Ancient Indian Folk Religion as Seen through the Symbolism of the Naga

Bloss, Lowell W.

     The aim of this study is to explore folk religion in ancient India through the cult and symbols that surround the snake-like deity known as the naga. In using the naga as a tool to reflect the ancient Indian folk perspective, specific emphasis will be placed on the influence of the folk world-view upon the concept of Indian kingship and the concept of the early Buddha, two themes that have not often been studied from the folk level of religion. The first task of such an approach [is] to define the terminology and general perspective that informs this work. The study . . . then turn[s] to an analysis of the symbolism of the naga, the interaction of the naga and the king and the Buddha, and . . . conclude[s] with a summation of the material, relating these findings to a contemporary folk perspective. Each chapter [possesses] two interrelated themes. The material surrounding the naga and his link with various traditions [is] first presented, followed by an analysis of the folk religiosity that might be seen through the naga's symbolism.

Joseph Kitagawa