Nagarjuna and the Nagas

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weitsicht
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Nagarjuna and the Nagas

Post by weitsicht » Tue Sep 17, 2019 8:44 am

I am not very learned, hence pls apologize my maybe stupid question:

When Nagarjuna brought several Prajnaparamita texts from the nagas:
- which texts were these?
- was this (is this) Nagaland (East India)?
- was it this journey though which he obtained his name?
- I usually thought that the source for terma are nature's objects or dreams. If in this case the nagas (sentient beings) gave him these texts, does this make these texts also termas?
- when nagas were helpful to Nagarjuna but later they needed be subdued by Padmasambhava, what happened? Were the nagas friend or foe to the Buddhadharma?

Thanks.
Ho! All the possible appearances and existences of samsara and nirvana have the same source, yet two paths and two results arise as the magical display of awareness and unawareness.
HO NANG SRI KHOR DAE THAMCHE KUN ZHI CHIG LAM NYI DRAE BU NYI RIG DANG MA RIG CHOM THRUL TE

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Aemilius
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Re: Nagarjuna and the Nagas

Post by Aemilius » Tue Sep 17, 2019 4:25 pm

Nagas appear several times in the Sravakayana sutras and suttas, they are connected to the life of Buddha Shakyamuni. see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N%C4%81ga ... B9%83yutta

The english word snake is etymologically connected to the word Naga, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N%C4%81ga#Etymology
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

pemachophel
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Re: Nagarjuna and the Nagas

Post by pemachophel » Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:43 pm

No, not Naga Land, but yes, the land of the Nagas. We're talking about non-human Nagas, one of the so-called eight classes of spirits in Buddhism.

Yes, it was due to this that Nagarjuna received His name.

Yes, functionally, these are terma. However, in the Tibetan tradition, they are not usually spoken of as terma and they are not punctuated with the ter-shad, the special mark at the end of each line of terma. Nevertheless, Nagajuna's receipt of these teachings from the Nagas is one of the underpinnings of the theory of terma within Nyingma.

There is a whole world of Nagas: good Nagas, bad Nagas, different races, different castes, and living in different places. So the Nagas that helped Nagarjuna are not necessarily the same Nagas subdued by Guru Rinpoche. Further, because Nagas are hyper-quick to take offense, even Nagas who have been previously subdued may need to be subdued again if they perceive they have been harmed by humans. It's not a "once and done" kind of thing.
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ

Fortyeightvows
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Re: Nagarjuna and the Nagas

Post by Fortyeightvows » Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:49 pm

pemachophel- good post.
pemachophel wrote:
Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:43 pm
punctuated with the ter-shad, the special mark at the end of each line of terma.
Can you share this mark?
it appears only at the end of each line?

Does it also appear in the sadhana's which come from terma traditions?


pemachophel
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Re: Nagarjuna and the Nagas

Post by pemachophel » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:38 pm

Fortyeight Vows,

Two small circles, one above the other, separated by a short horizontal line.

Yes, at the end of each line. Yes, also in all terma sadhanas.

If you're reading a terma sadhana, you can see immediately what is the original text of the terma and what are later additions. Later additions will only be punctuated by a regular shad (she).
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ

Fortyeightvows
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Re: Nagarjuna and the Nagas

Post by Fortyeightvows » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:45 am

Thank you very much sir!

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Re: Nagarjuna and the Nagas

Post by Caoimhghín » Wed Sep 18, 2019 3:35 am

In Venerable Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakośakārikābhāṣya, interestingly enough, in the Loka division, Ch 3, a birth as a nāga is classified as a birth into the animal realm, because the nāgas are treated by Ven Vasubandhu, in that text, as simply snakes.

There was a belief in ancient India that snakes could, if left alone, simply continue to live indefinitely; shedding skin and growing in size and wisdom as time passed on. In Abhidharmakośakārikābhāṣya in particular, the lifespan of a nāgarāja is given by Ven Vasubandhu as equal to one kalpa at it's apex.

For added context, we can turn to Venerable Chim Jampaiyang's Ornament of Abhidharma: A Commentary on Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosa as translated by Venerable Jampa Ignyen, where it is clarified that this aeon/kalpa lifespan is an intermediate kalpa.

So the nāgāḥ, in some Buddhisms, get their wisdom from their long lives, but are essentially mundane snakes, being classed as an animal as a birth. Sources may vary.

It makes sense, the nāgāḥ being a class of spirit beings or devāḥ/gods of some sort, though, so I certainly see how conclusions on this could vary depending on the perspective.
歸命本覺心法身常住妙法心蓮臺本來莊嚴三身徳三十七尊住心
城遠離因果法然具普門塵數諸三昧無邊徳海本圓滿還我頂禮心諸佛

In reverence for the root gnosis of the heart, the dharmakāya,
for the ever present good law of the heart, the lotus terrace,
for the inborn adornment of the trikāya, the thirty-seven sages dwelling in the heart,
for that which is removed from seed and fruit, the upright key to the universal gate,
for all boundless concentrations, the sea of virtue, the root perfection,
I prostrate, bowing to the hearts of all Buddhas.

胎藏金剛菩提心義略問答鈔, Treatise on the teaching of the gnostic heart of the womb and the diamond, T2397.1.470c5-8

pemachophel
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Re: Nagarjuna and the Nagas

Post by pemachophel » Wed Sep 18, 2019 3:51 pm

Once I was talking about yetis with one of my Teachers. She said that once, when She was in retreat in Tibet (probably in the 1940s), a yeti came and brought offerings to Her regularly. It would sometimes climb onto the roof of Her retreat cabin. She said that yetis are both an animal and a spirit. So the idea that Nagas are both animals and spirits works for me.

I had not previously heard about how long Nagas can live and that Their wisdom comes from such long life. There is a story in China of Sun Si-miao, a famous doctor in the Tang dynasty curing a small snake. Then the snake's father, the local Dragon King (Lung Wang)/Naga King (Lu Gyal) of the mountain on which Sun was living, came to him in gratitude and taught him all sorts of secret healing lore. My point being that the child was merely a snake, but the father was a Dragon King/Naga King. So maybe Nagas start off as snakes but then, if they live long enough, They become Nagas which, due to Their wisdom, are something more than just animals and croiss over into becoming a spirit. Just a thought.

Sorry for my flight of fancy.
Pema Chophel པདྨ་ཆོས་འཕེལ

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weitsicht
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Re: Nagarjuna and the Nagas

Post by weitsicht » Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:56 am

Thanks all! Verry much appreciated.

On the nagas:
Do they vary in shape or are they all snake-like
Do they live here or in their own realms somewhere else?

Was (is??) it normal that someone receives a new name when something special has been accomplished or or is this reserved to the heroes like Nagarjuna?

Is it believed that at one point Nagarjuna has taken rebirth, that there was a lineage of his?
Ho! All the possible appearances and existences of samsara and nirvana have the same source, yet two paths and two results arise as the magical display of awareness and unawareness.
HO NANG SRI KHOR DAE THAMCHE KUN ZHI CHIG LAM NYI DRAE BU NYI RIG DANG MA RIG CHOM THRUL TE

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Aemilius
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Re: Nagarjuna and the Nagas

Post by Aemilius » Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:12 am

Nagas belong to the eight classes of nonhuman beings that are usually present in the event of teaching the Mahayana sutras.

Eight kinds of nonhuman beings [八部衆](jpn
hachibu-shu): Also, eight kinds of beings or eight kinds of guardians. Beings referred to in Buddhist scriptures as protectors of Buddhism. They are deva, or heavenly beings; nāga, or dragons; a kind of demon called yaksha; gods of music called gandharva; belligerent demons called asura; garuda, birds that prey on dragons; kimnara, gods with beautiful voices; and mahoraga, gods in snake forms. Buddhist scriptures refer to the eight kinds of nonhuman beings either individually or with expressions such as “heavenly beings (or gods), dragons, and others of the eight kinds of nonhuman beings.” The eight kinds of nonhuman beings are often described as attendants at the assembly of the Buddha’s preaching.
(quoted from Nichiren Buddhism Library)

Nagas can appear in different guises, in the Muccalinda sutta the naga Muccalinda appears also in the form of a young man. https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitak ... .than.html

Eight classes of gods and demons (lha srin sde brgyad). There are various descriptions but in the sutras the most general is:
devas,
nagas,
yakshas,
gandharvas,
asuras,
garudas,
kinnaras, and
mahoragas.
All of them were able to receive and practice the teachings of the Buddha. These eight classes can also refer to various types of mundane spirits who can cause either help or harm, but remain invisible to normal human beings. (Chinese Buddhism Encyclopedia)

There is a traditional biography of Nagarjuna that exists in chinese Tripitaka. It is included in the work Lives of Great Monks and Nuns (as english translation) https://web.archive.org/web/20150920131 ... s_2002.pdf
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)

haha
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Re: Nagarjuna and the Nagas

Post by haha » Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:00 am

weitsicht wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:56 am

On the nagas:
Do they vary in shape or are they all snake-like
Do they live here or in their own realms somewhere else?
At Sāvatthī. “Bhikkhus, there are these four modes of generation of nāgas. What four? Nāgas born from eggs, nāgas born from the womb, nāgas born from moisture, nāgas of spontaneous birth. These are the four modes of generation of nāgas.”

Samyutta Nikaya (Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi)
Many theories are based on sutras and stories and some visionary experiences in later time. You can check Jataka Stories. You may get some insight about their characteristics and abode from (earlier) Buddhist prospective. Few are:
No. 506.: Campeyya-Jātaka
No. 524.: Saṁkhapāla-Jātaka
No. 543.: Bhūridatta-Jātaka

thomaslaw
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Re: Nagarjuna and the Nagas

Post by thomaslaw » Sat Sep 28, 2019 3:40 am

Aemilius wrote:
Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:12 am
Nagas belong to the eight classes of nonhuman beings that are usually present in the event of teaching the Mahayana sutras.

Eight kinds of nonhuman beings [八部衆](jpn
hachibu-shu): Also, eight kinds of beings or eight kinds of guardians. Beings referred to in Buddhist scriptures as protectors of Buddhism. They are

deva, or heavenly beings;
nāga, or dragons;
a kind of demon called yaksha;
gods of music called gandharva;
belligerent demons called asura;
garuda, birds that prey on dragons;
kimnara, gods with beautiful voices;
and mahoraga, gods in snake forms.
Many thanks for the information about the eight kinds of beings. It seems they all are also found in early Buddhist texts. Possibly only the term for the classification as eight kinds seems exclusively Mahayana (?).

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