1. JIWAJI UNIVERSITY,
ANCIENT INDIAN HISTORY, CULTURE AND ARCHAEOLOGY DEPARTMENT
THE NĀGA DYNASTY
COURSE : MA (A.I.H.C.A.) SESSION : 2021-2023
SUBJECT : HISTORY OF INDIA UPTO 650 CAD
PRESENTED BY: -
MA (AIHCA) - Ist Sem
PRESENTED TO : -
Prof. (Dr.) S. D. Sisodia
7. History of The Nagas
• The earliest information about Naga Cult
comes from the Great epic Mahabharata as
tribes divided into various sub clans,.
• All Nagas were born to Sage Kashyap and
• Since, Sage Kashyap was inhabitant of
Kashmir, we still find various cities in Kashmir
founded on the name of various Naga Kings.
• Cities like Anantnag (on Ananta), Karakota
(Karkota), Takshashila (Takshak) etc
• There are several Naga kings mentioned in
Indian Puranic and Buddhist Texts.
8. First Historical reference.....
• First historical mention of Naga kings is
shishu-Naga dynasty of Magadha.
• Shishunaga (413-395 BCE), took over the
throne by replacing last king of Haryanka
• After Shishunaga, his son KalaAshok ruled for
(395-367 BCE) and after him 10 other kings
ruled for brief period (345 BCE) until the last
ruler Mahanandin was deposed by
Mahapadma Nanda, forging Nanda dynasty.
9. • As far as historical records insinuate, we do
not find much about Naga Kings in Valley
(Kashmir) area or elsewhere except in later
traditions. The actual records are only visible
in later Buddhist depictions and in 2-3rd
century epigraphic, numismatic findings as
well as in literary sources.
10. Naga Dynasty in post-Kushan era
• After the fall of Great Kushana empire in
north and central India (230-250 CAD)
• Nagas had very humble begining, it seems
they started from Vidisha region and
became most powerful ruler in pre-Gupta
• They were also responsible for eliminating
last traces of Kushan rulers in Central and
North India, extending their rule upto
11. Sources of information.....
• Puranic texts give us geneological list of
Naga Ruler, as well as it also tells us that
Naga ruled in different other parts like
Mathura, Kantipur, Padmavati were all related
to each other.
• Epigraphic records of Vakataka, Gupta also
gives us important information about their
ruling period, extent and name of the rulers.
• Copper Coins (Known as Kakini) are found in
large numbers help us to define the Naga
territory and helped to resolve the
13. Political status based on Epigraphic, Numismatic
and Literary evidences
1. Based on provenance of the Naga coins, H. V. Trivedi envisaged that Naga Kingdom
originated from Vidisha, then they Shifted their capital as Padmavati (Pawaya) in north,
however a branch at Vidisha continued to expand further in south upto Ujjain. while
Padmavati branch went further up and annexed territories like Kantipuri (Morena) and
Mathura, appointing their own family members as ruler of these cities. A branch of Naga was
also ruling at Ahichhatra (Bareilly) region at the time of Samudragupta as mentioned in his
Prayag Prashati. Northwards, Naga frontiers were bordered with Yodheya Confederacy and in
west to the Rajasthan.
2. According to Vayu and Brahmanda Puranas, Nine Naga kings ruled Padmavati, Seven
ruled Mathura before Gupta rising. However, coinage finding to doesnot confirm with this, as
per scholars coins of 12 different kings have been found from Padmavati.
3. Vakataka inscription of Rudrasena mentions that his mother was daughter of Bhar-shiva
king Bhavanaga, This Naga King has been identified with the issued coins in Padmavati,
Rudrasena reign dated from 335 to 355 AD. Therefore, his maternal Grandfather can be
dated to early 4th Century. Vakataka mentions that Bharashiva performed 10 Ashvamedha
Sacrifice. This indicates that Nagas assumed a sovereign status after defeating Kushanas
from North India. The Bharashiva family obtained the holy water of Ganges for the coronation
with their valour, this insinuates that they won region upto Gange river. Bhima-Naga was the
first soveriegn king of padmavathi who used title Maharaja in his coins.
4. Gupta Inscriptions also mentions that Chandragupta-II married with KuberNaga, a
daughter of Naga official. It suggests that the Bharshiva or Nagas were quite formidable
dynasty who had strong matrimonial alliances with other great political powers of India.
14. Fall of Naga Kingdom
• Samudragupta (335-375 CAD) Prayag Prashasti mentions Ganapati Naga, Ruler of
Padmavati, defeated by him and with the deposition of Ganapati Naga, the Nagas
power subsided from Vidisha and other areas. Samudragupta also attacked
Kaushambi, Mathura and Yodheyas and completely annihilated these kingdoms.
Another king Achyutanandin from Ahichhatra subdued by him was also mentioned as
• As for as Bharshiva name is concerned, some scholars (K. P. Jayaswal) has
conjectured that the people of Naga tribe used to carry small Shivalingam on their
Shoulders and hence were called as Bhara-shiva.
• Historian K. P. Jayaswal had read several coins and attributed them to the Nagas of
Kantipuri like Haya-Naga, Traya-Naga, Bhava-Naga but other historions like A. S.
Altekar have discredited this theory and added that Kantipuri was perhaps smaller
capital of Padmavati and ruled by subsidiary branch. Kantipuri is identified by Kotwal
town in Morena District.
• By the 530 AD, Nagas power weakened and no longer remained a powerful Political
entity. They gradually disappeared from North-Indian political scenario, though we
continue to find mention of the Naga kings in other parts of India.
15. Nagas in popular culture
• Even at later period, Nagas were significantly depicted in temple reliefs in the form of
sculptures often in donative or worshiping or sacrificial mode to the deity (in Hindu,
Buddhist shrines). This indicates that Naga people even though were no more a
political entity continued to donate heavily for religious works through out India and
hence, found prominent places in the popular depictions upto 10th century. They still
have significant position in popular Hindu and Buddhist mythologies.
• Many a temple constructed later in 5-9th centuries have ample depictions of Naga
Families, Naga Kings etc.
• Nagas are part of many Puranic stories, Buddhist Jataka tales.
17. Depiction of Naga Family at the entrance of
Cave 19, Ajanta (7th Century AD) Suggests that
perhaps they had made donation for this cave.
19. Reference :
• R. K. Sharma (2001). Ancient history of the Naga tribe of Central India
• K.P.Jayaswal - History of India 150 – 350 A.D.
• Hemchandra Rayachaudhury - Political History of Ancient India.
• K. C. Srivastava - Prachin Bharat Ka Itihas
• R. C. Majumdar, A. S. Altekar - Vakataka Gupta Age.