Page:The Tamils Eighteen Hundred Years Ago.djvu/58

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hero of the poem, in his banishment, is said to have married first Ulipi, the daughter of a Naga king, then Chitrangadai, daughter of Chitravahana, the Naga king of Manipura. Parikshit, the grandson of Arjuna was killed by Thakshaka, a Naga king, and hence Janamejaya, the son of Parikshit had to wage a long and bloody war with the Nagas and killed thousands of them. They appear again in history in the 6th century B. C. when a Naga dynasty ruled Magadha ; and it was during the reign of Ajatasatru, the 6th king of this race, that Gautama Buddha preached his new faith which soon found favour with the Nagas.[1] Tle Ceylonese historical works all, begin with an account of the Nagas. It appears from these works that in the 6th century B. C. there were powerful Naga kingdoms on the western coast of the island which was called Nagadwipa or Naga island on that account. The Naga capital was at Kalyani. The niece of the king of Kalyani was married to a Naga king of the Kanawaddamano mountain, which was evidently Kandamadanam, a hill near the modern Ramesvaram on the Indian coast, opposite to Kalyani. In the ancient sculptures at Amaravati and elsewhere which were executed more than eighteen hundred years ago, the human figures, which are represented with serpent hoods spread wide at the back of them, are Nagas.[2] Some fragments of the sculptures which were removed from the ruins at Amaravati may now be seen at the Government Museum, Madras. In these sculptures the Naga kings are distinguished by the hood of a five or seven-headed serpent at their back, Naga princesses by a three-headed serpent, and ordinary Nagas by a single-headed serpent. The artists who executed these sculptures with considerable labour and care seem to have imagined that the Nagas partook of the nature of serpents, and that their bodies were partly human and partly serpentine. The ancient Tamil poets appear to have shared this belief, for, they speak of the Nagas who were contemporary with them, as human beings, while at the same time they describe the ancient Nagas as serpents living underground. In describing the antiquity and wealth of Kaviripaddinam, the Chola capital, the author of the Chilappathikaram states that it was as ancient and famous as the

  1. Ferguson’s Tree and Serpent Worship, p. 60.
  2. Archaelogicol Survey of Southern India, Vol. I. The Buddhist stupas of Amaravati and Jaggayapeta.