Friday, June 19, 2009

Unification of Nepal

The Unification

Some 300 years ago, the kingdom of Nepal was divided into small States and Principalities. The tiny rulers had no unity among themselves. They often quarreled with one another for territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The Kathmandu valley itself was divided into three kingdoms-- Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. There were at least three powerful kingdoms in the east-Makawanpur, Vijaypur and Chandandi. Similarly, there were 24 Principalities in the western-Gandaki region known as Chaubisi Rajya, and 22 Principalities in the far western--Karnali region known as Baisi Rajya. The 24 Principalities (Chaubisi Rajya) were as follows:- Gorkha, Lamjung, Tanahun, Kaski, Nuwakot, Dhor, Satahun, Garahun, Rishing, Ghiring, Paiyun, Parbat, Galkot, Palpa, Gulmi, Argha, Khanchi, Musikot, Isma, Dhurkot, Bajhang, Bhirkot, Piuthan, and Butwal. Lidewise, the 22 Principalities in the far- western Karnali region were as under:- Jumla, Doti, Jajarkot, Bajura, Musikot, Gajur, Biskot, Malneta, Thalahara, Dailekh, Dullu, Duryal, Dang, Sallyana, Chilli, Phalawagh, Jehari, Darnar, Atbis Gotam, Majal, Gurnakot, and Rukum. Different historians have listed different names of these Chaubisi and Baisi Rajya. However, on the basis of the names given by Balchandra Sharma, Kirkpatrick and Hamilton, these names are commonly used.
There was a strong need to consolidate all these states into a Nation. The credit for this consolidation goes to the Shah kings of the Gorkha kingdom. The Gorkha kingdom, thus, turned into a united Nepal, just as Prussia was turned into the German Empire, Sardinia into Italy, Castela into Spain, and Wessex into Great Britain.

Prithvi Narayan Shah sent his force under the command of Kazi Biraj Thapa to attack Nuwakot. Biraj Thapa did not attack immediately after reaching Nuwakot, but he started to study the stength of the Nuwakot army and the situation of the kingdom. Prithvi Narayan Shah did not like the delay of Biraj Thapa and so he sent another force under the command of Maheswar Panta. The Gorkha troops under the command of Maheswar Panta attacked Nuwakot instantly but the Gorkha troops were badly defeated. Thus, Nuwakot was victorious against the Gorkha invasion for the second time. At that time, the Gorkhali Army was unknown about the geographical situation of Nuwakot. During the war, the two Gorkhali commanders blamed each other. They did not try to fight to get victory. On the other hand, the Nuwakot soldiers were aware of the strategic points and they fought at the risk of their lives to save the sovereignty of their kingdom.

According to Bhasa Bansabali, the Shah kings of Gorkha were descended from a noble family of Chitor (India) who belonged to the Chandrabansi Rajput dynasty. The founder of this dynasty was Rishi Raj Bhattarak. The 33rd king of this dynesy was Bhupati Ranjee. He had three sons named Udaya Bom, Fatta Singh and Manamath. Fatta Singh had a beautiful daughter named Sadul. The Muslim King Allaudin Khilzi wanted to marry Sadul. But, Fatta Singh refused to fulfill his wish. So Allaudin Khilizi of Delhi invaded Chitor and Captured it. After the Muslim invasion, Manamath went to Ujjain and lived there.
He had two sons, named Brahmin and Bhupal. But Brahmin and Bhupal did not want to live together. The youngest brother Bhupal left Ujain and came to Ridi. He lived there for some time. After some days, Bhupal left Ridi and reached Bhirkot. He began to settle there. He had two sons named Harihar Singh and Ajaya Singh, they were also called 'Khancha Khan' and 'Mincha Khan'. Khancha Khan had established a small principality of Dhor. Khan established a small principality of Nuwakot. Then he began to rule over there.

Kulamardan was the descendant of Mincha. He ruled over Nuwakot, and, in due course of time annexed Kaski to his kingdom. He was a powerful king and acquired the titoe of 'Shah' from the emperor of Delhi. Since then, the 'Shah' surname has been used by the kings of Gorkha. He had seven sons. At that time there was no king in Lamjung. The people of Lamjung approached Kulamardan Shah and begged one of his sons to rule over the kingdom of Lamjung. Kulamardan Shah sent his second son, Kalu Shah with them. The people of Lamjung made Kalu Shah, their king, but he died soon. After the death of Kalu Shah, the people of Lamjung again asked Kalumandan to give his youngest son. Now Yashovarma Shah was sent to rule over Lamjung. Yashovarma had two sons, Narahari Shah and Drabya Shah. Narahari Shah rule over Lamjung and Drabya Shah conquered Gorkha and established an independent kingom.

Drabya Shah was a brave, clever and an ambitious man from his childhood. He was not satisfied with himself living under the shadow of his brother. He wanted to establish a kingdom of his own. In those days, there were several small principalities in the neighbourhood of Gorkhs. The Kinghom of Gorkha was ruled over by Khadkas. The people of Gorkha, particularly the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas, were not satisfied with the rule of the Khadka kings. Some of the leaders of the people, like Ganesh Pande, Bhagirath Panta, Ganga Rana nad Naryan Aryal, were planning to dethrone the Khadka king and to replace him by a Kshatriya king.
They were the well wishers of Drabya Shah. Narayan Aryal was also an astrologer. They met Drabya Shah and helped him to conquer Lig Lig which was under the rule of a Ghale King of the Magar tribe. There was a special system electing the ruler. In every year, on the day of Bijaya Dashami, a racing competition was held in Lig Lig. On the race, the winner would be made king. On that day, all the people of Lig Lig were engaged in choosing the ruler, Drabya Shah atacked Lig Lig and captured it. Then Drabya Shah came to Gorkha and gradually, he expanded his power and captured Gorkha. He became the ruler of Gorkha on 27th Sept. 1559 A.D. Thus, Drabya Shah founded the ruling dynasty of the Gorkha kingdom. He also conquered Siranchowk, Azirgarh and Dhading. The growing power of Drabya Shah excited the jealousy of his brother Narahari Shah, the king of Lamjung. Narahari Shah began to claim the kingdoms acquired by his brother, Drabya Shah. But Drabya Shah did not entertain his claim. So, there arose a quarrel between the two brothers. In order to pacify them, their mother fixed the boundary of the Chepe river separating the dominions of her two sons.
They did not quarred so long as their mother was alive. Narahari Shah was determined to kill his brother, however. After the death of their mother, Narahari Shah invited Drabya Shah to perform the 'Shradha' ceremony. He had planned to kill on that occasion. But, Drabya Shah came to know the evil intention of his brother. He fled away from there and reached Gorkha. After some days, Narahari Shah attacked Gorkha but he was repulsed. Drabya Shah made his kingdom a powerful one. He declared himself to be a Gorkhali king and gained the popularity of his people. He allowed the people to celebrate their festivals in their own way and did not hamper their local customs and traditions. He recruited the local people of Gorkha in the military force and appointed them in the higher posts of administration according to their merit.
Thus, he became a popular and successful ruler of Gorkha. He found little time for administrative reforms. He ruled for eleven years and died in 1570 A.D. After Drabya Shah,his son Purandar Shah ruled for thirty-five years. After Purandar Shah, his son Chhatra Shah ruled only for seven months and died. After his death, his brother Ram Shah ascended the throne of Gorkha.

Ram Shah ascended the throne of Gorkha in 1606 A.D. He ruled for twenty-six years. He was a good reformer, able administrator and a great warrior. He annexed all the small principalities surrounding Gorkha. He extended his kingdom as far as Kerung and Rasuwa in the north, Trishuli in the east, Marshyangdi in the west and the Mahabharat range in the south. The king of Lamjung made an unsuccessful plot to kill Ram Shah while on a hunting expedition. Ram Shah was not only a conqueror but also an able administrator. He maintained friendly relationships with the kings of Palpa, Jumala and Patan. He also sent presents to the Mughal emperor of India. Ram Shah brought radical changes in the society by introducing various reforms.
He can be compared with Jayasthiti Malla of Kathmandu for his reforms. The reforms made by Ram Shah can be Mentioned under the following heads: Social and Administrative Reforms: In those days, there were different weights and measures in different places of Nepal. Ram Shah introduced a new system of standard weights, scales and measure. He introduced a new table which is given below:
10 lals - 1 masha10 mashas - 1 tola18 tolas - 1 pal27 tolas - 1 bodi4 bodis - 1 bisauli2 bisaulis - 1 dharni10 muthis - 1 mana8 manas - 1 pathi20 pathis - 1 muri
He fixed the rate of interest at 10% in cash and 25% in kind. In case of loans after 10 years, the creditor should not claim more than double the amount in cash and treble the quantity in kind. So, compound interest could not be charged. He made rules and regulations for the use of water from the canals. The people could use it by turn, to irrigate the fields. If any dispute arose over it, the Village Panchayats were empowered to settle the disputes.
The king's cousins and nephews had to serve the king as his body-guards. The king had to take their recommendations to make grants of lands. The Kazi (or minister) had to report to the king what was just, proper and true. All the lands of the kingdom belonged to the king and the Brahmins were entitled to them only through royal grants. Demarcation of land was also done while grants were given. He also made a rule for the use of dress and ornaments to be worn by the people of different castes and classes. The members of the royal family could wear gold ornaments from head to foot. The members of the Kazi and Brahmin family could wear any ornaments of toot but not of gold.
Ram Shah set up grazing grounds for cattle and encroachment upon the grazing ground would be severely dealt with. Trees were planted on either side of the road for the convenience of the travellers and for the perservation of forests. Those who cut trees were fined up to Rs. 5. He also introduced new titles as Kazi, Sardar and Khardar. Severe punishment was given to corrupt officials.
Economic Reforms: Ram Shah maintained trade relations with King Siddhi Nara Simha of Patan. He allowed the merchants of Patan to come and stay for trade in his kingdom. The merchants (24 Kothi Mahajans) developed the trade of Gorkha and enriched the financial condition of the kingdom. Land revenue was the main source of income of the kingdom. As a measure of land reforms, he granted a remission on land tax for a period of four years to newly reclaimed lands. He thus encouraged the reclamation of waste land. As a result, vast areas of land were brought under cultivation. Thus, there was a sound economic condition in the Kingdom of Gorkha.
Legal Reforms: Ram Shah empowered the local Panchayats to decide small cases of local interest. Only important cases were to be handled by the law-courts. He introduced the system of taking an oath in the law courts by holding a 'Shaligram' (holy stone). If a woman was found guilty of witchcraft, she was banished from the village. But if she proved to be innocent, the accuser would be fined. If one bribed a judge, he would be exiled from the country.
Ram Shah also framed new rules regarding capital punishment. If a member of the royal family was found to be guilty of murder, he was to be exiled. If a Brahmin, Sanyasi or Bairagi committed a murder, he would be shaved and exiled. However, if a minister or Kazi or other government official was found guilty of murder, he was to be sentenced to death.
For all these reforms of Ram Shah, there has been a popular saying "If you are deprived of justice, then go to Gorkha".
Successors of Ram Shah: After the death of Ram Shah, his son Damber Shah decame the king of Gorkha. After Damber Shah, Krishna Shah, Rudra Shah and Prithvipati Shah ascended the throne of Gorkha.Prithvipati Shah was a weak king. Taking advantage of this, Lamjung attacked Gorkha and occupied some of its territories. Prithivipati Shah had three sons. Among them, the second son Ranadulla Shah was a brave, clever and unselfish man.
Ranadula Shah went to Lamjung on the pretext of having picked a quarred with his father. He served the king of Lamjung well. The king of Lamjung was inpressed by him and trusted his story of a quarrel with his father. He made Ranadulla Shah the Governor of all the territories he had captured from Gorkha. Ranadulla kept quiet till he had consolidated his power and position there. Then he sent secretly a message to his father Prithvipati Shah asking him to attack the territories. When Prithivipati attacked, Ranadulla Shah sided with his father in the battle with Lamjung. Thus the territories easily fell into the hands of Prithvipati Shah.
As a result of this act of diplomacy, Ranadulla Shah became the favourite of his father. His brother Bir Bhadra, the Crown Prince, became envious of him. Bir Bhadra thought that the king would make Ranadulla his successor. Ranadulla Shah tried to make his borther believe that he had no ambition for the throne. But his brother was not convinced, and so he committed sucide. Thus Ranadulla Shah showed an example of unselfish service to the country in the history of the Gorkha kingdom.
At the tragic death of Ranadulla, the people of Gorkha were very shocked. Even Bir Bhadra grieved at heart. The people disliked Bir Bhadra because of whom their popular 'hero' Randulla had to commit suicide. So, Bir Bhadra left Gorkha and went to Kathmandu to worship Pashupatinath. He died on his way back to Gorkha.
Now, as both the princes were dead and the third one Dala Shah was blind, the question arose as to who would succeed Prithvipati Shah. But a son was born to Bir Bhadra Shah at the royal palace of Tanahun, while Bir Bhadra was away in Kathmandu. So, the baby son of Bir Bhadra Shah, named Narabhupal Shah, was brought to Gorkha and made the heir-apparent. After the death of Prithvipati Shah, his grandson Narabhupal Shah ascended the throne in 1716 A.D.

Narabhupal Shah was a man of high ambition. He was a brave and courageous king. He wanted to turn the small kingdom of Gorkha into a big powerful state. While Narabhupal Shah was ruling over Gorkha, Ripumardan Shah was the king of Lamjung. With the help of the king of Tanahun, Ripumardan attacked Gorkha. The combined forces of Lamjung and Tanahun were defeated by the Gorkha troops and Lamjung suffered a heavy loss in the confrontation.
Narabhupal Shah got encouragement from his victory over the combined forces of Lamjung and Tanahun to extend the territory of his kingdom by conquests. He was well aware of the political situation of the Kathmandu valley, so he thought to attack the valley kingdoms. Before entering the valley, it was necessary for him to conquer Nuwakot, the western gate of the valley. So, he sent an army under the command of Jayanta Rana and Maheswar Patan to conquer Nuwakot, in 1737 A.D. The Gorkha troop was defeated by the joint forces of Kathmandu and Patan at Nuwakot. Narbhupal Shah was deeply shocked by this defeat and dismissed the leaders of the ill-fated expedition. The Pande chiefs seized an opportunity to fill the ears of Narabhupal Shah against the Magar chief, Jayanta Rana. Jayanta Rana was blamed as the sole person responsible for this defeat. He was greatly shocked when he heard it. So he left Gorkha and went to Kathmandu. He Joined the service of Jaya Prakash Malla. Jaya Prakash Malla made him the chief of Nuwakot.
Because of the defeat at Nuvakot in 1737 A.D., Narabhupal Shah gave up all hope to extend his kingdom. He was deeply shocked at heart and he left all the affairs of the state and began to pass his days in religious observances. His wife Chandraprabha brought him tactfully into the palace and conducted the state affairs with the help of the Crown Prince Prithvi Narayan Shah. Narabhupla Shah's sorrow could not be pacified and he died with the shock of his defeat, in 1742 A.D. Then Prithvi Narayan Shah, the future hero and the conqueror of the Kathmandu valley ascended the throne of Gorkha.

Prithvi Narayan Shah was born to Queen Kaushalyavati, the second wife of king Narabhupal Shah, on 7th January 1723 A.D. (27 Paush, 1779 B.S.). One night when Kaushalyavati had a dream of swallowing the sun, she woke up and narrated the story of her dream to her husband. On hearing it, King Narabhupal Shah severely beat her. The queen wept and did not sleep for the rest of the night. In the morning, King Narabhupal Shah said to the queen, "I have between you simply not to let you sleep,for the dream you dreamt is a very good one, and to make it fruitful you should not have slept". The queen was very pleased to hear it. Seven months after this incident, Prithvi Narayan Shah was born to her. On the very day of his birth, the senior Queen Chandraprabha also gave girth to a son called Brindakeshar. There arose a question in the palace as to who should be made the Crown Prince, but Brindakeshar died soon and Prithvi Narayan Shah became the undisputed successor. Prithvi Narayan Shah had four brothers, viz, Mohaddam Kirti Shah, Dal Mardan Shah, Dalajit Shah and Surpratap Shah. The elder queen Chandra Prabhavati did not have her own son.
Prithvi Narayan Shah was brave, clever, and courageous from his childhood. He got good moral education and training from Chandra Prabhavati, Aryal and Joshi as well. He became brave, courageous, active, able administrator and good organiser. He always hated luxurious life. At the age of five, he began to study and, at the age of eleven his "Bratabandha" ceremony was held in Dhading. He was appointed as a co-regent along with Queen Chandra Prabhavati by Narabhupal Shah after his defeat at Nuwakot. Thus, Prithvi Narayan Shah gained experience of administration since his childhood.
Once he went to visit the temple of Gorakhnath, at the age of six. There he met an old man who asked him for some yogurt. The boy went to nearby houses andbrought some yogurt. The old man swallowed all the yogurt and when there was a little left in his mouth, he asked the boy to stretch out his hand. He spat a little yogurt into the boy's hand and told him to eat that yogurt. The boy did not like to eat it and threw it away immediately. The yogurt from his hand happened to fall on his feet. Then the old man said, "If you had eaten that yogurt you would vave succeede in what you speak of, but since the yogurt fell on your feet, you will conquer the lands that your feet tread upon". Saying so, the old man vanished. It is said that the old man was no other than Gorakhanath himself.
At the age of fourteen, Prithvi Narayan was married with twelve years old Indra Kumari, the daughter of King Hemakarna Sen of Makawanpur. Queen Chandra Prabhavati wanted to have matrimonial relation with Makawanpur with a view to get some help of arms and ammunition from Makawanpur. The marriage ceremony was held in Makawanpur. After the Marriage was solemnised, Prithvi Narayan Shah wanted to take his wife with him, but according to the custom of Makawanpur, she was not to be sent to her husband immediately after the marriage. He came alone to Gorkha. After some time, he went Makawanpur to take his wife. But a dispute arose between Prithvi Narayan Shah and the king of Makawanpur and Prithvi Narayan Shah left again Makawanpur alone. On his way back to Gorkha, he went to see the kingdoms of the valley. He disguised himself as an ordinary man and from the hill of Chandragiri he saw the valley kingdoms, which he wanted to conquer for himself.
On 21st January 1740 A.D., Crown Prince Prithvi Narayan Shah went to Chepe and concluded a treaty with Ripu Mardan Shah, the king of Lamjung. They agreed to maintain cordial relation with each other.
He was very displeased with the king of Makawanpur, and in retaliation, he married Narendra Laxmi, the daughter of Abhiman Singh, a Rajput of Benaras. The marriage ceremony was held at Gorakhpur in February 1740 A.D. Then Queen Chandra Prabhavati sent Prithvi Narayan Shah to Bhaktapur to study the situation of the Kathmandu valley. Prithvi Narayan Shah contracted a friendship with Bir Narasimha Malla, son of Ranjit Malla, and stayed for three months in Bhaktapur. Having acquainted himself with the geographical, political, economic and strategic position of the valley, he went back to Gorkha in 1740 A.D. via Nuwakot. At that time he also maintained a friendly relation with Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu. In the meantime, Narabhupal Shah died and Prithvi Narayan Shah ascended the throne of Gorkha on 3rd April 1743 A.D.
When the king of Makawanpur heard that Prithvi Narayan Shah had ascended the throne of Gorkha, he invited him to visit Makwanpur and take his wife with him. Prithvi Narayan Shah was unwilling to go to Makawanpur to invade the valley. So, he went to Makawanpur. But no good understanding between the two kings could be established. It so happened that the soldiers of Makawanpur saluted Prithvi Narayan Shah without removing their shoes. Prithvi Narayan Shah considered this as an insult. So, in a fit of passion, he beheaded some of them with his sword. At this, there were serious exchanges of hot words between Prithvi Narayan Shah and the Prince of Makawanpur, Digbhandhan Sen. Prithvi Narayan Shah returned to Gorkha empty-handed but with full information about the Malla rulers of Kathmandu valley.

Prithvi Narayan Shah was an ambitious king. He wanted to extend the territory of his kingdom far and wide. He also wanted to conquer the small kingdoms and unite them into a strong nation. His main target was the kingdoms of Kathmandu valley. Before invading the valley, he had to capture Nuwakot, which was the gateway to the valley and main trade passes between Kantipur and Tibet. His father Narabhupal Shah had been unsuccessful in his attempt to conquer the kingdom of Nuwakot.
Then Prithvi Narayan Shah attacked Belkot. Kalu Pandey was not in favour of the hasty action but Prithvi Narayan Shah, who was encouraged by his conquest of Nuwakot, gallantly attacked Belkot. The Gorkha troops suffered a heavy loss in this battle. At last, the Gorkha troops won a victory over Belkot. Jayanta Rana, who was, in the past, the commander of the Gorkha army during the reign of Narabhupal Shah, was the commander of the Malla troops installed at Belkot. It is said that Prithvi Narayan Shah ordered his soldiers to skin the living body of Jayanta Rana. He was said to have treated Jayanta Rana in that manner to show the fate of a betrayer of Gorkha. After the conquest of Nuwakot, Prithvi Narayan Shah began to control all the areas around the valley. He captured Naddum, Mahadev Pokhari, Dahachowk, Ippa, Malta, Siranchowk etc. He planned to impose an economic blockade on the Kathmandu valley.

The defeat at the invasion of Nuwakot taught Prithvi Narayan Shah a good lesson. He realized that the standard of his army was below what he had estimated. His troops lacked arms and ammunition and sufficient rations. Leaving his kingdom under the care of his trusted Kazi Kalu Pande, he went to Benaras (Kashi) to collect war weapons, and to study the political and economic condition of the East India Company and other Baise, Choubise Rajya. He reached Benaras, worshipped Bishwanath and changed his Gotra from `Bharadwaj' into `Kasyap'. With the help of his father-in-law Abhiman Singh, he acquired different kinds of arms and ammunition necessary for his army. He came back to Gorkha via Butwal and began to train his soldiers in the art of warfare. With the advice of Kalu Pande he sent for young men from the Terai, recruited them in the Gorkha army and gave them proper training. He began to prepare for the next invasion of Nuwakot. Considering the wish of the people, Prithvi Narayan Shah appointed Kalu Pandey in the post of Kazi.

Kazi Kalu Pande was a wise, brave and a far-sighted statesman. King Prithvi Narayan Shah had great trust in him. It was Kalu Pande who advised the king to maintain peace and friendship with the neighbouring kingdoms. He was afraid that the neighbouring kingdoms. He was afraid that the neighbouring kings might attack Gorkha while Prithvi Narayan Shah would be away on his invasion campaign. Prithvi Narayan Shah thus sent Kalu Pande to hold talks with the king of Lamjung. Kalu Pande had a cordial talk with the king of Lamjung at the basin of the river, Chepe. Because of the diplomatic mind of Kalu Pande, an alliance could be made between Gorkha and Lamjung, the two traditional enemies. After that, Gorkha made an alliance with Kaski, Tanahun and Palpa.

Gorkha was now made secure from all sides. Both Prithvi Narayan Shah and Kalu Pande thought that it was the right time to invade Nuwakot. Under the command of Prithvi Narayan Shah himself, the Gorkha troops attacked Nuwakot on 26 September 1744 A.D. from three sides. A troop under the command of Kalu Pandey, ascended the hill from the north through Gerkhu. The Second troop took the Dharma Pani route under the command of Kirti Mahodam Shah. A third troop was under the command of Prithvi Narayan Shah himself, attacked from the front. Shankermani Rana, the commander of the Nuwakot army was killed in the battle-field and the troops fled to Belkot. Thus, Nuwakot fell in the hands of Prithvi Narayan Shah.
Then Prithvi Narayan Shah attacked Belkot. Kalu Pandey was not in favour of the hasty action but Prithvi Narayan Shah, who was encouraged by his conquest of Nuwakot, gallantly attacked Belkot. The Gorkha troops suffered a heavy loss in this battle. At last, the Gorkha troops won a victory over Belkot. Jayanta Rana, who was, in the past, the commander of the Gorkha army during the reign of Narabhupal Shah, was the commander of the Malla troops installed at Belkot. It is said that Prithvi Narayan Shah ordered his soldiers to skin the living body of Jayanta Rana. He was said to have treated Jayanta Rana in that manner to show the fate of a betrayer of Gorkha. After the conquest of Nuwakot, Prithvi Narayan Shah began to control all the areas around the valley. He captured Naddum, Mahadev Pokhari, Dahachowk, Ippa, Malta, Siranchowk etc. He planned to impose an economic blockade on the Kathmandu valley.

Lamjung was the age old enemy of Gorkha. It broke the alliance with Gorkha, and taking advantage of the absence of the Gorkha army, crossed the Chepe and took Sirhanchowk. Prithvi Narayan Shah responded by sending an army under the command of Kriti Mahodam Shah and Bansa Gopal Panta. The Gorkha troops met the Lamjung-troops at Salimpa and a fierce battle was fought. The Gorkha troops defeated the Lamjung troops and captured it. Again, the Gorkha troops had to face the combined forces of Lamjung along with the twenty-four small principalities at Sirhanchowk. Reinforcements arrived from Nuwakot under Kriti Mahodam Shah, Kalu Pande and Ambar Pande. Rudra Shah from Gorkha sent more reinforcements. The Gorkha troops attacked the invaders in the middle of the monsoon and successfully drove them back. Many drowned in the rain-swollen Chepe. After that the `Chaubisi' were too weak to trouble Prithvi Narayan Shah any more.

Meeting with a Yogi (Sage) : There is a story of a sage who happened to come to Gorkha from Benaras. Prithvi Narayan Shah welcomed him and looked after him properly. The sage was pleased with the king and told him to ask for a boon. Prithvi Narayan Shah asked for the whole kingdom of Nepal. The sage said, "This will be granted when you meet me in Benaras". After some time, Prithvi Narayan Shah went to Benaras and met the sage. The sage was again pleased with the king and said, "Your desire will be fulfilled. I hereby give you the whole kingdom of Nepal". When Prithvi Narayan Shah solicited the sage to take something in return for his offer as `Guru Bheti', the saga said, "When you have become the king of the whole of Nepal, you must provide the necessary facilities for the pilgrims to Gosainthan". Prithvi Narayan Shah readily promised to do so and came back to Nepal. But after establishing his sovereignty over the whole kingdom of Nepal, Prithvi Narayan Shah forgot his promise. Then the sage again came to Nepal to remind Prithvi Narayan Shah of his promise. Prithvi Narayan Shah then set aside the revenue from the Dhading district to provide facilities for pilgrims to Gosainthan.

After capturing Lamjung, Tanahun and other neighbouring territories, Prithvi Narayan Shah marched with his troops for the conquest of the valley. He first captured Farping, Bandegaon, Sunagaon, Khokana and other villages. Veteren leaders and warriors like Kalu Pande, Dalajit Shah, Dalamardan Shah, Tularam Pande and Bir Bhadra accompanied him. The Gorkha troops violently attacked Kirtipur. After a terrible fight for six hours, the Gorkha troops got a severe blow from the hands of the combined forces of Kirtipuris and Jaya Prakash's army. Prithvi Narayan Shah himself had a narrow escape. The brave 44 years old Kalu Pandey and four hundred Gorkhali troops were killed in the battle of Balkhu (Kirtipur). The Gorkha troops suffered a heavy loss and the surviving soldiers, along with the king, had to retreat back to Nuwakot.
Victory Over the Muslim Forces
To defend the aggression of the Gorkhas, the king of Makawanpur, Digbandan Sen, appealed for help to Mir Kasim, the Muslim king of Bengal. Mir Kasim was preparing to wage war against the East India company. At that time, Mir Kasim was in need of friends, he also wanted desperately to test his newly organized army. So, he accepted the request of Digbandan Sen and he sent his 2,000 strong soldiers under the command of Gurgin Khan in 1763 A.D. The Gorkhas defeated the well-equipped army of Gurgin Khan. The Muslim troops fled away from the battle-field and the Gorkhas captured their arms and ammunition. This victory over the Muslims raised the moral of the Gorkhas and discouraged the native states of India from interfering in the affairs of the Gorkhas.

Makawanpur controlled the southern routes to the Kathmandu valley. Prithvi Narayan Shah thought to conquer and occupy it. Because of the growing power of the Gorkhas, Makawanpur was terrified and the king of Makawanpur had planned to join in an alliance with Jaya Prakash Malla to subdue the Gorkhas. When Prithvi Narayan Shah came to know this, he sent an army under the command of Kahar Simha Basnyat, Bansaraj Pande and Ram Krishna Kunwar. The Makawanpur forces were fefeated in the ten hour battle and they surrendered before the gallant Gorkhas on 21st August 1762 A.D. On the war, 100 Gorkhali and 400 Makawanpur soldiers were killed. Then the Gorkhas attacked and occupied Hariharpur, Timalkot and Sindhulikot. The Gorkhali troops arrested Digbandan Sen, the king of Makawanpur, on February 13, 1763 A.D.

Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu was alarmed at the growing power of Prithvi Narayan Shah. He sought help from the East India Company in order to defend his kingdom from the Gorkha aggression, just as the king of Makawanpur had appealed to Mir Kasim. The East India Company sent 2,400 soldiers in 1767 under the command of General Kinloch who tried to enter Nepal via Sindhuli. The 120 Gorkha soldiers under the leadership of Bir Bhadra Thapa and Kazi Bansa Raj Pande, attacked them in the hills above Sindhuli. The British soldiers were not aware of the techniques of hill warfare or the bravery of the Gorkhas. They could not fight against the Gorkhas and ran away from the battle-field. This time also, the Gorkhas captured a huge supply of ammunition and cannons which they used in future wars.

Prithvi Narayan Shah had learned a good lesson from his defeat at Kirtipur. He planned thoroughly his invasion of Kathmandu valley and captured all the strategic positions round the valley. He had already captured Naldum, Mahadev, Nuwakot, Belkot, Shivapuri and Dahachowk, in the north and west of Kathmandu valley. He then occupied Makawanpur, the southern gateway of the valley. He also captured several villages that surrounded the valley. He cut off the imports and exports of the valley and brought about an economic crisis in the valley kingdoms. Prithvi Narayan Shah used to give capital punishment to those who would supply a little bit of salt and cotton to the valley during his economic blockade period. In this way, due to his fore-sighted diplomacy, Prithvi Narayan Shah weakened the position of the valley kingdoms and invaded them at the right time.

Prithvi Narayan Shah had already occupied Dhulikhel, Banepa, Panauti, Panga, Farping and Chobhar, by 1764 A.D. On 16th September 1764 A.D. he attacked Kirtipur for the second time. But he was defeated again by the Kirtipuris. Sur Pratap Shah, the youngest brother of Prithvi Narayan Shah, lost his eyes in this battle.
However, Prithvi Narayan Shah did not give up his hope to conquer the valley kingdoms. For the third time, Prithvi Narayan Shah sent his Army under the command of Bansa Raj Pande who made a sudden attack on Kirtipur in December 1767. This time, the Gorkha ttroops got victory over Kirtipur. Prithvi Narayan Shah became so furious from his former defeats in the bands of Kirtipuris that he ordered that the noses of the people of Kirtipur over the age of 12 be cut off and the city to be named as `Naskatipur'.

On 26th of September, 1768, when the people of Kathmandu, alongwith King Jaya Prakash Malla, were celebrating the Indra Jatra festival, Prithvi Narayan Shah made a sudden attack. The 1,000 Gorkha soldiers under the command of their king attacked Kathmandu from three sides-Bhimsenthan, Naradevi and Tundikhel. The troops of Jaya Prakash Malla fought for sometime, then they surrendered. Jaya Prakash Malla hid in the Taleju temple and fled to Patan for shelter. Prithvi Narayan Shah declared himself to be the king of Kathmandu and sat on the throne set up in the palace square (Basantapur Durbar square) for the festival.
After some days Patan was also attacked by the Gorkhas. The six Pradhans were ready to surrender before Prithvi Narayan Shah without any bloodshed. Tej Narasimha Malla, the king of Patan became afraid of the Pradhans as well as of Prithvi Narayan Shah. So, he went to Bhaktapur alongwith Jaya Prakash Malla. On 6th Oct. 1768 A.D. Prithvi Narayan Shah annexed Patan to his kingdom. After a year, on 12th November 1769 A.D. Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered Bhaktapur and occupied it. In this way, Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered the valley kingdoms one by one and several other kingdoms outside the valley, and laid the foundation of a Greater Nepal.
After conquerring the valley, Prithvi Narayan Shah began to prepare for war against Chaubise Rajya. The Gorkhali troops tried to control Kaski, Rishing, Dhor, Bhirkot, Parbat etc., but they were unsuccessful. Then Prithvi Narayan Shah turned his attention towards the eastern states. Prithvi Narayan Shah established his domination over Vijayapur and Chaudandi. He extended the boundry of Nepal up to Kankai in the east, Marsyangdi and Chepe in the west, Rasuwa in the north and Parsa to Jhapa in the south.

King Prithvi Narayan Shah was a high ambitious and great courageous man. He was active, kind, liberal and a just king. At the age of 20, the administration came into his hand. King Prithvi Narayan Shah had to spend most of his time in fighting. He did not find time to show his abilities as an administrator. He conquered several states one by one and unitd them into a mighty Gorkha kingdom. He established a sound administration with a stable economic base and laid the foundation of an independent country. He may be compared with such ideal monarchs as Alfred, the Great of Britain, Akbar of India, Bismark of Germany and Cabour of Italy. Behind his noble effort to conquer the small kingdoms and unify them into a nation, he had good ghoughts and inspirations acquired from practical experiences.
King Prithvi Narayan Shah was a high ambitious and great courageous man. He was active, kind, liberal and a just king. At the age of 20, the administration came into his hand. King Prithvi Narayan Shah had to spend most of his time in fighting. He did not find time to show his abilities as an administrator. He conquered several states one by one and unitd them into a mighty Gorkha kingdom. He established a sound administration with a stable economic base and laid the foundation of an independent country. He may be compared with such ideal monarchs as Alfred, the Great of Britain, Akbar of India, Bismark of Germany and Cabour of Italy. Behind his noble effort to conquer the small kingdoms and unify them into a nation, he had good ghoughts and inspirations acquired from practical experiences.
Prithvi Narayan Shah gave valuable advice to his successors, popularly known as "DIVINE COUNCEL" (Dibya Upadesh). The maxim he laid down for himself and his successors was: "It is with much travail that I have acquired this kingdom. It is a common garden for all castes. Let everyone realize this".
His expulsion of the Christians from the kingdom of Nepal proves his shrewdness as a politician. He was afraid of the growing power of the British in India. He was afraid that they might also try to spread their influence in Nepal to gain in strength through the Christian Missionaries in Nepal. "With the Bible comes the bayonet, with the merchant comes the musket" - was his firm belief. He also said, "Nepal is sandwiched between two powers, China and British India. We should have close relations with China and show friendship with the British. They (the British) are very clever. If they become masters of the whole of India they will probably create trouble in Nepal". This shows how far-sighted King Prithvi Narayan Shah was!
His financial policy was very sound. He was in favour of patronizing indigenous industries and putting a ban on the imports of foreign goods. His policy was to foster arts and crafts in the country, to improve the national dance, to encourage exports and discourage imports. It was his conviction that if foreign merchants were allowed to trade in the country they would drain the wealth of the country and impoverish the people.
He said, "Those who know how to weave the cloth in the country should be encouraged so that wealth may not drain out". In saying so, he gave much encouragement to the indigenous industries. Again, he encouraged exports when he said, "We should export herbs and other things to earn foreign currency". "Where minerals are available, the residents of that place should be shifted away and mines should be worked". Such was his opinion for the development of the country through natural resources like minerals. He also encouraged agriculture through irrigation.
He followed an enlightened policy. He often said, "My kingdom is a garden in which four castes and thirtysix sub-castes blossom forth". He was a great statesman. He favoured a democratic pattern in the appointment of ministers. He said, "Ministers should be appointed according to the will of the people". The good of the people is the good of the king. Emphasising his devotion for the welfare of his people he said, "If the people are healthy, the Palace (Durbar) will be stronger. The king's treasure is but the people".
He was a just king. In his opinion, corrupt officials were the number one enemy to the development of the country and they should be dealt with severely. The person who gives bribes and takes bribes is the enemy of the king and the country; his property should be confiscated. He said, "Let there be no injustice in the kingdom". He paid special attention to the militia of the country. So that his army should be well supplied he set up a musket factory and gunpowder works. Soldiers would be promoted in their ranks only on the basis of merit. Criminals in the army would be sent to the battle front to fight. They would not be sentenced to death.
"Nepal is a yam between two boulders" - King Prithvi Narayan Shah had spoken such words to show the geographical situation of the kingdom of Nepal, and the policy of friendly relations with neighbouring countries to be followed in the future. The words of Prithvi Narayan Shah are the guidelines of our foreign policy of non-alignment and peaceful co-existence.
Though he was not a scholar himself, he respected the scholars in his palace. Poets like Lalit Ballabh, and astrologers like Kulananda and Balkrishna found their due respect and places in the palace. The beautiful nine-storey Basantpur Durbar in Kathmandu, the seven-storey Durbar, the Ranga Mahal and Tilanga House of Nuwakot are evidence of his artistic excellence as a lover of architecture.

1 comment:

  1. There is always lack of writtings about the kingdoms of the east.How come there are no records of how they acquired the east. Also before the Gorkha and the kathmandu valley, the history of kirats are always darkened, even in the school books saying it is less known. It is more like the case of less is wanted to be known. There are periods when there history were wipped out through burning and wipping out their literature. I am just saying this as they were just and they did not deserve this. Every culture be it kirats, or the west chaubise or the valleys should be well presented without any lies or supression always and also in the future.Not by the fear of losing. Even though anyone is ruling, all the cultures and their history and their literature should be maintained and not supressed and everyone ahould live together.