EVOLUTION OF NAGARS
Source: NAGAR NAVLU NAJARANU by
Shri Kiritbhai Yadvendrabhai Baxi, 22-A Jagruti Society, Harni Road, Baroda, 390022. India. PH. 444202
On examining the history and old volumes about the origin and evolution of Nagars, many opinions and stories come across us. Each of them has some sense and logic. However, just as all roads lead to Rome, all these opinions center around one basic thing - " Skanda Purana " - the oldest religious volume available, which narrates the origin and evolution of the Nagar community. All other opinions are more or less-some views, which have very little base and support.
There is a detailed and an independent "Naga-Khand" in "Skanda-Purana" - which vividly narrates the evolution of Nagar community
1. There was a Brahmin named " Kratha" - who was the son of Devrat. He became prodigy, and out of the way as he grew older. Once while moving in a forest nearby, he went to " Nag-Tirth", the town where NAGA (Serpents) lived together. At the same time, Rudramal, the prince of Naga king had come for a stroll in the town with his mother. It so happened that " Kratha" came into confrontation with Rudramal, and killed him - believing that he was an ordinary Nag boy. Rudramal ailing miserably, uttered, " why are you killing me though I am innocent? " Krath was astonished at hearing these words, which normally a human being speaks, was afraid of him and ran away. The mother of " Rudramal" fainted at this sight and cried while she came in senses. She went to her husband soon and narrated the whole sad incident. The whole Nag community gathered there and cremated the body of Rudramal amongst deep grief. His father took a bid that unless he destroys the whole family of the murderer he shall not pay last homage to his departed son. He ordered his whole community members to find out the culprit and instructed to go to Shri Hatkeshwar tirth and to kill all the family members of Krath. Thus, all the Nag citizens went toChamatkarpur , invaded the houses of the Krath family and relatives and spread terror there. To save themselves from all these terror, all Brahmin families flew away to the forests. The Nag king then paid his last homage to his departed son.
How long can Brahmin stay in forests? They all surrendered to a Brahmin called Trijat - who was a big saint and narrated the whole story. Trijat had the blessings of Lord Shiva. Upon seeing all the Brahmins in such miserable condition, Trijat worshipped and prayed Lord Shiva to control the Nag community and to make Brahmins fearless and peaceful. Lord Shiva was pleased and heard Trijat withpatience but told that He could not destroy the Nag community. However, He can nullify the poison contained in them. For this, Lord Shiva gave one hymn (Mantra). When these Brahmin - "NA-GAR" - (No Poison) and directed them to enter the city reciting the hymn. When these people entered back into their respective places, they were pretty old - " Vriddh ". Hence, the city was then known as " Vriddhnagar " - which later on changed to "Vadnagar". Thus, this city became peaceful and Brahmins of G4 sects (Gotra) steadily stayed there. (It may be remembered that Nagars are of G4 sects - Gotra origins).
2. The community, which stands at the highest place of "
Nose " in the worship of Lord Shiva, was known as " NAKAR " -
which was popular as " NAGAR
" in the years that followed. ( The view - that Nagars are devotees of Lord Shiva and that the Nagar community is at the helm of the Indian caste system gets a solid support in this interpretation.
3. There is also a belief that after the invasion of " Shakas " and " Yavans " in the western part of the Aryabhumi (India), many small states were established in Saurashtra. To save themselves from the invasion of foreigners, Brahmins left the lonely places of forests, where they lived earlier and started staying in the cities (Nagri) under the shelter of the state kings. And thus, they were known as Nagars ( Nagare vasti eti Nagar ). Persons living in the cities are citizens. (City means Nagar).
4. It is also believed that before Nagars first came to Gujarat in 404 A.D., they lived in Sindh. According to Sir Herber Ridley, Nagars are a cross-breed of " Shaks " & " Dravids ". Dr. Bhandaarkar also considers that Nagars have origin outside our country. Nagars from across the borders came first to Kashmir and then they spread out in the states of Rajasthan, Punjab, Utter Pradesh, Bengal, Malva and Gujarat. After migrating from Kurukshetra they had first settled in Anandpur - Vadnagar of today.
5. Another view asserts Nagars to be of Greek origin. When Alexander invaded India, he had came with his army through Kashmir. While returning, many Greek soldiers settled in Kashmir. They came into close contact of Pundit community of Kashmir and the progeny that resulted was known as Nagars. Afterwards, theyhad migrated to other parts of the country. Nagars and Greeks are considered similar even today so far as their intelligence and physique are concerned.
6. When Pandavas of Mahabharat times were driven out of forests, they used to move around the whole country. Once, Arjuna, while moving went to Assam. The Naga dynasty ruled there. He came into contact with Ulupi - the daughter of Naga king and they stayed together for about 2 years. Arjun left Assam afterwards but Ulupi gave birth to a son was named Babrovahan. Times passed. Pandavas decided to perform Ashva Megh Yagna. The Yagna horse was not detained anywhere in the country except Assam. The warriors of Pandavas , Arjun and those of Assam - Babrovahan and others fought heavily and many were killed. Babrovahanwent to his mother Ulupi to give the news of his victory and informed her about the killing of Arjuna. Ulupi came to the battlefield to confirm the news and felt very sorrytosee Arjuna dead. She told Babrovahan that Arjuna was his father. Hence, both decided to make Arjuna alive and approached her father. Her father had performed a penance to please Lord Shiva, pleased him and received a life-saving drug " Sanjivam " from Lord Shiva. Ulupi told Babrovahan that, he also can get this life-saving drug if he performs a similar penance. Babrovahan did this, got the said drug and made Arjun alive. All came back to the city ( NAGAR ) together. Grandpa of Babrovahan was the head of Naga dynasty and his name was Hatak. Hence the God of Hatak was known as HATKESHVAR. The organ statue before which both Babrovahan and Hatak had performed penance was given the name, " HATKESHVAR ". The whole army of Arjun along with Ulupi, Babrovahan and others came to the cities through Madhya Pradesh. ( The Nagar conference held at Surat in India had accepted this view unanimously. ) Only for this reason, poetess Meera has introduced the God in her prayers-songs as " Nagar ". Lord Krishna was also NAG-HAR - a destroyer of the big snake Kaliya - who lived in river Yamuna and harassed people.
7. Once the king Chamatkar of Anartland went for hunting. He killed a baby deer- while he was sucking his mother. The mother deer cursed the king and as a result, the king developed Leucoderma. Brahmins residing in the forest cured the disease. King was pleased and gave a wast piece of land as well as the wealth for the Brahmins to live peacefully. There were 72 Brahmins out of which only 68 accepted the gift. Four of these 68 Brahmins migrated. 64 remained and settled there. As the time passed by, this name was changed to Madanpur, Skandpur, Anantpur, Anandpur, Vruddhanagar and Vadnagar. The persons residing therein were later called as NAGARS. (64 sects have been mentioned).
8. Some 72 Brahmins of 72 sects had come to the lake
Shankhtirth - where the Vishvamitra hermiteya was situated. Out
of them, 68 Brahmins accepted charity. These Brahmins of Anart
country were the Brahmins, devotees of Lord SHIVA and in relation
with the kshatriyas of NAGA dynasty.Only for this
reason, the Brahmins have kept their caste as Nagars to maintain their relationship with the kshtriya dynasty. Bhatruyagna, a creator of Nagar community has been named as a decendant of Saint Yagnyavalkya - as mentioned in the Kaumarikh section of Skandpurana. Thus, the facts about Kurukshetra and a surrender toVishvamitra seem to be closely related with the pre-history of Nagars.
9. According to Dr. Samarset Pain, Nagars are of Turkey-Syrian community beyond doubt and are perhaps the deciples of Turks working in army. They were renunciated in a historical fireplace near Mount Abu and then they were termed as pure Brahmins with a special status. Some recent research also depicts Aryans as a base of the present Nagar community - whose native was Hatak of olden times and Ladakh of the present day. Hence, their godfather supreme God was knownas HATKESHVAR..
10. Lord Shiva was to marry Goddess Uma. At that time, the Brahmin priests had gone for some auspicious occassion at Lord Brahma's residence. Hence, toperform the marraige ceremony, Lord Shiva created Brahmins, - and after the marraige was over, gave them land to live near HATKESHVAR at Vadnagar.LordHATKESHVAR became their supreme godfather and Brahmins living there were named as NAGARS. There is an evidence to this fact in " ShaunakSmruti" epic.
11. As per reference made by famous scholar Varah Mihir in
his book, " Bruhad Samhit " Nagar existed in the begining of
Vikram era. This makes us to believe
that Nagars existed even before the Vikram Era.
12. As per the popular Nagar literary personality, Late Shri Ramanlal Vasantlal Desai - Bappa Rao, the first man of Mewad of Rajasthan was a Nagar. He also believes that some Nagars came from Iran and settled in Gujarat. This justifies the view that Nagars must be originally from Gujarat first than other parts of India.
13. A famous historian from Junagadh and a well known Nagar Shri Shambhuprasad Desai had mentioned in his book about the history of Nagars that, Nagars first came from Greece, Macedonia, Syria or regions surrounding these places. There is a Nagar ground near Jordan And Israel. Besides, there is a place like Nagar. Also there is also a Nagar community in Iran, who are intelligent and famous as good and efficient administrators. They might have come from there first toKangda (old NAGARKOT) of Himalayas. "NAG" means a mountain and "NAAG" means persons living in mountain region. "R" is a word of sixth tense. All these three put together becomes " NAAGARA " This leads us to to believe that Nagars must be living in the begining in the regions surrounded by mountains. (Nagar - a man protected by NAG-a mountain)
All these interpretations about the origin of Nagars are
really o0f much importance in the own way. Without entering into
any controversy about the
real facts containing therein, we must take in cosideration the basics that the background of the origin of Nagars has much reference and relevance with
the feeling of selfless serviceelated qualities and a special (designation). The theme of all this is that the word Nagar denotes not the community or caste but denotes high cultural values. The notion of caste becomes secondary. In as much a similar sense only, Tulsidas in " Ramcharit Manas " and Meerabai in her verses have used the word Nagar to signify high cultural values.
In words of Keshavram K. Shastri, a famous literary
personality of Gujarat, " All types of Nagarshad progressed
highly in the field of education. Urat, the writer of Shukla
Yajurved (a religious book) belonged to Vadnagar and was a great
academician of the court of king of Bhoj of Malva (of
Rajasthan).All these Nagarswere of Brahmin attitudes and
professions. Upto 15th century, Pandit Someshwar,, Pandit Nayak
of Solanki - Waghela dynasty were famous. When they entered
Gujarat through Gohilvad of Saurashtra and spread over the big
cities of Saurashtra and Gujarat. They were all Brahmins. Some of
them who went to Junagadh, accepted the state service of Junagadh
kings and were known as " Gruhastha ". The priests of these
Brahmins were from amongs themselves only. Thepriests of Vadnagar
and other Nagars were only from amongst Nagars - is a speciality
of this community. They will neither call other priests nor will
they takeany food prepared by them. They will take cook and make
food only of milk-base and avoid any other food - even jams -
where water is included and used as a base.This continued till
we became independant in 1947. The best and ideal illustration of
a true Nagar in all these respects is Late Dr. Anandshanker