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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (R)

Pauni on Map of Bhandara district

Pauni (पौनी) or Pawni (पवनी) is a city in Bhandara district in Maharashtra.


Pauni is located at 20°47′N 79°38′E / 20.78°N 79.63°E / 20.78; 79.63[1]. It has an average elevation of 226 metres. It is situated on the bank of river Wainganga known as South Ganga.

Ancient city

It was the ancient Buddhist city. Many pilgrims have been found near and in the Pauni. The remains of historical monuments are scattered all over the town. The town is surrounded by a fort wall. The river Wainganga flows on the Northern side of the town. Number of bathing ghats viz. Diwan Ghat, Ghode Ghat, Vajreshwat Ghat, Hatti Ghat etc.. are constructed along the river bank. Some of these ghats are still in good condition.

There are about 150 temples scattered all over the town. Pauni has therefore been described as temple town. The important temples are the Dattatraya temples in Vitthal Gujari, the Nilkanth temple, Panchmukhi Ganesh temple, the Chandakai temple, Murlidhar temple, the Vajreshwar temple and Ram temple. The unique features of the temples at Pauni is that in almost all these temples, Garuda Dhwaj have been erected. The entire existing town is located on remains of ancient settlement. Number of Ring walls constructed of bricks or by placing earthen pots over one another can be seen at several places in Pauni. There is small earthen mound about 20' high to the South of Pauni town outside the fortwall. There is one temple constructed on this mound which is known as the Jagananath temple. The ancient history department of Nagpur University has carried out archeological excavation around the Jaganath temple in 1969. These excavations have unearthed the remains of a huge stupa of Buddhist era. These excavations have revealed that original stupa was constructed in pre Ashoka's period and was latter enlarged in Sunga period. About 1/2 kilometres to the south of Jagannath temple, one more stupa has been unearthed which is known as Chandakur stupa.


The Megalithic Culture, its Relation with the Buddhism and Naga Race

Note - The following content is taken here for research and study mainly from Chapter 14 of Dr Naval Viyogi's book "Nagas, the Ancient Rulers of India, their Origin and History", Originals, Delhi, 2002, pp. 388-399

Page 388

It has been proved in chapter X that the revival of Naga culture gave birth to and brought up Buddhist and Jain religions also. Both the religions took their birth in the region North east of Vindhya, which was one of the important centres of Megalithic culture. After the Mahaparinirvana (death) of Tathagat Buddha, relics or ashes of his body were claimed by the same people who were related to Naga culture and none-else, such as Nagas of Gandhara, Koliyas Naga of Ramagama and near relatives of Buddha, Nagas of Nag Bhumi or Nagpur and Kalinga. Although these centres were situated at a far off place from each other but even then they were centres of one culture known as Naga culture. Later, these Nagas made Krishna Valley another centre of their culture that is why a Mahastupa has been explored from Amaravati, situated in this region in the district of Guntur. Alexanderl Rea has excavated this site to restore as well as to study the nature of stupa. The excavation has revealed the presence of Megalithic culture at this site, attested to by the discovery of seventeen huge Urn burials. But, the excavator has assigned Neolithic affiliation to them. However, taking in to account the recent evidences we can safely assign them to Megalithic period. This remarkable discovery is important for chronological study of Megalithic burials.

Spreading of Buddhism in Vidarbha during the life time of Buddha

This is very interesting that although Buddhism took its birth in Northern India, but it became the religion of the people first of all in Vidarbha. Usually it is said in historical description that entry of Buddhism took place there during the age of Ashoka, but as a matter of fact Buddhism had made its entry into Vidarbha in the life time of Buddha, but it spread widely during the reign of Ashoka. The third convention of Buddhist religion was organized by Ashoka in Pataliputra, where decision was taken to spread Buddhist religion not only in the whole of India but also in foreign countries and missionaries were also sent to foreign

[p.389]: countries like Egypt, Greece, Syria, China and Ceylon for spreading Buddhist religion. At the same time, a Sthavar, named Mahadhamma Rakshit was sent to Maharashtra (Maharattha) for preaching his religion.

Broken inscriptions of Ashoka have been traced out from Sopara of district Thana and Devtek2 of Chandrapur district. Similarly remains of Maha-stupas have been recovered from Kolhapur, Sopara, Kanheri and Pauni in Nagpur regions; Nagarā, In Usmanabad District etc. We get information, from the above sources, about spreading of Buddhist religion in Maharashtra, during the age of Ashoka.

But it is really wonderful that during the life time of Tathagat Buddha his religion was spread in Maharashtra. This is proved from the Buddhist literature as well as archaeological evidences available in modern age. There is a story of a Brahman named Babari in Suttanipat of Parayana Vagga. Above Brahmana used to live in Dakshinapatha in an Ashram, built at the bank of river Godavari. He sent his sixteen disciples to attend to listen religious preaching and visiting Tathagata Buddha. Impressed by the religious teaching of Buddha they became his followers and later preached Buddhist religion in the South.3

Similarly we get some information about Punna and Arhat Ishidinna from Ther-gathas. Arhat Punna was a merchant of Sopara of Thana district. We read the name Sopara in Pali literature. Punna after getting consecration from Tathagata and after having full knowledge of Dhamma4 (religion), came back to Sopara and after building a Vihara became absolutely busy in religious preaching of Buddhism.

Ishidinna5 was a merchant of country of Sonaparant. He also had taken consecration from Tathagata Buddha and after building a Vihara preached religious teachings. Above description is given in Ther-gatha. Ishidinna was most probably resident of Goa, Mohad or Bai.6 Burnhouf, a French scholar, has given some information about Arhat Punna. After Dharma Diksha (religious consecration), name of Punna changed to Dharma Prabhas7. Hence it is clear that Punna of Sopara and Ishidinna of Kaunkan began their mission of religious preaching during the life time of Buddha Tathagata in Maharashtra.

Similarly, the archaeological evidence, of beginning of spreading of religion of Buddha during his life time in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, is discovery of Maha-stupa of Pauni. Dr. S.B. Deo8 has expressed his view regarding existence of Maha-stupa of Pauni in pre-Mauryan Age. In ancient time the land of Vidarbha was known as Nag Bhumi.

The tooth relics of Tathagata were taken by the Nagas to this Nagbhumi and were enshrined in the Maha-Stupa of Pauni built for this purpose.

Tooth relics of Buddha and Naga Bhumi

[p.390]: After Mahanirwana (death) of Bhagwan Buddha, a very high number of claimants of remains of his 'ashes' came forward. A conflict also took place among such claimants for 'ashes', in addition to four tooth-relics. In the long run the tooth relics were taken away by the Naga Kings of Gandhara, Kalinga, and Naga Bhumi and Maha-Stupas were built for their security . This happened to his 'ashes' also. H.L. Kosare9 produces a detailed account of events which took place after the Mahaparnirvana of Tathagata Buddha :

"These ashes were divided equally among the, Ajatashatru of Rajgraha, Lichchhavis of Vaisali, Sakyas of Kapilvastu, Bullis of Allakappa, Mallas of Pava, Koliyas of Ramgrama and Brahmans of Veth-Dvipa. Later Moriyas of Pippalivan also approached, but because no ashes were left hence only charcoals were handed over to them. In this way at eight places viz. Rajgraha, Vaisali, Kapilvastu, Allakappa, Ramgram, Veth-Dvipa, Pava, and Kushinagar, Maha-stupas were built on these relics. In addition to the above, tooth relics of Buddha were divided into four parts, and distributed, one to swarga (heaven), second to Gandhara, third to Kalinga and fourth to Naga Bhumi (2500 years of Buddhism, government of India Publication P-279). In this way:-Mahastupas were built at Gandhara, Kalinga and Nagbhumi on the tooth relics of Buddha. We don't have the knowledge of tooth relics of Swarga. There is mention of building of Maha-stupa of Gandhara, and Kalinga. There is also mention of tooth relics of Buddha taken to Dantapur or a city or capital of Kalinga in the Dalbandas."

The king of Kalinga, who lived during the life time of Buddha, received the tooth relics of Buddha immediately after the death of Tathagta and built a magnificent Maha-stupa on it. This view has been expressed by Cunningham 10. According to Turnour,11 Dantapur was situated at the north bank of Godavari in Kalinga country.

Similarly, it is also beyond doubt that the Nagas also might have built a Maha-stupa on the tooth relics of Buddha carried to Naga-Bhumi.

As such a total number of eleven Maha-stupas i.e. eight on Ashes and three on tooth relics, were originally, built. All these belonged to the pre-Mauryan period. We get information about the Maha-stupas raised on tooth relics of Tathagata at Gandhara, and Kalinga but we don't find any such information about Naga Bhumi. Hence it is necessary to trace out the whereabouts of Naga Bhumi.

Scholars do not agree on the point where did this Naga-bhumi situated. Sir Alexander Cunningham12 puts forth his opinion on this issue- "Amongst the Buddhist traditions of Ceylon and Siam, we have an

[p.391]: account of a country lying between the mouth of the Ganges and the islands of Ceylon, which was inhabited by the Nagas. These Nagas possessed either one or two Drona measures of the relics of Buddha, which were enshrined in a beautiful and magnificent stupa near the "Diamond Sands". Originally, this portion of relics was related to Ramagrama near Kapilvastu, but when the Ramagrama stupa was washed away by the river, the relic casket containing one of the original eight divisions of Buddha's remains was carried down the Ganges to the sea, where it was picked up by the Nagas and conveyed to their own country, called Majerik. Now this country was to the south of Dantapura, because prince Danta-Kumara and the princess Hemamalla, when flying from Dantapura to Ceylon with the tooth relics of Buddha, were wrecked on the coast near the 'Diamond Sands'. The name itself also helps to fix the position of the 'Diamond Sands', at or near Dharanikotta, on the Krishna, as the diamond mines of this part of the country are restricted to the small district of Partial, lying immediately to the north of Dharnikotta. The flight from Dantapura took place in A.D. 310, at which time according to the Siamese version, the two Drona measures of relics were still preserved in the Naga country" Further Cunningham13 writes .. "It must be noted however, that the people of Northern India were happily unaware that the Drona of relics enshrined at Ramagrama had been carried off by the Nagas to Majerika, as both Fa-Hian and Hieuntsang, who actually visited the place in the fifth and seventh centuries, mention that the stupa was still standing. It is curious, however, to learn from the journals of both pilgrims, that even in their days the Ramagrama relics were believed to be watched over by the Nagas of a tank close by the stupa. According to the original Buddhist legend, these Nagas had-prevented Ashoka from removing the relics from Ramagrama. In the lapse of time, when Ramagrama had become deserted, as it was found by both pilgrims, this legend might easily have assumed the slightly altered form that the Nagas had carried off the relics to prevent their removal by Ashoka. This form of the legend would have been eagerly seized upon by the Nagas of Southern India and the transfer of the relics to their own country of Majerik, would, at once, have commanded the easy belief of a credulous people."

It means actually the relics was not transferred from here to South. Emperor Ashoka got collected relics, enshrined in all the seven stupas. Leaves of gold, silver and corundum were prepared and despatched to those cities, where raising of stupas was planned. On the day of Baishakhi Purnima after sunset at a fixed time, all the corundum were placed after proper worshipl4. During the age of Ashoka in addition to original eleven stupas, Maha-stupas were raised on other places also.

It has been said earlier that there is mention that prince Danta Kumar and princess Hemmālla took the tooth relics of Buddha from

[p.392]: Dantapura, the capital of Kalinga, to the Naga country of Andhra Pradesh. But whether there were one or two tooth relics with the Dantakumar of Kalinga, is a most significant question. But there is mention of one tooth relics at Kalinga and another at Naga Bhumi. If it is proved that at the time of above incident there were two tooth relics at Kalinga, it shows that second Drona of relics were taken by the Nagas from Nagabhumi, because there were only three tooth relics, one each at Gandhara, Kalinga and Naga Bhumi. These relics were not taken from the Gandhar country, it is quite sure. If it is proved that there were two Dronas of tooth relics at Kalinga, this also can be established that other relics were surely taken from Naga Bhumi.

With regard to the kings name, I think that the Greek Bassaro Nag may be identified with the Pali Majerika Nag of the Mahawamsol5.

In the opinion of Cunningham, according to Buddhist tradition of Siam these relics of Buddha were taken to Ceylon in 313 AD and were enshrined there in the great Stupa of Ruanwelli 16. In the later period the myth of taken away by Dutthagamini would have been added. But according to the Mahawamso17 the relics consisted of only one Drona measure which afterwards being enshrined by the Nagas at Majerik carried off to Ceylon in the fifth year of the reign of Dutthagamini (BC 157) by whom they were enshrined in the Maha-stupa at Ruanwelli. The famous tooth relics which were taken from Kalinga to Ceylon in 310 AD, were enshrined in the Mahastupa of Dharma Chakra. This Mahaa Stupa was built by Devanam-Priyatisso contemporary of Ashoka in 240 B.C.18 and was afterwards transferred to the Abhayagiri Vihara, which was erected in BC 8919.

Hence it is crystal clear that tooth relics of Buddha was not taken to Ceylon earlier than 310 or 313 A.D.20 and these relics were in the Maha stupa of Bhatti Prolu and Nagarjuna Konda. But three years later or in 313 AD the kings of Ceylon sent a holy priest to bring away these relics from Majerik21, which was miraculously effected in spite of the opposition of the Nagas. If we accept that these tooth relics of Buddha were brought from Kalinga that we have to accept that Andhra Pradesh was country of Nagas. But the country well known as Naga Bhumi, from where Nagas brought the original tooth relics, is not proved.

Therefore the identification of Majerik or Andhra Pradesh cannot be proved with the Naga Bhumi and it is clear that Naga Bhumi was a different region.

Second point also can very easily be clarified that at the occasion of this incident there should have been two Dronas of tooth relics of Buddha in Kalinga country. One original tooth relics, which was in Dantapura of Kalinga country and another of Naga Bhumi which was

[p.393]: undoubtedly brought to Kalinga for security purpose. One Drona of tooth relics was taken by prince Dantakumar from Kalinga to Majerik and further to Ceylon, if this incident is taken to be true than there should have been one more tooth relics, it is proved by another evidence there is an information in the Dāthā family 'that a complaint was lodged with the king of Magadha that Guhashiva, the king of Kalinga was in the habit of worshipping 'ashes' (Mrit-Asthi) and criticizing the Aryan divinities.' It seems from the above information that Guha-Shiva, the king of Kalinga was feudatory chief of Samudra Gupta, who being Buddhist used to worship ashes or tooth relics of Buddha. It means the original tooth relics of Kalinga were still in Kalinga. Therefore it is proved that tooth relics of Buddha taken from the Dantapura or Kalinga by prince Dantakumar and princess Hemmalla were originally brought here from the original Naga Bhumi.

Nagpur Region; the original Naga Bhumi

It is proved from the above detail of evidences and their interpretation that original Naga Bhumi was not in Andhra Pradesh. On ward we produce archaeological evidence to prove that original Naga Bhumi was region of Nagpur where those tooth relics of Buddha were originally placed, which were taken to Naga Bhumi ? In this regard we have some basic solid evidence. There23 is a mention of the word Nagpur for Nagabhumi in the prayer of worship of tooth relics of Buddhist religion.

ekā dāthāti dasapure eka nāg pure ahu |
ekā gandhār visaye ekāsi puna sinhale ||
chatassā tā mahādātha, nivvāna rasadipikā |
pūjitā naradevehi tāpi bandāmi dhātayo ||

Meaning : One of the tooth relics of Tathāgata is secure in Tridaspur and the second in Nagpur, third in Gandhara country and fourth in Sinhal country. All these four tooth relics are being worshipped by all the divinities for the sake of human deliverance, because they provide the taste of Niravana-Rasa (Juice of bliss). Hence, I also bow down.

In this prayer24 of worship of tooth relics of Buddha, there is mention of tooth relics of Tathagata only. There is also description of one tooth relics of Buddha at Nagpur. Here, the mention of Nagpur is made in place of Naga Bhumi. In those days or during the the time of Buddha, Nagpur would have been the centre or capital of the country of Naga Bhumi. Hence it is beyond doubt that in those days, the country of Nagpur was known by the name of Naga Bhumi. After the

[p.394]: Mahaparinirvan (death) of the great Buddha, whatever tooth relics, were handed over to Nagas, they were taken to Naga Bhumi and it is clearly mentioned in the Buddhist literature. Hence in the composition of above prayer, the word Nagur is used for Naga Bhumi. Hence oneness of the words Nagpur and Naga Bhumi is established. In Harivamsa Nagpur has been mentioned as a dwelling place of Nagas (Rajwade, Lekh-Sangrah Part II P-234). From this name of the place of Nagpur, it is also proved that it was a city of Nagas. Numerous centres of Megaliths, Which were related to Nagas, have been traced out from proximity of Nagpur region such as Mahurjhari, Nekund, Gangapur, Junapani, Khapa and Takalghat. As such in the aforesaid prayer of relics of Buddha's worship, the mention of the name of Nagpur is for Naga Bhumi, is crystal clear. But there is no mention of Kalinga. In lieu of it, mention of Sinhal country has been made. From above prayer this fact is confirmed clearly that whatever description of transfer of tooth relics from Dantapura25 of Kalinga to Ceylon in 310 AD, is made in the Buddhist literature, is true, that is why, in a later period, the fact of absence of tooth relics, appears in this prayer of tooth relics, where the name of Sinhal appears in lieu of Kalinga. In this period, the tradition of the use of Nagpur in place of Naga Bhumi also appears in the prayer. This change took place after seventh century A.D. This conclusion that Nagpur is ancient Naga Bhumi of Vidarbha gets confirmation from an archaeological evidence. In this Naga Bhumi, a Mahastupa built on the tooth relics of Buddha after his death in the pre-Mauryan period has been found out, It is Pauni which is situated at a distance of 82 KM from Nagpur, from where in its excavation in 1969-70, remains of a Stupa of pre-Mauryan period have been found out.

Excavation of Stupa of Pauni

It has been established above, that out of four tooth relics of Buddha, one was taken by Nagas of Naga Bhumi, and Maha-stupa of Pauni was built for Its security.Above stupa was excavate by the department of Archaeology of Nagpur university in 1969-70. Dr S.B. Deo produces detailed description of stupa was found in excavation26,
"The construction of stupa of Pauni began during the Ashokan period. The diameter of stupa was 38.2 Metres and shape was round. Sometimes, after the completion of stupa, the circumambulation was also constructed. The evidence of, round wooden pillars used for building circumambulation has been found out in excavation. From the stratum, related to the Stupa sherds of North Black Polished Ware (NBPW), Black and Redware (B and R ware) and Black polished ware have been recovered. From, the stratum next to the above, the pottery of Mauryan


period, punch marked coins have been found out, and this proves that earlier period was definitely of pre-Ashokan period. It means original stupa was also of pre-Ashokan period. In addition to this, no evidence of inscribed or written work belonging to the beginning period, has been recovered. These evidences of construction of second phase during the period of Mauryan-Sunga, have been unearthed. The work of the extension of stupa was executed in this period and now the diameter of expanded stupa was 41 Metres This time pucca circumambulation was also built. Four entry gates, around the Stupa in all the four directions were also built. One inscription of donation in Brahmi script belonging to Ashokan period, on a heavy stone of top or Summit attached to the entry gate has been recovered.
Later during Sunga period stupa was shaped into more magnificently. For expansion of stupa another palisade of bricks was built around the Stupa, which was supported by round wooden pillars. Later on, when these wooden pillars became weak these were replaced by octagonal stone-pillars of eight feet in height. On this alisade some art or figures of Yakshis are inscribed, one Yaksha with its mouth of ass is very beautiful. ..... third time the stupa was expanded, around the previous palisade another circumambulation was built during the Kushana period, and around it another palisade of stones was also built. It was built with the supports of octagonal stone pillars eight feet in height, by giving a gap of 1-1/2 metre, between each pillar. Such type of palisades were built in Bharhut and Sanchi in the same period. All the outer octagonal pillars are very beautiful an are human objects of art in Sunga-style which were very close to art of Bharhut of the same age .......... .In addition to aforesaid art, on some pillars are insignias of Buddhist religion like Dharma Chakra (circle of religion), Kalpa-tree, Bodhi tree, Bhadrason etc. The absence of statues of Buddhas proves that all this art is symbol of Hinayana-Dharma. Among them, the depiction of art regarding legend of Muchilinda-Naga, seem most magnificent. Below the above art work is inscribed "Muchrindo Naga." Tradition of depicting such like Nagas is also noted in the art of Bharhut. ..... on some art piece of this age, figures of king and queen riding on elephant, sceneries of multi-storeyed buildings etc are most attractive. In addition to the above some sculptures of Yakshas and Yakshis were shaped and raised around the stupa in this age. Among them a six feet long sculpture of Yaksha seems to be of Sunga style. On the head of one of the Yakshi, the depiction of hair style is of Sunga type, whose hair seem to have, fastened five small arrows. The large entry gates of stone, around the stupa, in the east, west, south and north direction, were built during Sunga age. Its construction plan, is just like that of stupa of Bharhut and Sanchi. It seems that this reconstruction work of Sunga period would have been most magnificent and attractive. In spite of wreckage of upper portion its all broken portions have been traced out in excavation.

[p.396]: ........It seems that the upper portion of Stupa would have been used for construction of the Jagan-Nath temple. But the diameter of Stupa was 40 metres and height 20 metres."

We know, that the economic basis of tribal republic confederacies, was guild based trade and industry. It means the common people were a basic element in this system, and the kings were not so powerful as the monarch and their feudal lords. This is clear from the findings of inscriptions of donations from excavation of Pauni stupa. Dr S.B. Deo27 produces an account of such inscriptions,

"The common people owing to their firm faith in Buddhism, contributed their hands in the construction work of Maha-stupa of Pauni from the pre-Ashokan period up to the Kshatrapa period. From the excavation of Stupa, inscriptions of donation have been recovered, which belong to individual common people. Therefore during the Sunga age, the Hinayana branch of Buddhism had full support and firm faith of common people. This Stupa of Pauni was larger than that of Sanchi and Bharhut, and has been called Maha-stupa by the scholars."

It is evident from the above description that the basis of support of stupas was common man instead of monarchs or their feudal lords. But in many instances contributors were working guilds also.

Dr. S.B. Deo further produces archaeological evidences to ascertain the period of construction of Stupa and the establishment of its relation or similarity with other Stupas28,

"In the earliest or pre-Ashokan period of Pauni stupa, in addition to sherds of Black polished ware, B and R Ware, and Grey ware have been recovered. This type of pottery also have been recovered from some important ancient places of North, like Ahichchhatra, Hastinapur, Kausambi, Ujjain and Vaisali, which belonged to a period of about fifth Century B.C. It seems, from the available evidences, that in pre-Mauryan period, the Black Polished ware, were earlier attached to Buddhist religious places only. This pottery has been recovered from ancient Buddhist places like Bijarahill in Nepal (South of Lumbini), Rajgiri, Kausambi, Vaisali, Sravasti and Rajghat etc. Being the relation of Pauni with the aforesaid pottery, this Stupa can be equated with the above places. It means the homogeneity and synchronism of Pauni is proved with Vaisali and other Buddhist stupas of North. The Maha-stupa of Vaisali was built on the original relics of Buddha. The Buddhist Stupa of Pauni was contemporary of Vaisali, this shows after Nirvana of Tathagata, the Nagas obtained relics and carried to Naga Bhumi and enshrined in the stupa of Pauni.
From the pre-Mauryan eriod Pauni was main centre of Hinayana branch of Buddhism of ancient Maharashtra. From this centre, Buddhist art and craft spread in Andhra Pradesh. Nagarjunakonda, Amaravati and Bhattiprolu were important centre of Buddhism of Andhra Pradesh. The

[p.397]: North Black Polished wares, belonging to Buddhist culture and centres, came in to use in Amaravati in fourth Century B.C. and this is well confirmed from the carbon-14 dating also. No North Block Polished ware has been found out so far in all the areas between Amaravati and Shishupalgarh of Orissa. These are-recovered from Pauni only.It is quite evident from this that Buddhist culture and religion reached from central India to South through the route of Pauni. Pauni was situated on the Rajpath to be reached from north to central and onward to South India. It is also proved from the above that in ancient historical age Pauni and Nagpur were important paces."

Above detailed evidences can be summed up as such: The evidences which strengthen the viewpoint of Dr. S.B. Deo29 have come to hand from excavation of Malhar site of district Bilaspur of Madhya Pradesh by Dr. K.D. Bajpai in between 1975-77. Here, from the period I, remains of Chalcolithic, Megalithic culture of 1000 B.C. have been recovered and from later stratum North Black Polished Ware and Band R Ware pottery have been found out (A.M. Shastri, Presidential address Indian History Congress, 39th session 1978). Therefore we can say with certainty that there was a thoroughfare or Rajpath from the place of Malhar of Bilaspur district, leading to Nagpur and onward up to South. Coming through this ancient path, the Nagas of Megalithic culture of iron age established their centre of abode named Naga Bhumi, in the region of Nagpur of Vidarbha in about 1000 B.C. . It30 has been proved earlier that there was only one single culture from the Age of Megalithic up to the Satavahana Age and this was culture of Nagas. Dr. S.B. Deo31 has put forth his opinion that the entire pottery recovered from the excavated trenches of Pauni is pertaining to a single culture and significantly interlinked with the life of stupa established in its various phases. The evidences, therefore belong to our broad early historical period, extending from circa 4-3rd century B.C. to 2-3rd century A.D. It is proved from the archaeological evidences that from the pre-Mauryan age up to the Satavahana age there was existence of a single culture and it was attached to Buddhist religion throughout the whole period. It is also proved that the people of Naga Bhumi were Nagas and they were followers of Tathagata Buddha. It means Satavahana rulers reached Maharashtra in this age.

We have earlier proved that B and R ware culture was attached to Harappan in its early stage on one hand and with the Megalithic culture on the other. These Megalithic people were round headed Alpine-Dravidian or mainly Dravido-Iranian.

This has been established and corroborated by the archaeological evidences that Band R Ware, and NBP Ware, were related to Buddhist

[p.398]: Stupa culture. The Stupa of Pauni was definitely related to Buddhist Nagas. In support of this view Dr. S.B. Deo32 gives an account of archaeological evidences-

"In the excavation work of Stupa of Pauni an important Vedika pillar has been discovered. On this donation pillar the following legend is inscribed "NĀGAS PANCHNIKVYIKAS."· Panchnikaya means Naga scholar learned in five Nikaya, Suktini at has five divisions. Dighanikaya, Majjim Nikaya, Sanyukta Nikaya, Angutara Nikata and Khuddak Nikaya. These five Nikayas were art of Theravadi tradition. The refeference of Panchnikaya is also found in the inscriptions of Sanchi and Bharhut Stupas. Pauni was the chief centre of the followers of Hinayana and among the donors of above stupa centre, one was a Naga scholar learned in five Nikayas. Perhaps this Naga would have been a monk and probably might have been closely related to stupa of Pauni. There are several names among these Inscriptions of donations, which have suffix of words like Nag or Nak such as Nandnak , Balnak etc."

According to James Burgess the suffix of words like Nag or Nak has not only been found in Pauni but also in the Mahastupa of Amaravati situated in Andhra Pradesh33. "In one of the inscription of donation there is mention of one Shoe-maker named Nagagharutapākā son of Vidhik and his son Nag... In another writing, there is a mention of a merchant named Nagatis . Similarly in another donation inscription from the stupa of Jagayyapet belonging to the ruling period of king of Purisadata Ikshwaku, there is a mention of a house-building worker named Nak Chandra, his son Siddharth and his mother Nagilini, maiden daughter Nākbudhnikā, brother Budhināk and son Nagasiri. Therefore it is clear that Naga people used to live in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra in this age and there was a tradition of using of the words Nag or Nak as suffix with their names and they were Buddhists"

It is crystal clear from the archaeological evidences, that like Nagas of Ramgrama, Lichchhavis of Vaisali and Naga of Kalinga, the Nagas followers of Tathagata, belonging to the region of Nagpur or Naga Bhumi, also claimed their right in the share of tooth relics of Buddha and succeeded in achieving one, and enshrined it at Pauni and built a Maha Stupa on it for security. It is quite clear that these tooth relics were divided among those who were Buddha's dearer, nearer, consecrated followers in his life time. Hence it is proved that Nagas of Naga Bhumi also were dearer, nearer and consecrated followers of Buddha and his religion. We have already established in chapter IX that one group of users of Band R Ware pottery took a turn from Gujrat towards South and settled and made Vidarbha their chief centre of abode, and their another group following the southern bank of Ganges reached Magadha

[p.399]: and Bengal. These people established there another large centre in north eastern region of Uttar Pradesh and north of Bihar. This was the main reason that in spite of a very long distance between both the centres, social and religious unity was established in a very short time. Buddha's religion, which took its birth in north centre, was adopted by the Nagas of Vidarbha or Naga Bhumi as early as the life time of Buddha. Hence, it is clear that the foundation of Buddha's religion was laid down on the solid ground of Naga culture.

The fall of Buddhism in Maharashtra

It is really wonderful that during the age under discussion, political stability existed first of all in the ruling period of Mauryas and later during the Satavahana age. The total period of this political stability was a out 600 years. Satavahanas alone ruled for a period of about 460 ears (235 BC-225 AD) over whole of the central and South India except a small portion of South, were as empire of Ashoka was the largest in ancient period.

The glory of Mahastupa of Pauni, was at its peak during Mauryan and Satavahana age. According to the opinion of Dr. S. B. Deo, 'After the third century A.D., the use of Stupa of Pauni was discontinued.' It shows Buddhism flourished in a period, while-native Naga rulers were in power and there was political stability as well. This was the main cause, while the great political Naga power or tribal republic confederacy of Central Pradesh was suppressed by Samudra Gupta and Satavahana power faded, a real threat was faced by the Buddhist stupas and Buddhist religion.

We know that owing to arising of similar situation or a crisis to the security and grace of tooth relics of Tathagat Buddha of Pauni Stupa and weakening of defensive powers after the fall of Satavahanas, the Nagas of Naga Bhumi transferred it to the Kalinga country, and then onward to Ceylon.

This event of transferring of relics, was indicative of the beginning of real downfall of Buddhism in Central Pradesh and Maharashtra, which is duly confirmed by archaeological evidences from Maharashtra.

List of Naga donors found in inscriptions of Buddhist Chetya and Caves

Note - This content is from Dr Naval Viyogi's book "Nagas, the Ancient Rulers of India, their Origin and History", Chapter. XV P 407-09.

When we shed a glance on the names of Naga kings of historical age, we find that some of these names had suffix of words like Nag, Nak, Nandi, Dutta and Sen. We here take, the words Nag or Nak into consideration. We have already said in chapter X that the rule of Nagas was established in Kashi sometimes in between 10th and 8th century B.C. The 23rd Jain Tirthankar, Parashwa Nath, took birth in the family of Brahma Dutta, the famous king of Kashi. He was a Naga prince. Sishunaga who was earlier king of Kashi, later established Sishunag dynasty in Magadha, was also the successor of this family. In one of the texts Sishu Naga has been called Sishunak also. It means both the words i.e. Nag or Nak are synonymous. Hence both were used as suffix in their names by the later Nagas.

Nava Nagas : Names of Nava-Nagas who ruled at Padmavati, Kantipuri and Mathura (140 AD - 344 AD) are as under: Nava Nagas, Virasena Naga, Bhima Naga, Skanda Naga, Brihaspati Naga, Vyaghra Naga. Dev Naga, Ganapati Naga, Hayanaga, Traya Naga, Barhina Naga, Charaja Naga, Bhava Naga, Kirtisena, Nagsena and (Naga Datta, Mahesvara Nag at Srughna).

The Satavahana Age: The use of these words was also made by the Nagas of Satavahana age (235 BC - 225 AD). We get evidences of such names in the inscriptions of this age. Many inscriptions have been found Out from the

[p.408]: Buddhist caves of Satavahana age. From them numerous names with the suffix of Nāg or Nāk have been noted. H.L. Kosare (Prachin Bharatil Nag, pp. 142-144) gives an account of such names.

In the inscription of Bhāje Buddhist cave no 17, there is a mention of grant of one cave, made by a Naga named Nādsava.

On stupa No.6, 7, 8 and 9 there are very small inscriptions. On one of them there is a phrase Ādarniya Ther (Sthavir) Anpināk (or Ahikināk) ka stup (The Stupa of honourable Ther Anpināk)

In the cave inscription no. 5 of Kudā there is a mention of name of Nāgnikā.

The inscriptions No. 7,8, 9, and 10 are in sanskrit and seem to be of a very later date than the others. There is a mention of the name of Nag in them. Similarly there is also a mention of the name of Mahabhoja. There are following inscriptions:

  • The religious donation of this cave by Nag house-holder and merchant.
  • This religious donation of cave' Vasulnāk - Merchant
  • This religious donation of water tank' Vasulnāk - Merchant
  • This religious donation of cave' Shiv Dutta wife of Vahmit and mother of Pusnāk

(a) Inscriptions of Vedasa cave:

  • 1. The donation of Anand son of Pushpanak Merchant of Nasik.
  • 2. This religious donation granted by Mahārthini Mahādevi Sāmadinikā daughter of Mahābhojak and wife of Apdevnāk.

(Inscription on the water Tank near Chetyagraha)

(b) Inscriptions of Karle Cave:

  • (l) This donation of lion Pillar by Gotikā son of Mahārathi Agnimittranāk.

(first inscription in the cave of Karle on lion Pillar of magnificent Chetya graha).

Other inscriptions of Karle cave are :

  • (2) This donation belongs to Māila mother of Mahadevnāk a house holder.
  • (3) This donation of Pillar made by Mitadevanāk son of Usamadan resident of Benukākat.

Page 409

(c) Inscriptions of Shela Khadi :

  • (1) This religious donation of cave made by Siyāgunikā wife of Usabhanāk and her son, householder, Nand. Kunbi Farmer resident of Dhenukākat.

(D) Inscription of Junnar (between 150 BC and 150·200 AD.)

  • 1. First inscription is invisible, its last words are 'Thabhutinak'

(E) Inscription of Chetyagraha of Shivaneri

  • 1. This religious donation, of Chetyagraha, made by the chief house-holder and honest merchant named Virsenāk for the sake of world's well being and welfare (Kalyan).

(F) Kanheri Cave inscription (according to list of H. Luders) :

  • (No 985) This religious donation of Nāknāk of Nasik.
  • (No 987) Inscription of period of Satakarni King Gautamiputra Sriyagya : And Aprenāk son of Upasak merchant who was organizer.
  • (No 1000) Prakrit - This religious donation of one cave arid water tank made by Isipaul son of Golnāk merchant of Kalyan in honour of his family and parents.
  • (No 1005) Prakrit - This religious donation of cave made by Nāgpālit and his family. Javeri (Bead maker) resident of Sopara.
  • (No 1021) Prakrit - This donation of cave made to Bhikshu Sangh by Nāgmulnika wife of maharaja, Maharathini, daughhter of Mahabhoj (Mahabhoji) who is the mother of Khandnāg Sataksiri (Shiva skand nag Satri) and sister of Mahabhoj Ahija (?) Vensen (?).

Among the inscriptions of Satavahana and Nahpan the most ancient inscription is on small window in the Nasik cave no 14. According to Dr. Bhandarkar this inscription seems to be a work of last period of Mauryan age or early Sunga age or the beginning of second century B.C. It is as under:

  • This cave got constructed by Saman, Mahapatra of Nasik while the Krishna of Satavahana family was ruling.
  • This Chetyagraha got constructed on the hillock of Tirānhumi (Trirashmi) by Mahahakusiriya daughter of state minister Arohalaya Chalisalnāk, wife of state minister Agiyatnāk Bhalākārikay and mother of Kannāk.'

One of the inscription of caves of Nasik is as follows :

  • This religious donation of cave was made to Bhikshu Sangha of Chatuhdisha by Chhaklepakiya Ramnak son of Belidutt.

See also

Notes by Jatland Wiki editor

  • Paunia (पौनिया) - A nagavanshi Jat clan has probably originated from Pauni, the ancient Buddhist city. They seem to be inhabiting here before coming to Rajasthan. Probably they came after the fall of Buddhism in Maharashtra. According to the opinion of Dr. S. B. Deo, 'After the third century A.D., the use of Stupa of Pauni was discontinued.' This is probably the time of their migration to north-west.
  • Māila - Māila mother has been mentioned as a donor in inscriptions of Karle cave. Mayla is a Jat clan.
  • Siyāgunikā - Inscriptions of Shela Khadi mentions about religious donation of cave made by Siyāgunikā wife of Usabhanāk and her son, householder, resident of Dhenukākat. Siyag is a Jat clan.
  • Kaunkan - Punna of Sopara and Ishidinna of Kaunkan began their mission of religious preaching during the life time of Buddha Tathagata in Maharashtra. Kaunkan is a Jat Clan. This indicates the role of Jats in spreading Buddhism. They did so after changing their names. Hence it is very difficult to trace their lineage. But the existence of Gotras may through light on these facts.
  • Dantapura - Dantapura was mentioned as the capital of Kalinga in the epic Mahabharata (5:23). Sahadeva the Pandava general had visited this city. Kalinga is mentioned to have another capital named Rajapura. Capital of the Kālinga country, reigned over by King Sattabhu, contemporary with Renu. Other kings mentioned are Nālikīra and Karandu. The city is mentioned also in the Kurudhamma Jātaka, the Cullakālinga Jātaka, and the Kālingabodhi Jātaka. The left eye-tooth of the Buddha was in Dantapura until taken to Ceylon by Dantākumāra. It had been handed over by Khema Thera (Dāthavamsa) to Brahmadatta, king of Dantapura. Dantapura is situated in Ganjam district in Orissa.Dantapura is perhaps same as Palur in Ganjam district in Orissa. Pall means 'tooth' and 'Ur' means city in Tamil language. The Greek author Ptolemy has referred Palur as flourishing port of the Kalinga.
  • Danta Ramgarh (दांता रामगढ) - Danta Ramgarh is a tahsil in Sikar district in Rajasthan . It is named in combination of two towns Danta and Ramgarh, which are in neighbourhood. There is a need to search relation with Nagavanshi history of these places. It is also ancient areas of Nagavanshi rulers.
  • Nagaur - Nagaur finds no mention here but Nagaur is known as Nagana (नागाणा), means land of Nagas or Nag Bhumi. There is a need to research this more. Probably after the fall of Buddhism in Maharashtra these people came to Nagaur. It may also be probable that Nagaur people moved to Maharashtra and established Nag Bhumi.

Distribution in Chhattisgarh

Villages in Bilaspur district

Author: Laxman Burdak


1. Rao K.P. "Deccan Megaliths" P-46.

2. Kosare H.L. "Prachin Bharatatil Nag" P-227.

3. Ibid.

4. Kosare H.L. P-228.

5. Ibid.

6. More M.S. "Maharashtratil Buddha Dhammacha Itihas" P-24-25 Mentioned by H.L. Kosare P-228.

7. Burnouf R.E. "Introduction to Buddhism" PP. 235-70.

8. Deo. S.B. and Joshi J.P., "Pauni Excavation" (1972) PP 21 and 25.

9. Kosare H.L.: "Prachin Bharatatil Nag", PP 228-30.

10. Cunningham Alexander, "Ancient Geography of India." P-450.

11. Tumour "J B R A S" (1837) P-860 .

12. Cunningham A. P-450.

13. Cunningham A. PP-45Q-53.

14. Burnouf R E. Vol I P-455.


(a) Tumour's 'Mahawamso' P-185 Manjerik Naga Bhawanan (The land of Manjerika Nag).
(b) Cunningham A. P-455.

16. Cunningham A. P-451

17. Tumour's, "Mahawamso" P-185.

18. Cunningham A. P.-451.

19. Tumour's 'Mahawamso' P-241.

20. Cunningham A. P.-452.

21. Cunningham A. P. - 450.

22. Datha Vansho, 'J.P.T.S.' (1884) P-109 Pada 72-94 FF mentioned by Jayaswal K. P. P-128.

23. Kosare H.L. P-232.

24. Ibid.

25. Ibid.

26. Deo S.B. and Joshi J.P. "Pauni Excavation" PP 25-58.

27. Deo S.B. and Joshi J.P. "Pauni Excavation" PP-37 and 61.

28. Deo S.B. and Joshi J.P. "Palmi Excavation" PP 42-43.

29. Kosare H.L. P-237.

30. Ibid.

31. Deo S.B, "Pauni Excavation" P-57.

32. Pauni Excavation PP 39-42.

33. Burgess James, "Notes on Amaravati Stupa" (1972) no. 231 ; 26 B PP 53-55 and 56.

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