A mythical creature of unclear origin, but thought to have originated in India. (Feminine: nagini.) The creatures resemble, superficially, the hydra in that they are serpent-creatures. There is some debate as to whether they each posess a single head, or many, some say up to seven. It is possible different species vary in this.

Unlike their "cousin" the hydra, nagas are peaceful and wise creatures, interested in knowledge and fascinated with the human concepts of 'love' and 'soul'. They are water elementals and it is believed they control the rains and rivers. For this they are revered and almost worshipped, because the rain comes only when they are content. All nagas have a priceless jewel set in their foreheads or throats. Some think this is the source of their powers

In the development of Buddhism from the early schools such as the Theravada, Mahasanghika, and so on the nagas were one strategy used to explain the gaps in historical availability of what was purported by the later schools of Sakyamuni Buddha's Teachings.

The Prajnaparamita Teachings were said to have been too advanced for the human sravakas or "hearers" of the time of the Buddha. But they were also heard by the nagas who cherished them, recorded them, and stored them in their underwater palaces.

A few centuries after the Buddha's death they looked to a young Buddhist scholar and monk to convey this Dharma back into the world of humans. This young monk became known as "Nagarjuna" (2nd to 3rd century A.D.), who began a movement to deconstruct the categories of Abhidharma and expose them to nakedness of the experience which they attempted to describe.

Naga, aka: Nahga (in some translations), Naga The White Serpent, Gracia Wil Tesla Seirune

Naga is the long lost sister of Amelia Wil Tesla Seirune, princess of Seirune, the White Magic capital of the world in the Slayers Universe. Naga left home when she was very young, taking her mother's outfit with her. Seeing how short Amelia is, this could explain why she wears such skimpy leather over such incredibly large breasts. In Slayers volume 5, episode 4, Amelia sees Naga walking down the street and comments on how her outfit looks just like the one her mother used to wear. In the final volume of Slayers TRY, Amelia also comments on the way that Lina Inverse laughs, saying that it's really scary, which also happens to be the same way that Naga laughs. Lina learned the summoning spell Zelas Gort, a jellyfish summon, from Naga and uses it in volume 2 of Slayers NEXT.

Naga herself prefers to use ice magic and summoning magic. Most of her summons turn out to be useless, such as the jellyfish and the stone dragon with a uniquely disproportionate head. Naga claims to be Lina's rival, but usually she just tags along and helps out.

Nagas are also frequently depicted as being capable of transformation, from one extreme of being entirely snake to the other of entirely human. The legs would obviously have to turn into snake all at once, but any amount of the torso could be snake; also, the naga could have arms or not. In fact, depictions of non-transforming nagas vary as to whether they have arms.

When nagas do transform, it is quite different than the transformation one usually expects out of werecreatures. If a were has a partial transformation, it is usually not spatially dependent. According to AD&D, the naga transformation is completely different, being a dimensional process rather than a polymorphic one. Thus, it is unhealthy for a naga to jump into a bag of holding or portable hole, while a werewolf would have no trouble. This is one of the few contingencies not programmed into Nethack (at least, not as of version 3).

Since nagas were ripped out of their original mythos, they have been placed into a wide variety of settings far removed from rivers, including the deserts (one AD&D species overview), in elaborate tunnels under mountains (in Xanth), etc.. Nagas have also typically undergone an unfortunate personality shift from wise to borderline sentient and bloodthirsty - typical RPG monsters. As a friend of mine said, "What else do you expect a young naga cleric set loose on the world to do, besides FSU?"

Things that are much like nagas are depicted (in the west, at least) more often than outright nagas. For example, Medusa in Clash of the Titans. While the general form of having a snake tail fits uniquely enough to throw her in the naga-like bin, she has snakes for hair (actually, for Medusa, snakes-for-hair is common, while having snake-for-legs is unusual).

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