From the Jacket:
Nagas, the snake-worshipping communities of Ancient India occupy an important place in Indian history. To a student of Indian history and the common man a like, it appears as if there lay a complete veneer of brief in the divinity of the Nagas and the Naga racial blood over the length and breadth of India. From Kashmir, Tibet, or Nepal to the Malabar coast in the South; From Gujarat to Bengal and Assam; from Sri Lanka to Java, Sumatra and Cambodia, there are very few places indeed where we do not meet frequently with individual or local names of which the word 'Naga' forms a part, or where the ruling dynasty is not believed sometimes to have been associated with Naga clan. The subject is interesting, for, on deeper investigation, it is found that intricacies associated with Naga problem in Indian History, particularly as a tribe and as a cult, are too many. It is precisely for this reason that several distinguished scholars have approached the problem differently. A critical history of the Nagas based on reliable evidences and presented in chronological order is the need of the hour and the present book is an attempt to fulfill this need.
The history of the Nagas bristles with controversial problems, particularly relating to its origin, different ruling dynasties, their mutual relationship and relation with contemporary powers. Based on evidences supplied by archaeological and literary sources and accounts of the foreign travelers and writers, discussions on all problems have been attempt. All efforts have been made to draw attention on each controversial issue with a view to enable the reader to form his own opinion. The work is limited within the time frame of the earliest times to c. 15th century AD.
About the Author:
Dr. R.K. Sharma (b. 1932), Professor and Head of the Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archeology and Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Jabalpur, retired in 1992. His contributions to the cause of Indian Archeology in general and Archeology Madhya Pradesh in particular are widely acclaimed.
His prestigious publications include: Madhya Pradesh Ke Puratattva Ka Sandarbha Granth (Bhopal, 1974); The Temple of Chaunsatha Yogini at Bheraghat (Delhi, 1978); Art of Paramaras of Malwa (Ed.) (Delhi, 1979); The Kalachuris and their Times (Delhi, 1980); Archaeology of Bhopal Region (Delhi, 1980); Indian Archaeology - New Perspectives (Ed.) (Delhi, 1982); Rock-Art of India (Ed.) (Delhi, 1983); Vajapeya-Essays on Evolution of Indian Art and Culture (Prof. K.D. Bajpai Fel. Vol.) (Ed.) (Delhi, 1987); Studies in Shell Script (Ed.) (Delhi, 1990); Art of Kalachuris (Ed.) (Bhopal, 1991); Excavations at Kakrehta (Delhi, 1992); Krsna Smriti (Prof. K.D. Bajapai Comm. Vol.) (Ed.) (Delhi, 1995); Prehistoric Art in India (Dr. S.K Pandey Fel. Vol.) (Ed.) (Delhi, 1996); Kalachuri: rajvansh Aur Unka Yug, 2 vols. (Ed.) (Delhi, 1998); Encyclopaedia of Art, Archaeology and Literature in Central India, 2 vols. (Delhi, 1998); Jaina Philosophy, Art & Science in Indian Culture(Delhi, 2002); Tribal History of Central India, 3 vols. (Delhi, 2002); Agnihotra: Studies in Indic Traditions (Delhi, 2003); Archaeological Excavations in Central India, (Delhi, 2003) and Revealing India's Past (Prof. A.M. Shastri Commemoration Volume) (Ed.) (Delhi, 2005). A series of other publications are in process.
Nagas, the snake-worshipping non-Aryan tribe of Ancient India occupy an
important place in Indian history. To a student of Indian history, it appears
as if there lay a complete veneer of belief in the divinity of the Nagas and of
the Naga racial blood over the length and breadth of India. From Kashmir,
Tibet or Nepal to the Malabar Coast in the South; from Gujarat to Bengal and
Assam; from Sri Lanka to Java, Sumatra and Cambodia, there are very few
places indeed where we do not meet frequently with individual or local
names of which the word 'Naga' forms a part, or where the ruling dynasty is
not believed sometimes to have been associated with a Naga clan. The subject,
however, is difficult as it is interesting, for, on deeper investigation, it is
found that intricacies associated with Naga problem in Indian history are too
many. It is precisely for this reason that distinguished scholars like James
Fergusson, H. Oldenberg, E.W. Hopkins, Kern, Oldham, M. Winternitz,
Prazyluski, Monier Williams, James Hastings, J.Ph. Vogel, K.P. Jayaswal,
T.V. Mahalingam, etc have worked on a few of the varied aspects of the Naga
history and cult. Their works are well known. Within past few decades,
works like Dr. P.K. Maity's Historical Studies in the Cult of Manasa (Calcutta,
1966), Dr. S.N. Rajaguru's Naga Itihasa (in Oriya), (Bhubaneswar, 1958), H.L.
Kosare's Prachin Bharatatil Naga (in Marathi) (Nagpur, 1989), Dr. Naval Viyogi's
Niiga the Ancient Rulers of India - their Origin and History (Delhi, 2002), Dr. S.c.
Panda's Naga Cult in Orissa (Delhi, 1986), etc along with sporadic research
papers published in different journals have engaged attention of the learned
world. A peep into these investigations would reveal that each one of the
scholars mentioned above has approached the Naga history or the cult from
one or the other specific point of view only. A systematic critical history of
the Nagas based on reliable evidences and presented in chronological order
is the need of the hour and it is precisely to fulfil this need that the present
study has been taken up.
The history of each Naga dynasty bristles with controversial problems,
particularly relating to its origin, the different houses, their mutual relationship
and relations with the contemporary powers. Based on evidences supplied
by archaeological and literary sources and accounts of the foreign travellers
and writers, discussion on all the problems has been attempted. All efforts
have been made to draw attention on each controversial issue with a view to
enable the reader to form his own opinion. The work is limited with the time
frame bracketed within the earliest times to c. 15th century AD.
The study has been planned as under:
Chapter I entitled 'Nagas: The Tribe and the Cult' is an attempt to locate
the tribe and trace the origin and antiquity of the cult of serpent worship. It
has been suggested that the Nagas appear to have been a totemistic group of
people with serpent as their totem. As for the serpent worship, evidences
suggest that "Serpent worship in India had nothing to do with the serpent
worship either of the non-Aryans or the aborigines of the country and had an
independent origin and independent development." It was indigenous and
Aryan in Origin.
An important aspect of the history of the Nagas is its traditional history,
the historical value of which cannot be denied. The literary works from the
post-Vedic Period onwards, chiefly the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Puranas,
the Jaina literature the Buddhist literature supply accounts of the principal
Nagarajas and their contribution to the history of India. A critical account of
the traditional history of the Nagas has been attempted in Chapter II.
That Magadha was a seat of power of the Nagas from the times of the
epics till the rise of the Nandas is the subject matter of discussion in Chapter
III entitled 'The Nagas of Magadha'. This is followed by a period of oblivion
in the history of the Nagas till we find them ruling in the region of Vidisha-
Padmavati-Kantipuri and Mathura during the period c. 1st century BC to AD
350. Their history, mainly based on the Puranas and the latest numismatic
evidences has been critically discussed in Chapter IV.
An independent Chapter V is devoted to the Bharasiva Nagas who played
a dominant role in driving the Kusanas out of the country. Were the Bharasivas
really paramount sovereigns? Were they solely responsible for the overthrow
of the Kusanas? All these and hotly debated allied issued have been made
subject of critical discussion in this chapter.
The next chapter provides an account of the Nagas in the "History of
Kashmir". The contributions of the Karkota Naga dynasty finds a special
Between c. 8th and 15th century AD there was revival of the Naga power
in Bastar, Kawardha and Bhatgaon region of Central India. Most likely they
were successors of the Nagas of Vidisha-Padmavati-Kantipuri, whose revival
after their southward migration took place after a long interval of several
centuries. Chapter VII is devoted the history of these Naga dynasties.
An overview of the Naga association with Sri Lanka, South India, Deccan,
East India and Greater India has been attempted in Chapter VIII.
In summa rising the findings the concluding Chapter IX throws light on
the intricacies associated with the Naga problem in Indian history.
A select Bibliography and good number of plates follow the conclusion.
The author is grateful to the Indian Council of Historical Research, New
Delhi, for providing Senior Fellowship to him for two years to complete
major portion of this work which formed its project entitled 'Nagas of North
India: A Political Study.' Thanks are also due to Shri Rajendra Tiwari, Chairman,
Mahakoshal Shiksha Prasar Samiti, Jabalpur; Dr. Ashutosh Srivastava, Secretary,
Mahakoshal Shiksha Prasar Samiti, Jabalpur and Smt. Abda Firdausi, Principal,
c.P. Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Jabalpur. All of them came to the rescue of the
author in providing necessary facilities in their institution to conduct this
project smoothly. With valuable and timely assistance given by
Dr. (Smt.) Rachna Mehrotra and Dr. Sanjay Mehrotra, it was possible to
present this work in a well-typed form and get-up within time limit. The
author is thankful to them. Also, it will be a failure on the part of the author
if he does not adequately thank his wife Smt. Sarla Sharma whose sustained
interest and ceaseless inspiration helped him to complete this work as early
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