Mythology: The Sea Dragon Makara

Mythology: The Sea Dragon Makara

Makara, meaning 'sea dragon' in Sanskrit, is a mythical creature in both Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Makara can be found depicted in paintings and sculptures across India, Nepal, Burma, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, China, Vietnam and Japan.

Makara takes the form of a mystical creature with the head of a crocodile (the power of the water element), horns of a goat (symbolising a spiritual awakening), the body of a snake and an antelope (symbolising a rebirth and pure heart), the tail of a fish or peacock (symbolising the higher self) and the feet of a panther (symbolising boldness).

In India, Makara is said to be a Vahana (a vehicle) for both the Goddess of the River Ganges and the God of the sea, called Ganga-devi and Varuna. In Hindu astrology, the Makara is also the 10th zodiac sign representing Capricorns.

In ancient times, the river was a means of transport and the locals always feared the unknown creatures lurking below their boats. It was believed that Makara could protect them against these unknown creatures, and so Makara was carved into the heads of boats and on oars, as well as gracing the gates on the entrances to temples around India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The Makara evolved into a gate keeper and protector. A lion often accompanies Makara in Shiva temples across India as they are said to make a fierce pair.

With Makara possessing such mystical and protective powers, who wouldn't want to believe in dragons?