Gorant, Charlotte: Nāgas in Early Buddhism: A Heavenly Abode and an Unfortunate Birth, in Angermeier, Vitus et al. (Hrsg.): Puṣpikā: Proceedings of the 12th International Indology Graduate Research Symposium (Vienna, 2021), Heidelberg: Heidelberg Asian Studies Publishing, 2023 (Puṣpikā – Tracing Ancient India through Texts and Traditions: Contributions to Current Research in Indology, Band 6), S. 295–318. https://doi.org/10.11588/hasp.1133.c15537

Identifier (Buch)

ISBN 978-3-948791-43-8 (PDF)
ISBN 978-3-948791-44-5 (Softcover)




Charlotte Gorant

Nāgas in Early Buddhism: A Heavenly Abode and an Unfortunate Birth

At early Buddhist sites on the Indian subcontinent, nāgas as cobra beings are depicted with a remarkable conception of bodily fluidity between human and cobra forms. Analysis of Buddhist visual narratives and textual accounts in Pāli and Sanskrit reveals their ability to take on the guise of a human, a defining feature that has been overlooked in previous scholarship which considers sculptures from the period before the Common Era. Examining their identities from the perspective of a Buddhist worshipper, I consider nāgas in visual representations with a status between animals, human, and divine beings, exploring how nāgas can inhabit heavenly places, yet remain confined to their unfortunate birth status as animals.

Keywords Nāgas, Buddhism, Ancient India, fluidity, sculpture