Mahabharata mentions the Timingila and Makara as being deep within the ocean, along with other huge sea creatures:

timingilah kacchapasca tatha timi timingilah
makarascatra drsyante jale magna ivadrayah

“There were seen Timingilas, tortoises, Timi-timingilas and Makaras, that were like great rocks submerged in the water.” (Mahabharata, Vana Parva. 168.3)

Here what does the Makara mean?

Are these type of Sea creatures mentioned in scriptures like Mahabharata and Ramayana?

  • 2
    i like to think that the very word dinosaur has 'asur' in it
    – ram
    Aug 1, 2017 at 3:36
  • The title makes the question off-topic as you already know, scientific speculation is off-topic. A question which asked the mention of dinosaurs in scriptures is closed as off-topic already. You may modify the question and body. If you want to know only the interpretation of the word Makara, then make it clear so that the question remains on-topic. Aug 1, 2017 at 3:54
  • @SreeCharan Oh you mean only questions related to Dinosaurs are scientific speculation (Off-topic)? In our group there are lot of question under same category, did you check those? No offense I'm curious to know about off topic questions category
    – CR241
    Aug 1, 2017 at 4:02
  • No, not the questions about dinosaurs. The questions which ask for scientific speculation is not allowed. There is a confusion between the verification of scientific facts in the Vedas or puranas is on-topic or off-topic. Here is the on-topic page of our site. Related meta posts are also linked to the reasons. Hope you will get some more clearer idea on this topic. :) Aug 1, 2017 at 4:09
  • Looked up a bunch of things, but can't be bothered to go back to each one spending over an hour to compile quotes and formatte them in a nice way just for a few internet points, so I'll answer here. Makara means crocodile, timi means whale, timingila means whale-eater. Because of the dangers associated with these, people probably rarely got a good look at them, which is why some depictions are more fantastic than others. Apr 29, 2021 at 11:35

4 Answers 4


Makara means a crocodile or a shark. It might also mean a giant mythical being which carries Ganga devi. Also it is a constellation i nastrology which is the shape of a crocodile. Hence the name.

The word "Makara" is not only used in the Itihasa Mahabharata, it is used in Ramayana several times to indicate crocodiles and sharks.

तन् नक्र मकर आकीर्णम् तिमिम्गिल झष आकुलम् |
वायु वेग समाधूतम् पन्नगैर् इव सागरम् || ५-९-७

That building surrounded by the wives of Ravana, by demonesses, and princesses brought by strength, was like an ocean filled with crocodiles, big fishes, sharks and other fishes, moved by the speed of wind, and together with serpents.

Here, nakra can also mean an alligator or a crocodile (According to Monier- williams dictionary 1899).

In the Yuddhakanda chapter 21 where Sri Rama aims Brahmastra towards the ocean god, makara is mentioned.

अद्य मद् बाण निर्भिन्नैर् मकरैर् मकर आलयम् |
निरुद्ध तोयम् सौमित्रे प्लवद्भिः पश्य सर्वतः || ६-२१-१७ (6.21.17)

"O, Lakshmana! Behold now this ocean, having its water made suffocated soon with its crocodiles floated on all sides and broken asunder by my arrows".

Sometimes this is identified with a shark. In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says, He is the shark among the fishes.

pavanaḥ pavatām asmi rāmaḥ śastra-bhṛtām aham
jhaṣāṇāṁ makaraś cāsmi srotasām asmi jāhnavī

Of moving things, I am the wind. Among warriors I am Rama; among fishes, I am the shark, and amongst rivers, I am Ganga.

Sometimes Makara is identified as a mythological creature which is the vehicle of Ganga devi.

In addition to Makara, other creatures like Timi, Timingala, Jhasha, Śiśumāra are also mentioned. Jhasha, Timi, Timingala are already mentioned in the question. Jhasha is a fish. Timi is a type of fabulous fish like a whale. These type of fishes are mentioned in Harivamsa too. Timingala is a huge whale.

Śiśumāra is a porpoise which is the carrier of Varuna, the sea god. This is mentioned in the Vamana Purana chapter 9

रूद्र कर्णम्लोद्भातः श्यामो जलधिसंज्ञकमः |
शिशुमारो दिव्यगतिः वाहनं वरुणस्य चा ||16||

Śiśumāra called jaladhi is the carriage of Varuna. It was originated from the ear wax of Rudra. It has dark complexion and divine speed.

Some Rakshasa soldiers rode on these porpoises. There is a mention of it in the Uttara Kanda of Ramayana.

And all the Rakshasas went covering the sky, some on asses, some on camels, some on horses, some on quick-coursing porpoises and some on huge serpents. And beholding Ravana proceed, hundreds of Daityas, inimical to the celestials, followed him. Having arrived at the city of Madhu and entered there the ten-necked demon did not behold Madhu but espied his sister.

When we take the context of the Mahabharata verse you quoted, the word Makara can mean a crocodile or a shark.

  • Timingala might be Megaladon.
    – Pinakin
    Aug 6, 2017 at 15:12
  • Timingala means a whale. A large whale. This word is used in other languages besides Sanskrit also. Aug 7, 2017 at 2:29
  • Then blue whale as it is the biggest whale.
    – Pinakin
    Aug 7, 2017 at 12:44
  • Does a good job providing quotes, but those quotes do not justify particular translations. I can see that the translator used those words, but not WHY they used those words. When the same word can be used for such objectively different things, we need to establish why one particular translation should be chosen over another. For example, is it a catchall term for "large, fierce ocean beast," and thus can mean any of those things? Does it mean different things in different contexts? Does it mean one particular creature, real or mythical, and the other translators were wrong? Apr 29, 2021 at 11:06

Arjuna continued, ' -------------------- And like unto flowing cliffs were seen on it heaving billows, now meeting together and now rolling away. And there (were seen) all around barks by thousands filled with gems. And there were seen timingilas and tortoises and makaras like unto rock submerged in water.

Makara is the word which is used to identify crocodile, shark, dolphin, etc. It doesn't mean dinosaur. Here in this verse of Bhagavad Gita, Makara is translated as shark.

Of purifiers I am the wind, of the wielders of weapons I am Rāma, of aquatics I am the shark, and of flowing rivers I am the Ganges.---BG 10.31

  • 1
    "Regarding dinosaurs, I don't think they are real creatures." Really? What do you think of all the dinosaur fossils, skeletons, etc. then? Aug 1, 2017 at 4:47
  • @Ajay FYI: List of Indian dinosaurs. When you get a chance, please visit Indroda Dinosaur and Fossil Park in Gujarat. Aug 1, 2017 at 14:38
  • @Ajay "debunked by many websites" - which websites? debunked how? what about this website? Aug 1, 2017 at 16:34
  • @Ajay Since now question doesn't say anything about Dinosaurs, you can remove it. Conversation is going offtopic.
    – The Destroyer
    Aug 1, 2017 at 16:39
  • @Ajay Maybe you meant this which seems to be run by a Christian anti-evolution group (christiansagainstdinosaurs.com)? How about visiting some Science museums (or the fossil park I linked above) and checking out for yourself? Aug 1, 2017 at 16:39

Makara is considered to be a combination of terrestrial and aquatic animals. In our scriptures there is quite a lot of mentions on makara.

Makara, is also shown as carrier of Ganga, the river and also of the sea god Varuna. Kamadeva or Manmadha (Cupid)’s flag is called makara-dhwaja, a flag having the Makara drawn on it.

In Bhagavata Purana, Makaras and Timingila are described as predators, attacking Markandeya Rishi

ksut-trt-parito makarais timingilair upadruto vici-nabhasvatahatah tamasy apare patito bhraman diso na veda kham gam ca parisramesitah

There is a lot of information about Makara in the following link.


Just to make a small post, i won't put other makara information given on the scriptures. This has been done by other answerers.

When Hanuman sat lanka on fire by his tail, he dipped into a river to relax. While he was in the river,a drop of his perspiration fell into the water and was later consumed by an aquatic animal. The reptile then got fertilized and later Hanuman's son Makardhwaja was born.

If you understand hindi then you can study more about it in the following link



Besides above information, the word makara also means Capricorn zodiac sign. In yoga, there is an asan called makara asana which means crocodile pose.

In yoga, we have two kinds of bodies, one is the physical and tangible body and another is the energetic and subtle body. Along the midline of the subtle body – within the spine – lie seven subtle energy centres, the chakras. There are seven main chakras.

The second chakra or the SVADHISHTHANA CHAKRA has a circle that represents the element water, is to be colored white. The crescent inside the circle is associated with the moon and so it is colored silver.

In the image shown below, the crocodile (rather makara) represents sexual vigor>

The source for above information can be found below. https://en.oum.ru/literature/yoga/chakras-energy-centers-of-transformation-harish-johari/?sphrase_id=1692571

enter image description here

For some additional info, Makara can also be seen in many other different cultures. Below is an image where multiheaded naga is coming out of a makara's mouth.

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A lot of different makara pictures and information can be found in the book Way of the Ancient Healer: Sacred Teachings from the Philippine Ancestral Traditions

This book has a lot of information about makara, makara with respect to hinduism and makara on different cultures.


Makara is the Sanskrit word for crocodile / alligator. Giant crocodiles existed in pre-historic times. With their snouts just above the water they could be mistaken for submerged rocks as they stay immobile for hours on end. Makara is the mount (Vahana) of both Ganga and sea god Varuna.

Timingilaas are giant whales like blue whale, etc. The Tamil word for whales is 'Timingalams'.

Timi refers to other big whales maybe narwhals / killer whales, etc.

All are sea dwellers and aquatic creatures.


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