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The naga (pronounced nah’-gah with the first syllable slightly elongated) has been written about in such languages as Sanskrit, Chinese, Burmese, Hindi, and a list of other Asian tongues for centuries and found in Buddhist and Hindu religions. In Hindi, one of the primary languages of India, nag (nahg) still refers to a cobra while nagini (nah-gee-nee) indicates a female of the species. For those that remember back a few years, Rudyard Kipling’s immortally popular story of Rikki Tikki Tavi is that of a mongoose’s struggle against a pair of cobras named Nag and Nagaini.
As a fantasy creature, naga are gods or other deities that take the form of snakes, often having human hybrid features, but most notably the reptilian aspects of a king cobra. Depending on the religion and particular story, they are seen as both good and evil, though they do tend toward the negative side.
Modern Hindi tradition makes the naga guardians of water: wells, rivers, and the like. They are relatively peaceful spirits that protect the waterways and environment. However, if one should dare to desecrate the sanctity of the natural world, the naga are quick to take vengeance.
Truly a creature worthy of respect, the guardians of water and earth, the protectors of nature, the vengeful spirits of her wrath, naga are a deeply seeded tradition in Eastern culture that has survived even into the contemporary world of oriental beliefs.