Many cultures viewed the Dragon as a benevolent being, especially in the East where they held the belief that mighty Dragons once ruled the rivers, lakes, seas and skies. Dragons were well respected and even worshipped, especially in the agrarian settlements, for the welfare of men depended on the kindness of these supreme entities. The quantity of folklore that was spanned from their rich imagination has delighted generations of adults and children.
In ancient times it was the province of the immortals to intercede on behalf of humanity with the raw power of nature symbolized by the Water Dragon.
A folk tale: Dragon Taming Lohan
Once upon a time in ancient India the people of a small kingdom, being incited by a demon, went on a rampage against the Buddhists and their monasteries. In the mayhem of destruction, some even stooped to steal the Buddhist sutras.
The Dragon King of the undersea, outraged by the unruly behaviour of these humans, punished them all, the innocent as well as the guilty, by flooding their entire kingdom. As he deemed them most unworthy of benefiting from the wisdom within the holy writings, he took custody of the sutras and stored them in his palace.
In time the repentant people, having suffered so long, wanted the sutras back but nothing would sway the Dragon King’s resolve. It took an extraordinary being, Nantimitolo, to subdue the dragon guard and restore the sutras back to earth. Hence he is became a Buddhist immortal: the Dragon Taming Lohan.
(Here’s an interesting fact: In China at the end of the ninth century the Buddhist faith had suffered greatly, being subjugated to great persecution under the reign of Emperor Tang Wuzhong who preferred Taosm. A cult was born, out of this staunch resistance which incorporated the Lohan as the powerful guardians of the Buddhist faith. The last two additions, the Taming Dragon and Taming Tiger Lohan were, in fact, thinly disguised swipes against the thriving Taoism of the time.
The Taming Dragon Lohan’s Sanskrit name is Nantimitolo. Nanti stands for happy and mitolo, a friend. Together the name means happy friend. He is called the Taming Dragon Lohan for his brave act of vanquishing the ferocious dragon. There is a charming verse describes him thus:
“In the hands are the spiritual pearl and the holy bowl,
Endowed with power that knows no bounds,
Full of valour, vigour and awe-inspiring dignity,
He succeeds in vanquishing the ferocious dragon.”)
In modern times we are still entertained by accounts of Dragons through varied visual and literary means but we have also learned to harness falling water, the most powerful of the dwelling places of Dragons, to benefit mankind in yet another way: for what would man do today without the use of electricity?
These pictures tell the story of one such mighty waterfall, its might and how it has been tamed to benefit men: