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Naga Kingdom refers to the territory of a tribe called Nagas who were a group of hardy and warlike[1] people spread throughout India during far ancient history. They were also considered as one of the supernatural races like Kinnaras and Yakshas. There are many territories and cities known to be Naga clan adobes, Pathala, Airavata, Thakshasila, Nagpur, Ananthnag, Ananthpur, Thiruvananthapuram etc. are some of them. Also excerpts and archeological monuments are seen worldwide in ancient Roman, Egyptian, and Thai empires which says that the Naga dynasty(known as Nair, Nagare, Nakar, Naykar, Nagar, etc.) was spread in entire world. Two regions known as Pathala (Kerala) and Airavata mentioned in the extreme south and far north respectively were the most important territories in Naga Dynasty. Kerala once known as Patala[2](nether world) is considered as the adobe of Serpent Anantha, the indigenous inhabitation of Naga clan in South. It seems that the first settlement of this race in North is the Kashmir region. River Vitasta (Jhelum) in Kasmira is mentioned as the abode of Naga Takshaka. The city named after Takshaka, viz Takshasila (Taxila) is just to the west of this river. Places like Anantnag also is found in Kashmir. Ananta was the foremost among all the Nagas. Iravati River (Ravi) to the south of Kashmir could be the Indian territory of the Nagas called Airavatas. Their original abode could be the Airavata region mentioned in the far north.

The Sanskrit word Naga

The word Naga in the Sanskrit language means snake or serpent. It seems likely that the Naga people were a serpent-worshipping group who were later described as serpents themselves in ancient Indian literature. This transformation or identification was much like the Vanaras (forest-dwelling humans) turning unto monkeys in the later literature. The settlement habitat of the Naga Tribe (pronounced Naag), was near or around "water springs", which were shaped as serpent. AnantNag, land of infinite water springs (South Kashmir).

References in Mahabharata

Mahabharata epic begins with history of Nagas, in astonishing detail, spanning the initial chapters in the first book (Adi Parva). These chapters were distributed into three sub-volumes called Paushya, Pauloma and Astika. Since the first book is one of the latest parts of Mahabharata, it is assumed that during the last phases of Mahabharata taking its shape as an enormous epic, the Nagas were a dominant force in ancient India, especially in the north and north-west.

It is explicitly stated that, Mahabharata contains the history of Nagas or Uragas, along with that of Yakshas, Devas and the sages in the domain of Devas (Devarshis) at (1,1) the very first chapter of the first book.

Naga races

  • MBh (1,57)

Naga race in north-west India was almost exterminated by Janamejaya, the Kuru king in Arjuna's line, who conducted the massacre of Nagas at Takshasila. This massacre was stopped by Astika, a Brahmin whose mother was a Naga. The names of the principal Nagas known widely for their achievements, and slain by Janamejaya is mentioned at (1,57). They were described to be belonging to different Naga races:-

Vasuki’s Race' :- Kotisa, Manasa, Purna, Cala, Pala, Halmaka, Pichchala, Kaunapa, Cakra, Kalavega, Prakalana, Hiranyavahu, Carana, Kakshaka, and Kaladantaka.

Airavata's Race  :- Paravata, Parijata, Pandara, Harina, Krisa, Vihanga, Sarabha, Meda, Pramoda and Sauhatapana.

Takshaka's Race  :- Puchchandaka, Mandalaka, Pindasektri, Ravenaka; Uchochikha, Carava, Bhangas, Vilwatejas, Virohana; Sili, Salakara, Muka, Sukumara, Pravepana, Mudgara, Sisuroman, Suroman and Mahahanu. (Takshaka's son Aswasena is mentioned as belonging to the Airavata's race at (8,90). This could mean that Takshaka's race, was a branch of Airavata's race.)

Kauravya's Race  :- Aryaka, Kundala Veni, Veniskandha, Kumarka, Vahuka, Sringavera, Dhurtaka, Pratara and Astaka. (Kauravya's race is mentioned as a branch of Airavata's race at (1,216).

Dhritarashtra's Race :- Sankukarna, Pitharaka, Kuthara, Sukhana, and Shechaka; Purnangada, Purnamukha, Prahasa, Sakuni, Dari, Amahatha, Kumathaka, Sushena, Vyaya, Bhairava, Mundavedanga, Pisanga, Udraparaka, Rishabha, Vegavat, Pindaraka; Raktanga, Sarvasaranga, Samriddha, Patha and Vasaka; Varahaka, Viranaka, Suchitra, Chitravegika, Parasara, Tarunaka, Maniskandha and Aruni. (Dhritarashtra was Airavata's younger brother (1,3).)

Dhritarashtra, is also mentioned as a Gandharva (14,10). Nagas and Gandharvas could be the same race or related races. Nishadha mountain is mentioned as a common habitation of Nagas and Gandharvas (6,6).

There were also many Puru and Kuru kings by the name of Dhritarashtra. See the section Naga King Nahusha.

Naga Vasuki could mean the founder of the race or any Naga in that race of Vasuki. Same logic applies to the Airavatas, Takshakas, Kauravyas and the Dhritarashtras.

Naga territories in Mahabharatha

Regions in the far north

Only speculative information is available on these regions

Airavata is mentioned as a region beyond ancient India (Bharata Varsha) at (6,6). Bharata Varsha (ancient India) is mentioned as the southern-most region known to the ancient Indian people. North of Bharata Varsha, is the region of Himalaya. To the north of it is the region called Hari-varsha (Tibet ?). To the north of it is the region called Elavrita which is the central region (Tajikistan and Xinjiang ?). North of it is the region called Hiranyaka (Kyrgistan?). North of it is the region called Sweta (white region) (Alatua mountains around Almaty in Kazakstan?). Northern-most region known to the ancient people is mentioned as the region called Airavata:- Beyond Hiranyaka is the region called Airavata covered with provinces. (This could be the regions around lake Balqash in Kazakstan.)

At (1,25) is mentioned a delightful and fair region inhabited by the Nagas in the midst of the ocean, in a remote quarter. Its name is mentioned as Ramaniyaka island (1,26). Vishnu, the younger brother of Deva king Indra, had slain the Nagas in the great lake. Indra asked Arjuna to slay the tribe of Nivata-kavachas, a clan of Asuras, living in the vicinity of the same lake. (Caspian Sea or Dal lake in Kashmir?) (3,47). The two islands Naga-dwipa and Kasyapa-dwipa are the two ears of this region of the form of a hare (6,6).

North of Himalayas (Tibet)

The great Nagas, Chitra and Airavata is mentioned to dwell in White mountains (Kailas range, Tibet) (3,224).

Rakshasas reside on Himavat, Guyakas (Yakshas) on Hemakuta (Kailas range, Tibet), and Gandharvas and Nagas on Nishadha. The Sweta mountains (Kailas range) are said to be the abode of the Devas and the Asuras. The mountains of Sringavat also are regarded as the resort of the Devas (6,6). In the region south-west to Deva territories is the city called Bhogavati that is ruled by Vasuki, by the Naga Takshaka and also by Airavata (5,109). Yakshas and Rakshasas and Kinnaras and Nagas and Suparnas and Gandharvas pass through the valley of Mandara mountain, in going towards Yaksha king Kubera’s palace (3,139). Nagas inhabited the Yaksha Kingdom (Tibet)(3,158).

Kasmira Region (Kashmir)

The river Vitasta (Jhelum), is situated in the country of the Kasmiras and is the abode of the Naga Takshaka (3,82). Takshasila, a city named after the Takshakas is just to the west of this river.

Arjuna is mentioned as defeating the Kashmiras and king Lohita (ruling the region known as Loha now known as Leh) along with ten minor chiefs at (2,26). Then the Trigartas, the Daravas, the Kokonadas, and various other Kshatriyas advanced against him. He then took the delightful town of Avisari. Arjuna then defeated king Rochamana who ruled a kingdom called Uraga (2,26). Uraga is mentioned as a kingdom of Bharata Varsha along with the Valhikas, the Darvis, the Vanavadarvas, the Vatagas, the Amarathas etc. at (6,9). Lohita is mentioned as a Naga at (2,9). Uragas and Nagas were mentioned as the same people throughout Mahabharata.

River Iravati (Punjab)

River Iravati is assumed to be linked with the Nagas in the race of Airavata in ancient India

River Iravati (identified as Ravi river in Punjab province of Pakistan) is mentioned along with other rivers like the Vipasa, the Satadru, the Chandrabhaga, the Saraswati, the Vitasta, the Sindhu etc. at (2,9). It is also mentioned at (3,12), (6,9), (8,44) and (13,146).

A river named Iravati exists in Myanmar (Burma) to the east of India, inhabited by modern day Naga people. Modern day Naga people are also found in eastern states of India like Nagaland. Thus the Nagas of epic age could have migrated to the east into these regions.

Naga region lay extended many Yojanas on all sides. It was equipped with many golden walls decked with jewels and gems. There were many fine tanks of water furnished with flights of stair-cases made of pure crystal, and many rivers of clear and transparent water. There were many trees with diverse species of birds perching on them. The gate of that region which was huge and majestic. There were many mansions of Airavatas there. The Naga king was Vasuki. A Bhrahmana of Bhargava clan named Utanka, with others, is described to set fire in this Naga settlements, when an ear-ring in his possession was stolen by a Naga in the race of Airavata (14,58).

Kurukshetra Region (Hariyana)

Naga Takshaka, formerly dwelt in Kurukshetra and the forest of Khandava (modern-day Delhi). Takshaka and Aswasena, are constant companions who dwell in Kurukshetra on the banks of the Ikshumati. Srutasena, the younger brother of Takshaka, resided at the holy place called Mahadyumna. (1,3).

Bala Rama during his travels along the Saraswati River is mentioned to have reached a place called Nagadhanvana:- From Dwaita lake in Saraswati River basin, Bala Rama proceeded along the southern bank of the Sarasvati. He then reached a place called Nagadhanwana. It was populated with many Nagas. It was the abode of Vasuki the king of the Nagas. There 14,000 ascetics also had their permanent home. The Devas, having come there, had according to due rites, installed the excellent Naga Vasuki as king of all the Nagas (9,37).

Kurukshetra is mentioned as a favorite region for the Gandharvas, the Apsaras, the Yakshas and the Nagas (3,83).

Kerala Region

"Encyclopaedic dictionary of Purāṇas" quotes,[3]

This is the region of Nagas (Serpents). At the out-place of this region there is a particular place having an area of 30,000 yojanaas. Vishnu Kala who has the attribute of 'Tamasa' lives there under the name "Anantha." The real Anantha or Aadishesha as the radiant embodiment of this Kala. History says that the Nagas were the early indigenous inhabitants of Kerala. The ancient word "Anantha" denotes "Thiruvananthapuram". The temple of Ananthapadmanaabha at Thiruvananthapuram answers to this description. On the whole the description of Pathaala fits well with that of Kerala. So it is not wrong to infer that the description of Pathaala in Puranas is entirely about Kerala in all its aspects.

As per the story Arjuna set fire to Khandavaprastha which was the adobe of Thakshaka, the Nagas escaped south of the Vindhyas till they reached a place where the soil was free and was not hot with the atrocities of Arjuna. That is they reached a cool place of peace. This place became Mannarshala (Mannu (Soil) Ariye (cooled down) Shala(refuge)), the biggest serpent temple in the world. The Nagas settled here with the indigenous naga clan of Kerala called Nakas by the local people and later Nairs and Bunts. They are descendents of serpent Ananta.

Source of the Ganges in Himalayas (Uttarakhand)

A mountain named Naga-sata is mentioned in lower Himalayas at (1,119). On the northern banks of the Ganges (modern-day Uttarakhand) are many habitations of serpents. Airavata is mentioned as their king (1,3). Kapilavata is mentioned as a place at the source of the Ganges (Rishikesh, in Uttarakhand). It is named after Kapila the king of Nagas. It is also known as Naga-tirtha. (3,84).

Ganges Basin (Uttar Pradesh)

In the forest of Naimisha, on the banks of the river Gomati (a tributary of the Ganges), there is a city called after the Nagas. It was ruled by a Naga named Padma alias Padmanabha (12,354).

In the region of Nagas elephants are found; in the region of Varuna-worshippers sheep are found; in the region of fire-worshippers goats are found; in the region of sun-worshippers horses are found; in the region of Rakshasas cocks and boars are found; in the region of Asuras buffalo are found (13,84). Elephants were predominant animals in ancient Gangatic plain.

Magahda Kingdom (Bihar)

There dwelt in old days those Nagas, Arvuda and Sakravapin, those persecutors of all enemies, as also the Naga Swastika and that other excellent Naga.

Naga cities

Bhogavati and Patalam seems to be Naga cities in Tibetan region. Kuru city Hastinapura is some times mentioned as Naga-pura. A city of Nagas also existed on the banks of river Gomati


Bhogavati is mentioned as Naga capital at (3-57). The foremost of cities which resembles the Amaravati of Deva king Indra, is known by the name of Bhogavati. It is ruled over by Vasuki, the king of the Nagas. Shesha, the foremost of Nagas who is a great ascetic also dwells here (5,103). In the region south-west to Deva territories is the city called Bhogavati that is ruled by Vasuki, by the Naga Takshaka and also by Airavata (5,109).


In the very centre of the domain of the Nagas was the city of Patala. It is worshipped by the Daityas and the Danavas (5,99). Here in these regions called Patala is that spacious and celebrated city of cities, called Hiranyapura, belonging to the Daityas and Danavas, possessing a hundred diverse kinds of illusions (technological wonders). It hath been built with great care by the architect and town-planner viz the Danava Maya (5,100).

The territory of Suparnas, the enemies of Nagas was close to that of Hiranyapura. Suparnas were described as thus:- By their acts they may be said to belong to the Kshatriya order, but they are all without any compassion as they mercilessly slay the Nagas, their kinsmen. They never attain to spiritual enlightenment in consequence of their hatred towards their kinsmen. However, the race of Suparnas is much regarded in consequence of the favour that, is shown to it by Vishnu, the younger brother of Deva king Indra. Vishnu was the greatest among all the sons of Aditi (one among the 13 great mothers). All Suparnas dwell in only a single province of the region containing the cities of Patala and Hiranyapura (5,101).

Bhogavati and Kuru cities

Indraprastha, the new city of Kurus, which was also the capital of Pandava's kingdom, is compared with Bhogavati at (1,209). It is interesting to note that Indrprastha was built by clearing out the Nagas inhabited in that region, especially in the forest of Khandava. The older name of Indraprastha was Khandavaprastha, since it was built by clearing out the Khandava forest. Khandava forest and later the city Indraprastha alias Khadavaprastha, falls in modern-day Delhi.

Hastinapura, the other city of Kuru Kingdom, the capital of Kauravas, was also mentioned as Naga-pura, meaning the city of the Nagas (4,25) (5,147) (8,2) (14,52). Naga also means elephant and the word Hastina-pura means the city of elephants. But Naga-pura still can be translated as the city of Nagas. The multiple meanings of the word Naga (as snake and elephant) could be the reason behind interpretation of Airavata as the king of elephants (that was used by Indra as a mount). The earlier interpretation could be the Naga king who rules the regions around river Iravati (Jhelum).

The capital of northern Panchala kingdom was named Ahichatra or Ahi-khsetra which in Sanskrit translates to the region (Kshetra) of the Nagas.

There is also a passing reference in Mahabharata like this:- in the region of the Nagas, elephants are found in plenty, which make the whole of Indo-Gangatic plain the territory of the Nagas, in some remote antiquity.

20 Kms from city of Kolhapur in southern Maharashtra was Pannagalya, abode of the Nagas,later Panhala where Shilahars and recently Marathas ruled from fort build by King Bhoja II .The nagas were defeated by Shilahars.The remnants of fort stand to day at panhala which is also a hill station .

Origin of Nagas and Suparnas

In the Krita age, there were neither Devas, nor Asuras, nor Gandharvas, nor Yakshas, nor Rakshasas, nor Nagas. And there was no buying and selling. (3,148).

Nagas and Suparnas were two races having kinship. Kadru was described as the mother of the Naga race (1-16,122). Sister of Kadru viz Vinata was considered as the mother of Suparnas (1,16). Kadru and Vinata were two among the 13 mothers or women from who various primival races originated, including the race of Devas, Asuras, Gandharvas, Kinnaras, Yakshas, Rakshasas, Vanaras etc. Suparnas headed by Garuda were formerly sub-serviant to the Nagas (1-23 to 28). By the help of Devas, Garuda ended that slavery (1,34) and later Suparnas became rivals of Nagas (3,159).

Karkotaka, Vasuki, Kachchhapa, Kunda, Takshaka were mentioned as Nagas and Tarkshya, Arishtanemi, Garuda and Asitadvaja, Aruna and Aruni were mentioned as of Vinata’s race (otherwise called Suparnas) at (1,123).

Nagas, Pannagas and Uragas

Nagas were mentioned as born of Surasa and Pannagas another Naga race, was mentioned as born of Kadru at (1,66). Pannagas and Nagas were mentioned as separate but related Naga races at (3,85). Pannagas were mentioned to denote Nagas at (3-172,180,289) (7-142) (9,45) (12,47) (13,98) Nagas destroyed by Arjuna at Khadavaprstha is described as Pannagas (5,124). Pannagas and Uragas were mentioned as separate but related races at (6,65). Uragas were mentioned to denote Nagas at (1-1,172) (3-167,179,187,223) (many other references) Uragas and Nagas were mentioned as separate but related Naga races at (3,158) -in Yaksha territory; also at (7-160,198) At (1,172) is mentioned that Uragas along with Yakshas, Rakshasas, Gandharvas, Pisachas and Danavas as aware of the history of Arya kings.

Nagas and other exotic tribes

Nagas were mentioned along with other exotic tribes like (the Devas, Asuras, Yakshas, Gandharvas, Rakshasas, Suparnas, Vanaras, Pisachas etc.) at various places (1-67,75,97,111,173,189), (2-11, and many other references).

The names of the principal Naga Chiefs

At (1,35) (Birth of Nagas) the name of principal Naga chiefs were mentioned as:-

Sesha (Naga Ananta) was the foremost, and then Vasuki. Then were born Airavata, Takshaka, Karkotaka (linked with Nala, king of Nishadha), Dhananjaya, Kalakeya (was also mentioned as an Asura clan), the serpent Mani, Purana, Pinjaraka, and Elapatra, Vamana, Nila, Anila, Kalmasha, Savala, Aryaka, Ugra, Kalasapotaka, Suramukha, Dadhimukha, Vimalapindaka, Apta, Karotaka, Samkha, Valisikha, Nisthanaka, Hemaguha, Nahusha (Nahusha was also described as a king in the Lunar Dynasty; Pururavas (first king of Lunar dynasty) -> Ayus - > Nahusha), Pingala, Vahyakarna, Hastipada, Mudgarapindaka, Kamvala Aswatara, Kaliyaka, Vritta, Samvartaka, Padma, Mahapadma, Sankhamukha, Kushmandaka, Kshemaka, Pindaraka, Karavira, Pushpadanshtraka, Vilwaka, Vilwapandara, Mushikada, Sankhasiras, Purnabhadra, Haridraka, Aparajita, Jyotika, Srivaha, Kauravya, Dhritarashtra (also mentioned as a Gandharva king), Sankhapinda, Virajas, Suvahu, Salipinda, Prabhakara, Hastipinda, Pitharaka, Sumuksha, Kaunapashana, Kuthara, Kunjara, Kumuda, Kumudaksha, Tittri, Halika, Kardama, Vahumulaka, Karkara, Akarkara, Kundodara, and Mahodara.

At (5,103) (Matali's history) the name of principal Naga chiefs were mentioned as:-

Vasuki, Takshaka, Karkotaka, Dhanjaya, Kaliya (linked with river Yamuna and Vasudeva Krishna), Nahusha (also a king belonging to Lunar Dynasty), Aswatara, Vakyakunda, Mani, Apurana, Khaga, Vamana, Elapatra, Kukura, Kukuna, Aryaka (linked with Bhima), Nandaka, Kalasa, Potaka, Kalilasaka, Pinjaraka, Airavata, Sumanmukha, Dadhimukha, Sankha, Nanda, Upanandaka, Apta, Kotaraka, Sikhi, Nishthuraka, Tittiri, Hastibhadra, Kumuda, Maylapindaka, the two Padmas, Pundarika, Pushpa, Mudgaraparnaka, Karavira, Pitharaka, Samvritta, Vritta, Pindara, Vilwapatra, Mushikada, Sirishaka, Dilipa, Sankha-sirsha, Jyotishka, Aparajita, Kauravya, Dhritarashtra, Kuhara, Krisaka, Virajas, Dharana, Savahu, Mukhara, Jaya, Vidhira, Andha, Visundi, Virasa, and Sarasa.

At (14,4) (Last moments of Bala Rama) the name of principal Naga chiefs were mentioned as:-

Karkotaka and Vasuki and Takshaka and Prithusravas and Varuna and Kunjara, and Misri and Sankha and Kumuda and Pundarika, Dhritarashtra, and Hrada and Kratha and Sitikantha of fierce energy, and Chakramanda and Atishanda, Durmukha, and Amvarisha, and king Varuna

At (1,65) (Genesis) the names of the sons of Kadru were mentioned as:-

Sesha or Ananta, Vasuki, Takshaka, Kumara, and Kulika are known to be the sons of Kadru.

At (2,9) Nagas linked with Varuna were mentioned as:-

Vasuki, Takshaka, and the Naga called Airavata, Krishna and Lohita (see Lauhitya), Padma, Chitra, Kamvala, Aswatara, Dhritarashtra, Valahaka, Matimat, Kundadhara, Karkotaka, Dhananjaya, Panimat, Kundaka, Prahlada, Mushikada and Janamejaya wait upon Varuna. Many Asuras also is mentioned as waiting upon Varuna. Nagas, Daityas (a clan of Asuras), Sadhyas and inferior Devas were mentioned to follow Varuna (3,41).

Prominent Nagas

Naga Ananta or Sesha

This Naga became an ascetic and dessisted from becoming a king

Sesha of great renown practised hard penances. He practised ascetic devotions, repairing to Gandhamadana (in Himalaya), Vadri (Badrinath), Gokarna (Gokarn), the woods of Pushkara (Pushkar), and the foot of Himavat. And he passed his days in those sacred regions, some of which were sacred for their water and others for their soil in the rigid observance of his vows, with singleness of aim, and his passions under complete control.

Naga king Vasuki

Vasuki is mentioned as a king of Nagas at (1,39).

Naga Vasuki was anxious of rescuing his race from the threat of Kuru kings. He discussed the means to save his race from extermination by the hands of Kuru kings (1,37). Many Nagas suggested to obstruct the mission of the Kuru King by opting for violence; like slaying the king or his advisers or themselves becoming the king's advisers. The Naga Elapatra suggested Vasuki to make alliance with Brahmana Jaratkaru of Yayavara race and beget an offspring who will save them from their difficulties (1,38). That was acceptable to Vasuki. Thus was born the offspring of Naga women and a Brahmana, viz Astika. He prevented the extermination of Naga race.

Naga king Airavata

Airavatas were the most successful Naga race during the epic-ages. The Takshakas, the Pauravas and the Dhritarashtras seems to be branches of Airavata's race. Airavatas could be earlier inhabitants of river Iravati (Ravi river in Punjab, Pakistan) or the unknown region in the far north called Airavata.

All Nagas were mentioned as the subjects of King Airavata (1,3). Here Airavata is mentioned as splendid in battle and showering weapons in the field like lightning-charged clouds driven by the winds. The sons of Airavata were mentioned as handsome and of various forms and decked with many coloured ear-rings. His territory is mentioned as the northern banks of the Ganges (i.e. Uttarakhand). Dhritarashtra was Airavata’s younger brother. When he goes out, 28008 serpents follow him as his attendants (1,3).

Naga King Takshaka

Main article Takshaka.

Acts of Pandava Arjuna and Naga Takshaka was the cause of enemity between Kuru kings and Nagas. Arjuna killed Takshaka's wife who dwelled in the Khandava Forest. Takshaka avenged her death by killing Parikshit the grandson of Arjuna by poisoning him. King Janamejaya conducted a massacre of Nagas to avenge his father Parikshit's death. Later a sage named Astika ended this enmity between Kurus and Nagas.

Naga King Nahusha

Nahusha is mentioned as a Naga at (1,35) (5,103).

At (13,99) Nahusha is mentioned as ruling even the Deva territories, and later degraded to the status of a Naga king. It is repeated at (12,342). The history of Nahusha becoming the king of Deva territories is mentioned at (5-11 to 17). He was powerful and renowned. Power corrupted him and he was later banished from the throne of Deva territories. It seems he later lived as a small king of the Naga race. Yayati (a king of Lunar Dynasty) is mentioned as his son at many places in Mahabharata. Thus, it seems, he later became known as a king belonging to the Lunar Dynasty of kings in ancient India.

A snake (a viper) attacked and afflicted Bhima in a forest called Visakhayupa, situated at the source of river Yamuna. This incident is mentioned at (3,176). At (3,178) that snake is described as Nahusha. He is mentioned here as the son of Ayus (Pururavas (first king of Lunar Dynasty) -> Ayus -> Nahusha), thus he becomes a forefather of the Pandavas. This raises a doubt whether the lunar race of kings originally branched from the Naga race of kings. Many kings in the line of Purus and Kurus, all being branches of the lunar race, like Dhritarashtra and Janamejaya also were mentioned as Nagas at various places. Kuru city Hastinapura also is some times mentioned as Nagapura (one of its meaning being the city of Nagas).

  • In Book 12 and 13 Nahusha is mentioned as a learned king conversing with many sages like Bhrigu, Chyavana and Agastya

Naga chief Aryaka

Nagawanshi Aryaka आर्यक was mentioned to be a member of Naga king Vasuki's palace. He was described as related to Pandava Bhima. He was the grandfather of the father of Kunti, the mother of Bhima. He recognized Bhima as his kinsmen when the Nagas rescued Bhima, a boy then, and brought him to the palace of Vasuki. Bhima was food-poisoned, tied up and thrown into river Ganges at a place called Pramanakoti, by Duryodhana (1,128).

Aryaka is mentioned to have born in the race of Kauravya. Kauravya is born in the race of Airavata. Aryaka's son was named Chikura. Chikura was slain by a Suparna. Chikura's wife was the daughter of a Naga named Vamana. Chikura's son was named Sumukha. Matali, the charioteer of Deva king Indra chose Sumuka as his daughter Gunakesi's husband (5,103).

Naga Prince Iravan

During a 12-year-long pilgrimage over the whole of India, Arjuna, leaving Indraprastha, arrived at the source of the Ganges (now known as Rishikesh) where it entered the plains. There he met a Naga woman, Ulūpī. She took Arjuna to the mansion of Kauravya, king of the Nagas. Kauravya himself was mentioned as an Airavata. Arjuna spent one night with Ulūpī and came back from the palace of Kauravya to the region where the Ganges enters the plains (1,216).

Ulūpī's former husband was slain by a Suparna and she was childless. A son named Iravan was born to Arjuna and Ulūpī. But Ulūpī's brother hated Arjuna since he destroyed the Nagas dwelling in Khandava forest and so abandoned Ulūpī and his son.

Iravan grew in the territory of Nagas, protected by his mother. Later when Arjuna visited the Deva region to the northeast of the Naga territories, he went and met Arjuna. He accepted him as his beloved son, and asked him to render assistance in battle when required. Iravan entered the Kurukshetra War with an excellent cavalry force driven by Naga warriors (6,91). He participated in the war (6-84,91) and was slain by the Rakshasa Alamvusa, the son of Risyasringa (6,91).

  • Ulūpī is mentioned as interacting with Arjuna's another son Vabhruvahana, born of another wife Chitrangada at (14,79).
  • Ulūpī and Chitrangada are mentioned as being accepted into the palace of Hastinapura at (14,88)
  • Ulūpī and Chitrangada are mentioned with other wives of the Pandavas at (15,1).
  • Ulūpī and Chitrangada are mentioned as departing, when Pandavas set for their last journey (17,1).
  • A weapon used in Kurukshetra War is named a Naga weapon (8,53).

Naga chief Padma

Naga Padma (Pandmanabha) was a chief who ruled from a city in the forest of Naimisha, on the banks of the river Gomati (12,354). Reflecting upon all things with great care, he protects the righteous and chastises the wicked by adopting the quadruple policy of conciliation, provoking dissensions, making gifts or bribes, and using force. That Naga is always fond of guests. He is intelligent, and devoted to the study of the Vedas. He has great wealth. He performs sacrifice, makes gifts, abstains from inflicting injury and practises forgiveness. Ten chapters (12- 354 to 363) describes the arrival of a Brahmana as a guest to this Naga's abode, and his discussion with this Naga on the varied subjects of religion and soul.

Other Nagas

Intermixing of Arya race and Naga race

  • Naga Nahusha is also mentioned as a king in the Lunar Dynasty of Arya Kings (3,178).
  • A king named Riksha in the race of Puru (a branch of Lunar Dynasti is mentioned as marrying the daughter of a Naga in the race of Takshaka (1,95).
  • Naga Aryaka is described as the grandfather of Kunti's father. Kunti is the mother of Pandavas. (1,128).
  • Iravat was mentioned as the son of Arjuna and a Naga woman named Uloopi, born in the race of Airavata (6,91).
  • Sage Somasrava, the priest of Janamejaya was the son of a Brahmin named Srutasrava and a Naga women. (1,3).
  • Sage Astika was the son of a sage in the race of Yayavara Brahmins (1,13) and a Naga women (sister of Vasuki) (1-14,15,48). Though but a boy, he had great gravity and intelligence. And he was reared with great care in the palace of the Nagas (1,48). He prevented the massacre of the Naga race by Janamejaya (1-15,56).
  • Naga women alias Nakar women of Kerala married Namboodiris of the Aryan race resulting in one of the sub-caste of Nair clan of Kerala.

Other references

  • The Daitya heroes Sunda and Upasunda defeated the Devas, Yakshas, Rakshasas, Nagas and Arya kings. (1-212,214)
  • Rakshasa king Ravana also defeated all of them (3,289).
  • Naga women were mentioned to be very beautiul (3,263) (4,9) (6,105).
  • Yakshas, and Rakshasas, and Nagas were mentioned to use 17 types of crops for their food. This crops were mentioned as produced by a king named Prithu, the son of Vena (12,58).
  • At (14,44) the word Uraga is used to denote all the reptile-species and the word Naga is used to denote all snakes, where it mentions Nagas are the foremost among the Uragas.

See also


  1. Sekharipuram Vaidyanatha Viswanatha. Hindu culture in ancient India. 
  2. Swami Parmeshwaranand. Encyclopaedic dictionary of Purāṇas, Volume 3. p. 762. 
  3. Swami Parmeshwaranand. Encyclopaedic dictionary of Purāṇas, Volume 3. p. 762. 

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