TAKSHÂKA – The Mighty Vedic Serpent

The grandfather of this kalpa, Kas´yapa-prajâpati, founded the kingdom of serpents with his wife Kadrû. Takshâka was one of her seven greatest children, the septa-nâgas. Takshâka and her most righteous children were cursed to be reborn on earth and to be burned alive as their punishment for not obeying their mother. The story goes like … Read more

NANDI – The Divine Bull of Lord Shiva

Nandi was both a divine bull and a human manifestation of S´iva. One account stated that Kandikeshvara (the tawny-colored dwarf), or Adhikâra-Nandin, had lived a good and long life that was coming to an end. He prayed to S´iva for a longer life, and S´iva not only granted his request but placed Nandi, as he … Read more

KÂLIYA – Great Serpent of Krishna Mythology

In the Krishna myth cycle Kâliya was a great serpent, born of the progenitor Kas´yâpa by his wife Kadrû, mother of the serpent kingdom. Kâliya lived in the Kâlindî River (also called the Yamunâ) and was well known because of his association with Krishna. Kâliya had a thousand hoods (although some texts say only five). … Read more


There is a lot of confusion as to whether Jâmbhavân was a monkey (kapi) or a bear (riksha). Vâlmîki’s Râmâyana presented some stories of Jâmbhavân as a bear and other stories of him as a monkey. In one version Brahmâ sent the celestial damsels (apsaras) to be reborn around Râma and help him defeat the … Read more

BÂLI – Great Monkey King Killed by Sri Rama

Bâli’s myth is nested within a number of interlocking myths. His part in the story of Râma and Sîtâ is mostly negative, as Râma has to kill him. But this is because he has turned from the very practices that made him a great king. He had a divine birth, one of miracle and magic. … Read more

ARAYANNA – The Heavenly Swans (Hamsa)

The arayanna were described as having a heavenly abode on Mânasasaras, one of the Himâlayas. Ara denoted royalty. The swans did not like rain, so they came to earth when it rained in their heavenly abode and returned as soon as rain began on earth. Their parentage was traced to Kas´yâpa by his wife Tâmrâ … Read more

ANANTA – The Celestial Snake of Vishnu

A celestial snake. Ananta literally means “without end,” “infinite.” It was a descriptive term used of Vishnu and other gods. It was also used as a name of Vishnu’s serpent. Ananta was the giant serpent that floated upon the Milky Ocean and formed the bed for Vishnu as he slept during the involution of the … Read more

AIRÂVATA – Celestial Elephant King, Vehicle of Indra

Airâvata was the celestial elephant-king and the vehicle of Indra. Airâvata was popularly known as the white elephant with wings. He was a descendant of the lineage of the sage Kas´yapa. Airâvata came from a maternal line (Kas´yapa’s wife Krodhâvasâ, their daughter Bhadramatâ, her daughter Irâvatî, and then Airâvata). Such parentage would certainly explain how … Read more