Vasuki, aka: Vāsuki; 11 Definition(s)


Vasuki 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.

In Hinduism

Nāṭyaśāstra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Vāsuki (वासुकि) is the Sanskrit name for a deity to be worshipped during raṅgapūjā, according to the Nāṭyaśāstra 3.1-8. Accordingly, the master of the dramatic art who has been initiated for the purpose shall consecrate the playhouse after he has made obeisance (eg., to Vāsuki).

(Source): Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra
Nāṭyaśāstra book cover
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Nāṭyaśāstra (नाट्यशास्त्र, natya-shastra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition of performing arts, (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 (nāṭya) and poetic works (kāvya).


Vāsuki (वासुकि):—One of the Nāgas that dwell on the Niṣadha mountain, according to the Vāyu-purāṇa.

(Source): Google Books: Cultural History from the Vāyu Purāna

1a) Vāsuki (वासुकि).—A son of Kadru: a chieftain of the Nāgaloka. He was used as the rope in the amṛtamathana. Identified with Hari.1 A friend of Indra: the milkman of the Nāgas for milking the earth: moving with the sun for two months;2 in the Vaiḍūrya śālā of Lalitā;3 his aid to Tripurāri;4 an ear ornament of Śiva; shaken by Hiraṇyakaśipu: sports in Amarakaṇṭaka;5 heard the viṣṇu purāṇa from Dhṛtarāṣṭra the Nāga and narrated it to Vatsa.6

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa V. 24. 31; VIII. 6. 22 and ch. 7 (whole); XI. 16. 18; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 7. 32 and 444; 8. 13; 36. 15; IV. 9. 51, 56-9; Matsya-purāṇa 6. 39; 8. 7; Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 9. 77 and 84; 21. 21.
  • 2) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 17. 34; 20. 41; 23. 3; 36. 213; Viṣṇu-purāṇa II. 10. 3.
  • 3) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 20. 53; 33. 36.
  • 4) Matsya-purāṇa 114. 83; 126. 3; 133. 25 and 42.
  • 5) Ib. 154. 444; 163. 56; 188. 92; 193. 35; 249. 64.
  • 6) Viṣṇu-purāṇa VI. 8. 46.

1b) The Nāga presiding over the month of Madhu.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa XII. 11. 33.

1c) A son of Surasā and Kaśyapa and a King of the Nāgas; the hundred headed snake in Sutalam;1 with the sun in the spring.2

  • 1) Vāyu-purāṇa 50. 39; 70. 12.
  • 2) Ib. 52. 3.

1d) A Nāga living in the Niṣadha hill.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 46. 34; 62. 180; 69. 69.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purāṇa book cover
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The Purāṇas (पुराण, purana) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahāpurāṇas total over 400,000 ślokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

Kathā (narrative stories)

1) Vāsuki (वासुकि) is the name of a king of the Nāgas, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara chapter 6. The son of his brother, Kīrtisena, married Śrutārthā through the gāndharva marriage after seeing her bathe.

2) Vāsuki (वासुकि) is the name of the eldest brother of Udayana, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 11. Udayana is the King of Vatsa born to king Sahasrānīka and his wife Mṛgāvatī. Vāsuki is mentioed as having given, once upon a time, a melodious lute.

The Kathāsaritsāgara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentioning Vāsuki, is a famous Sanskrit epic story revolving around prince Naravāhanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the vidyādharas (celestial beings). The work is said to have been an adaptation of Guṇāḍhya’s Bṛhatkathā consisting of 100,000 verses, which in turn is part of a larger work containing 700,000 verses.


(Source): Wisdom Library: Kathāsaritsāgara

Vāsuki (वासुकि).—One of the eight kulas (‘families’) of nāgas mentioned by Soḍḍhala in his Udayasundarīkathā. Vāsuki, and other nāgas, reside in pātāla (the nether world) and can assume different forms at will. Their movement is unobstructed in the all the worlds and they appear beautiful, divine and strong.

The Udayasundarīkathā is a Sanskrit work in the campū style, narrating the story of the Nāga princess Udayasundarī and Malayavāhana, king of Pratiṣṭhāna. Soḍḍhala is a descendant of Kalāditya (Śilāditya’s brother) whom he praises as an incarnation of a gaṇa (an attendant of Śiva).

(Source): Wisdomlib Libary: Kathā

Vāsuki (वासुकि).—Name of a Nāga mentioned by Soḍḍhala.—Vāsuki is said to be the chief of the Pātāla region.

(Source): Shodhganga: A critical appreciation of soddhalas udayasundarikatha
Kathā book cover
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Kathās (कथा) are special kind of Sanskrit literature: they are a kind of a mix between Itihāsa (historical legends) and Mahākāvya (epic poetry). Some Kathās reflect socio-political instructions for the King while others remind the reader of the historical deeds of the Gods, sages and heroes.

Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Vāsuki (वासुकि) is the name of a nāga chief, presiding over Paratāla, according to the Parākhyatantra 5.44-45. Paratāla (also called Varatāla) refers to one of the seven pātālas (‘subterranean paradise’). The word pātāla in this tantra refers to subterranean paradises for seekers of otherworldly pleasures and each the seven pātālas is occupied by a regent of the daityas, nāgas and rākṣasas.

The Parākhyatantra is an old Śaiva-siddhānta tantra dating from before the 10th century.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Śaivism
Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

General definition (in Hinduism)

Vasuki is a giant snake, the king of all serpents. Some stories put the name of the king of serpents as Takshaka, who was the snake who was responsible for Parikshit's death.

The most famous story in which Vasuki appears is the incident of churning the ocean of milk to obtain Amrit. Vasuki was used as the rope with which mount meru was bound to churn the ocean. The strain caused him to exhale Alahala, the most potent venom in the universe. There was the danger that this poison could destroy all living beings, which was averted by Shiva who swallowed the poison, turning his throat blue and earning him the sobriquet - Nilakanta (blue-throated).

(Source): Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

Vasuki : King of the Nagas or serpents who live in Patala. He was used by the gods and Asuras for a coil round the mountain Mandara at the churning of the ocean.

(Source): WikiPedia: Hinduism

In Buddhism

Vajrayāna (Tibetan Buddhism)

Vāsuki (वासुकि).—Serpent deity (nāga) of the eastern cremation ground.—In the Śmaśānavidhi 5, Vāsuki is white, with a blue lotus on his hood. He makes the añjali, bowing before the lord before him.

(Source): Google Books: Vajrayogini

Vāsuki (वासुकि) is the name of a serpent (nāga) associated with Caṇḍogra: the eastern cremation ground (śmaśāna) according to the Vajravārāhī-sādhana by Umāpatideva as found in te Guhyasamayasādhanamālā. As a part of this sādhana, the practicioner is to visualize a suitable dwelling place for the goddess inside the circle of protection which takes the form of eight cremation grounds.

These nāga-kings (eg., Vāsuki) are variously known as nāgarāja, nāgeśa, nāgendra and bhujageśa and are depicted as wearing white ornaments according to Lūyīpāda’s Śmaśānavidhi. They have human tosos above their coiled snaketails and raised hoods above their heads. They each have their own color assigned and they bear a mark upon their raised hoods. They all make obeisance to the dikpati (protector) who is before them and are seated beneath the tree (vṛkṣa).

The Guhyasamayasādhanamālā by Umāptideva is a 12th century ritualistic manual including forty-six Buddhist tantric sādhanas. The term sādhana refers to “rites” for the contemplation of a divinity.

(Source): Wisdomlib Libary: Vajrayogini
Tibetan Buddhism book cover
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Tibetan Buddhism includes schools such as Nyingma, Kadampa, Kagyu and Gelug. Their primary canon of literature is divided in two broad categories: The Kangyur, which consists of Buddha’s words, and the Tengyur, which includes commentaries from various sources. Esotericism and tantra techniques (vajrayāna) are collected indepently.

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