Chief woman disciple of Sujāta Buddha. J. i.38; Bu.xiii.26.
One of the chief women supporters of Phussa Buddha. Bu.xix.21.
A former birth of Asokamālā, when she was the wife of Tissa (later Sāliya),
an artisan of Mundagangā. MT.605.
4. Nāgā Therī
An arahant of Bhātaragāma. During the pillage of Brāhmana Tissa, when all the
villagers had fled, she went with her colleagues to a banyan tree, the presiding
deity of which provided them with food. She had a brother, Nāga; when he visited
her she gave him part of her food, but he refused to accept food from a
bhikkhuni. MA.i.546; AA.ii.654.
An eminent Therī of Ceylon. Dpv. xviii.35.
A woman who lived near the Rājāyatana-cetiya. Once, seeing sixty monks return
from the village with empty bowls, she, although already pledged to work by day,
borrowed some money on promise to work at night as well, and gave them food. The
monks retired to Mucalindavana and developed arahantship before eating. The
deity of the king's parasol shouted applause, and the king, having heard the
story, gave Nāgā the whole island, which thus came to be called Nāgādipa.
A class of beings classed with Garulas and
Supannas and playing a prominent part in Buddhist folk lore. They are gifted
with miraculous powers and great strength. Generally speaking, they are confused
with snakes, chiefly the hooded Cobra, and their bodies are described as being
those of snakes, though they can assume human form at will. They are broadly
divided into two classes: those that live on land (thalaja) and those that live
on water (jalaja). The Jalaja-nāgā live in rivers as well as in the sea, while
the Thalaja-nāgā are regarded as living beneath the surface of the earth.
Several Nāga dwellings are mentioned in the books: e.g.,
- Mañjerika-bhavana under Sineru,
- Daddara-bhavana at the foot of Mount Daddara in the Himālaya,
- the Dhatarattha-nāgā under the river Yamunā,
- the Nābhāsā Nāgā in Lake Nabhasa,
- and also the Nāgas of Vesāli, Tacchaka, and Payāga (D.ii.258).
The Vinaya (ii.109) contains a list of four royal families of Nāgas (Ahirājakulāni):
Virūpakkhā, Erāpathā, Chabyāputtā and Kanhagotamakā. Two other Nāga tribes are
generally mentioned together: the Kambalas and the Assataras. It is said
(SA.iii.120) that all Nāgas have their young in the Himālaya.
Stories are given - e.g., in the
Bhūridatta Jātaka - of Nāgas, both male and female, mating with humans; but
the offspring of such unions are watery and delicate (J.vi.160). The Nāgas are
easily angered and passionate, their breath is poisonous, and their glance can
be deadly (J.vi.160, 164). They are carnivorous (J.iii.361), their diet
consisting chiefly of frogs (J.vi.169), and they sleep, when in the world of
men, on ant hills (ibid., 170). The enmity between the Nāgas and the Garulas is
proverbial (D.ii.258). At first the Garulas did not know how to seize the Nāgas,
because the latter swallowed large stones so as to be of great weight, but they
learnt how in the Pandara Jātaka. The
Nāgas dance when music is played, but it is said (J.vi.191) that they never
dance if any Garula is near (through fear) or in the presence of human dancers
The best known of all Nāgas is Mahākāla, king of
Mañjerika-bhavana. He lives for a whole kappa,
and is a very pious follower of the Buddha. The Nāgas of his world had the
custodianship of a part of the Buddha's relics till they were needed for the
Māha Thūpa (Mhv.Xxxi.27f.), and when the Bodhi tree was being brought to Ceylon
they did it great honour during the voyage (Mbv. p.. 163f.). Other Nāga kings
are also mentioned as ruling with great power and majesty and being converted to
the Buddha's faith - e.g., Aravāla, Apalālā, Erapatta, Nandopananda, and Pannaka.
(See also Ahicchatta and Ahināga.) In the Atānātiya Sutta (D.iii.198f.),
speaking of dwellers of the Cātummahārajika world, the Nāgas are mentioned as
occupying the Western Quarter, with Virūpokkha as their king.
The Nāgas had two chief settlements in Ceylon, in Nāgadīpa (q.v.) and at the
mouth of the river Kalyānī. It was to settle a dispute between two Nāga chiefs
of Nāgadīpa, Mahodara and Cūlodara, that the Buddha paid his second visit to
Ceylon. During that visit he made a promise to another Nāga-king, Manjakkhika of
Kalyānī, to pay him a visit, and the Buddha's third visit was in fulfilment of
that undertaking (Mhv.i.48f.).
The Nāgas form one of the guards set up by Sakka in Sineru against the Asuras
(J.i.204). The Nāgas were sometimes worshipped by human beings and were offered
sacrifices of milk, rice, fish, meat and strong drink (J.i.497f.). The jewel of
the Nāgas is famous for its beauty and its power of conferring wishes to its
possessor (J.vi.179, 180).
The word Nāga is often used as an epithet of the Buddha and the Arahants, and
in this connection the etymology given is Āgum na karotī ti Nāgo (e.g.,
MNid.201). The Bodhisatta was born several times as king of the Nāgas: Atula,
Campeyya, Bhūridatta, Mahādaddara, and Sankhapāla.
In the accounts given of the Nāgas, there is undoubtedly great confusion
between the Nāgas as supernatural beings, as snakes, and as the name of certain
non Aryan tribes, but the confusion is too difficult to unravel.