1. a serpent or Nāga demon, playing a prominent part in Buddh. fairy-tales, gifted with miraculous powers & great strength. They often act as fairies are classed with other divinities (see devatā), with whom they are sometimes friendly, sometimes at enmity (as with the Garuḷas) DN.i.54; SN.iii.240 sq. SN.v.47, SN.v.63; Bu. SN.i.30 (dīghāyukā mahiddhikā); Mil.23 Often with supaṇṇā (Garuḷas); Ja.i.64; Dhp-a.ii.4; Pv-a.272. Descriptions e.g. at Dhp-a.iii.231, Dhp-a.iii.242 sq.; see also compounds

  2. an elephant, esp. a strong, stately animal (thus in combination hatthi-nāga characterising “a Nāga elephant”) & freq. as symbol of strength & endurance (“heroic”). Thus epithet of the Buddha & of Arahants Popular etymologies of n. are based on the excellency of this animal (āguṃ na karoti = he is faultless, etc.): see Mnd.201 = Cnd.337; Thag.693; Pv-a.57

    1. the animal DN.i.49; SN.i.16; SN.ii.217, SN.ii.222; SN.iii.85; SN.v.351; AN.ii.116; AN.iii.156 sq.; Snp.543; Vv.5#5 (= hatthināga Vv-a.37); Pv.i.11#3. mahā˚ AN.iv.107, AN.iv.110
    2. fig. hero or saint: SN.ii.277; SN.iii.83; MN.i.151, MN.i.386; Dhp.320; Snp.29, Snp.53, Snp.166, Snp.421, Snp.518. Of the Buddha: Snp.522, Snp.845 Snp.1058, Snp.1101; Mil.346 (Buddha˚).
  3. The Nāga-tree (now called “iron-wood tree,” the P. meaning “fairy tree”), noted for its hard wood & great masses of red flowers (= Sk. nāgakesara, mesua ferrea Lin.): see cpds ˚rukkha, ˚puppha, ˚latā.

  • -āpalokita “elephant-look” (turning the whole body) a mark of the Buddhas MN.i.337; cp. BSk. nāgâvalokita Divy.208;
  • -danta an ivory peg or pin, also used as a hook on a wall Vin.ii.117 (˚ka Vin.ii.114, Vin.ii.152); Ja.vi.382
  • -nāṭaka snakes as actors Dhp-a.iv.130;
  • -nāsūru (f. (woman) having thighs like an elephant’s trunk Ja.v.297
  • -puppha iron-wood flower Mil.283;
  • -bala the strength of an elephant Ja.i.265; Ja.ii.158;
  • -bhavana the world of snakes Mnd.448; Ja.iii.275; Dhp-a.iv.14;
  • -māṇavaka a young serpent Ja.iii.276; f. -ikā ib. 275; Dhp-a.iii.232
  • -rājā king of the Nāgas, i.e. serpents Ja.ii.111; Ja.iii.275; Snp.379 (Erāvaṇa, see detail Snp-a.368); Dhp-a.i.359 Dhp-a.iii.231, Dhp-a.iii.242 sq. (Ahicchatta); Dhp-a.iv.129 sq. (Paṇṇaka)
  • -rukkha the iron-wood tree Ja.i.35 (cp. Mhvs.ii.249)
  • -latā = rukkha Ja.i.80 (the Buddha’s toothpick made of its wood), Ja.i.232; Dhp-a.ii.211 (˚dantakaṭṭha toothpick)
  • -vatta habits of serpents Mnd.92, also adj. -ika ibid. Mnd.89
  • -vana elephant-grove Dhp.324; Dhp-a.iv.15;
  • -vanika el hunter MN.i.175; MN.iii.132;
  • -hata one who strikes the el (viz. the Buddha) Vin.ii.195.

Ved. nāga; etym. of 1 perhaps fr. *snagh = Ags. snaca (snake) & snaegl (snail); of 2 uncertain, perhaps a Non-Aryan word distorted by popular analogy to nāga1