History of Nepal


History of Nepal
History of Nepal
Kirat era
Licchavi era
Malla era
Shah era
(Rana era)
1990 democracy
movement
Nepalese Civil War
2006 democracy
movement
Democratic era
Timeline
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The history of Nepal is characterized by its isolated position in the Himalayas and its two neighbors, India and China.

Due to the arrival of disparate settler groups from outside through the ages, it is now a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multilingual country. Central Nepal was split in three kingdoms from the 15th century until the 18th century, when it was unified under the Shah monarchy. The national language of Nepal is Nepali, which is also the most-spoken language of Nepal.

Nepal experienced a struggle for democracy in the 20th century. During the 1990s and until 2008, the country was in civil strife. A peace treaty was signed in 2008 and elections were held in the same year.

Many of the ills of Nepal have been blamed on the royal family of Nepal. In a historical vote for the election of the constituent assembly, Nepalis voted to oust the monarchy in Nepal. In June 2008, Nepalis ousted the royal household. Nepal was formally renamed the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal when it became a federal republic.

Contents

Toponymy

The word Nepal is first attested in the Atharvaveda Parisista; it is derived from an older from of Nepa (नेपा:), the name of Kathmandu valley in Nepal Bhasa, the language of Newars, who were the early inhabitants of the valley, long before the unification of Nepal. Nepal Sambat, one of the three main calendars of Nepal has been in use since October 879 CE.

Other, folk etymologies include:

  • "Nepal" may be derived from the Sanskrit nipalaya, which means "at the foot of the mountains" or "abode at the foot", a reference to its location in relation to the Himalayas. Thus, it may be an Eastern equivalent of the European toponym "Piedmont."
  • It has been suggested that the name comes from the Tibetan niyampal, which means "holy land".
  • A third theory suggests that Nepal came from compounding the words NE, which means wool, and PAL, which means a tented house; a long time ago, Nepal used to produce a lot of wool and the houses were used to store the wool—hence the word NE-PAL.
  • The name Nepal is also supposed to be derived from the Sanskrit word "NEP"(नेप), with the suffix "AL" (आल) added to it; though still under controversy, NEP were the people who use to be cow herders—the GOPALS (गोपाल)—who came to the Nepal valley for the first time from the Ganges plain of India.
  • According to Nepali scholar Rishikesh Shaha, the ancient chronicles report that a sage (muni) named Ne became the protector (pāla) of this land and the founder of its first ruling dynasty. The name of the country, Ne-pāla, therefore originally meant the land 'protected by Ne.'[1]

Early ages

Prehistory

It appears that people who were probably of Kirant ethnicity lived in Nepal more than 2,500 years ago. The Kirant are a tribe of jungle and mountain people who migrated from various parts of India, in particular the Himalayas.

Legends and Ancient times

Though very little is known about the early history of Nepal, legends and documented references reach back to the first millennium BCE:

  • The epic Mahabharata mentions the Kiratas among the inhabitants of Nepal. Kirati king Yalambar had the dubious honor of being slain in the battle of the Mahabharata, in which gods and mortals fought alongside each other. Legend credits him with meeting Indra, the lord of heaven, who ventured into the Valley in human guise. It is said that during the battle of Mahabharata, Yalamber went to witness the battle with a view to take the side of the losing party. Lord Krishna, knowing the intention of Yalamber and the strength and unity of the Kiratas, thought that the war would unnecessarily be prolonged if Yalamber sided with the Kauravas. So, by a clever stroke of diplomacy, Lord Krishna cut off Yalamber's head.
  • Also, the presence of historical sites, e.g., Valmiki ashram, indicates the presence of Sanatana (ancient) Hindu culture in parts of modern Nepal at that period.
  • According to some legendary accounts in the chronicles, the successors of Ne were the gopālavaṃśi or "Cowherd family", whose names often end in -gupta and are said to have ruled for some 491 years. They are said to have been followed by the mahaiṣapālavaṃśa or "Buffalo-herder Dynasty", established by an Indian Rajput named Bhul Singh.[2]
  • In a Licchavi period inscription (found on archeological stoneworks, which list mostly the dates and commissioners of these constructions, also communicate royal edicts, religious mantras or historical notes) mention the Kirata, that through the corroboration of local myths and the Vamsavalis, identify a people prior to the Licchavi dynasty.

Legendary accounts of the Kirati Period

Nepal's very first recorded, though still legendary, history began with the Devkotas, who may have arrived from the west to the Kathmandu valley. Little is known about them, other than their deftness as sheep farmers and great fondness for carrying long knives. According to the Gopalavamsa chronicle, the Kiratas ruled for about 1225 years (800 BCE–300 CE), their reign had a total of 29 kings during that time. Their first king was Elam; also known as Yalambar, who is referenced in the epic Mahabharata.

  • The 1st Kirata King Kushal laid the foundation of the Kirata dynasty after defeating the last ruler of the Abhira dynasty. When Kiraats occupied the valley, they made Matatirtha their capital. The Kirat kingdom during the rule of Yalambar extended to Tista in the East and Trisidi in the West. It is said Yalambar had gone to witness the battle of Mahabharata between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. He was so brave and powerful that Lord Krishna beheaded him prior to the battle suspecting he might fight for the Kauravas.
  • The 7th Kirata King 'Jitedasti'

During the rule of the 7th Kirat King Jitedasti, Lord Gautam Buddha is said to have come to the valley with his several disciples and to have visited holy places of Swayambhu, Guheswari, etc., and to have preached his religious teaching. The Kiratas of the valley refused to follow his doctrine but welcomed Lord Buddha and his disciples.

  • The 14th Kirata King 'Sthunko'

During the rule of the 14th Kirat King Sthunko, the Indian Emperor Ashoka is said to have come to the Kathmandu Valley with his daughter, princess Charumati. During his stay in the valley, he is said to have four stupas built around Patan in the four cardinal directions and one in the centre. He is said to have arranged his daughter Charumati's marriage with a local young prince named Devapala. Prince Devapala and his consort Charumati lived at Chabahil near Pashupati area. Later Charumati had the stupas of Devapatana built after the death of her husband in his memory. Charumati later on become a nun herself and built a convent where she resided and practiced Lord Buddha's doctrine.

  • The 15th Kirata king 'Jinghri'

During the rule of the 15th Kirata King Jinghri, another religious doctrine, Jainism, was being preached by Mahavir in India. Bhadrabhau, a disciple of Mahavira Jaina, is said to have come to Nepal. But Jainism did not gain as much popularity as Buddhism in Nepal.

  • The 28th Kirat King 'Paruka'

During the rule of the 28th Kirata King Paruka, the Sombanshi ruler attacked his regime many times from the west. Although he successfully repelled their attacks, he was forced to move to Shankhamul from Gokarna. He had a royal palace called "Patuka" built there for him. The 'Patuka' palace can no longer be seen, except its ruins in the form of a mound. Patuka changed Shankhamul into a beautiful town.

  • The 29th Kirat King 'Gasti'

The last King of the Kirat dynasty was Gasti, a weak ruler, who is said to have been overthrown by the Somavanshi ruler Nimisha. This ended the powerful Kirata dynasty that had lasted for about 1225 years. After their defeat, the Kiratas moved to the Eastern hills of Nepal and settled down, divided into small principalities. Their settlements were divided into three regions, i.e., 'Wallokirat' that lay to the East of the Kathmandu Valley, 'Majkirat' or Central Kirat region and 'Pallokirat' that lay to the far East of the Kathmandu valley . These regions are still heavily populated by Kiratas (Rai and Limbu).

Birth of Buddha

Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini, Nepal.

One of the early polities of South Asia was that of the Shakya clan, whose capital was Kapilvastu, Nepal. Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, Siddharta Gautama (563–483 BCE), who renounced his royalty to lead an ascetic life and came to be known as the Buddha ("the enlightened one") was born to the Shakya king Sudhodhana. After finding enlightenment, Lord Gautama Buddha returned to his home place Kapilavastu to teach his wife Yasodhara what he had learned. Buddha and his disciple Ananda are said to have visited the Kathmandu Valley and stayed for some time in Patan.

History of Nepal

Before Nepal's emergence as a nation in the latter half of the 18th century, the designation 'Nepal' was largely applied only to the Kathmandu Valley and its surroundings. Thus, up to the unification of the country, Nepal's recorded history is largely that of the Kathmandu Valley. References to Nepal in the Mahabharata epic, in Puranas and in Buddhist and Jaina scriptures establish the country's antiquity as an independent political and territorial entity. The oldest Vamshavali or chronicle, the Gopalarajavamsavali, was copied from older manuscripts during the late 14th century, is a fairly reliable basis for Nepal's ancient history. The Vamshavalis mention the rule of several dynasties the Gopalas, the Abhiras and the Kiratas—over a stretch of millennia. However, no historical evidence exists for the rule of these legendary dynasties. The documented history of Nepal begins with the Changu Narayan temple inscription of King Manadeva I (c. 464–505 AD) of the Licchavi dynasty.

Thakuri Dynasty

RULE OF ThakuriKINGS

Thakuri Dynasty was a Rajput Dynasty

After Aramudi, who is mentioned in the Kashmirian chronicle, the Rajatarangini of Kalhana (1150 CE), many Thakuri kings ruled over the country up to the middle of the 12th century AD. Raghava Deva is said to have founded a ruling dynasty in 879 AD, when the Lichhavi rule came to an end. To commemorate this important event, Raghu Deva started the 'Nepal Era' which began on 20 October, 879 AD. After Amshuvarma, who ruled from 605 AD onward, the Thakuris had lost power and they could regain it only in 869 AD.

GUNAKAMA DEVA

After the death of King Raghava Dev, many Thakuri kings ruled over Nepal up to the middle of the 12th century AD. During that period, Gunakama Deva was one of the famous kings. He ruled form 949 to 994 AD. During his rule, a big wooden house was built out of one single tree which was called 'Kasthamandapa', from which the name of the capital, 'Kathmandu', is derived. Gunakama Deva founded a town called Kantipur, the modern Kathmandu. According to the Vamsavali, this cost him a hundred thousand rupees a day. He built more than eighteen thousand houses there. It was also Gunakama Deva who started the 'Indra Jatra' festival. He repaired the temple that lies to the northern part of the temple of Pashupatinath. He also initiated the practice of worshipping Lumadi, Raktakali, Kankeshwari, Panchalinga, Bhairab and Manamaiju. He introduced Krishna Jatra and Lakhe Jatra as well. He also performed Kotihoma.

SUCCESSORS OF GUNAKAMA DEV

Bhola Deva succeeded Gunakama Deva. The next ruler was Laksmikama Deva who ruled from 1024 to 1040 AD. He built Laksmi Vihara and introduced the custom of worshipping a virgin girl as 'Kumari'. Then, Vijayakama Deva, the son of Laksmikama, became the king of Nepal. Vijaykama Deva was the last ruler of this dynasty. He introduced the worship of the "Naga" and "Vasuki". After his death, the Thakuri clan of Nuwakot occupied the throne of Nepal.

NUWAKOT THAKURI KINGS

Bhaskara Deva, a Thakuri form Nuwakot, succeeded Vijayakama Deva and established Nuwakot-Thakuri rule. He is said to have built Navabahal and Hemavarna Vihara. After Bhaskara Deva, four kings of this line ruled over the country. They were Bala Deva, Padma Deva, Nagarjuna Deva and Shankara Deva.

Shankara Deva (1067–1080 AD) was the most illustrious ruler of this dynasty. He established the image of 'Shantesvara Mahadeva' and 'Manohara Bhagavati'. The custom of pasting the pictures of Nagas and Vasuki on the doors of houses on the day of Nagapanchami was introduced by him. During his time, the Buddhists wreaked vengeance on the Hindu Brahmins (especially the followers of Shaivism) for the harm they had received earlier from Shankaracharya. Shankara Deva tried to pacify the Brahmins harassed by the Buddhists.

SURYAVANSI (SOLAR DYNASTY) RAJPUT KINGS

Bama Deva, a descendant of Amshuvarma, defeated Shankar Deva in 1080 AD. He suppressed the Nuwakot-Thankuris with the help of nobles and restored the old Solar Dynasty rule in Nepal for the second time. Harsha Deva, the successor of Bama Deva was a weak ruler. There was no unity among the nobles and they asserted themselves in their respective spheres of influence. Taking that opportunity, Nanya Deva, a Karnataka king invaded Nepal from Simraungarh. According to the chronicles, he made his residence at Bhadgaon. Mukunda Sena, the king of Palpa, too, the Nepal valley. It is said that after the invasion of Mukunda Sena, the tradition of making Hakuwa rice, Gundruk and Sinki began.

Shivadeva III

After Harsha Deva, Shivadeva, the third, ruled from 1099 to 1126 A.D. He was a brave and powerful king. He founded the town of Kirtipur and roofed the temple of Pashupatinath with gold. He introduced twenty-five paisa coins. He also constructed wells, canals and tanks at different places.

After Sivadeva III, Mahendra Deva, Mana Deva, Narendra Deva II, Ananda Deva, Rudra Deva, Amrita Deva, Ratna Deva II, Somesvara Deva, Gunakama Deva II, Lakmikama Deva III and Vijayakama Deva II ruled Nepal in quick succession. Historians differ about the rule of several kings and their respective times. After the fall of the Thakuri dynasty, a new dynasty was founded by Arideva or Ari Malla, popularly known as the 'Malla Dynasty'.

Malla Dynasty

Early Malla rule started with Ari Malla in the 12th century. Over the next two centuries his kingdom expanded widely, into the Terai and western Tibet, before disintegrating into small principalities, which later became known as the Baise (i.e. the twenty-two principalities), along with the emergence of the Chaubisi (i.e. twenty-four principalities). The history of these principalities is recorded in some stone and copper plate inscriptions of western Nepal that largely remain unedited.

Jayasthiti Malla, with whom commences the later Malla dynasty of the Kathmandu Valley, began to reign at the end of the 14th century. Though his rule was rather short, his place among the rulers in the Valley is eminent for the various social and economic reforms such as the 'Sanskritization' of the Valley people, new methods of land measurement and allocation etc. Yaksha Malla, the grandson of Jayasthiti Malla, ruled the Kathmandu Valley until almost the end of the 15th century. After his demise, the Valley was divided into three independent Valley kingdoms—Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan—in about 1484 AD. This division led the Malla rulers into internecine clashes and wars for territorial and commercial gains. Mutually debilitating wars gradually weakened them, that facilitated conquest of the Kathmandu Valley by King Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha. The last Malla rulers were Jaya Prakasha Malla, Teja Narasingha Malla and Ranjit Malla of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur respectively.

Shah Dynasty, unification of Nepal

Prithvi Narayan Shah (c. 1769–1775), with whom we move into the modern period of Nepal's history, was the ninth generation descendant of Dravya Shah (1559–1570), the founder of the ruling house of Gorkha. Prithvi Narayan Shah succeeded his father King Nara Bhupal Shah to the throne of Gorkha in 1743 AD. King Prithvi Narayan Shah was quite aware of the political situation of the Valley kingdoms as well as of the Barsi and Chaubisi principalities. He foresaw the need for unifying the small principalities as an urgent condition for survival in the future and set himself to the task accordingly.

His assessment of the situation among the hill principalities was correct, and the principalities were subjugated fairly easily. King Prithvi Narayan Shah's victory march began with the conquest of Nuwakot, which lies between Kathmandu and Gorkha, in 1744. After Nuwakot, he occupied strategic points in the hills surrounding the Kathmandu Valley. The Valley's communications with the outside world were thus cut off. The occupation of the Kuti Pass in about 1756 stopped the Valley's trade with Tibet. Finally, King Prithvi Narayan Shah entered the Valley. After the victory of Kirtipur. King Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu sought help from the British and so the East India Company sent a contingent of soldiers under Captain Kinloch in 1767. The British force was defeated at Sindhuli by King Prithvi Narayan Shah's army. This defeat of the British completely shattered the hopes of King Jaya Prakash Malla. The capture of Kathmandu (September 25, 1768) was dramatic. As the people of Kathmandu were celebrating the festival of Indrajatra, Prithvi Narayan Shah and his men marched into the city. A throne was put on the palace courtyard for the king of Kathmandu. Prithvi Narayan Shah sat on the throne and was hailed by the people as the king of Kathmandu.His young daughter Rajkumari Mrinalini married to Prince Henry Rich the Prince of the Royal House of Shimla-Kensington. Later his elder son Kuwar Hemraj the Baron of Jaynagar married to the Rajkumari Padma of the Royal House of Darbhanga, adding a new palace to the Royal House of Shimla-Kensington. Jaya Prakash Malla managed to escape with his life and took asylum in Patan. When Patan was captured a few weeks later, both Jaya Prakash Malla and the king of Patan, Tej Narsingh Mallal took refuge in Bhaktapur, which was also captured after some time. Thus the Kathmandu Valley was conquered by King Prithvi Narayan Shah and Kathmandu became the capital of the modern Nepal by 1769.

King Prithvi started annexing parts of Baise-Rajya in the Rapti region around 1760AD. By 1763, Tulsipur-Dang Rajya fell and by 1775 AD, Chauhan Raja Nawal Singh of House_of_Tulsipur was completely defeated. After loosing his northern hill territories to King Prithvi, Chauhan Raja Nawal Singh was forced to move to his southern territories (currently Tulsipur / Balarampur in India) and ruled as one of the largest Taluqdar of Oudh.

King Prithvi Narayan Shah was successful in bringing together diverse religio-ethnic groups under one national. He was a true nationalist in his outlook and was in favor of adopting a closed-door policy with regard to the British. Not only his social and economic views guided the country's socio-economic course for a long time, his use of the imagery, 'a yam between two boulders' in Nepal's geopolitical context, formed the principal guideline of the country's foreign policy for future centuries.

The War with British—The Nepalese had differences of opinion with the East India Company regarding the ownership of the land strip of the western Terai, particularly Butwal and Seoraj. The outcome of the conflict was a war with the British. The British launched their attack on the Nepali forces at Nalapani, the western most point of Nepal's frontier at the close of 1814. Though the Nepalese were able to inflict heavy losses to the British army on various fronts, the larger army and the superior weapons of the British proved too strong. The Nepali army evacuated the areas west of the Mahakali river and ultimately the treaty of Sugauli was signed with the British in 1816. Among other things, this treaty took away a large chunk of the Terai from Nepal and the rivers Mahakali and Mechi were fixed as the country's western and eastern boundaries. At this time, King Girvana Yuddha Biktram Shah was on the throne of Nepal, and the power of state was in the hands of Prime Minister Bhimsen Thapa who wielded enormous power during the rule of King Girvana Yuddha Bikram Shah and his son King Rajendra Bikram Shah.

Age of Principalities

Three city-states

After the 15th century, the Kathmandu Valley lost its central control and was ruled as three city-states: Kathmandu, Patan, and Bhadgaon. Many Nepalese architectural heritages, such as temples, palaces, including many UNESCO world heritage sites, were built during the rule of the Newar Kings. These include the Kathmandu Old Palace (Kathmandu Durbar Square), Patan Palace (Patan Durbar Square), Bhaktapur Palace (Bhaktapur Durbar Square) etc. By this time, people living in and around Kathmandu Valley (irrespective of their ethnic origins) were called "Newars" (or "Nepa:mi" in "Newari" language meaning, the citizens of Nepal).

Hindu and Buddhist temples in Patan, the capital of one of the three medieval Newar kingdoms

Magar Principalities
Magars are martial people that first established their kingdom in present day western Nepal. They were animistic and shamanic in their religious practices. The Kham Magar of the upper Karnali basin and their brethren of the mid-hills of Nepal had a flourishing and empirical kingdom. Much archaeological proof of their existence can be found in the western mid-hills of Nepal.

The Magar have a strong military and warrior tradition. However, their hospitality and concern for their fellow human beings is also legendary. Two waves of immigrants became the undoing of the Magar empire.

Firstly, the Khasas were welcomed and assimilated within Magar empire. Secondly, due to the advance of Muslim forces into the Gangetic plains of India, the Brahmins entered the Magar empire as refugees.

These two groups were given sanctuary in the Magar empire. The latter group of refugees started to impose their view of Hinduism upon the Magars, while the former group were given the status of Chettri by the latter group in accordance with their view of Hinduism.

This left the Magar people boxed into the third tier in their own kingdom (the first being the Brahmins, the second being the newly elevated Chettri, previously the Khasas).

This meant that the one-time rulers of the Nepali mid-hills became the ruled upon. This was the start of the degradation of the Magar empire. The introduction of Hinduism in itself became the cataclysmic event in the undoing of the Magar empire.

History of Kirat

In the meantime, the History of Kirat covers much of the history and achievements of the Kirant people of Eastern Nepal/Kiratdesh from ancient period until the Gorkha conquest in the eastern Nepal.

History of Limbuwan

History of Limbuwan shows the history and political development of the people of Limbuwan until their unification with the Kingdom of Gorkha in 1774 AD. During King Prithivi Narayan Shah's unification of Nepal, the present-day Nepal east of Arun and Koshi River was known as Pallo Kirant Limbuwan. It was divided into ten Limbu Kingdoms of which the Morang Kingdom was the most powerful and had the central government. The capital of the Morang Kingdom of Limbuwan was Bijaypur, now Dharan. After the Limbuwan-Gorkha War and seeing the threat of the rising power of the British East India Company, kings and ministers of all the ten Limbu Kingdoms of Limbuwan gathered in Bijaypur, present day Dharan, to agree upon the Limbuwan-Gorkha treaty. This Treaty formally united ten Limbu Kingdoms into the Gorkha Kingdom, but it also gave Limbuwan full autonomy under Limbuwan Kipat System. Yonghang is among Linbu tribes in ancient ruler of the entire south east Asia, Yonghang forth anymore places. who from North Africa called themselves Aryan these are so cleaver then Native Yonghang after mid 13 century backing by Muslim tribe takeover entire nation

Kingdom of Nepal

Gorkha rule

The old king's palace on a hill in Gorkha

After decades of rivalry between the medieval kingdoms, modern Nepal was created in the latter half of the 18th century, when Prithvi Narayan Shah, the ruler of the small principality of Gorkha, formed a unified country from a number of independent hill states. Prithvi Narayan Shah dedicated himself at an early age to the conquest of the Kathmandu Valley and the creation of a single state, which he achieved in 1768.

The country was frequently called the Gorkha Kingdom. It is a misconception that the Gurkhas took their name from the Gorkha region of Nepal; actually, the region was given its name after the Gurkhas had established their control of these areas. The Gurkha, also spelled Gorkha, are people from Nepal who take their name from the legendary 8th-century Hindu warrior-saint Guru Gorakhnath. Gurkhas claim descent from the Hindu Rajputs and Brahmins of Northern India, who entered modern Nepal from the west.

After Shah's death, the Shah dynasty began to expand their kingdom into what is present day North India. Between 1788 and 1791, Nepal invaded Tibet and robbed Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse. Alarmed, the Chinese emperor Qianlong appointed Fu Kangan commander-in-chief of the Tibetan campaign; Fu defeated the Gurkha army and the Gurkhas were forced to accept surrender on China's terms.

After 1800, the heirs of Prithvi Narayan Shah proved unable to maintain firm political control over Nepal. A period of internal turmoil followed.

Rivalry between Nepal and the British East India Company over the princely states bordering Nepal and India eventually led to the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814–16), in which Nepal suffered a complete rout. The Treaty of Sugauli was signed in 1816, ceding large parts of the Nepali territories of Terrai, (nearly one third of the country), to the British, in exchange for Nepalese autonomy.

As the ceded territories were not restored to Nepal by the British when freedom was granted to the people of British India, these have become a part of the Republic of India (see Greater Nepal) even though it was mentioned that the treaties on behalf of the East India Company or British India would not be valid anymore. The Kingdom of Sikkim, which had already lost its Darjeeling region to British India in 1853, was annexed by the post-colonial Republic of India in April 1975 and, in the following month, Sikkim's people voted to join the Indian Union.

Rana rule

The Rana dynasty of Rajputs ruled the Kingdom of Nepal from 1846 until 1953, reducing the Shah monarch to a figurehead and making Prime Minister and other government positions hereditary. It is descended from one Bal Narsingh Kunwar of Kaski, who moved to Gorkha in the early 18th century and entered the service of Raja Nara Bhupal Shah around 1740. Originally, the Rana dynasty hails from the Sisodiya Rajput Royal family of Chittor now Udaipur in India, capital of the Mewar region. The dynasty traces its roots to Maharaj Kumbhakaran Singh of Chittor, Mewar. Maharaj Kumbhakaran Singh was the younger brother of Rana Ratan Singh of Mewar. Rana Ratan Singh married Rani Padmini (She along with hundreds of other women undertook Jauhar and the male members performed Saka during the siege of the Chittorgarh fort by the ignominious sultan of Delhi, Allauddin Khilji ). Unlike claimed ancestral root to Chittor, per se Dor Bahadur Bistha, a notable anthropologist, ancestors of Ranas were Jumli Khadka who joined the army of Kaski principalities whom king of kaski honored with the title of Kunwar. Kunwar became Rana only after the time of Jung Bahadur Rana. In some historical evidences, King Surendra has referred Junga as a lowly Khas. To accept the marriage proposal of Jung's son's with the King Surendra's daughter, it is said that clever Jung linked his ancestral root to Chittor Rajput to be superior to khas and equivalent to Shahs.

Prime Minister Jang Bahadur Rana

Jang Bahadur was the first ruler from this dynasty. His original family name was Rana but in Nepal people mistook his Rajput title of Kunwar for his family name, Kunwar is a title denoting royal lineage used by Rajput princes in northern India. Rana rulers were titled "Shri Teen" and "Maharaja", whereas Shah kings were "Shri Panch" and "Maharajdiraj". Both the Rana dynasty and Shah dynasty are Rajput caste in the Hindu tradition, in contrast with the native Himalayan culture which is largely Buddhist and Bön. Jang Bahadur codified laws and modernized the state's bureucracy. In 1855 he attempted to impose his influence in Tibet but was stoped in the Nepalese-Tibetan War (1855-1856).

Originally Jung Bahadur and his brother Ranodip Singh brought a lot of upliftment and modernisation to Nepalese society, the abolishment of slavery, upliftment of the untouchable class, public access to education etc. but these dreams were short lived when in the coup d'état of 1885 the nephews of Jung Bahadur and Ranodip Singh (the Shumshers J.B., S.J.B. or Satra (17) Family) murdered Ranodip Singh and the sons of Jung Bahadur, stole the name of Jung Bahadur and took control of Nepal.[10][11] After the murder of Sri Teen Maharaja Ranodip Singh, the Shamshers occupied the hereditary throne of Prime Minister and added "Jung Bahadur" to their name, although they were descended from Jung's younger brother Dhir Shumsher. This was done after Sri Teen Maharaja Chandra Shumsher realised the British gave more weight and importance to the "Jang Bahadur" name.

Maharaja Sir Jung Bahadur Rana]'s eldest son was Gen. Jagat Jung, known as "Mukhiya Jarnel". His eldest grandson and Gen. Jagat Jung's eldest son was Gen. Yuddha Pratap, known as "Naati Jarnel". Their descendants currently live in Manahara, Kathmandu. Two of Jung Bahadur's sons Gen. Ranabir Jung and Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jung Bahadur Rana KIH Gold Medal 1877 were escorted to Allahabad. Gen. Ranabir Jung later attempted to reclaim his position, after having raised an army, but was thwarted and finally killed in battle. Ranabir Jungs descendants with the title Bir Jung Bahadur are very widespread, and live in Kathmandu, Dehra Dun, Delhi, Kolkata, Australia and The UK.

Descendants of Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jung Bahadur Rana KIH Gold Medal 1877 today live in Allahabad, Nepalgunj, Dehradun, Kathmandu, New York, Australia and United Kingdom. Gen. Padma Jung Bahadur Rana later wrote the book called "Life of Sir Jung Bahadur" which was published in early 1900 in India. His sons and grand-sons fought and commanded forces in places like France, Italy, Afghanistan, Burma, Flanders, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Wazirstan during the Great World War I and the Great World War II and won long list of medals. Many of his daughters, grand-daughters and great-grand-daughters were/are married to various Maharajas of Indian Principality States. Similarly many of his sons, grandsons and great-grandsons were/are married to various Princesses of Indian Royal Houses. Maharaja Sir Jung Bahadur Rana of Kaski & Lamjung himself started the process of marrying Rana Gentlemen and Ladies to the Indian Royal Households in mid 1800 AD. Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jung KIH Gold Medal 1877 continued the process of marrying his sons and daughters to the Indian Royal Households in late 1800 AD. One of his great-granddaughter Sita Rani Devi is Rajmata of Indian Princely State of Makrai. Another great-granddaughter is Geeta Rani Rana who is married to Late Thakuri Prachanda Singh of Royal House of Tulsipur.

Present rulers of Kingdom of Nepal, Jajorkot, Bajhang and Indian Princely States such as Jhalai, Jubbal, Bagribari, Tripura, Oel Kaimara, Khairagarh, Rajgarh, Tehri-Garhwal, Thalrai, Benaras, Ramnagar and many other states share a direct bloodline with Commander-in-Chief Gen. Padma Jung Bahadur Rana KIH Gold Medal 1877 and Maharaja of Kaski & Lamjung Sir Jung Bahadur Rana.

Crown Prince General Dhoj Narsingh Rana, adopted son of Sri Teen Maharaja Ranodip Singh (His biological father was Badri Narsingh Rana) had to go into exile with his family to India along with many of Jung Bahadur's surviving descendants. Many of Crown Prince General Dhoj Narsingh's children and family remained with Sri Teen Ranodip Singh's widow in Benares and were then relocated later relocated to Udaipur upon the invitation by Maharana Fateh Singh, who sought to give refuge to his Rana cousins. Out of seven sons and three daughters of Gen. Dwaj Narsingh three sons and one daughter moved to Udaipur on an invitation from the Maharana who graciously requested them to settle in Udaipur. While Neel Narsingh died at an early age the Rana princes Shri Narsingh & Dev Narsingh established themselves and carry on the family's name in the city of their forefathers. Their families established marital relations with the royal families and Thikanas like Jasmor (head of the Pundir clan), Banka, Gogunda, Samode, Neemrana (descendents of Prithviraj Chauhan), Mahendragarh, Medhas (From the family of Riyan which is the main seat of the Mertiya Rathores), Fatehnagar:Zorawar Singhji Ka Khera (From the family of the famous Chauhans of Kotharia) etc. The British government did not help any of the exiled princes whose fathers had saved the British and their empire in 1857.

The shortest serving Rana was Deva Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana who ruled for two months in 1901, he was deposed by his brothers because of his open display of guilt for what has happened during the coup. Known as "The Reformist" for his progressive policies, he proclaimed universal education, began to building schools, took steps to abolish slavery, and introduced several other social welfare schemes.[citation needed] He also made improvements to the arsenal at Nakkhu (south of Kathmandu) and started The Gorkhapatra newspaper. Dev Shumsher felt guilty for what had transpired during the coup, also a key incident happened during the coup which affected him deeply. He was held at gunpoint by General Dhoj Narsingh Rana, but was allowed to live and forgiven. For this he felt a lot of guilt and asked for the exiled family members to return to Nepal. This brought him in clash with his immediate brothers. He was deposed by his relatives, where he settled in Jhari Pani, near Mussoorie, where his Fairlawn Palace once stood. A developer purchased the palace and tore it down, replacing it with cottages. All that remains are a few of the original gates and a small portion of the palace skeleton. Even the last Prime Minister of Nepal Maharaja Mohan Shamshere Rana, who later settled in Bangalore, exchanged letters with the Rana family in Udaipur which was definitely an effort to reunite with his estranged family. The Rana family in Udaipur has till date preserved all such letters along with some photographs of Mohan Shamshere. Under the British Raj, the Ranas were acclaimed and given much prestige and a 19-gun salute; all with the exception of Deva Shamsher received knighthoods. The Rana dynasty developed into a powerful family clan and are still very influential in the country today. The family formed a close alliance with the Shah dynasty via marriage and business alliances.

20th century

In 1923 Britain and Nepal formally signed an agreement of friendship, in which Nepal and India (which was under British Rule at that time) negotiated and ended up exchanging some cities.

Slavery was abolished in Nepal in 1924.[3]

Democratic reform

Popular dissatisfaction against the family rule of the Ranas had started emerging from among the few educated people, who had studied in various Indian schools and colleges, and also from within the Ranas, many of whom were marginalised within the ruling Rana hierarchy. Many of these Nepalese in exile had actively taken part in the Indian Independence struggle and wanted to liberate Nepal as well from the internal autocratic Rana occupation. The political parties such as The Prajaparishad and Nepali Congress were already formed in exile by leaders such as B. P. Koirala, Ganesh Man Singh, Subarna Sumsher Rana, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, Girija Prasad Koirala, and many other patriotic-minded Nepalis who urged the military and popular political movement in Nepal to overthrow the autocratic Rana Regime. Among the prominent martyrs to die for the cause, executed at the hands of the Ranas, were Dharma Bhakta Mathema, Shukraraj Shastri, Gangalal Shrestha, and Dasharath Chand. This turmoil culminated in King Tribhuvan, a direct descendant of Prithvi Narayan Shah, fleeing from his "palace prison" in 1950, to newly independent India, touching off an armed revolt against the Rana administration. This eventually ended in the return of the Shah family to power and the appointment of a non-Rana as prime minister. A period of quasi-constitutional rule followed, during which the monarch, assisted by the leaders of fledgling political parties, governed the country. During the 1950s, efforts were made to frame a constitution for Nepal that would establish a representative form of government, based on a British model.

In early 1959, Tribhuvan's son King Mahendra issued a new constitution, and the first democratic elections for a national assembly were held. The Nepali Congress Party, a moderate socialist group, gained a substantial victory in the election. Its leader, Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala, formed a government and served as prime minister. After years of power wrangling between the kings (Tribhuvan and Mahendra) and the government, Mahendra dissolved the democratic experiment in 1960.

Royal coup by King Mahendra

Declaring parliamentary democracy a failure, King Mahendra carried out a royal coup 18 months later, in 1960. He dismissed the elected Koirala government, declared that a "partyless" panchayat system would govern Nepal, and promulgated another new constitution on December 16, 1960.

Subsequently, the elected Prime Minister, Members of Parliament and hundreds of democratic activists were arrested. (In fact, this trend of arrest of political activists and democratic supporters continued for the entire 30 year period of partyless Panchayati System under King Mahendra and then his son, King Birendra).

The new constitution established a "partyless" system of panchayats (councils) which King Mahendra considered to be a democratic form of government, closer to Nepalese traditions. As a pyramidal structure, progressing from village assemblies to a Rastriya Panchayat (National Parliament), the panchayat system constitutionalised the absolute power of the monarchy and kept the King as head of state with sole authority over all governmental institutions, including the Cabinet (Council of Ministers) and the Parliament. One-state-one-language became the national policy in an effort to carry out state unification, uniting various ethnic and regional groups into a singular nepali nationalist bond.

King Mahendra was succeeded by his 27-year-old son, King Birendra, in 1972. Amid student demonstrations and anti-regime activities in 1979, King Birendra called for a national referendum to decide on the nature of Nepal's government: either the continuation of the panchayat system with democratic reforms or the establishment of a multiparty system. The referendum was held in May 1980, and the panchayat system won a narrow victory. The king carried out the promised reforms, including selection of the prime minister by the Rastriya Panchayat.

People in rural areas had expected that their interests would be better represented after the adoption of parliamentary democracy in 1990. The Nepali Congress with support of "Alliance of leftist parties" decided to launch a decisive agitational movement, Jana Andolan, which forced the monarchy to accept constitutional reforms and to establish a multiparty parliament. In May 1991, Nepal held its first parliamentary elections in nearly 50 years. The Nepali Congress won 110 of the 205 seats and formed the first elected government in 32 years.

Civil strife

In 1992, in a situation of economic crisis and chaos, with spiralling prices as a result of implementation of changes in policy of the new Congress government, the radical left stepped up their political agitation. A Joint People's Agitation Committee was set up by the various groups.[4] A general strike was called for April 6.

Violent incidents began to occur on the evening before of the strike. The Joint People's Agitation Committee had called for a 30-minute 'lights out' in the capital, and violence erupted outside Bir Hospital when activists tried to enforce the 'lights out'. At dawn on April 6, clashes between strike activists and police, outside a police station in Pulchok (Patan), left two activists dead.

Later in the day, a mass rally of the Agitation Committee at Tundikhel in the capital Kathmandu was attacked by police forces. As a result, riots broke out and the Nepal Telecommunications building was set on fire; police opened fire at the crowd, killing several persons. The Human Rights Organisation of Nepal estimated that 14 persons, including several onlookers, had been killed in police firing.[5]

When promised land reforms failed to appear, people in some districts started to organize to enact their own land reform and to gain some power over their lives in the face of usurious landlords. However, this movement was repressed by the Nepali government, in "Operation Romeo" and "Operation Kilo Sera II", which took the lives of many of the leading activists of the struggle. As a result, many witnesses to this repression became radicalized.

Nepalese Civil War

In February 1996, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) started a bid to replace the parliamentary monarchy with a people's new democratic republic, through a Maoist revolutionary strategy known as the people's war, which led to the Nepalese Civil War. Led by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai and Pushpa Kamal Dahal (also known as "Prachanda"), the insurgency began in five districts in Nepal: Rolpa, Rukum, Jajarkot, Gorkha, and Sindhuli. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)established a provisional "people's government" at the district level in several locations.

On June 1, 2001, Crown Prince Dipendra went on a shooting-spree, assassinating 9 members of the royal family, including King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya, before shooting himself. Due to his survival he temporarily became king before dying of his wounds, after which Prince Gyanendra (Birendra's brother) inherited the throne, according to tradition. Meanwhile, the rebellion escalated, and in October 2001 the king temporarily deposed the government and took complete control of it. A week later he reappointed another government, but the country was still very unstable.

In the face of unstable governments and a siege on the Kathmandu Valley in August 2004, popular support for the monarchy began to wane. On February 1, 2005, Gyanendra dismissed the entire government and assumed full executive powers, declaring a "state of emergency" to quash the revolution. Politicians were placed under house arrest, phone and internet lines were cut, and freedom of the press was severely curtailed.

The king's new regime made little progress in his stated aim to suppress the insurgents. Municipal elections in February 2006 were described by the European Union as "a backward step for democracy", as the major parties boycotted the election and some candidates were forced to run for office by the army.[6] In April 2006 strikes and street protests in Kathmandu forced the king to reinstate the parliament. A seven-party coalition resumed control of the government and stripped the king of most of his powers. As of 15 January 2007, Nepal was governed by an unicameral legislature under an interim constitution. On December 24, 2007, seven parties, including the former Maoist rebels and the ruling party, agreed to abolish the monarchy and declare Nepal a Federal Republic.[7] In the elections held on 10 April 2008, the Maoists secured a simple majority, with the prospect of forming a government to rule the proposed 'Republic of Nepal'.

Federal Democratic Republic

On May 14, 2008 the newly elected Constituent Assembly declared Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic, abolishing the 240-year-old monarchy. The motion for abolition of monarchy was carried by a huge majority; out of 564 members present in the assembly, 560 voted for the motion while 4 members voted against it.[8] Finally, on June 11, 2008 ex-king Gyanendra left the palace.[9] Ram Baran Yadav of the Nepali Congress became the first president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal on July 23, 2008. Similarly, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, popularly known as Prachanda, of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) was elected as the first Prime Minister on August 15, 2008, defeating Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepali Congress Party.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ Shaha, Rishikesh. Ancient and Medieval Nepal (1992), pp. 6–7. Manohar Publications, New Delhi. ISBN 81-85425-69-8.
  2. ^ Shaha, Rishikesh. Ancient and Medieval Nepal (1992), p. 7. Manohar Publications, New Delhi. ISBN 81-85425-69-8.
  3. ^ Tucci, Giuseppe. (1952). Journey to Mustang, 1952. Trans. by Diana Fussell. 1st Italian edition, 1953; 1st English edition, 1977. 2nd edition revised, 2003, p. 22. Bibliotheca Himalayica. ISBN 99933-0-378-X (South Asia); 974-524-024-9 (Outside of South Asia).
  4. ^ The organisers of the Committee were the Samyukta Janamorcha Nepal, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unity Centre), Communist Party of Nepal (Masal), the Nepal Communist League and the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist).
  5. ^ Hoftun, Martin, William Raeper and John Whelpton. People, politics and ideology: Democracy and Social Change in Nepal. Kathmandu: Mandala Book Point, 1999. p. 189
  6. ^ http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1699935,00.html
  7. ^ Nepal votes to abolish monarchy
  8. ^ Nepalnews.com, news from Nepal as it happens
  9. ^ Nepalnews.com, news from Nepal as it happens

References

  • Tiwari, Sudarshan Raj (2002). The Brick and the Bull: An account of Handigaun, the Ancient Capital of Nepal. Himal Books. ISBN 99933-43-52-8.
  • Kayastha, Chhatra Bahadur (2003).Nepal Sanskriti: Samanyajnan. Nepal Sanskriti. ISBN 99933-34-84-7.

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