The Nāga (IAST: nāga; Devanāgarī: नाग) or Nagi (f. of nāga; IAST: nāgī; Devanāgarī: नागी) are divine, semi-divine deities, or a semi-divine race of half-human half-serpent beings that reside in the netherworld (Patala) and can occasionally take human form. Rituals devoted to these supernatural beings have been taking place throughout south Asia for at least two thousand years. They are principally depicted in three forms: wholly human with snakes on the heads and necks, common serpents, or as half-human half-snake beings in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. A female naga is a “Nagi”, “Nagin”, or “Nagini”. Nagaraja is seen as the king of nāgas and nāginis. They are common and hold cultural significance in the mythological traditions of many South Asian and Southeast Asian cultures. They are the children of Rishi Kashyapa and Kadru.
In Sanskrit, a nāgá (नाग) is a cobra, the Indian cobra (Naja naja). A synonym for nāgá is phaṇin (फणिन्). There are several words for “snake” in general, and one of the very commonly used ones is sarpá (सर्प). Sometimes the word nāgá is also used generically to mean “snake”. The word is cognate with English ‘snake’, Germanic: *snēk-a-, Proto-IE: *(s)nēg-o- (with s-mobile).
The mythological serpent race that took form as cobras can often be found in Hindu iconography. The nāgas are described as the powerful, splendid, wonderful and proud semidivine race that can assume their physical form either as human, partial human-serpent or the whole serpent. Their domain is in the enchanted underworld, the underground realm filled with gems, gold and other earthly treasures called Naga-loka or Patala-loka. They are also often associated with bodies of waters — including rivers, lakes, seas, and wells — and are guardians of treasure. Their power and venom made them potentially dangerous to humans. However, they often took beneficial protagonist role in Hindu mythology; in Samudra manthan folklore, Vasuki, a nāgarāja who abides on Shiva’s neck, became the churning rope for churning of the Ocean of Milk. Their eternal mortal enemies are the Garudas, the legendary semidivine birdlike-deities.
Vishnu is originally portrayed in the form sheltered by Śeṣanāga or reclining on Śeṣa, but the iconography has been extended to other deities as well. The serpent is a common feature in Ganesha iconography and appears in many forms: around the neck, use as a sacred thread (Sanskrit: yajñyopavīta) wrapped around the stomach as a belt, held in a hand, coiled at the ankles, or as a throne. Shiva is often shown garlanded with a snake. Maehle (2006: p. 297) states that “Patanjali is thought to be a manifestation of the serpent of eternity”.
As in Hinduism, the Buddhist nāga generally has sometimes portrayed as a human being with a snake or dragon extending over his head. One nāga, in human form, attempted to become a monk; and when telling it that such ordination was impossible, the Buddha told it how to ensure that it would be reborn a human, and so able to become a monk.
The nāgas are believed to both live on Nagaloka, among the other minor deities, and in various parts of the human-inhabited earth. Some of them are water-dwellers, living in streams or the ocean; others are earth-dwellers, living in caverns.
The nāgas are the followers of Virūpākṣa (Pāli: Virūpakkha), one of the Four Heavenly Kings who guards the western direction. They act as a guard upon Mount Sumeru, protecting the dēvas of Trāyastriṃśa from attack by the asuras.
Among the notable nāgas of Buddhist tradition is Mucalinda, Nāgarāja and protector of the Buddha. In the Vinaya Sutra (I, 3), shortly after his enlightenment, the Buddha is meditating in a forest when a great storm arises, but graciously, King Mucalinda gives shelter to the Buddha from the storm by covering the Buddha’s head with his seven snake heads. Then the king takes the form of a young Brahmin and renders the Buddha homage.
In the Vajrayāna and Mahāsiddha traditions, nāgas in their half-human form are depicted holding a nāgas-jewel, kumbhas of amrita, or a terma that had been elementally encoded by adepts.
The two chief disciples of the Buddha, Sariputta and Moggallāna are both referred to as Mahānāga or “Great nāga”. Some of the most important figures in Buddhist history symbolize nāgas in their names such as Dignāga, Nāgāsēna, and, although other etymons are assigned to his name, Nāgārjuna.
The Nāga Saṃyutta of the Pali Canon consists of suttas specifically devoted to explaining nature of the nāgas.
In the “Devadatta” chapter of the Lotus Sutra, the daughter of the dragon king, an eight year old longnü (龍女, nāgakanyā), after listening to Mañjuśrī preach the Lotus Sutra, transforms into a male Bodhisattva and immediately reaches full enlightenment. Some say this tale appears to reinforce the viewpoint prevalent in Mahayana scriptures that a male body is required for Buddhahood, even if a being is so advanced in realization that they can magically transform their body at will and demonstrate the emptiness of the physical form itself. However many schools of Buddhism and classical, seminal Chinese exegeses interpret the story to repudiate this viewpoint, stating the story demonstrates that women can attain Buddhahood in their current form.
According to tradition, the Prajñapāramita sutras had been given by the Buddha to a great nāga who guarded them in the sea, and were conferred upon Nāgārjuna later.
I have often pondered on the similarity of nāga with nagal and nagual, East meets West.
Excerpted from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul
And “A Sanskrit English Translation” By Chip Hartranft
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Book 3 – Union achieved and its Results.
1. Concentration is the fixing of the chitta (mind stuff) upon a particular object. This is dharana.
We have now reached the part of the Yoga Sutras which deals specifically with mind control and with the effect of that control. The first fifteen sutras are given to the control of the mind and how it is to be attained and the remaining forty sutras concern the results which take place after this control has been gained. Twenty-four results are enumerated, and these are all along the line of expansions of consciousness and the demonstration of psychic faculties, both lower and higher.
The first step towards this unfoldment is concentration, or the ability to hold the mind steadily and unwaveringly upon that which the aspirant chooses. This first step is one of the most difficult stages in the meditation process and involves constant unremitting ability to keep bringing the mind back to that “object” upon which the aspirant has chosen to concentrate. The stages in concentration are themselves well marked and can be stated as follows:
The choice of some “object” upon which to concentrate,
The withdrawing of the mind-consciousness from the periphery of the body, so that the avenues of outer perception and contact (the five senses) are stilled, and the consciousness is no longer outgoing,
The centering of the consciousness and its steadying within the head at a point midway between the eyebrows,
The application of the mind, or the paying of close attention to the object chosen for concentration,
The visualization of that object, imaginative perception of it and logical reasoning about it,
The extension of the mental concepts which have been formed from the specific and particular to the general and the universal or cosmic,
An attempt to arrive at that which lies back of the form considered, or to reach the idea which is responsible for the form.
This process gradually steps up the consciousness and enables the aspirant to arrive at the life side of manifestation instead of the form side. He begins however with the form or “object.” Objects upon which to concentrate are of four kinds:
External objects, such as images of the deity, pictures or forms in nature,
Internal objects, such as the centers in the etheric body,
Qualities, such as the various virtues, with the intent to awaken desire for these virtues and thus to build them into the content of the personal life,
Mental concepts or those ideas which embody the ideals lying back of all animated forms. These may take the form of symbols or of words.
In one of the Puranas the idea embodied in concentration is expressed most beautifully. The aspirant is told, after he has made use of the first five means of yoga (dealt with in Book II), that he “should make a localization of the mind stuff upon some auspicious support” and this localization is illustrated by a description of the fixing of the attention upon a form of God.
“The incarnated form of the Exalted One leaves one without desire for any other support. This should be understood to be fixed, attention, when the mind stuff is fixed upon this form. And what is this incarnate form of Hari on which one should ponder, let that be heard by thee, 0 Ruler of Men. Fixed attention is not possible without something on which to fix it.” (Vishnu Purana V 1. 7. 75-85.)
Then follows a description of the incarnated form of the Exalted One, concluding with these words:
“…upon Him let the yogin ponder; and lost in Him, concentrate his own mind until, 0, King, the fixed attention becomes firmly fixed upon Him only. While performing this or while doing, as he wills, some other action wherein his mind does not wander, he should then deem this fixed attention to be perfected.” (Naradiya Purana LXVII. 54-62.)
It is the realization of the necessity for “objects” in concentration that originated the demand for images, sacred sculptures and pictures. All these objects entail the use of the lower concrete mind and this is the necessary preliminary stage. Their use brings the mind into a controlled condition so that the aspirant can make it adjust what he chooses. The four types of objects mentioned above carry the aspirant gradually inwards and enable him to transfer his consciousness from the physical plane into the etheric realm, from thence into the world of desire or of the emotions, and so into the world of mental ideas and concepts. This process, which is carried on within the brain, brings the entire lower man into a state of one-pointed coherent attention, all parts of his nature being directed to the attainment of fixed attention or a concentration of all the mental faculties. The mind then is no longer scattering, unsteady and outgoing, but is fully “fixed in attention.” Vivekananda translates “dharana” as “holding the mind to one thought for twelve seconds.” This clear, one-pointed, still perception of an object, without any other object or thought entering into one’s consciousness is most difficult of achievement, and when it can be done for the space of twelve seconds, true concentration is being achieved.
55. When the objective forms and the soul have reached a condition of equal purity, then is At-one-ment achieved and liberation results.
That which veils the light of the soul has been rendered pure, and thus the light of God streams forth. That which proved a hindrance and an obstacle to the full expression of divinity in manifestation has been so dealt with that now it serves as an adequate expression and means of service. The soul can now function freely and intelligently in the three worlds because complete unity has been reached between the lower and the higher man.
The soul and its vehicles form a unit and are at one; complete alignment of the bodies has been achieved and the Son of God can function freely on earth. Thus has the great objective been reached and through a following of the eight means of yoga the soul can manifest through the lower threefold man, and in its turn form a medium of expression for the spirit. Matter has been brought into a state where its vibration can synchronize with that of the soul, and the result is that – for the first time – spirit can make its presence felt, for “matter is the vehicle for the manifestation of soul on this plane of experience and the soul is the vehicle for the manifestation of spirit on a higher turn of the spiral. These three are a trinity synthesized by life which pervades them all.” To the man who has achieved this there is no rebirth. He is free and liberated, and can say with full conscious realization of the significance of the words:
My life (the lower physical life) is hid with Christ (the soul life) in God (the spirit.) (Col., III, 3)
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Book 4 – Illumination
1. The higher and lower siddhis (or powers) are gained by incarnation, or by drugs, words of power, intense desire or by meditation.
We have now come to the fourth book in which the powers and the results gained by the practice of Raja Yoga are carried forward into group realization and it is seen that they produce universal consciousness and not simply self-consciousness. It seems the part of wisdom to protest here against the use of the words “cosmic consciousness” as untrue and misleading, for even the highest adept (note this term with care) is only gifted with solar consciousness and has no contact with that which is outside our solar system. The planetary Logoi (the seven Spirits before the Throne), and the Lords of Karma (the “four wheels” of Ezekiel) have a realization beyond that of our solar system. Lesser existences may sense it as a possibility but it is not yet part of their experience.
The powers gained fall into two main groups called:
Lower psychic powers, the lower siddhis.
Spiritual powers or the higher siddhis.
The lower powers are the result of the consciousness of the animal soul in man being en rapport with the anima mundi or the soul of the world, the subjective side of all forms in the three worlds, of all bodies in the four kingdoms of nature. The higher powers are the result of the development of group consciousness, of the second aspect of divinity. They not only include the lesser powers but put a man en rapport with those existences and forms of life which are to be found in the spiritual realms, or, as the occultist would say, on those two planes which are beyond the three worlds, and which cover the entire scale of man’s evolution, human and superhuman.
The goal of the true aspirant is the unfoldment of these higher powers which can be covered by the terms direct knowledge, intuitive perception, spiritual insight, pure vision, the attainment of the wisdom. They are different from the lower powers, for they abrogate them. These latter are accurately described for us in Book III, Sutra 37:
“These powers are obstacles to the highest spiritual realization, but serve as magical powers in the objective worlds.”
These higher powers are inclusive and are distinguished by their accuracy and infallibility when rightly employed. Their working is as instantaneous as a flash of light. The lower powers are fallible, the time element is present in its sequential sense and they are limited in their working. They form part of the great illusion and to the true aspirant constitute a limitation.
In the sutra we are considering, five means are given whereby the psychic powers are developed and it is interesting to note that we have in these words an instance of the fact that the Yoga Sutras can still be the study and teaching manual of even such advanced aspirants as the Masters of the Wisdom. These five methods are capable of application upon all the five planes of human evolution, which include the two higher planes whereon initiates of the Mysteries function.
1. Incarnation The physical plane method.
2. Drugs The release of the astral consciousness.
3. Words of Power Creation by speech, or the method of the mental plane.
4. Intense desire The sublimation of aspiration or the method of the buddhic plane, the sphere of spiritual love.
5. Meditation The method of the atmic plane, the sphere of spiritual will.
In this enumeration, it might be noted that just as intense desire of a spiritual kind is a sublimation of astral or emotional desire, so meditation, as practised by the initiates, is the sublimation of all the mental processes. Therefore the two final methods given as resulting in the unfoldment of the siddhis are the only ones that are practised by initiates, being the synthesis and sublimation of the realizations achieved on the astral and mental planes.
It might, therefore, be observed that (for the seeker after truth) incarnation, intense desire and meditation are the three permissible methods, and the only ones to be practised; drugs and words of power or mantric incantations are the tools of black magic and concern the lower powers.
The question might here be asked, is it not true that words of power and the use of incense form part of the ceremonies of initiation and therefore are used by initiates and aspirants. Certainly, but not in the sense understood here, or for the purpose of developing psychic powers. The Masters and their disciples use words of power in order to deal with the non-human existences, to invoke the aid of the angels, and to manipulate the building forces of nature, and they employ herbs and incenses in order to purify conditions, eliminate undesirable entities and so make it possible for those higher upon the ladder of evolution to make their presence felt. This is, however, a very different thing to their use in order to become psychic.
It is interesting to note here that the first cause producing the unfoldment of soul powers, whether higher or lower, is the great wheel of rebirth. This must ever be taken into account. Everyone is not yet at the stage where it is possible for him to unfold the powers of the soul. The soul aspect is still dormant for many because full experience and development of the lower nature has not yet been undergone. The forty years’ wandering in the wilderness with the Tabernacle and the conquest of Canaan, had to precede the rule of the kings and the building of the Temple of Solomon. Lives must be passed before the body, or the Mother aspect, is so perfected that the Christ Child can be formed within the prepared vessel. It should also be remembered that the possession of the lower psychic powers is in many cases a symptom of a low stage of evolution and of the close association of their owner with the animal nature. This has to be outgrown before the higher powers can blossom forth.
It is needless to point out that the use of alcohol and of drugs can and does release the astral consciousness, as also the practice of sex magic, but this is astralism pure and simple and with this the true student of Raja Yoga has naught to do. It is part of unfoldment on the left-hand Path. The gaining of the soul powers by intense desire (or fervent aspiration) and by meditation has been covered in the other books and need not be enlarged upon here.
32. The modifications of the mind stuff (or qualities of matter), through the inherent nature of the three gunas come to an end, for they have served their purpose.
33. Time, which is the sequence of the modifications of the mind, likewise terminates, giving place to the Eternal Now.
34. The state of isolated unity becomes possible when the three qualities of matter (the three gunas or potencies of nature) no longer exercise any hold over the Self. The pure spiritual consciousness withdraws into the One.
We now come to another point in our study of this subject: This concerns one of the most difficult problems confronting the Masters at this time; it presents also an unique problem to the Christ. The daily physical life of the Masters, of the Christ, and of those Members of the Hierarchy (initiates and accepted disciples) Who function in physical bodies, has had its orientation upon the subjective levels of life; the majority of Them, and particularly the senior Members of the Hierarchy, do not as a rule intermingle largely with the public or walk the streets of our great cities. They work as I do from my retreat in the Himalayas, and from there I have influenced and helped far more people than I could possibly have reached had I walked daily in the midst of the noise and chaos of human affairs. I lead a normal and, I believe, useful life as the senior executive in a large lamasery, but my main work has lain elsewhere – widespread in the world of men; I reach this vast number of human beings through the medium of the books which I have written, through the groups which I have started and impulsed, such as Men of Goodwill and the Triangles, and through my disciples who talk and spread the truth as I have sought to present it.
So it has been with the work of all the Masters, except two or three Who have undergone special training in order to do some special preparatory work for the externalization of the Hierarchy. The English Master is one of these, and another Master also Who works, relatively unknown, in North America. I have referred to Him before as the Master P – though that is not, in reality, His initial.
This rule of solitariness or of withdrawing applies to all the Masters and to the Christ, for it is in the solitude of the mind, and as far as possible in the solitude of physical location, that the various branches of the great White Lodge have chosen to work ever since Atlantean days. It is not the solitude of a separative spirit, but the solitude that comes from the ability to be non-separative, and from the faculty of identification with the soul of all beings and of all forms. This can best be accomplished in the intense quiet of those “protected” areas where the Masters in the various branches of the Brotherhood have chosen to dwell. This solitude and physical isolation enables Them to work almost entirely from the level of the buddhic or intuitional plane, perfecting the Science of Impression, influencing and working through those minds which are susceptible to Their mental impression. This applies equally to Masters in physical vehicles and to Those Who have “no anchorage” in the three worlds; it applies also to disciples who are in or out of the body, according to their destiny, immediate karma or form of service. St. Paul, for instance, was in the initiate stage of learning rightly to withdraw and to work in what Patanjali calls “isolated unity” when he spoke of himself once as “being caught up into the third heaven” and there learning the untold beauties of the divine life.
The problem, therefore, before the Masters and Their disciples is to work (when the externalization takes place) in the midst of physical plane existence, no longer withdrawn, isolated and protected, but functioning openly in the middle of events and physical realities and all the diversity of contacts which the three worlds present. It is perhaps helpful to remember that when the Christ was in physical presence on earth two thousand years ago, the population of the world was relatively small compared to that today; contact between peoples was practically nil, and where it existed was usually of a strictly military or commercial nature, with a somewhat exclusive interchange of scholastic ideas and personnel between the rare centers of learning. It was easy in those days to withdraw into the desert and to disappear into the unfrequented place and to recharge and revitalize the spirit, to touch again closely the Sources of inspiration on the higher levels of consciousness, and thus reorient the working instrument in the three worlds to the higher field of contact and inspiration. Much of this can be noted in the Gospel story of the life of Christ and of the Master Jesus.
When the Christ reappears and the Hierarchy externalizes itself on earth, conditions will be totally different; there are today no empty spaces; the population of the world is enormously enlarged and is growing from year to year; no locality is isolated or unattainable; the jungles are open territory to the explorer and to the numerous commercial agents; vast cities cover the planet and oceans are traversed by multitudes of ships; the airways of the world are travelled by millions of passengers annually; the land is divided into minute sections by railroads, highways, speedways and myriads of lesser roads and streets. In fact, every living unit in the world is in touch with thousands of other units and can – through the many means of information – be in touch with millions; the news presses grind out the news from hour to hour and the eyes of millions are ceaselessly glued to the printed page at all hours of the day or night; the ears of other millions are daily and hourly attuned to the voice of the radio. Only the inner perceptive sense remains inactive, for only advanced humanity lives constantly in touch with the world of Spiritual perception and intention.
The conditions, therefore, confronting the Hierarchy constitute a serious and drastic problem. As far as we can, we will attempt to consider these conditions, for some understanding of the problem is necessary if right work is to be done.
Necessarily, the problem is one of a change in the orientation of perception but not necessarily in modes of living or in any definitely physical plane adjustments. Hierarchical orientation has for some centuries been one of a very strict internal consolidation, in order that the magnetic aura of the Hierarchy may unfailingly respond to impression from Shamballa, and also be of so potent a nature that it can form a protective screen around the human family. Forget not the nature of the protective service which the Masters have assumed on behalf of mankind, standing between humanity and the emanations and influences and the magnetic aura of the Black Lodge.
This internal consolidation has been greatly strengthened during the past one hundred years. Because of this, and because of the resultant clarity of impression and of the potent outgoing influence, the Plan for humanity – as a Whole – was imparted with emphasis to disciples in the Ashrams, and by them was formulated clearly and presented to humanity.
H.P.B. (one of the first working disciples to go forth on the externalization impulse and with first ray energy driving him) gave the background of the Plan, under impression from me; the more detailed structure and the sweep of the hierarchical intention have been given by me in the books which A.A.B. has introduced under her own name to the public (in so doing acting under my instructions). For the first time in human history, the purpose of past events – historical and psychological – can be clearly noted as the foundation for all present happenings, thus bringing the mysterious Law of Karma in an easy manner to public attention. The present can also be seen, indicating the way of the future and revealing clearly the Will-to-Good which is animating the entire evolutionary process – a process in which humanity (again for the first time) is intelligently participating and cooperating. It is this cooperative participation, even if unconsciously rendered, which has made it possible for the Hierarchy to grasp the opportunity to bring to an end the long silence which has persisted since Atlantean days; the Masters can now begin to undertake to renew an ancient “sharing of the secrets,” and to prepare humanity for a civilization which will be distinguished by a constant intellectual perception of truth, and which will cooperate with the externalized Ashrams in the various parts of the world.
The internal consolidation is now being somewhat loosened, if I may use such an inadequate expression, and a majority of the Members of the Hierarchy are withdrawing Their close attention from reception of impression from Shamballa and are now orienting Themselves – in an entirely new and directed manner – to the fourth kingdom in nature. At the same time, a very powerful minority of Masters are entering into a much closer association with the Council of Sanat Kumara.
The Externalization of the Hierarchy – Section IV – Stages in the Externalization
Not long done my sous chef thing for dinner. I had to open a new 400g bag of garam masala from my secret spice stash. yummy smell. Some things easily available in the UK are harder to find here but thanks to a 100 euro order on amazon I managed to replenish my spice stash a while back. I have kilner jar after kilner jar of the stuff. In an hour or so I will rattle up a jalfrezi.
We heard that our wood burner is due for delivery next week so it has been all hands to the pump to get the wall ready. I have been filling it and today hand sanding it. I looked a little like a ghost albeit with sweat trickles. It is hard manual labour and then I looked up this on the internet:
My patent application just got published…a day of contrasts..
From the deep pungent brown garam masala to the ghostly white sandings off the wall. I kept imaging aboriginal body paint and didgeridoos whilst I was sanding. I can almost hear them now.
So let us add another contrast:
One can see that the flow is actually a series of discrete events….blending into each other, each a snapshot of the fleeting yet eternal now.