Dr Naval Viyogi: Nagas – The Ancient Rulers of India/Takshak Mori

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The Takshak or Taka (Vahika) of Panjab

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There is a description of seven Mahanagas in Mayashilpa. They are : Basuki, Takshak, Karkotak, Padam, Mahapadam, Sankhpaul and Kulika.88 In Skand Purana, Takshak Nag has also been called Mahanag (77/17,18;106/5,6,7). These Takshak, or Takkas were of Taka family, since the words Takkhas or Takka or Taka are corrupt forms of Takshaka and in Sanskrit language, Takshak means Nag or serpent, hence they were Nagas. As a matter of fact, totem tradition was a peculiarity of indigenous people of ancient India. As such these Takshakas or Nagas used to worship serpents and at certain occasions wore artificial hoods of cobra (See Plate No. 111)on their heads, hence were called serpents or Nagas. These people, in origin were inhabitants of Panjab or Indus Valley.89 Still three parts of this land are known as Taka, Majha (Madra) and Malava, which were ruled by three royal families or blood relatives of the same names. Malava is Southern part of Satluj river, land between Beas and Jhelam in general, is known as Majha and whole North-Western part beyond Jhelam or present Pakistan is known as Taka. This Taka is named after the name of royal family of Taka, One province of Afghanistan is still called Takhar. Name of their tribe was Andhra.

The History of Takshak

The name of Takshak Nag first appears in theMahabharata as opponent of Pandavas. Hence, this seems to be one of the most ancient royal families of Naga race, who gave birth to the most of the Naga royal families of ancient India. Their capital was Taka-shar (Taki or Takka-war) near Sialkot. Cunningham mentions other names of this city as Taki and Asurar90 (of Assyrians). Their ancient traditional capital was Takshila. H. L. Kosare after Mahabharata informs that Arattas had their three branches Takka, Vahika and Jertika (Kosare P-253)

In Mahabharata, the family Gotra of Takas has been given Karpati91 and among them, along with the Malavas of Rajputana and Panjab, Panch-karpatis also have been included. These were people of republic society. It seems that they were relatives of their nearest neighbourers, the Malavas. Because these Malavas used to worship Karkota Nag, hence Takas were also worshippers of above deity. They later shifted from Panjab to Rajputana and settled there in the east.92 It is clear that Takas were republicans or guild or Sangha people. They had their two other families or blood relatives Malavas and Madras and their Gotra was Karpati. (See chapter XII pp 349-50 far detail)

Madras were called Vahika and Jertika.93 Hemchandra, in his Abhidhan-Chintamani (IV-25) has equated Vahikas94 with Takas. These Takas were Vahika Nagas, therefore Vahikas, Jertikas and Madras were

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also Nagas and all the four Naga tribes were blood relatives of Arattas. There was a tribal confederacy of Taka Nagas in Panjab that is why the Panjab was known as Taka-Mulka or Taka-country 95 as mentioned by Hieuntsang. It is obvious that Vahikas were from Taka family.

Takshaka, Jertika and Jats

Some scholars think these Jertikas were were Jats But it is not acceptable since Taka or Takshakas and Vahika appear in the Mahabharat period (950 B.C.) where as Kushanas, the progenitors of Jats appears on the horizon of history about 1000 ears later, as invaders from North. On the other hand, Jat is the name of a Gotra of Taka Kshatrias. Hence above Jat is not related to Jat caste or Kushanas but Takas.

It has been already96 observed, that ancient inscriptions in the Pali or Buddhist character have been discovered in various parts of Rajasthan of the race called Tastas , Takshak and Tak relating to the tribes, the Mori (or Maurya) Parmar their descendants. Nagas and Takshakas are synonymous appellation in Sanskrit for the snake, and the Takshak is the celebrated Nagabansha of the early heroic history of India. The Mahabharata describes in its usual allegorial style the war between the Pandavas of Indiaprastha and the Takshaka97 of the North. The assassination of Parikshata by the Takshaka and the extermination warfare carried on against them by his son and successor, Janmejaya, who at last compelled them to sign tributary engagements, divested of its allegory, is plain historical fact98. Their warfare lasted for a longer period, ultimately progeny of Pandavas had to leave Hastinapur while the City was washed away in a terrible flood of the river Ganga at about 800 BC. Later on it was taken over by the Nagas (See Chapter-X pp 260-63 for detail).

"In the Bhavishya Purana." According to James Tod99A "Prince Sahasra-Arjuna is termed as Chakravartin or paramount sovereign. It is said that he conquered Karkotaka of the Takshak, Turushka or snake race and brought with him the population of Mahishmati and founded Hem Nagara in the North India, on his expulsion from his dominions On the Narbuda. Traditional legends of this prince yet remain on the Narbuda, where he is styled "Sahasrabahu or with a thousand arms," figurative of his numerous progeny. The Takshak or snake race, here alluded to, will engage our attention. The name of animals in early time, planets and things inanimate, all furnished symbolic appellations for various races."

It is evident that race of Takshak, being at the entry gate of India in North West not only suffered at the hand of invaders from North and West but also those from South.

From the Mahabharat account, Son of Takshak was Ashwasena who was saved by Indra, while Khandava-van was put into flame by Pandava Arjuna (1000 BC-950 BC).

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It seems that there was also possession of Nagas over Gandhara country in the time of Parshwanath (887-787BC), because Nagjit or Naget, the King of Gandhara99B, has been said to be the follower of Parashwanath. Perhaps this Naga king Nagjit would have been related to Takshaka since country of Gandhra or Takshila was their main centre of rule from remote past. We know that the primogenitor of Naga, according to Mahabharata was Rajrishi Kashyapa, who was national guru of Parshwanath also.

During the life time of Buddha (567-487 BC), Takshila was the capital of Gandhar country or the modern Kandhar. Then, the king of Gandhar was Pukkusati, who is said to have sent an embassy and a letter to king Bimbisara of Magadha.100 He was a follower of Buddha. He died in his old age on his first and last trip to Magadha, a week after his meeting with Buddha.101

Like Nanda dynasty, Taka family also suffered at the hands of Puranic Chronicles. Contemporary Puranas have ignored pedigree and chronology of this family in general. However we have traced out a very handful names from different sources; when Alexander invaded India (325 BC) he found the Paraitakai, the mountain (Pahar) Tak, inhabiting the Paropamisos range; nor is it by any means unlikely that Taxiles (Arrian says that his name was Omphis (Ambhi)). Hence, perhaps (from Tak), the name of Indus Attok, not Atak or forbidden according to modern signification the ally of the Macedonian king, was the chief of the Takas; and in the early history of the Bhatti prince of Jaisalmer, when driven from Zabulistan, they dispossessed the Takas on the Indus, and established themselves in their land the capital of which was called Sahvahanpura. It is by no means unlikely that Salivahana or Salbhan (who was a Takshaka) the conqueror of the Tuar Vikrama, was of the very family dispossessed by the Bhattis who compelled them to migrate to the South.102

These Takas or Takshakas, whose chief was Omphis or Ambhi, was a snake worshipper Tribe as noted by the Greek historian M.C. Crindle.103 He reproduces as such,

"They found in many of them besides other animals, a snake, which the Indians regarding as sacred, kept in a cave and worshipped with much devotion. The Indians accordingly with every kind of entreaty implored Alexander to let no one molest the animal, and he consented to this (Strabo XV-1-28). Now when the army was marching past the cave the snake heard the sound that arose (that kind of animal being very sharp both of hearing and sight) and hissed so loud and emitted such gusts of rage that everyone was terrified and quite confounded. It was said to be seventy cubits long, and yet the whole of it was not seen, except its head that projected from the cave. Its eyes, moreover are reported to have equalled the size of the large round Mecedonian shield."

It shows these Naga worshippers were of Naga race whose chief Ambhi was of Takshak race.

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The Bharsiva Naga Royal family of Padmavati: A Taka family

The description of this name (Taka) is found in Bhavasataka.104 which is dedicated to Ganpati Naga. We have come to know, the history of the family of Ganpati, from the copy of such a manuscript of Mithila, which was composed during the ruling period of Ganpati Naga and was dedicated to him. The poet writes, "The Naga king possesses both Vāk (learning) and Padamalaya (Padmavati)." In poem his name is said to be Gajavaktrasri Nag (The Naga king with the face of an elephant). In another poem he says- "That all the Naga kings on seeing Ganpati king are terrified." (Jayaswal, The catalogue of Mithila MSS Part-Il P-105).

In the Eastern105 Panjab there was the feudatory dynasty of Singhpur106 who were the 'Kings' of Jalandhara. This receives corroboration from the history of the migration of Yadavas from Mathura as recorded in the Sabha Parvan Chapter-XIV Verse 25 FP. The Salvas and Kunindas had migrated along with and at the same time as the Yadavas from Mathura (Surasena) and its neighbourhood and settled in Panjab.

The Takas who later migrated to Malava from the Salva country, the Singhapura Yadavas and the Mathura Yadava-Nagas thus seem to have all belonged to the great Yadava stock, which explains their special patriotism for Mathura. The Singhpur family was thus a family allied to the Bharsiva.107

It is obvious that Taka family was a part of great Yadava race.

These Yadavas were round-headed Alpine Iranian race in origin. Bharshiva of Padmavati was also related to Taka family of Panjab.

While great Chinese traveller Hieuntsang came to India in 630-44 AD, he visited Takashahar the capital of Takas, which was situated at the bank of river Apaga near Sialkot in the north west of Lahore. This was in the north west of Kingdom of Jalandhar. 108 The historians and bards of Rajputs have included Tank-Kshatriya among 36 royal families of Rajputs. The reference of Taka royal family has come in the Chachanama and Rajtarangini of Kalhan where mention has been made that while the king Bhoja of Kanauj invaded the capital of Takas then they were helped by Shankar Varman, the Naga king of Kashmir. When Hieuntsang came back from Sindh, Multan was under sway of Taka Royal family. When Kasim invaded Multan in 712 AD, then Taka ruler named Bajhra Taki 109 was in power. They were once indisputed lords of Panjab and they still exist as a numerous agriculture race in lower hills between the Jhelam and the Ravi.11O This view gets the support of Cunningham111 that there were centres of abode of Nagas around Jammu and plains of Panjab. It is crystal clear that the hilly track, south of Jammu was the largest centre of Takshak Nagas, where their population

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is still in existence in abundance in modern age. A coin112 bears the sun god head on the abverse, and there is a legend with the words. "King of Multan" at the end and on the reverse the rayed head of the sun with the name in the Nagari of 'Shri Vasudeva' and "Panchan Zabulistan." According to Cunningham, a king by name Vasudeva ruled in Multan some time very near the days of Chacha. He was probably same as Taki.

The Hun kingdom113 of Sialkot (of Mihar Kula 515-540 A.D.), destroyed by Yasodharman, was subsequently seized by a new dynasty of kshatriyas called Tak or Takshaka. His name is mentioned in the Chachanama. The kingdom lay between the Ravi and the Chinab rivers. But, according to Cunningham, it was extended up to the Sindh.114

In mediaeval period there was Bhatt village named Takkarika in the central province.115 Chandarvardai poet and bard of Rajputana and Muslim historians have given description of their royal family.

We116 have already mentioned the Takshak Mori (or Maurya) as being lords of Chittor from a very early period and a few generations after the Guhilots supplanted the Moris, this palladium of Hindu liberty was assailed by the arms of Islam. (725-35AD) We find amongst the numerous defenders who appear to have considered the cause of Chittor their own "the Tak from Asirgarh" (in Khandesh). This race appears to have retained possession of Asir for at least two centuries after this event as its cheftain was one of the most conspicuous leaders in the array of Prithviraja. In the poems of Chandar he is called the 'Standard, bearer, Tak117 of Asir. '

The earliest Muhammadan118 author, who mentions Taki, is the merchant Suleman, who visited the east before A.D. 851. He mentions tafak, as not of great extent and its king as weak and subject to the neighbouring princes but he adds that he possessed "the finest white women in all the Indians. (Henry Elliot P-49)."

The Inscriptions discovered by Col Tod

In the Rewa119 stone inscription of MalayaSimha dated in Kalachuri era 944 (1193 AD), it is stated that he expended 1500 Tankkas stamped with the figure of Bhagwati, or constructing a tank near Rewa. It means these Takas were worshippers of Mother goddess or their family was matriarchal in form.120 This view is stengthened by Sherrings viewpoint.

We have come to know from the inscription discovered by Col Tod (IA. XIX P-55) from the Kanaswa, which is situated at the bank of river Chambal, South of Kotah, that the king Salindra (409 AD capital Salpoor) of Sarya family, was a king of Takkas (Takhyas). These pople of Sarya family were famous among other tribes too. 121

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It is obvious that these were the same Takkh or Taka of Panjab who met Hieuntsang. They were lord of Malava and were known as Sarya also. The land of Valley of Satluj and Beas, in the neighourhood of Himalayas is also known as 'Suraj' or 'Sewaraj'. This word is a local linguistic variation of Saura, Chera, Kera, words. These Souraj were Surya Banshil22 Naga. (See Chapter XII pp 348-49 Vakataka for detail).

The chief diety of this land is serpent or Naga and all of them Worship their deity. The people known as Sewaraj, living in the upper Chenab valley also worship this Naga deity.

Saharan the Tak

This view gets the support of Cunningham, who draws our attention towards thick population of this race in lower hills south of Jammu between Ravi and Jhelam. This ancient race, the foe of Janamejaya and the friend of Alexander, closed its career in a blaze of splendour. The celebrity of the kings of Gujrat will make amends for the obscurity of the Taks of modern time, of whom a dynasty of fourteen kings followed each other 10 succession commencing and ending with the proud title of Muzaffar.123 Saharan the Tak was the first apostate of his line who under the name of Wajihu-I-Mulk concealed both his origin and tribe. His son Zafar Khan, was raised by his patron Firoz to the government of Gujrat, (1391 AD) who later became independent and mounted the thrown of Gujrat" (1401 AD) under the name of Sultan Mujaffar Shah. He was succeeded by his grandson Ahmad Shah (1411-1441 AD) who changed the ancient capital Anhilwara for Ahmadabad. Later this name Tak seems to have been obliterated from the tribes of Rajasthan. Mahmood Bigarh ruled between 1458-1511 AD. His daily diet was equavalent of one Gujrati maund. In 1572, Gujrat was subjugated in the Mughal empire by emperor Akbar.125 Afterwards we don't find any trace of their successors.

This is a notable point here that Takas before their conversion to Muslim were known as Rajputs. It means indigenous Naga royal families turned into Rajputs. This event defies the Aryan origin theory of Rajput families.

Although they were residents of Uttarpatha but carried their trade with the Dakshinapatha in precious goods like gold and ivory and it 126 shows that they were great traders.


96. Tod James, "Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan" I P-124.
97. In the Mahabharata and in the Laxicon of Hemchandra the Vahikas are said to be the same as Taka BAHIKASHTAKKANAMANA Foot Note No.1 Cunningham PP-125-26.
98. Tod James I P-124.
99. (a) Tod James vol I P-43 F/N No.3., (b) Jain Jyoti Prasad, "Bhartiya Itihas; EK Drishti" P-48.
100. Davids Rhys T. W. P-15.
101. Kosambi D. D. P-120.
102. Tod lames Vol I P-125.
103. Crindle MC, "Ancient India as described in Classical Literture" P-145.
104. Jayaswal KP, "History of India" P-38-39.
105. Jayaswal KP, P-89.
106. Some Scholars think that Singhpur was situated some where near Salt Range of Panjab.
107. Ibid.
108. Cunningham A. P-125.
109. Vaidya C. V., "History of Mediaeval Hindu India." P-386.
110. Cunningham A. P-129.
111. A. S. R. Vol IT P-lO (See foot note no. 3).
112. Vaidya C. V. P-388.
113. Vaidya C. V. pp 284-85.
114. Ibid.
115. Indian Antiquary No. 17, P-118.
116. Tod I P-126.
117. He is called "Chatto the Tak" in the list of wounded fighters of Kanauj (who ruled between 1324-1351 AD) Tod P-126 Foot note No. 2.
118. Cunningham A, P-128.
119. Gupta Chandra Shekhar, "Foreign Denomination of Early Indian Coins" VU (Jan 1978) Vol 16 Part 1 and 2 PP.92-93.
120. Sherring M.A., "Hindu Tribes and Castes" P-376.
121. Tod James IT PP 914-17.
122. Oldham C.F. "The Sun and the Serpent" P-30.
123. Tod I P-126.
124. Tod I P-118.
125. Mahajan V.D. "Madhya Kalin Bharat" PP 246-49.
126. Jain Jagdish Chandra, "Jain Agam Sahitya Main Bhartiya Samaj" PP 173-74 and 490.
127. Jayaswal K. P. "History of India" PP 53-54.