Nava Naga

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The Nava Nagas ruled from three capitals Padmavati, Mathura and Kantipuri and ruled for seven generations. Nava Naga was the founder of the Nava Naga Dynasty (Bharsiva) ( 140-170 AD).

Names of Nava-Nagas

Nava Nagas : Names of Nava-Nagas who ruled at Padmavati, Kantipuri and Mathura (140 AD - 344 AD) are as under:[1]


K.P. Jayaswal[2] writes that ....The dynasty of Naga-Senas. [150 A.D.-348 A.D.]...At the close there (will be) the Naga-Senas, and then they ceased (viluptā) (612)..... The important thing to note is that the Saka dynasty is placed in North Madhyadesa, and that they were Imperial, that is, the reference is not to the Western Satraps, but to the Kushans.

The Nagasenas are the Naga dynasty of the Bharasivas where-in Virasena Naga was the first king (of the Nava Nagas of the Puranas) who defeated them and dislodged them from Mathura, and earlier still some king who founded Kantipuri below the Vindhyas (Mirzapur) dispossessed them from Eastern Aryavarta. (JBORS,, XIX, I.) It seems very probable that the compound "Naga-Senas" is made up of the "Nagas"

The Nava Naga or Bharsiva

This content is from Chapter-12 of Dr Naval Viyogi's Book - "Nagas: the Ancient Rulers of India, p.332-336

The Nagas had, under the evident pressure of the Kushanas left Padmavati. We have the definite statement in the Puranas that Vinvasphani ruled at Padmavati and ruled upto Magadha. 14 Therefore, we may take it that about 80-100 AD the Naga dynasty takes shelter, away from the trunk road between Mathura and Vidisa, into the inner jungles of the central provinces. 15

The Bharsivas, re-issuing from the jungles of Hoshangabad and Jabalpur seem to have reached the Ganges through Baghelkhand. They established their capital at Kanti or Kantipuri. 16 Now it is a large mud fort about a mile long on the Ganges. The fort was destroyed in the muslim period and the king's seat was removed into the neigbouring hills at Vijaypur and an Manda, where the family, now in two branches: resides. The local tradition at Kanti is that long before 'the Gahadwala' the fort belonged originally to the Bhar Kings. The 'Bhar' kings here are evidently a corruption of the 'Bharsiva' kings 17 or Bharshiva.

The origin of the word 'Bharhut' or 'Bharhut' would have been from 'Bhar-Bhukti', which means 'country of Bhars'. 18 Till today-the people of Bhar tribes reside in this region, who seem to be the remnants Of 'Bhar Naga tribe' to which ruling family belonged. Jayaswal does not agree to this view, but I am Its strong supporter: in view of new archaeological findings and their scientific interpretation, as given in previous chapters. However some evidences are produced below: It is to be noted, that in ancient period, the indigenous Naga people in particular used to organize themselves into guilds. (See chapter VI PP 124-25) As the system in origin l9, was a tribal evolution, hence guild's people and their elders or chiefs (Khalifah, or Sresthis) infact were from a single blood. These Khalifah or Sresthis in later, Mauryan period were known as kings. These kings, some times later, became more powerful and hereditary too, who being non-Aryan Kshatriyas, were known as Raj-putra or Rajputs of medieval period. 20 Sometimes this period of evolution,from tribe to royal Rajput family, is very long and uncountable. One person,

Foot notes -

13. Jayaswal KP.-15.

14.V.P. (Wilson) II P-659.

15.Jayaswal KP. P-16.

16.Jayaswal KP. P-29.



19.(a) Jayaswal KP. "Hindu Polity" P-46 ..

(b) Bhandarkar D.R. "Lecture on the Ancient History of India" PP-169-70.

20.Katyayan comments on Panini IV -1-168.



Nagas, the Ancient Rulers of India, their Origin and History 363

[p.333]: belonging to the same blood or tribe became kig. others who were pushed to Jungles or hills still remained tribe. Some of the Bhars and the Rajbhars of this region (U.P.) still known as Rajputs 21 others are still Sudras by caste. Hence Jayaswal cannot say that Bhar tribes of this region cannot be blood relatives of royal families of Manda and and Vijayapur.

Another argument of Jayaswal goes in my favour. He says. "The Bhar Deul Siva's temple, as indicated by learned scholar is covered all over with the figures of naga (serpent) kings. As recorded by Kittoe in whose time it was called the temple of KarKota Nag" . ThiS evidently supports this view that the Bhar here stands for Bharsivas. 22 This is to be noted that Karkota Nag was worshipped by the Takas 23, who were progenitor of Bharsivas. These Takas or Takka or Takshak Nagas according to the Mahabharata account were non-Aryan Native Naga tribe and sworn enemies ot Aryan Pandavas {See chapter VI P-144 and X P-261 for detail .

Re-establishment of Nagas

The Bharsivas, in the later days of imperial Kushanas or about 150 A.D. reached Kantipur on the Ganges, they performed there Ashwamedha and coronations at or near Banaras where is located the place known as Nagwa, the present site of the Hindu University seems to be associated with their name. From Kantipur, they moved westwards under Virasena, who strikes coins extensively and whose coins are found from Ahichchhatra, regains Padmavati and Mathura.

It is stated in the Vayu and Brahmand Puranas that rule of Navanaga was not only confined to Samayukta-Prant alone but also to the east and the western Bihar also because their capital was in Mathura as well as in Champavati-Bhagalpur. 25

The Puranas, give to the Padmavati and the Mathura Nagas or in view of the Vishnu, to the Padmavati, Kantipuri-Mathura Nagas,-seven successions. This is fully borne out by the names gathered from the coins and inscriptions as tabulated below after Jayaswal :

Foot notes -

21. Sherring Rev M.A.; Hindu Tribes and Castes. PP 357-73.

22. Jayaswal KP., "History of India' P-30.

23. Jayaswal KP. P-39.

24. Jayaswal KP. P-31.

25. Jayaswal KP. P-32.

Bharsivas Rise at Kantipuri (140 A.D.)


Nava Naga (year 27 on his coin) ..... Founders of the Nava Naga Dynasty (Bharsiva) 040-170 AD)

Virasena (Year 34 on Coin) .... Founders of Mathura and Padmavati Branches. (170-210 AD)

Padmavati Kantipuri Mathura
(Taka Dynasty) (Bharsiva Dynasty) (Yadu dynasty)
210-230 AD Bhima Naga 210-245 Haya Naga (years 30 on coin) name unknown
230-250 AD Skanda Naga 245-250 Traya Naga name unknown
250-270 AD Brahaspati Naga 250-260 Barhina Naga (years 7 on coin) name unknown
[Vakataka Suzerainty begins 284 AD]
270-290 AD Vyaghra Naga 260-290 Charaja Naga (year 30 on coin) ....
290-310 AD Deva Naga 290-315 AD Bhava Naga 315-340 AD Kirtisena
310-344 AD Ganapati Naga (315-344 AD) Rudrasena at Purika 340-344 AD Naga Sena

According to Vakataka 26 inscriptions (Fleet G I. PP-237)

Gautamiputra, son of the Emperor Pravarsena another of Rudrasena I, did not succeed, but Rudrasena I, both as the grand-son of Pravarsena and as the grandson of the Bharsiva-Maharaja Bhavnag, succeeded. The Nava Naga ruled from three capitals Padmavati, Mathura and Kantipuri.

But Rudrasena I ruled from Purika.

Sometimes before Samudragupta, (335-375 AD) the Naga kings were ruling over Eran. As,27 Padmavati, Kantipuri and Mathura were three centres of their rule, the Eran- Vidisa was fourth. Naga coins have been recovered in a very large number from this region. All these four kingdoms were inter-related with each other and perhaps, they all unitedly encountered the attacks of Kushanas and Scythians and pushed them back from their motherland. These Naga kings were great warriors. According to Cunningham, from the lonely finding of a coin, from the remains of Eran, we get information from its writing, which is in Brahmi, that ancients name of the City was 'Erikiran' which was most probable named after some famous Naga King of similar name. 28 The coins of Ravli- Naga, Basu-Naga and Ganapati-Nagas have been recovered in a very large number from Vidisa and Eran.

Bharsivas of Padmavati; A confederacy of Naga Rulers of North

We have already thrown light in Chapter V and VI (PP - 132-33) that the basis of Naga polity was tribal republican confederacy or Gan Sangha system very similar to that of Sumerian. 29

Foot notes -

26. Jayaswal KP. P-17.

27. Jayaswal KP .. P-15.

28. Bajpai Atima, "Madhyapradesh Ke Nagbanshi Sikke" PP 115-17.

29. Hawkes Jacquetta, 'The First Great Civilization" PP 160-161.

[p.335]: We know that the West Asia was original home of Nagas from where this tradition was transferred to Indus Valley along with their migration in Neolithic-Chalcolithic Age and was prevalent among the native people in Vedic and later Vedic period.

During the life time of Buddha and later period there were many such confederacies of Naga people in North as well as in South India such as Malava-Kshudraka, Andhaka-Vrishani, Vaishali-Videha, Videha-Lichchhavi, Lichchavi-Malla, Vujji, Trigarttashashtha 30 (in north and west), Naga (chera) Mandal in south.

Jayaswael31 KP gives an account of political organization of Bharsivas as follows -

"The system of the Naga government was a federation consisting of (1) tree mam monarchial Naga families, one of which, the Bharasiva, was the imperial leader (chief), with a number of gubernatorial families under him, (2) a number of republics. Two branches at Padmavati and Mathura were set up by the Bharsivas, with distinguishing dynastic titles of their own. The Padmavati dynasty had the official designation the Taka Bansha, which is given in the Bhavasataka a book dedicated to Ganapati-Naga. The Mathura family had the official title-the Yadu-Bansha which is mentioned in the drama Kaumudimahotsava writtten about the same time as the Bhavasataka. The two titles incidentally furnish ethnological data of the Nava Nagas .... Padmavati family was thus a sovereign family, and their subordination to the Bharsiva was evidently of an Imperial type. The Mathura family and the family to which Nagadatta (father of Maharaja Mesvara Naga of the Lahore seal) beelonged and who ruled somewhere in Ambala district probably at the old capital Shrughna, seem to have been under the direct control of the Bharsiva. There was a ruling family near Indrapura (Indorkhera) in the district of Bulandshahar. As regards Bharsivas they had their two centres, Kantipuri and Padmavati. The Mathura family never minted any coin but the Padmavati family did so from the beginning to the end. They were thus a sovereign family." It is obvious Bharsivas were racially -Yadavas and of Taka Bansha . Political confederacy system was their peculiarity.

An Invincible and Prosperous Confederacy

We have earlier (Chapter-VI PP 133-34) told that the Nagas were great warriors, that is why they pushed back Kushanas and Scythians from Northern India. The sworn enemy of these non-Aryan republicans, Kautilya 32 has expressed his view that these republicans were invincible. K. P. Jayaswal also puts forth his remarks on this issue 33 - "The other chief feature of their (republican) constitution was that they emphasized on their citizens the duty to acquire military skill. In other words they

Foot notes -

30. Jayaswal KP. "Hindu Polity" PP 38, 50-52, 54-55.

31. Jayaswal KP., "History of India" PP 33-34.

32. Jayaswal KP., "Hindu Polity" P-119.

33. Jayaswal KP., "Hindu Polity" PP-54-55.

[p.336]: had a citizen army. Each state was a nation-in-arms. Conversely, the other class, where the 'king' consul constitution obtained, probably had, like monarchs a regular or hired army. The nation-in-arms class, however, did not become purely military, for their constitution also required their citizens to devote attention to industry and agriculture (VĀRTIĀSASTROPAJIVINAH, A.S. XI-I-160 P-376). Hence they were most wealthy as well as powerful" It shows while in peace, citizens were kept engaged in craft activities and trade which was their main occupation.

Padmavati; the Capital of Bharsivas

There is a small village named Karavati, situated on the Dabra (Distt-Gwalior) Shivpuri road. At a distance of 10 K.M. to the west of this village at the junction of rivers Sindh and Parvati (Sindhu and Para) the ancient grand City of Padmavati 34 was situated. Now-a-days this place is known as Pavaya or Padam Pavāya. It is very interesting to note that during the rainy season, a very large number of coins belonging to the Naga rulers appear at the surface.35 These coins have made the historians enable to identify this ancient Naga city. The first mention of this city as Padmavati, is made in the Vishnupurana 36, where it is stated that the Nava-Nagas made, Padmavati, Kantipuri and Mathura their capitals and ruled for seven generations. 37

Bhavabhuti 38 has stated that 'Padmavati is situated near the junction of the rivers Sindhu, Para' Lavana and Madhumati. Later following the information given by M.B Lele 39 in his Marathi book titled 'Malatimadhava sar ani kiwar', the Department of Archaeology discovered this ancient site. According to a critical study of coins, Virsena was the founder of the kingdoms of Padmavati and Mathura.

Nava Nagas founded a large mint in Padmavati, from where coins were issued in a very large number, on the basis of which it is surmised that the Navanagas, in addition to their high virtues of being most expert and talented rulers, were also most prosperous. One of the well known peculiarities of Naga coins is that they are all dated. They have figures of palm trees and a human figure seated on a throne. 40The palm tree is a Naga symbol. Since Sanskrit word for mint is Tak-shala [[[Taka]] (Bharsiva) + Shala] this shows these Taka-Bharsiva had some hand in establishing new technique or workshop of casting of coins.

The demolished remains of strong fort on the junction of the rivers still give a reminiscent view. From the defence point of view, because it, was surrounded by in-exhaustable flow of river water from two sides and, on the other two sides by deep trenches, it was most safe and invincible. The trenches were 20 feet deep and were occupied by either furious lions or river water. The traces of these trenches are still visible.41

Foot notes -

34. ASR (1915-16) P-103.

35. ASR (1915-16) P-105.

36. V.P. (Wilson) II P-659.

37. Jayaswal KP. - "History of India" PP 20-21 and 35.

38. ASR (1915-16) P-102.

39. ASR (1915-16) P-103.

40. (a) Jayswal KP. PP 20-27. (b) Smith V.A., "Coins of Indian Museum" P-191.

41. ASR 1915-16 P-lOO Footnote.

[p.337]: Bhavabhuti 42, the famous Sanskrit poet of seventh century A. D. composed his valuable scripture, at Padmavati. Bhavabhuti got constructed a large Yajnashala (sacrificial lace) at the bank of river Paravati, its remains are still in good condition.


In about 175 or 180 A.D., we find a Naga king named Virasena re-establishing Naga sovereignty at Mathura. According to Dr. Jayaswal,43 the rise of Virasena was a turning point not only in the Naga history but also in the history of Aryavarta. His coins have been found in Northern India, almost all over Uttar Pradesh and in the Punjab. They are most common around Mathura. He occupied Mathura and ruled all over the Aryavarta Doab. An inscription of Virasena was discovered by Sir Richhard Burn. There are a number of broken sculptures and carved pieces and the inscription is on the head and mouth of a sculptured animal.44 The inscription is dated in the 13th year of the reign of Svamin Virasena. Virasena 45 assumed full sovereignty from the first year of his reign. It appears that he ousted the Kushanas from Mathura and the whole of the Doab between the Ganga River and the Yamuna. Virasena had a fairly long reign and according to Dr. Jayaswal he ruled from about 170 A.D. to 210 A.D. The same writer is of the opinion that 'The intimate connection between his coins and coins of the undoubted Bharasiva king, the Naga emblem on his coins as if to complete his name, the period of his rise and his establishing himself at Mathura mark Virasena out as one of the earliest Bharasiva Nagas of the inscriptions and the Nava Nagas of the Puranas.'

Bhava Naga

According to KP Jayaswal,46 there were four kings after Virasena. Haya Naga, Traya Naga, Brahina Naga, Charaja Naga. Bhava Naga ruled from about 290 to 315 A.D. Dr. Jayaswal made it clear that he had fixed the date of Bhava Naga on a consideration of the Vakataka and Gupta chronology. Bhava Naga was a contemporary of Pravarsena I who was an elder contemporary of Samudra Gupta. Bhava Naga is described as belonging to, the family of the Bharasivas 47 whose royal line owed its origin to the great satisfaction of Siva that was caused by their carrying a Sivalinga placed as a load upon their shoulder" and "who were besprinkled on the forehead with the pure water of the Bhagirathi that had been obtained by their valour. "

Foot notes -

42. ASR 1915-16 P-lOl.

43. Jayaswal KP. P-19.

44. Jayaswal KP.-21.

45. Jayaswal KP.-23.

46. Jayaswal KP. P-27.

47. Jayaswal KP. P-17.


  1. Dr Naval Viyogi: "Nagas, the Ancient Rulers of India, their Origin and History", Chapter. pp.333, 407
  2. An Imperial History Of India,p.26