(Last Updated on : 08-04-2009)
Nagar women have enjoyed a privileged status since ancient times. In the home, they participate equally with men in religious and family affairs and monogamy is practised strictly. The birth of a girl is greeted with the same joy as that of a boy. A widow can be sure of a secure and respectable place in the family.
To preserve their identity, the Nagars formulated a certain code of conduct in 347 AD, which is recorded in the Nagar Khand of the Skanda Purana. It admonishes Nagars to preserve their religion, such as, the worship of Siva and Sakti and to practice good conduct and justice. It forbids inter-caste marriages and eating with those outside one's caste and prescribes forty-eight rituals or samskaras.
Vadnagar was sacked twice or three times by invaders and the Nagars sought shelter in other places in Saurashtra and Rajasthan but always observed their religious code strictly. Some of them became Buddhists and Jains and a number of Jain religious texts are the works of Nagars. The Chinese monk, Hiuen Tsang, has referred to them in his account of his Indian pilgrimage. They also departed from their brahminical calling and took a leading part in politics and even in wars. Nagar warriors and generals became well-known for their statesmanship and diplomacy.
Nagars have great adaptability. During the Mughal era they dominated nearly every field of activity - diplomacy, statesmanship and war. They helped the rulers to administer the state and won their confidence. In recognition of their services, they received jagirs (estates). They learnt Persian and Arabic and also excelled as writers.
After the struggle with the Mughal Emperor, Akbar, the Nagars gradually left Vadnagar. They settled down in various towns of Gujarat and in other places in North India. From Uttar Pradesh about two hundred families went to the Punjab and Kashmir.
The Nagars played a leading part during the rise and fall of the Maratha Empire and maintained their reputation for statesmanship, learning and courage in battle. After the 1857 upsurge by the Sepoys, when peace was established, they bade farewell to arms and devoted themselves to scholarly pursuits.