Mahanaga, aka: Mahānāga; 5 Definition(s)
Mahanaga means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.
Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)
Mahānāga (महानाग) is a Sanskrit word referring to “great serpents”, a class of deities. Acording to the Nāṭyaśāstra 1.88-93, when Brahmā, Indra and all other gods went to inspect the playhouse (nāṭyamaṇḍapa) designed by Viśvakarmā, he assigned different deities for the protection of the playhouse itself, as well as for the objects relating to dramatic performance (prayoga).
As such, Brahmā assigned the Mahānāgas (eg., Śeṣa, Vāsukī and Takṣaka) to the fifth section (joint/knot, parva) of the Jarjara (Indra’s banner staf). The protection of the playhouse was enacted because of the jealous Vighnas (malevolent spirits), who began to create terror for the actors.Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra
Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (śāstra) of performing arts, (nāṭya, e.g., theatrics, drama, dance, music), as well as the name of a Sanskrit work dealing with these subjects. It also teaches the rules for composing dramatic plays (nataka) and poetic works (kavya).
Purana and Itihasa (epic history)
Mahānāga (महानाग) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.31.11, I.35) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Mahānāga) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.Source: JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.
Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)
1. Mahanaga Thera. The son of Madhuvasettha of Saketa. While the Buddha was at Anjanavana, Mahanaga saw the wonder wrought by Gavampati and entered the Order under him, attaining to arahantship in due course.
In the past he had given a dadima (pomegranate) fruit to Kakusandha Buddha (ThagA.i.442f).
Several verses uttered by him in admonition of the Chabbaggiya, because of their failure to show regard for their co religionists, are found in the Theragatha. Thag.vss.387-92.
2. Mahanaga. Son of Mutasiva and viceroy of Devanampiyatissa. His wife was Anula, for whose ordination Sanghamitta came over from Jambudipa (Mhv.xiv.56; Dpv.xi.6; xvii.75). His second wife was a foolish woman who tried to poison him in order to get the throne for her son. While he was building the Taraccha tank, she sent him some mangoes, the top one of which, intended for him, was poisoned. But it was her son who ate the mango and died. Mahanaga thereupon went to Rohana, where he founded the dynasty of that name at Mahagama. His son was Yatthalayaka Tissa. Mahanaga built the Nagamaha vihara and the Uddhakandara vihara. Mhv.xxii.2ff.
3. Mahanaga. A resident of Nitthulavitthika in Girijanapada. He was the father of Gothaimbara. Mhv.xxiii.49.
4. Mahanaga. Son of Vattagamani. He later came to be known as Coranaga. Mhv.xxxiii.45.
5. Mahanaga. See Mahadathika Mahanaga.
6. Mahanaga Thera. Incumbent of Bhutarama. As a mark of favour, Kanitthatissa built for him the Ratanapasada at Abhayagiri vihara. Mhv.xxxvi.7.
7. Mahanaga Thera. Incumbent of Samudda vihara. He was among those who accepted the gift of a meal by Prince Saliya, in his birth as a blacksmith. MT. 606.
8. Mahanaga Thera. Incumbent of Kalavallimandapa. He was among those who accepted the meal given by Saliya in his previous birth (MT. 606). He was one of the last to attain arahantship among those who left the world with the Bodhisatta in various births (J.iv.490). He did not sleep for seven years, after which he practised continual meditation for sixteen years, becoming an arahant at the end of that time. SNA.i.56; MA.i.209; SA.iii.155.
His fame was great, and there is a story of a brahmin who came all the way from Pataliputta to Kalavallimandapa in Rohana to visit him. The brahmin entered the Order under him and became an arahant (AA.i.384). Once, while Mahanaga was begging alms at Nakulanagara, he saw a nun and offered her a meal. As she had no bowl, he gave her his, with the food ready in it. After she had eaten and washed the bowl, she gave it back to him saying, Henceforth there will be no fatigue for you when begging for alms. Thereafter the Elder was never given alms worth less than a kahapana. The nun was an arahant. DhSA.399.
9. Mahanaga Thera.Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names
Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).
Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)
Mahānāga (महानाग) is a title given to the Bhikṣus that accompanied the Buddha when he went to Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata at Rājagṛha according to Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter VI). Accordingly, “Mahat means great, na indicates negation and agha means sin. The Arhats are said to be “without sin” because they have cut through the passions (kleśa)... Furthermore, Nāga means snake or elephant. Among the innumerable other Arhats, these five thousand Arhats are extremely powerful; this is why they are compared to a snake and an elephant. In the water, the snake is very strong; on earth, the elephant is very strong”.Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.
Languages of India and abroad
mahānāga : (m.) a big elephant.Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary
Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.
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Search found 17 books and stories containing Mahanaga or Mahānāga. You can also click to the full overview containing English textual excerpts. Below are direct links for the most relevant articles:
List of Mahabharata people and places (by Laxman Burdak)
The Great Chronicle of Buddhas (by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw)
The Story of Sāmaṇera Sangharakkhita < [Chapter 40 - The Buddha Declared the Seven Factors of Non-Decline for Rulers]
Apadana commentary (Atthakatha) (by U Lu Pe Win)
Commentary on Biography of the thera Soṇakoḷivisa < [Chapter 5 - Upālivagga (section on Upāli)]
Introduction (commentary on the first stanza) < [Commentary on biography of Silent Buddhas (Paccekabuddha)]
Commentary on the biography of the the thera Sāriputta < [Chapter 1 - Buddhavagga (Buddha section)]
The Mahavamsa (by Wilhelm Geiger)
Vinaya Pitaka (1): The Analysis of Monks’ Rules (Bhikkhu-vibhanga) (by I. B. Horner)
The Padma Purana (by N.A. Deshpande)
Chapter 6 - Birth of Devas, Daityas, Birds and Serpents etc. < [Section 1 - Sṛṣṭi-khaṇḍa (section on creation)]