Revisiting Nagananda

Long ago when I was still active on, I was to choreograph for the play Nagananda; I put my thoughts down and created a blog.  After I published the blog, many of my fellow bloggers gave me their comments and inputs it was amazing. That was the time I discovered the power of blogging and online network, I didn’t know the word social media then.

I cannot access some of the inputs, I am sharing what is there of it. I think I will have to do so with all my posts on Sulekha before Sulekha retires to the realm of archaeology.

About Nagananda:

It was a play written by King Harshavardhana of the Vardhana dynasty. The hero of the play Jimuthavahana is Vidhyadhara prince.

If one were to take the geographic location of vidhyadharas they extended right from the Himalayan foothills of Buddhist strong hold to the southern peninsula where they were Jains.

Jimutavahana marries a Siddha princess called Malayavati. Siddha are a tibeto-bhutanic tribe of Buddhist tantrics.

So we are along the path of  tibeto-bhutanic belt we can locate Malaya parvata at Meghalaya then the Shankachuda of the nagas becomes a Naga and cannibalism did exist and probably gouda came from masked cannibals..Again worship of the Nagadevi Manasa is cult in north-east

This would give us an entirely different visual of the play.

The play of course is mythical where Jimutavahana is loosed styled around Harshavardhana himself and the story is a takeoff from Buddha Jataka. The only Hindu pantheon that enters here is Gauri puja performed by princess Malayavati.

Malyavati here could be a generic name for a girl from the mountains, since the belief is that clouds rest a while in the mountains. The possibilities are really amazing.

In puts from blogger: Sreenivasarao s

Dear sharmila pn,

That was an interesting blog. Though short in length, it raised many issues.

You mentioned that:

Siddhas are a tibeto-bhutanic tribe of Buddhist tantrics.

We can locate Malaya parvata at Meghalaya

Cannibalism did exist and probably garuda came from masked cannibals…again worship of the nagadevi manasa is cult in north-east

The story is a takeoff from Buddha Jataka

I think the Buddhist legend of Jimutavahana is related twice in the kathasarit-sagara, in the 22 and 90 chapters. it is the work of somadeva, based on an earlier collection of legends related in a work called vrihat katha, which goes back to the 2 century a.d the story was later dramatized as nagananda, during 7th century ad. the nagananda follows the version given in the 22 chapter of the kathasaritsagara

the other issues you mentioned, such as: the location of Malaya parvatha, garuda, nagas appear to have different explanations.

I attempted a comment on the blog. but as grew in length I posted it separately as 

kindly check and let me know.

Years later when I was researching something else I discovered the existence of “Gokarna” in Nepal, with the identical mythological narration as the one we are told about Gokarna in Karnataka.

This to me evokes another thought process completely.

In my space what makes this post relevant is I could tap the vast knowledge and experience of people that I didn’t know in the physical world. We actually had a chat-room discussion with various theories being put forth.

We also had the discussion of the Nandi to Buddha and the mangalacharan to the goddess. There is no mention of the Vaishnava pantheon at all.

2 Replies to “Revisiting Nagananda”

  1. Dear Sharmila

    It is a delight to see you after a very long time. I trust you are doing wonderfully well both at home and work , pursuing interests close to your heart.

    Sulekha , as you mentioned was long time back. I could not continue to post there as it came to be riddled with numerous problems and glitches.

    And, Vential Ansell does not also seem to be active these days.

    Since then , I have been writing on my own site :

    As regards Nagananda , which was prompted by you; I have revised it to an extent , by mentioning the structure of the play ; and , by including its famous Naandi -Sloka. Please visit that page ; and let me know :

    Since the time we parted from Sulekha, I had written long series on Music (Sangita); Kavya and Poetics.. You may check them at your leisure.

    But, I would like you read the series on Dasarupaka of Dhananjaya ; and let me know . I value your response very highly ; as you are the expert in those art forms


    Meeting you again was a delightful surprise

    Please keep talking


    1. I have read your work on music and about varna chitra too, Venetia I think is busy with her kid. I also refer to Dasarupaka a lot. i do not know if you remember sending me the PDF. I regularly refer to you and I also recommend my students refer you. I shall read your revisiting of nagananda.
      It was quite a challenge to choreograph it. I remember my sister who is an artist of a much calibre than me, asking me how did I get the effect of the snakes sliding.
      I really miss our interactions particularly with Gopal anna, Keshav B.S. Durgadas Sampath and you.
      Thank you for taking time to read .

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