This is a post about the spirits known as Nagas. Also known as Lu in Tibetan. I need to start out by saying that any errors from my transcription are purely my own. They do not reflect on the teacher. This information comes from Lama Dawa who is a Nyingma Lama, and other lineages of Tibetan Buddhism and certainly other religious traditions would have different information about this topic. These words come from a teaching given on Saturday November 2nd, 2013. Please note that if you want to do a specific spiritual practice, including Naga offerings, you should get instructions from your teacher.
I will paraphrase the questions asked and the answers given, unless you see quotation marks – these are the Lama’s quoted words. Anything in brackets are my own thoughts and speculations. Again, pardon any confusing answers or errors.
First of all, where was I? I was at a Buddhist teaching in a practitioner’s home. There was a large shrine room that easily fit about fifteen people.
Who taught on this topic? Lama Dawa Chhoddak Rinpoche was the teacher. He is a lineage holder in the Dudjom section of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. He gave these teachings on Nagas and how to do a Naga offering.
Next, what is a Naga? A Naga is a spirit. It is basically a long living animal (spirit). Most humans do not have the karma to perceive Nagas directly. Nagas are most often associated with the animals in the reptile kingdom – and snakes in particular. Basically Nagas are serpent spirits with extremely long lives.
Are Nagas malevolent? No. Generally speaking they mind their own business. There are some rarer classes of nagas who are “ill tempered.” In all cases however, Nagas cannot affect us at all unless we create the karmic connection for them to do so. See below.
Nagas have been around a long time! There are eight main kingdoms of Nagas. The Naga Kings (eight of them) are Buddhist practitioners. Some consider them to be Bodhisattvas – beings who have been traversing the spiritual path a long time and who manifested as Naga Kings to benefit other sentient beings and/or to guard holy scriptures not meant for this present time. Chenrezig, Vajrapani and Padmasambhava subjugated many Nagas, possibly even the Naga Kings. But the majority of Nagas are not Buddhists. And compared to the number of Human beings in this world, Nagas far outnumber us.
What does Nagas energy do? Naga energy affects health, wealth and weather. If a Naga(s) gets sick, the person (people) responsible for making the Naga sick might also get sick.
How could we possibly make Nagas sick? The most direct way to affect a Naga is to pollute water. Pissing in water is considered bad [the Tibetans say that pissing in water will cause the Nagas to give one skin problems]. Ejaculating in water (especially lakes, rivers, the ocean) is the WORST. Putting toxic chemicals in water can make Nagas sick. Then indirectly, polluting the planet in other ways can make Nagas unhappy.
Unhappy Nagas make bizarre weather patterns. It will be hot when it should be cold. It will be excessively rainy. It will be a bad drought year. Nagas are especially associated with the fertility of soil and the rain required to grow crops. Make the Nagas unhappy, and the crops will probably suffer. How much depends on how unhappy they are.
What sicknesses are Nagas connected with? Leprosy, boils, cataracts, kidney problems among other diseases.
Sometimes Nagas are considered Dharma protectors. This could literally be the case as some Nagas are guarding Buddhist scriptures which are said to be revealed at a later time. It could also be the case that Padmasambhava subjugated the Nagas and told them to protect the Dharma in our realm.
Nagas can take several forms [if they appear to us at all – and I imagine there must be karmic reasons to see them at all]. They can be entirely serpentine (snakes). They can be half snake, half human. They can be fishes. They can be alligators / crocodiles. They can be half fish, half human [- mermen, mermaids come to mind here].
Nagas are not associated with any specific disease – meaning, they do not go out of their way to harm human beings. They do not make weapons to cause harm – only humans stockpile weapons for war! If we have caused pollution, in turn causing Nagas to get sick, that is why we do Naga Pujas or offerings. We do these practices to make the Nagas get well and to pacify any injury we have caused them. In other words, we do these practices to pacify the negative karma we may have created in this or previous lives.
Some Nagas live in fresh water springs, some live in rivers, others live in lakes and yet others live in the oceans. If a Naga lives near a spring, in rare cases, they may choose to live in a tree like a Juniper. Therefore, if you see a short tree near a spring, a tree that never gets old but which also never grows really tall, do not cut it down! The Naga is living in that tree.
Doing Naga practices can increase [our connection to the Nagas thereby increasing] our wealth, health and fertility. [Plus, we might get better weather in the area in the process.] The Eight Buddhist Naga Kings listen to requests. We just have to know how to make them. [As in we have to offer something to them to get something back in exchange.] A Naga King is a powerful being – they have more wealth than any human and they are in control of Nagas in a large area of land or sea.
Are there better days on which to be doing Naga practices? Yes! There are some days when Nagas are sleeping and they do not want to be disturbed. Do not disturb them on these days! Conversely, there are other days when Nagas are so active that they cannot receive our offerings – in Tibetan these days are called Naga return days because our offerings will be returned “unused” as it were. According to Kalachakra astrology, we can find out which days are good for doing Naga Pujas and which days are ideal. Basically there will be 0, 1, 2 or 3 days a month on which to do offerings for Nagas. Consult a good Tibetan calendar or there are several good websites which have quality Tibetan calendars on them, detailing these days.
There is a special incense to burn during Naga offerings and smoke ceremonies. It is in the Vetiver family. [I think it is the root.] I could not find this on Google, but the Indian name of the incense is Chet-a-mam-sa? It is definitely in the Vetiver family because we all smelled it afterward and Rinpoche said it was from a plant that was like a grass [Vetiver does this] that can grow in large fields.
In rare occasions, a Lama [or Tibetan Astrologer] might do a divination [or see it in the chart] and see that an individual needs to do a large number of Naga Pujas to pacify some negative karma OR they might recommend that the individual put a Naga Vase in the ground on their property. Creating a Naga Vase is an elaborate ritual involving writing mantras on special types of paper, including gold paper, putting in precious substances, metals and stones and then there is a 2 week period of practice where the Lama does an accomplishment [which I am assuming is a large number of prayers or mantras if it takes two weeks]. Then the Naga Vase is put in the ground and that part of the yard is respected from then on – no humans or pets should be allowed to pee in that spot.
Why do we do Naga practices? In addition to what has already been mentioned… [This was a very skillful answer.] Because we want all suffering to come to completion and end. We want all wars pacified. We want all famines to end. We want all sentient beings who have been our mothers in past lives to be happy and free of sickness. Basically we do Naga practices to generate bodhicitta – the mind that wishes for the happiness and well-being of all sentient beings (may all beings attain complete enlightenment).
So basically, we may want to consider doing a Naga practice to befriend the local Naga(s). They are considered guardians of wealth and sacred texts, so they are like “bank managers” and “librarians” and we could certainly benefit from being on their good sides. Plus, if we become spiritual masters down the road, we might want to borrow a text from their libraries, so we will need to know how to ask for them. 🙂
Hopefully this was not incredibly confusing. Maybe it was even a little helpful. Thank you for reading.
[Perhaps this information is all superstition. I don’t know. Perhaps you want to test this theory by going to the ocean or a local lake and peeing in the water. Then see if you get a skin problem or a cold sore in the next week or two. 🙂 Just saying. Up to you. I don’t know what your karma is though, so I would not recommend doing this.]