Three Mystical Dragons, Protectors of the Universe

The three Magic Dragons, namely Antaboga, Basuki, and Taksaka, were born from the eggs of the Goddess Kadru in Indonesian Hindu belief as written in the Mahabharata book, especially Adi Parwa. The competition between Dewi Winata and Dewi Kadru, the curse of Sang Aruna, and the appearance of Sang Garuda became key elements in their life journey. As the protector of his mother, the Garuda was involved in a fight and agreement with the Nagas and accepted the offer of God Vishnu and God Indra. The Tiga Naga Sakti also interacts with Mahabharata figures and is revered in holy places in the archipelago. They are considered to support the universe with their respective roles in Heaven, Earth, and Patala.

May 10, 2024 - 17:51
Jan 13, 2024 - 13:07
Three Mystical Dragons, Protectors of the Universe
Three Mystical Dragons Statues, Goa Raja (Source: Private Collections)

Nusantara Hindu beliefs recognize mystical creatures that are similar to snakes and can fly, they are known as Dragons. In Indonesia itself, several figures are included in the dragon race category, some of the famous figures are Antaboga, Basuki, and Taksaka. However, there is an interesting story behind their fame in various stories in Indonesia.

The stories of the "Three Mystical Dragons" are not told in just one source, there are many sources that support them. One source is the epic Mahabharata, specifically the first Parwa of this book, Adi Parwa. Adi Parwa tells many stories and the flow of the writing is not sequential because it contains a conversation between Bagawan Byasa (the author of the Mahabharata) and King Janamejaya who was the direct son of King Parikshit, King of Hastinapura.

Long ago in a distant universe, Rsi Kahsyapa gifted eggs to his two wives, Goddess Winata and Goddess Kadru. Goddess Kadru was awarded a thousand eggs and Goddess Winata was only awarded two eggs. Goddess Winata and Goddess Kadru are known to often experience competition between one another, even when bestowing this egg. When the eggs hatch, the contents inside will become their children.

Five hundred years is the time it takes for Goddess Kadru's thousand eggs to hatch. A thousand eggs of the Goddess Kadru hatched and gave birth to snake-like monsters capable of emitting fire breath, they were called Dragons. The thousands of dragons were not born without any power, but they were given supernatural powers capable of causing natural disasters. The three of them, Antaboga, Basuki, and Taksaka, were also born at that time. Among the thousand dragons, the “Three Mystical Dragons” are the strongest, they are even respected among their brothers.

Three Mystical Dragons Statues, Goa Raja (Souce: Private Collections)

Knowing that Goddess Kadru's eggs had hatched, Goddess Winata's jealousy began to increase. Goddess Winata's two eggs have not hatched after a long time. Until in the end, her jealousy escalated into annoyance. She vented her frustration by forcefully hatching one of her eggs. The figure inside came out in a premature form, his name was Aruna. Because he was in so much pain from his birth, Aruna cursed his mother, Goddess Winata. The curse said, "You, Goddess Winata, will be a slave for a long time." Regretting this, Goddess Winata was patient and waited for the next egg to hatch.

Because Goddess Kadru and Goddess Winata often experienced competition, one day the two of them were actually in a fight which ended in Goddess Winata's defeat. Her defeat resulted in Aruna's curse coming true. Goddess Kadru made Goddess Winata a slave to serve her thousand children who were Nagas.

A long time passed, and Goddess Winata continued to serve thousands of Dragons as a slave. Finally, Goddess Winata's second egg hatched, and the figure inside came out. The figure was a birdman who was mighty and gave off dazzling light because of his supernatural powers, he was the Garuda. With his supernatural powers, Garuda immediately knew that his mother, Dewi Winata, was in trouble. He rushed towards the residence of the Dragons with the speed he had.

Arriving at the residence of the Nagas, Garuda immediately ravaged the place. He fought a thousand dragons at once and managed to keep up with them. However, the fight did not result in a winner, but rather a draw. The fight was pitiful because Antaboga, Basuki, and Taksaka were able to match Garuda's strength even though many of their 997 brothers had lost. The three of them thought of a strategy to prevent the fight from continuing. They made a deal, an agreement to exchange Goddess Winata for Tirta Amertha. Without further ado, Garuda agreed, and he immediately rushed to Vishnu Loka.

Wisnu Loka, there was a conversation between Lord Vishnu and Garuda. Seeing Garuda's fortitude and courage, Lord Vishnu was willing to give Tirta Amertha to Garuda, but on one condition. The Garuda must want to be the vehicle of Lord Vishnu forever. Without further ado, Garuda accepted the offer, at that moment Garuda became the vehicle of Lord Vishnu and became an immortal being. Tirta Amertha was taken and he immediately returned to the residence of the Nagas.

It turned out that during Garuda's journey, he had been spied on by God Indra. On the way back, God Indra told the Garuda to stop. He asked that the Tirta Amertha brought by Garuda be handed over to him. He also asked the Garuda to call the Dragons to God Indra if they wanted Tirta Amertha. The Garuda could only agree to the King of Nirvana's request, he immediately rushed to summon the Dragons.

God Indra was waiting for the Nagas in a field filled with reed grass. When the Dragons appeared before God Indra, he immediately played a prank on the Dragons by drinking a little of Tirta Amertha and spilling the rest on the reed grass. The Dragons, blinded by greed, immediately grabbed the reeds. They were in pain until their tongues split into two, but they still gained immortality. On the other hand, the Garuda also succeeded in saving his mother, Goddess Winata.

Apart from the stories outlined in Adi Parwa, Mahabharata, there are also several Parwa that tell the interactions of the Nagas with several figures in the Mahabharata. The first story is the story of the burning of the cardboard palace belonging to the Pandavas. When the Pandavas and their mother, Kunti, had difficulty finding a way out amidst the flames, Antaboga disguised himself as a Javanese mongoose and helped them get out to a safe place.

Then, there is also the story about the formation of the Indraprastha kingdom. Before it was built, the place was a forest called the Kandava forest, where the Takshaka lived. At that time there was a fight between God Indra and Arjuna and Arjuna was assisted by God Agni. At that time, the fire of the god Agni caused the Kandava forest to burn down, causing Takshaka's entire family to burn down and leaving only him alone. In the end, God Indra sent down rain and cleared the fire from the forest. But, the rice had become porridge, and the Takshaka had lost all his wealth and family. To calm his heart, the Takshaka was given a place in Heaven, so that he would not be interfered with by life on Earth. However, he had sworn an oath that one day he would be the one to end the Pandava lineage.

The Takshaka's oath was indeed fulfilled because of Parikesit's curse. Parikesit was cursed to die from a snake bite and the person who gave Parikesit the poisonous bite was none other than Taksaka himself. This caused the anger of Janamejaya, Parikesit's son, to rise. He immediately made a fire sacrifice which caused many snakes in the world to enter the flames. The ceremony was successfully stopped at the request of a child because his mother was a dragon.

Payogan Dang Hyang Sidhi Mantra, Goa Raja (Souce: Private Collections)

Many other silent witnesses, apart from the Mahabharata epic, are proof of the existence of the "Three Mystical Dragons". In the archipelago itself (especially in Bali) there are Goa Raja Temple and Goa Lawah Temple. Goa Raja Temple itself is believed to be the place where Dang Hyang Sidhi Mantra met with the Dragon Basuki in the story of the formation of the Bali Strait. Apart from that, Goa Lawah is a silent witness as a direct canal leading to Goa Raja itself.

The Three Mystical Dragons themselves occupy three levels in the universe, people believe they are the protectors of this universe. The Taksaka exists and protects Heaven, the Antaboga is believed to be the god who protects nature on Earth, and the Basuki is believed to be the ruler of the Patala world. These three places are believed to be the support of the universe, and that is why they are called the Protectors of the Universe.

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