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The Nagavanshi (Sanskrit: नाग वंशी) dynasty is one of the ancient Kshatriya dynasties of India. The Vedas do not mention Kshatriyas of either Suryavanshi, Chandravanshi, Nagavanshi, Agnivanshi or such Vanshas or lineages. The Puranas, of debatable dating, constructed such genealogies. The Puranas were supposedly written from the Gupta Period onwards (See: Puranas). Bhavishyapuran mentions 12 heavenly serpents like Takshak, Vasuki, Sheshnag, Anantnag etc. and Swastik as the weapon of Takshak. Swastik is a sacred symbol for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. On Hindu temples and homes, statues of the Buddha and Mahavir swastik symbol is quite common. Divine serpent Sheshnag is considered as the bed of lord Vishnu. While lord Shiva is always shown with a serpent around neck. All those things clearly indicate relationship between Nagavanshi dynasties and present Indian society.

A copper plate inscription from the Gupta Period relates to the Nagas being elevated to Kshatriya-hood (26). The copper plates of this period relate to the Nagas being defeated by the Guptas; and subsequently being married into them. One example is that of the King Chandragupta II who married Queen Kuber Naga. The Nagas were mentioned as a non-aryan snake worshipping tribe of ancient India (27). However, puranic legends constructed the genealogy of the Nagavanshis as a sub-clan of Suryavansha also known as Sooryavamsham .

The worshipers of Nāga were supposedly known as Nāgā or Nāgil. Nair, Bunt and some Rajput and Jat clans claim to be of Nagvanshi origin.

The animal Totemism among Indo-Aryan tribes

In the form of languages the remains of Aryan tribes and castes are still in each and every corner of India. The Munda languages in North East are spoken till to-day their main mark of identification was the tradition of totemism: on the other hand there was tradition of Gotras in Aryan tribes and castes.[1]

Totem can be defined as follows: if some casters or tribes or a group of families living together accept animal or a plant as their totem, it is called the totem of that caste or tribe viz Monkey, bear, fish, serpent, dear, eagle, tortoise, pea-cock, duck, and many plants, etc.[1]

Acharya Chhitiji Mohan Sen[2] has defined the totem tradition: “From the most ancient time, in different countries, nations or tribes, a particular mark or insignia (animal, bird or plant) known as totem was in practice: that insignia was a subject of great respect and full faith for each and every member of the tribe or Nation.[3]

According to Majumdar the killing of certain animals or eating them is tabooed in some clans. Some tribes bear sign thereof. The totem animal, when it dies is ceremonially mourned and buried as a member of the clan concerned. The assumptions, with regard to totemism, are that totem organization is universal. J.F. Maclenon was the first to understand the significance of totemism as a primitive social institution.

According to Majumdar,[4] as per ethnographic Survey of India, the Santhals have more than 100 totemistic clans. Hos have more than 50, Mundas 64 and Bhils 24, many castes in Orissa, the Kurmi, the Kumhar, the Bhumia, who have advanced in culture in recent years are named after the serpent, pumpkin, jackal, and other totems. The Katkaris of Bombay, the Gond tribes of M.P. and of Rajasthan also have clan names after the fauna and flora of their habitat. It is clear that all these castes and tribes were sometimes organized into totem system. But now owing to spreading of education and civilization, the above system has also lost its grounds.[3]

Serpent Totem and Naga race

It is clear from the above description, that Nagas were Aryan tribes that had serpent as their totem. They worshipped serpents and considered them to be their protector deities. They also wore artificial hoods of cobra on their heads.[3]

They were Kshatriyas of India. They ruled all over India during various periods of history and pre-historic times. Some of the following are claimed to be Naga Kings: Ahivritra, Ashwasena, Takshaka, Gonanda, Lohara, Karkota of North; Brahamadutta of Kashi, Sishunaga of Magadha in 642 BC (Revolution and counter revolution in ancient India: Dr. B. R. Ambedkar), Nagas of North east; Nagas of Padmavati (Bhaarshiva), Vidisa, Eran, Mathura, Ahichchhattra, Kausambi, Malava, Chakrakot, Bhogwati, in Central India; Andhra or Satavahanas (235 BC -225 AD) Chuttus, Chalukya, Pallava, Kadamba, Chhindaka, Chera, Chola of South India, etc. Most of the above Naga families ruled between 500 BC and 500 AD and some of them onward up to the Mughal period.[5]

Sons of Sursa and Kadru[6]

  1. Shesha
  2. Vasuki
  3. Takshaka
  4. Akarna
  5. Hanikarn
  6. Pinjai
  7. Aryaka
  8. Erawat
  9. Mahapadma
  10. Kambal
  11. Asvatara
  12. Elapatra
  13. Shankha
  14. Karkotika
  15. Dhanjay
  16. Mahakarn
  17. Mahanila
  18. Dharatrashtra
  19. KArvira
  20. Pushpadestra
  21. Summukha
  22. Durmukha
  23. Sunamukha
  24. Kaliya
  25. Kapila
  26. Ambarish
  27. Akrura
  28. Prahlada
  29. Gandharva
  30. Mani
  31. Nahush
  32. Kar-Roma


"Nagvanshi clans"

1. Mahat

2. Belsadia

3. Sundila

4. Das

5. Bais

6. Beltharia

7. Nathania

8. Bancharaha

9. Sajania

10. Rajvalia

11. Sondih

12. Parukhia

13. Nevsaha

14. Naraijparaha

15. Madriha

16. Kaudia

17. Karkotak

18. Barvalihia

19. Asaujiha

20. Belha

21. Khagi Chauhan _________________________

In Ramayana

In the Ramayana, the term Arya can also apply to Raksasas or to Ravana. In several instances the Vanaras and Raksasas called themselves Arya. The Vaanar king Surgriva is called an Arya (Ram: 505102712) and he also speaks of his brother Vali as an Arya (Ram: 402402434). In another instance in the Ramayana Ravana regards himself and his ministers as Aryas (Ram: 600600512).

A logical explanation is that , Ravana and his ministers belonged to the noble caste (Ravana being a Brahmin) and such people were generally considered 'noble' of deed and hence called Arya (noble). Thus, while Ravana was of Arya caste (and regarded himself as such), he was not really an Arya because he was not noble of deeds. So he is widely considered by Hindus as Anarya (non-Arya).

The Ramayana describes Rama as: arya sarva samascaiva sadaiva priyadarsanah, meaning "Arya, who worked for the equality of all and was dear to everyone."

Nagas also referred to themselves as "Arya" or "noble" . So they were Aryans like the vanaras of the South .

The Harappan Civilization and cult of Naga Worship

The Indus Valley Civilization which is the most ancient civilization of India, was spread up in North-West: Harappa, Mohenjodaro, Chanhudaro and Lothal were its most important towns. The founders of Indus valley civilization were Mediterraneans or Dravidians and Australoids,[7] whereas, round headed Alpines, appeared, in mature age of this culture.[8] In excavation of these towns, in addition to Burnished Red ware, a very high number of seals and seal impressions have also been found out. Among the seals so found out on one seal, there is a figure of chief deity with buffalo head, on its both sides, are two other man deities and behind each of them is a serpent in standing posture. On another seal there is a serpent, in standing posture, behind the bull, which is fighting with a mighty man.[9] On another third seal there is a serpent resting his head on a Wooden bench or seat, which is protecting a tree deity.[5]

The presence of serpents on all the above three seals establishes that the serpent was their (Harappans) protector deity and symbol of authority of rule . We can draw the following conclusion from the above detail:

  1. The tradition of serpent worship or totemism was prevalent in Indus Valley Civilization
  2. The scene depicted on the seal no.-2, shows its relation with the myths of Babylonia, which proves origin of this tradition on Western Asia.

This fact finding is further corroborated by seal, No.4 This figure is incised on a cylinder seal recovered form Babylonia (Lajards culte de Mithra). This proves the origin of tradition of tree and serpent worship in Babylonia, from where later on it was transferred to Indus Valley.[10]

Description of Nagas or Serpents in Vedas

The Rigveda

In Rigvedic account of the Aryans there is mention of Naga (Serpent) race, Naga kings and Naga warriors .

There is description[11] of serpent deity "Ahivritra" in the verses of this sacred book “Ahi” is synonym of serpent. The word “ Ahi Budhna (the serpent of base of a mountain) has come twelve times in the Rigveda.[10] Template:What is the connection b/w Ahivritra and Nagavanshi?

According to Oldenberg water is a form of serpent and according to Macdonell [12] , they (Serpents) are the forms of Ahivritra, who is thought to be heavenly, it is conclusive that Ahi Budhna who is thought to be heavenly it is conclusive that Ahi Budhna of Rigveda was a serpent deity who was worshipped by the Ayans.[13]

The Description of Vritra also has come repeatedly in Rigveda.[14] He was deadly enemy of Indra, and he ultimately was killed by the later, he also has been called by the names like Dasyu, Dasa, Asura, and Ahi in Rigveda , the word “Ahi” had also come for serpent. It means Ahi was a serpent. The greatest Ahi of Vedic poet was Vritra sarpa (Vritra serpent) which could block waters (Rivers) [15]. In Atharva-veda and later Brahmanical literature there is also mention of “ Ahi” Along with Vritra.[16] Ahi is a title of Naga Kings and as well as serpent . In support of this view there are enormous evidence in Sanskrit scripture such as in Amarkosha (First kanda) in the list of serpents there is mention of “Ahi”. In Hindi dictionary of Nalanda the meaning of “Ahi” is serpent and Vritrasur. In the Sanskrit Hindi dictionary of Apte, the meaning of “Ahi” is serpent “ boa.” In Rigveda ( VII-50-1 to 3) “Ahi” has been stated to be a dangerous serpent. In Uttar Pradesh the cultural center of mediaeval period was Ahichchhattra (centre of Naga rule) which was situated in the district of Barrielly. This was the capital of ancient Naga kings.[13]

This is quite clear that “Ahi” as described in Rigveda was a serpent or Naga race , whose king was Vritra or Ahivritra .

The Atharva-Veda

Dr Bhagwatsharan Upadhyay, the famous scholar of ancient history and culture, has noted [17] some hymns of Atharva-Veda (V-13-6 to 10), which have reference of Assyrian Naga kings Aligi and Viligi. This proves that Naga worship of the Ind-Aryans and totemism tradition came to India from Assyria.[13]

History of Nagavansh

Lal Pradaman Singh[18] has written the history of Nagavansh. He claims that Nāgas originated from Kashyapa, father of Surya from whom clan of Suryawanshi kshatriyas evolved. The Nether World known as Pathala was the habitation of Nagas and Anantha as the Emperor of Naga, Sarpa, Uraga, and Pannaga. The Vedas do not mention Kshatriyas of either Suryavanshi also known as Sooryavamsham, Chandravanshi, Nagavanshi, Agnivanshi or any such lineage. The Puranas constructed such genealogies. The Nāgvanshis acquired the status of Devas due to their excellent qualities, behavior and actions . Purānas mention Nāgas along with devas. Purānas mention of many Nāga Kingdoms. In ancient times Nāgas were the rulers of entire India . Mathura, Padmavati[disambiguation needed] and Kantipur were capitals of Naga dynasty.

In chapter 29 of "India of the Dark Ages" the ancestor of Taksha is mentioned as Raja Gajvkatra. In chapter 42 of the same book it is mentioned that Naga Republic extended from Eastern Punjab to the Ganga and Yodhya republic extended into Rajasthan. According to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar(Writing and speeches by Maharashtra Govt. Vol-18 partIII), Nagpur belonged to the Nagas. Naagar Brahmins also said to be originated from there .

During the peak period of their rule Naga rulers had sent armies to other countries and also conquered them . In many places Indian Nāgas have been mentioned as ruling dynasties such as Takshak, Tushta, etc. Apart from these there were many branches of Nāgas such as Karkotaka Vanshi, Shesha Vanshi, Vāsuki Vanshi, Ahi Vanshi, Manibhadra Vanshi, etc. These branches further developed as sub branches such as Sind Vansh, Kushan Vansh, Bais Vansh and Saindhav Vansh etc.

The group of people developed their Vansha according to their system of worship of Devas and Nāgas. In Devas the worshippers of Indra were known as Aindra, worshippers of Varun as Vārun, worshippers of Mitra (Sun) as Maitreya, Maitraka or Mitrā, worshippers of Shiva as Shivi or Shaivya, worshippers of Marut as Mārut, worshippers of Gandharva as Gāndharva, worshippers of Shesha as Sheshma, worshippers of Karka as Karkotaka, worshippers of Nāga as Nāgā or Nāgil .

Nagavanshis in Kerala and Tulu nadu

The Nair Clans of Kerala and Bunts of tulu nadu are as per legends the descendants of Anantha also these regions include the Nagavanshi clans who migrated from North India associated with the events as Sarpasatram. The Nairs were organized into various martial clans like Nambiar and Kiryathil Nair. Currently, warrior Sections of the Nair caste and Bunts of Tulu nadu claim descent from the Nagvanshi dynasty.[19][20]The Nagavanshi is known as Serpent Dynasty.[21][22][23][24]

Naga dynasties of India

PathalaLoka is the adobe of Nagas. PathalaLoka was 7 bigger territorial regions in Indian Peninsula with names, Athala, Vithala, Suthala, Rasaathala, Thalaathala, Mahaathala, and Pathala. The lower most region of PathalaLoka i.e. Pathala was the adobe of Great Serpent Anantha. Nāgawanshi's had a number of ruling dynasties such as Takshak Nag, Bachak Nag, Kilkil Nag, Karkotaka, Kaliramna, etc. Mathura, Padmavati[disambiguation needed] and Kantipur were capitals of Naga dynasty. Nagas of Padmavati were called Bhaarshiva. In chapter 29 of "India of the Dark Ages" the ancestor of Takshak is mentioned as Raja Gajvkatra. In chapter 42 of the same book it is mentioned that Nagwanshi rule extended from Eastern Punjab to the Ganga and Yodhya republic extended into Rajasthan.

Nagawanshis are found in Nagaur and Sikar districts of Rajasthan and Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh. There are villages inhabited presently by Jats in Sikar district viz. Dujod, Kanwarpura, Rampura, Sikar,chandauli districts in uttar pradesh, who claim to be Nagwanshis.

List of Jat clans that claim to be Nagavanshi

Some Jat clans which claim to be nagavanshi are[25][26][27]

Ābūdā, Āchashw, Ahi, Ahlawat, Air, Airāwat, Āligī, Aparājit, Āpt, Ārtimān, Āryak, Asit, Aulak, Avalak, Avyay, Ayāhaṭ, Bāmal, Bānā, Barojwār, Bāsaṭh, Baulyā, Beniwāl, Bhakar, Bhākhar, Bhāṃmū, Bharaṃgur, Bhārshiv, Bheṃroṃ, Bhinchar, Bīhal, Bīlwān, Birālā, Dahiya, Dhaka, Dhaulyā, Deū, Devatra, Gorā, Imeguh, Kājal, Kālā, Kalash, Kāle Rāwat, Kālī, Kālī Ramaṇ, Kālī Ramatā, Kālī Rāwate, Kālī Rāye, Kālīḍhaman, Kālīshak, Kālīy, Kalmāsh, Kalwaria, Kalwāriyā, Kalyā, Kalya, Kalyāṇ, Kamal, Kanwal, Kariyā, Karkar, Karkoṭak, Karvīr, Kharwal, Khokhar, Khoṇḍal, Konḍāl, Kothār, Kulak, Kulakiyā, Kulār, Kullar, Kuṃḍodar, Kumuḍ, Kunḍal, Kunjar, Kushmānḍak, Kuṭhar, Legā, Lochag, Matwā, Mātwe, Muḍwāḍiyā, Mundel, Nāg, Nāgā, Nāgar, Nāgauriyā, Nagil Nīl, Odasī, Olā, Paḍwāl, Pāgwaṭ, Pāhal, Pāl, Paṃḍahārī, Pāṇḍar, Pāṇḍul, Pandul, Panjā, Pānn, Parsāne, Paṭhur, Pauḍiyā, Pehalāyaṇ, Piṃḍale, Podān, Pūchale, Punia, Rāhal, Roj, Roja, Rotra, Sagsail, Saharan, Sāmotā, Samrā, Sāngū, Sangwan, Sawaū, Sewdā, Sheshāno, Sheshmā, Shwitra, Shyaukand, Sihāg, Siraswār, Sitarwār, Siwāyach, Sumrā, Sūtalā, Takhar, Takshak, Ṭāṃk, Tankor, Tetarwal, Tītarwāl, Tokas, Toran, Udwal, Ugrak, Vaharwāl, Bais, Varik, Varṇwāl, Vasath, Vaurāṇ, Vāvan, Vīhan, Vodiyā, Yolyā.

Genealogy of Nāga kshatriyas

The list of rulers in the genealogy of Nāga kshatriyas, as claimed by Kishori Lal Faujdar,[28] is as under:

Brahma, Kashyapa-Kadru, Anantha, Vāsuki, Arāwati, Taxak, Tonk, Karkotak, Dhananjay, Kāliya, Manināth, Āyūraṇa (Pauniya), Pinjarak, Alāwat, Vāman, Nīl, Anīl, Kalmāsha, Shabal, Āryak, Ugrak Kalash, Pok, Sumand, Dīghamukh, Nimal Pindak, Shankh, Bāl Shiv, Vishtāvak, Imeguh, Nahusha, Pingala, Bahya Varṇa, Hastipad, Mundar, Pindak, Karal, Ashwatar, Kālīshak, Pahal, Dhaka, Tūn Danvartak, Shankhamukh, Kushmāndak, semak, Chindārak, Karvīr, Pushpadand, Vilvak, Pāndhūr, Mūshakād, Shankhasirā, Pūrṇāmadra, Haridrak, Aparājit, Jotik, Pannag, Srāvah, Kauravya, Dhritarashtra, Shankhapind, Virjā, Suvahu, Shālipind, Haritpind, Pithrak, Sumukh, Koṇaya Dashan, Kuthar, Kunjar, Prabhākar, Kusad, Halak, Kumudāksha, Tittar, Mahāsarp, Kadanm, Bahumūlak, Karkar, Kundaudar, Mahodara,

Nagavanshi kings in Mahabharata

Mahabharata counts following more Naga clans – Ahi, Shivatra, (Khet) Ashit, Serbhak, Sevridha, Astin, Kantat, Spaj, Anat, Kulik, Shankhapāl, Darvī, Dhata/Dhaka, Achāswa, Ajgar, Āligī, Vilagī, Orīvisha, Karikrat, Kasṇīnla, Tirashcha Raji, Naimarat, Prīdākū, Prīdāmī, Rajju, Lohitāhī, Ratharvī, Vāhas, Serbhā.

The Nagavanshi kings had a symbol of Naga or serpent on their coins and flags. The coins of Nagavanshi rulers are still found at village Āhār in Bulandshar district in Uttar Pradesh. These coins depict symbols of Nagas on them. There is mention of Nagas in Mahabharata in a story in which Duryodan poisoned Bhima to kill and threw into the Ganges River. When he was floating in the river he reached village Āhār where the Nagavanshi rulers took him out from the Ganges River and gave treatment to cure. After treatment he was sent to Hastinapur.

Arjuna, the son of Pandu, an Indo-Aryan was married to Nagavanshi (considered as Devas) princess Ulupi. This finds mention in Mahabharata. Grandson of Arjun, Parikshit was killed by heaveny serpent Takshak by fire coming out of his mouth i.e. poison.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Dr Naval Viyogi: Nagas the Ancient Rulers of India, p.226
  2. Bharat mien jati bhed, pp.111-12
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Dr Naval Viyogi: Nagas the Ancient Rulers of India, p.227
  4. Majumdar D.N. pp346-47
  5. 5.0 5.1 Dr Naval Viyogi: Nagas the Ancient Rulers of India, p.228
  6. J.P. Mittal, History of Ancient India: From 7300 BC to 4250 BC, page 44
  7. Whealer R.E.M., “A.I.” Vol III Bulletin of Archaeological Survey of India (January,1947); Bose N.K. and others “Human Skeleton from Harappa” ASIC (1963) pp.58-59
  8. Sarkar S.S., “Aboriginal Races of India”, pp.143-45
  9. Sastri Kedarnath, New lights on the Indus Civilization” Vol I p.35
  10. 10.0 10.1 Dr Naval Viyogi: Nagas the Ancient Rulers of India, p.229
  11. Keith A.B. “The Religion and Philosophy of the Vedas and Upnishadas, p.193
  12. Keith A.B. “The Religion and Philosophy of the Vedas and Upnishadas, p. 193
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Dr Naval Viyogi: Nagas the Ancient Rulers of India, p.230
  14. R.V.II-11-5;II-20-7 and V-32-8
  15. Keith A.B. “The Religion and Philosophy of the Vedas and Upnishadas, p.193
  16. Mishra D.P. “Studies in the Proto-History of India” p.87
  17. Bharatiya Samaj Ka Etihasik Vishleshan, p. 44
  18. Lal Pradaman Singh: The history of Nagavansh
  19. Ramananda Chatterjee (1907). The Modern Review. Prabasi Press Private, Ltd. p. 695. 
  20. Dr. Hermann Gundert, Keralolpathiyum Mattum, (Band 4, Hermann Gundert Series, Eight works published during 1843-1904) (Kottayam: Current Books, 1992), p 185
  21. P. V. Balakrishnan (1981). Matrilineal system in Malabar. Satyavani Prakashan. p. 28. 
  22. P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar (1929). History of the Tamils: from the earliest times to 600 A.D. Asian Educational Services. p. 93. 
  23. Srikanteswaram G.Padmanabha Pillai (2009). Sabdatharavali, Edition 34. p. 1068. 
  24. Nagas, the ancient rulers of India: their origin and history By Naval Viyogi p.32
  25. Dr Mahendra Singh Arya, Dharmpal Singh Dudee, Kishan Singh Faujdar & Vijendra Singh Narwar: Ādhunik Jat Itihasa (The modern history of Jats), Agra 1998
  26. Mansukh Ranwa:Kshatriya Shiromani Vir Tejaji, Page 9
  27. Dr Naval Viyogi: Nagas – The Ancient Rulers of India, Their Origins and History (The History of the Indigenous people of India Vol. 2), Published by Originals (an imprint of Low Price Publications), Delhi, 2002, ISBN 81-7536-287-1
  28. Kishori Lal Faujdar: Uttar Pradesh ke Madhyakalin Jatvansh aur Rajya, Jat Samaj, Monthly Magazine, Agra, September–October 1999

(26)Tribal roots of Hinduism, By Shiv Kumar Tiwari, Page 183.
(27) Tribal roots of Hinduism, By Shiv Kumar Tiwari, Pages 177-231.

Template:Worship in Hinduism

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