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Nagas: The Serpent Gods – Who Were They!!

Updated on January 16, 2014

This is an article I recently wrote for a regional magazine about the myths of the Nagas. The hub here is the English version of that article. Talking about Nagas, we are not talking about the indigenous people of the state of Nagaland in India. What we are talking about are the snake people/deities we have read and heard about.

For people who are not aware about the myths of the Nagas, the Nagas were the snake gods/deities who have been worshipped for thousands of years around the world. From the Vedic people (ancient India) to Aztecs and from Sumerians to Chinese, the snake people have been worshipped in different forms over ages. Each of these civilizations has their own form of snake deities. The Indians had Adishesha (Lord Vishnu’s vehicle) whereas the Aztecs had Quetzalcoatl and the Chinese had their dragon gods. The Bible too depicts Lucifer in the form of a snake when he tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit in paradise.

Each of these civilizations has elaborate scriptures and carvings in their temples depicting the Nagas or the snake gods. In fact, the Indian Vedas also talk about the different races of these Nagas or snake people who lived on earth in detail. This brings us to the question: Who were these Nagas?

There are different theories concerning these Nagas/snake deities. Here are some of them.

1) The gods from other world

When it comes to the theory of gods from the other world, there are different stories depending on the culture. According the Aztecs, Quetzalcoatl and his gods came from a distant land in order to teach the indigenous people the art of farming, science, astrology and so on. The Hindu (Indian) culture depicts the Nagas in various ways. There are different races of serpent people, out of which only some races were worshipped. For example, Adishesha (a seven hooded snake) and the cobra on the neck of Lord Siva are considered divine. The Chinese too worshipped dragons as gods who gave them the knowledge of science and various arts.

In total, each of these cultures claims that these serpent gods brought “civilization” to mankind and gave us ancient knowledge.

2) The people of the underworld

There may not be many accounts of this theory. However, most Asiatic traditions talk about the various races of serpents. The Vedas, considered the oldest texts in the world going back thousands of years, have depicted various races of serpents that lived on earth. Some of these races were known to be benevolent while the others were considered malevolent. The benevolent races were worshipped as deities. Hindu as well as Buddhist texts talk about certain races of serpent people who dwelled in underground caverns.

Cambodian traditions speak about seven races of serpents out of which one race lived in the Pacific Ocean region. It is said that the Naga king’s daughter married an Indian Brahmin Kaundinya (a particular sect in India) and the Cambodian people were born as offspring.

The video here is an episode of the "Ancient Aliens" series showing some of the underground caverns that were constructed thousands of years ago.

3) The reptilian race

When it comes to this theory, there are many bizarre claims from different people. Here are two bizarre claims. The first one claims that some of these reptilian races came from other stellar systems such as Alpha Draconis and Altair, and were the first alien race to inhabit earth. This has been said to have occurred thousands of years before humans came on earth. Another bizarre theory claims that reptilians were none other than some of the dinosaurs that survived the global catastrophe 60 million years ago. One species of dinosaur in particular called the Troodon was known to be far more intelligent than its counterparts during its time. It is said that this species of dinosaur went underground during the catastrophe, survived there and evolved parallel to humans.

While these bizarre claims are not backed by any hard evidence, the possibilities are endless.

4) The spiritualist theory (Kundalini)

This is another theory which has no evidence whatsoever. However, this is also considered a new age theory by certain spiritualists. The claim has its roots from the creation myths. The theory claims that the gods who came down from the skies were in reality an advanced civilization of aliens (read about the Anunnaki). These aliens had scientists among them who created humans by DNA splitting and gave the DNA the double helix structure (notice the serpent-like structure of the DNA). It is also said that the human life-force also called Chi or Kundalini is in the form of a sleeping snake in the human body. When this Kundalini is raised through certain processes, humans attain godhood.

The theory goes onto claim that the gods taught humans across different cultures how to realize godhood and as a symbol of the Kundalini, they took up the symbol of snake which is depicted everywhere around the world.

Mainstream archaeology has no place for such claims as most of these claims haven’t been backed up by scientific evidence. However, the world is filled with the myths of the Nagas, with different cultures thousands of years old, across the world separated by thousands of miles depicting similar stories. The question yet to be solved is “Who were these Nagas”?

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    • karthikkash profile image
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      Karthik Kashyap 3 years ago from India

      Tara: Wow!! That is really fascinating. I have had witnessed a couple of Indian gods in my dreams and yes, they are just so beautiful and majestic. I too believe them to be from either another dimension or world who came here to help us.

      Wonderful reading your comment. Thanks for that :)

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      Tara 3 years ago

      Had a MOST EPIC dream last night of interdimensional Beings. Probably the coolest dream I've had EVER! I was standing out front of my childhood home on Green Grove and as I looked up I saw an army of very colorful spiritual beings, some riding on chariots, some on horses, galloping across our skys. All very different looking, They were not human, not alien, not Gods, and unlike anything I've ever seen, only similarity I could describe it as, would be like the dipictions of the Indian Gods in paintings. I wasn't scared, I was fascinated. One of them took notice to me, we made eye contact as she looked down upon me. She flew back around my home and down in front of me. She had blue skin, long flowing black hair, was beautiful and human like from the waist up with a serpentine lower body, and was riding a horse. It was like they were on a mission of some sort here on earth because they were moving quickly. She spoke to me telepathically. I asked her if they were from a galaxy not far from Earth and she said they were from another dimension. I asked how they were able to arrive here, and at the same time she was telling me I pointed to my forehead, the location of my third eye and then with a look of epiphany on my face I shook my head yes, it was all done with the mind because they were so highly evolved. I remember very much wanting to be able to have this capability. I asked her name, and she told me, but I flipping can't remember, other than it started with a C or K sound and was a four letter name, and then I woke up and began to research and found that there are ancient tales from many cultures about the Naga's a Serpentine mythical race and Kali was referrenced and I knew that was the name I had heard and I found ancient art of what I saw. In Hindu mythology, the Nagas are snake-shaped beings who live in the underworlds and are the keepers of mighty powers of consciousness? I thank you for this information as I have been researching this topic since I had this dream.

    • karthikkash profile image
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      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      thanks again for your comment PlatinumOwl :) I will do my best to keep bringing new stuff.

    • platinumOwl4 profile image

      platinumOwl4 4 years ago

      I enjoyed this article and will continue reading your article. Keep up the fantastic work.

    • karthikkash profile image
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      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      WiccanSage: I have a theory about Christians (the religious people) and their biblical god. But that is a different topic :) But yes, actually Lucifer and serpent were truly believed to be bringers of light and knowledge to mankind. The more I delve into occult, religion and witchcraft, the more it makes sense. In fact, the Kundalini we talk about is nothing but god power and it is in the form of a serpent :)

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

      These are fascinating questions to answer. I've always believed they were some kind of higher/more evolved spirit, if not divine. I wish more evidence could be turned up on the snake people-- I've heard so many of their myths, and you can even see the influences later on in Judaism in which the serpent encourages the humans to eat from the tree of knowledge (and incidentally, in Judaism that snake was not believed to be Satan as Christians believe). Great hub.

    • karthikkash profile image
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      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      I completely agree Rajan. Thanks for commenting :)

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Karthik, though there are different theories put forth on the origin of the nagas the question still remains as to who they were. It is difficult, nay, impossible, to determine for sure who the nagas were.

      Voted up and interesting.

    • karthikkash profile image
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      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      Mel: Of course, our present day science is neither advanced nor yet ready to explain different mysterious things. It is a children's toy compared to the universal advancement. Perhaps with advancement of science not on materialistic level, but at a level of brain advancement, may be able to explain these great mysteries some day.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 years ago from San Diego California

      Isn't it interesting how the same motifs occur across diverse cultures that were not in contact with one another? It lends credence to the idea that there is either a collective consciousness or that there really are some type of entities that have visited human kind from time to time. I believe in rational explanations, but there are aspects of "reality" that scientists delving into things like string theory, multiple dimensions, etc., are only now just beginning to reveal.

    • karthikkash profile image
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      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      Tristan: Yes, it would be foolish to believe that everything became extinct during that time. There are quite a few dinosaur species which are said to have survived. Whether they evolved into something else, can't really say..

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      tristan 4 years ago

      i do more or less believe that troodon could have survived

    • karthikkash profile image
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      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      Thanks a lot Joe. Not many people are open and even aware of the snake god myths. It is great to find someone who is curious about them.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Thank you for sharing, my friend. Honestly, the one thing I'm familiar with regarding snakes is that Lucifer was, arguably, the most beautiful angel. After successfully tempting Eve to eat the forbidden fruit from the The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, God punished Lucifer by turning him into a form that we recognize as serpentine today. I stay open to the lore and wisdom from all cultures because, more often than not, there are common threads. This snake thing is one of them. Have a great day!

      Joe

    • karthikkash profile image
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      Karthik Kashyap 4 years ago from India

      RachaelLefler: I agree with you that ancient people were intrigued and fascinated by nature and the various creatures that were around the world. And yes, most of these theories lack scientific evidence. That is why science may not have seriously considered it.

      However, what is intriguing is that snakes had a very special status of gods when it came to humans. It is very rare for humans to have worshiped animals as gods. No other known animal is attributed with godhood or the status of deities (apart from India where godhood is attributed to various animals just from the spiritual aspect).

      Moreover, these myths talk about people who were in the form of serpents (possibly shape-shift or something else) and not snakes, who brought them science, farming, art, culture and knowledge of the various . It is quite intriguing considering that these were the same ancient people who hunted down possibly every living creature around them for food. Why would they worship just another animal like snake as god?

    • RachaelLefler profile image

      Rachael Lefler 4 years ago from Illinois

      There is a logical explanation. Snake myths are popular in all the areas where snakes were common. As long as there have been people and snakes, people have believed snakes had magical or supernatural powers. It would have mystified many ancient peoples to watch snakes moving along the ground without legs, as if propelled by some supernatural force. Snake venom was powerful and snakes have always been feared. It's also probable that early humans created myths to explain why snakes "lost their legs", since they closely resemble lizards. At any rate, exploring hocus-pocus is an intellectual dead-end, that's why archaeologists prefer explanations that can be reasonably concluded from observable evidence. The aliens theory asks more questions than it answers, leaving us no closer to the truth.