Monday, September 3, 2007

Kosambi on Nags

The Nags are said to have been associated with almost all great civilization- Mesapotamia, Rome, Greece and Egypt (Tavalkar,1979).D.D Kosambi (1965:86) states that Naga was a generic name for food gathering forest tribe and were a very respectable people.He further states (ibid. 93) apparently Naga became a generic term for forest aborigines,not necessarily connected or interrelated.who had a cobra (Nag) totem or worshipped the cobra as so many Indians aborigines (and not only aborigines) still do.The particular ‘Naga’ were in adjacent jungle at the time Kuru land was first settled by Aryans.Food gathering was much easier in Gangetic forest than in the open,semi desert basin or the foothills o the punjab.The same dense forest made it impossible to conquer the Nag or to reduce them otherwise to the status of tribals slaves, as had been possible with Dasa and Audra of the west.Naga line was friendly to and in some special relation with the Kurus,though not to the Pandavas.The term ‘Naga’ was not in vogue in vedic age for ethnic group (ibid,120),here it indicated aboriginal blood or at least aboriginal cult.And for that matter,Kolians the neighbours of Sakyan to whom Buddha belonged (ibid 109) were often counted among the aboriginals with the generic label ‘Naga”.So the term ‘Naga’ in all intent and purposes, denoted tribal groups or totemic groups of the tribals. ‘Pundra’ or ‘Pundarika’ is another term which is associated either to the name of ethnic group or to area of their habitation and has relevancy to the present enquiry.

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Scholars Without Borders on Kosambi

It is a great pity that when the JNU Library system was gifted the collection of D D Kosambi's personal books, they eventually chose not to keep them together in a single physical location. What were the books that a mind such as his found interesting? What were the crucial influences that allowed him, throughout his intellectual life, to contribute to mathematics, as well as to sanskrit studies, numismatics and to Indian history? And what was the reason for the daily commute on the Deccan Queen? All that might have been learned by seeing the physical evidence of the man's taste will now have to remain in the realm of mere speculation.
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