Nāgās

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Nagas, NAgAs, Naagaas


One of the wives of Arjuna, the Pāṇḍava hero, was Ulupī, a Nāga princess. The Nāgas would have been a prominent race of human beings. They might have derived their name either because they were worshipers of snake-gods or had the snake as their national symbol. The purāṇas describe them as the offsprings of the sage Kaśyapa and his wife Kadru and often identified with snakes. The Nāgās of the mythical period lived in the subterranean world called Rasātala. Their capital was Bhogavati, a beautiful city. During the historical period, two royal families of Nāgas have been known to exist. They are:

  1. The Chindakas who ruled from Cakrakoṭṭa[1]
  2. The Sindas of Karnataka,[2] who called their land as Sindavāḍi.

The Nāgas are a group of tribals inhabiting the Nāga Hill ranges of Nagāland in the north-east. They include more than 20 tribes of mixed origin and varying cultures. They differ in physical appearance too. Their dialects belong to the Sino-Tibetan group of languages. English, Hindi or broken Assamese is the common language for all. The largest tribes are the Konyak, Ao, Tanghkul, Sema and Angami. Most of them live in small villages placed on hill-sides and located near water. Rice and millets are the staple food. Weaving and wood-carving are the main sources of income. A tribal council of elders rules over the tribes. A size-able section of the Nāgās are christians.

References

  1. It is Bastar of Madhya Pradesh in 11th to 14th century A. D.
  2. It is in circa A. D. 750.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore