the male of nāga is being called nāgī or nāgiṇī. In Chinese Buddhism (combination of Taoism and Mahayana Buddhism) context, it has the equivalent meaning of a dragon, translated as a mystical dragon.
In Buddhism, nāga is considered to be part of Aṣṭasenā – the guardian gods of Buddhism whom take the responsibility of vowing to defend the Dharma. When someone truly practices Buddhism, nāga and the other protectors will descend to protect the believers.
Mentioned in Lotus Sutra there is a total of eight dragons in the nāga tribe:
- Manasvin or Manasa