Nagas, The Serpents - FAQs

What is the meaning of Naga?
There are two meanings of the term Naga. 1. नगे भव:- found in mountains. 2. न अगः- always moving.

What is the meaning of Sarpa?
Sarpa has originated from the Sanskrit root सृप् meaning something which crawls on the ground.

What is the difference between Naga and Sarpa?
Snake with hood is called Naga. Sarpa is the common name for all kinds of snakes.

Which are the three main types of snakes?
1. Darveekara- with spoon-shaped hood. 2. Mandalin- those which stay coiled when at rest. 3 Rajeeman- striped snakes.

Which are the fourteen types of snakes mentioned in the scriptures?
1. Ananta 2. Vasuki 3. Padma 4. Mahapadma 5. Padmanabha 6. Takshaka 7. Karkotaka 8. Kulika 9. Shankha 10. Shesha 11. Kambala 12. Shankhapala 13. Dhartarashtra 14. Kaliya.

Which are some of the types of snakes mentioned in the Vedas?
1. Aghashwa (अघाश्व) 2. Asita (असित) 3. Aligi (आलिगी) 4. Viligi (विलिगी) 5. Aashivisha (आशिविष) 6. Kanikrata (कनिक्रत) 7. Kalmashagreeva (कल्माषग्रीव) 8. Kasarnila (कसर्णील) 9. Jurni (जूर्णि) 10. Tiraschiraji (तिरश्चिराजी) 11. Taimata (तैमात) 12. Darvi (दर्वी) 13. Dashonasi (दशोनसी) 14. Pridaku (पृदाकू) 15. Rajju Datwati (रज्जु-दत्वती) 16. Ratharvi (रथर्वी) 17. Lohitahi (लोहिताहि) 18. Vahasa (वाहस) 19. Sherabhaka (शेरभक) 20. Shevridhaka (शेवृधक) 21. Satheenakankata (सतीनकङ्कत) 22. Sarpa (सर्प) 23. Swaja (स्वज) 24. Ahi (अहि).

When does a snake bite?
According to Vagbhatacharya a snake bites for eight reasons: 1. For food 2. When in fear 3. If you step upon it 4. When angry 5 If it is by nature cruel 6. If the poison has increased within its body 7. Due to enmity 8. When prompted by divine and supernatural powers.

Which Veda Mantra tells us about the power of venom to neutralize venom (antivenom)?
विषेण हन्मि ते विषम् - Vishena hanmi te visham - Atharva Veda 5.13.4

How snakes were created
Kadru was Daksha Prajapati's daughter. Her husband was Kashyapa Prajapati. Kadru desired to have 1,000 strong sons. She expressed her desire to Kashyapa. As a result of their union, she laid 1,000 eggs that hatched into snakes. All the snakes are descendants of these.

Who is the king of Nagas?
Vasuki.

Is Sheshnag holding earth?
The mother of serpents, Kadru made her sister Vinata her slave through cheating. Sheshnag (Adi Shesha) was very righteous. Some of his brother serpents also took part in this. Sheshnag was disgusted and did not want to continue any relationship with his family. He observed tapas. Brahma sent him down to Pathala-loka with the responsibility of holding the earth upon his hoods.

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