Thursday, October 27, 2011

A brief History of Nepal

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.

[edit]Thakuri Dynasty

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.
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.
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.
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.
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'.

[edit]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.

[edit]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 new palce 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.