The Kirats were the aborigines of north-eastern Himalayas. According to Baburam Acharya, they came to Nepal in about 700 B.C. and ruled over it. They were short and had robust bodies, broad checks, flat noses, thin whiskers, and dark eyes. They were well trained in the art of warfare, and were very skillful archers. They were the ancestors of the present day Kiratas: - Kulung, Thulung and Yellung. Yalamber, the first Kirati king of Nepal belonged to the Yellung clan.
Altogether, there were 29 kings of this dynasty who ruled over Nepal for about 1225 years. According to the chronicle (Bamsavali) of Kirkpatrick, Kiratas ruled over Nepal from about 900 B.C. to 300 A.D. On the basis of the Puranas and other ancient religious texts, it is presumed that the Kiratas ruled in Nepal after Gopal and Mahipal. The first king of the Kiratas was Yalamber, who defeated Bhuvan Singh, the last king of Ahir dynasty and established Kirat rule in Nepal. He extended his kingdom as far as the Tista river in the east and the Trishuli in the west. It is said that during the battle of Mahabharata, Yalamber went to witness the battle with a view to take the side of the loosing 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.
The Kirat Kings
The 29 Kirat kings were as follows :
1. Yalamber 2. Pavi 3. Skandhar 4. Balamba, 5. Hriti, 6. Humati, 7. Jitedasti, 8. Galinja, 9. Pushka, 10. Suyarma, 11. Papa, 12. Bunka, 13. Swananda, 14. Sthunko, 15. Jinghri, 16. Nane, 17. Luka, 18. Thor, 19. Thoko, 20. Verma, 21. Guja, 22. Pushkar, 23. Keshu, 24. Suja, 25. Sansa, 26. Gunam 27. Khimbu, 28. Patuka, 29. Gasti.
During the region of 7th Kirati King Jitedasti, Gautama Buddha visited the Nepal Valley along with his disciples. He visited the shrines of Swayambhu and Guheswari and preached his doctrine. There are also references to the fact that Jitedasti fought in the battle of Mahabharata from the Pandava's side.
During the rule of Sthunko, the 14th king of the dynasty, about 250 B.C. the Indian Emperor Asoka came on a pilgrimage to Lumbini, in Nepal. To mark the birthplace of Gautama Buddha, Asoka got inscriptions engraved on rocks and set up a stone-pillar. In about 640 A.D., Hieun Tseng, a Chinsese traveller, visited this place. He has described that the stone-pillar was cracked due to thunder. The stone-pillar of Asoka was unknown until 1st December 1985 A.D. when Dr. Fuhrer engraved it. (Now His Majesty's Government of Nepal has set up a plan, 'Lumbini Development Project', to preserve this antiquity.) He also visited different parts of Nepal valley along with his daughter Charumati. To commemorate the visit, he got four stupas erected in four quarters and one in the central part of Lalitpattan, the modern Patan. They exist even to this day. Asoka's visit to Kathmandu is testified by the fact that he gave his daughter Charumati in marriage to Devapal, a Kshetriya Prince. She settled near Pashupati and founded a town called 'Devpatan' in memory of her husband Devapal. She also got a Vihar (nunnery) erected for herself which was called Charumati Vihar. The nunnery and its surroundings are now known as Chabahil. In this way, after the visit of Asoka, Buddhism flourished in the Nepal valley. Jainsim, another religious cult, contemporary of Buddhism, was founded by Mahavir Jain in India. Several disciples of Mahavir Jain preached the doctrines of Jainism in various parts of India. It is said that during the regin of Jinghri, the 15th Kirata king, one of the disciples of Mahavir Jain named Bhadrabahu entered Nepal in about 300 B.C. But his visit to Nepal was society and Buddhism was just being introduced. So, the Nepalese did not accept Jainism.
During the regime of Patuka, the 28th Kirati king, the Soma dynasty kings attacked Nepal several times. Patuka had to leave Gokarna because of the repeated attacks of the Soma dynasty kings from the west. So, he settled in Shankhamul and made it a beautiful town. there he built a palace which was known as the 'Patuko Palace'. Though nothing but a mound of the palace in ruins now exists, the place is still called Patuko. The last Kirati king was Gasti, who was defeated by Nimisha of the Soma dynasty and the Kirati rule came to an end. Thus, Nimisha became the first king of Soma dynasty.
Civilization And Culture Of Kiratas
During the rule of the Kiratas, Nepal made considerable progress in the field of art and architecture, trade and commerce. The Kiratis were not only good warriors but also good administrators. Men and women were treated equally. Criminals were given severe punishment. For the administration of justice, law-courts were established at several places-Kuther, Shuli, Lingual, Mapchok, etc.
Trade and commerce flourished under the Kiratas. Nepal had trade relations with Tibet, China and India. The exports of Nepal mainly consisted of wool, woollen goods, wood and herbs. Kautilya, in his 'Arthasastra', says that Nepali wollen blankets were very popular in the market of Magadha (Bihar in modern India). People took more interest in business than in agriculture. Because of its economic prosperity, people from different places, of different tribes and races came to Nepal and settled down. Thus, the people having different customs and practices all merged into a nation. This resulted in the development of a new culture of its own.
The cultural and religious life of the people was highly developed under the Kiratas, The main religion of the Kiratas was Hinduism. they worshipped Lord Shiva, serpents, trees, stones etc. The images of Kiratewar Mahadev and Birupakshya show the standard of architecture of the Kiratas. Buddhism also flourished under the Kiratas. The stupas, pagodas, and temples were all built on the model of Buddhist art.
The Kiratas developed a number of towns. The thickly populated centres were Malatirtha, Shankhamul, Thankot, Khopung (Bhaktapur), Khopase, Sanga, Teku, etc. Nepal exchanged its culture and civilization with India, Tibet and China. The introduced of Buddhism brought intellectual awakening among the people. In this way, the foundation of the vast structure of the Nepalese culture was laid down under the Kiratas. Indeed, this period can be regarded as the foreunner of the future development of the Nepalese society in all aspects.
Soma Dynasty Kings
The Soma dynasty had established a principality in the west while the Kirati kings were ruling over the Nepal valley. The Soma dynasty kings attacked Nepal several times during the region of Patuka, but they could not defeat him. The last Kirati King Gasti was comparatively weak, so he was defeated by Nimisha of the Soma dynasty. Thus, Nimisha became the first Soma dynasty king of Nepal in about 205 A.D. He built his palace in Godavari. It was from his time that the Godavari-Mela (fair) began to be held at Godavari, every twelve years. He also erected the four faced linga of Pashupatinath. He repaired the temple of Pashupatinath as well.
After Nimisha, Mitakshya, Kakaverma and Pashuprekshya Dev ruled over Nepal. Bhaskerverma was the fifth and last Soma dynasty king who ruled over Nepal during 280 to 305 A.D. It was he who led a military expedition and reached up to Rameswaram, the southern-most part of India. He gathered a vast treasure of wealth from this campaign. With this wealth he made a gold-plating roof on the temple of Pashupatinath and developed the economic condition of his kingdom. He filled Devapatan with his wealth and named it 'Swarnapuri'. He was childless, so he made Bhumi Verma, his heir, who was a Rajput Keshetriya of the Solar dynasty. Thus, the soma dynasty rule came to an end.
The Lichchhavi Period
After the downfall of Soma dynasty, the Lichchhavi period began in the history of Nepal. During the time of Gautama Buddha, the kings of Lichchhavi dynasty were ruling over Baisali (Muzaffarpur, in modern Bihar). Baisali had a partly democratic form of government. According to the inscriptionf of Jaya Dev II, Supushpa was the founder of Lichchhavi dynasty. But he was defeated by Ajatsatru, the powerful Magadha King, in the 5th century B.C. Ajatsatru's descendents came over to Nepal and established their domain. when the kings of Kushan dynasty became powerful in India, the Lichchhavis migrated to Nepal. The 24th descedant of King Supushpa, Jaya Dev II, re-estabslished the rule of Lichchhavis in Nepal.
Brisha Dev was another powerful king of the Lichchhavis who extended his territory far and wide. Chandra Gupta I, the Indian emperor, was alarmed of the rise of Brisha Dev. He preserved the sovereignty of India by his wide political tact. He visited Nepal and married Kumara Devi, the daughter of Brisha Dev. Kumara Devi gave birth to emperor Samundra Gupta. Some historians are of the opinion that it was Bhasker Verma, not Brisha Dev who was the father of Kumara Devi. Another famous Lichchhavi ruler was Haridutta. He built four Narayan temples - Changunarayan, Vishankhunarayan, Sikhanarayan, and Ichankhunarayan. He also built Budhanilkantha. He made Vaishnavism the Royal cult of Nepal.
Mana Deva was the most famous king among the Lichchhavi rulers. Historians differ about the period of his rule. However, according to the inscriptions of Changunarayan temple, Mana Deva ruled Nepal from 464 A.D. to 505 A.D.
Mana Deva was the son of Dharma Deva. He was brave and courageous. He had acquired good skill in the art of warfare. He was a lover of art and architecture as well. While he was a mere child Dharma Deva died. His mother Rajyavati was about to immolate herself on the funeral pyre along with her dead husband (to become a satee), but at the request of Mana Deva she lived to nurture and inculcate good qualities in him.
Mana Deva was only a little boy when he ascended the throne. Taking this advantage, the Thakuri governors of the eastern provinces rebelled and tried to be independent. But he amassed his troops and suppressed the rebellion. Then he marched towards the west and occupied many provinces. With the help of his maternal uncle he invaded Mallapur, across the Gandaki river and annexed it to his kingdom. Thus his kingdom was extended up to the Himalayas in the north, the other side of the Gandaki in the west, the Koshi, in the south.
Mana Deva and his mother Rajyavati performed many religious sacrifices, gave gifts to Brahmans and worshipped Changu Narayan. Mana Deva was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. He also respected Buddhism. He built many Vihars and stupas in different parts of the country. He erected an image of Tribikram Narayan at Lazimpat. He built a famous royal palace that was called 'Mangriha' at Gokarna from where the administration of the country was conducted. He also built the shrine of Changunarayan, and renovated the Chakra Mahavihar. He minted coins in his name for the first time in the history of Nepal, and named them 'Mananka'. He was a bold, handsome, strong and a liberal king. He was a wise administrator and the chief patron, guardian and great supporter of his people. He is considered to be the first king of Nepal having historical authenticity.
According to the inscription of Jaya Dev II, after Mana Deva, Mahideva and Basanta Deva became the king of Nepal. A few generations after Basantadeva, Shiva Deva I, ascended the throne of Nepal. According to Jagadish Chandra Regmi, Shiva Deva was the son of Mana Deva II.
Shivadeva was another illustrious ruler of the Lichchhavi dynasty. He ascended the throne in about 588 A.D. From the very beginning of his rule, he placed Amshuverma in charge of the entire administration of the country. Shiva Deva I was impressed by Amshuverma's heroism and administrative ability. So, he gave his daughter in marriage to Amshuverma and made him 'Mahasamanta'. Then the dual administration was held for some time.
During the reign of Shivadeva, Amshuverma was the de-facto ruler. At the death of Shivadeva in 605 A.D. he became the sole sovereign and adopted the title of king. He belonged to the Thakuri clan and thus he established the Thakuri dynasty in Nepal. He built 'Kailashkut Bhavan' at Devapattan and transferred the seat of government from Mangriha to Kailashkut. He also minted coins in his name.
Amshuverma was endowed with all the kingly qualities and virtues. He was a just, impartial and an able administrator. He was a true servant of the people without any political bias. According to some inscriptions, King Shiva Deva used to say that Amshuverma was a man of universal fame and he always destroyed his enemies by his heroic nature. Some other inscriptions tell us that he had a great personality, who dispelled darkness by the light of his glory. Hiuen Tseng writes about him as a man of high accomplishments and great glory. He himself was a learned man and respected scholar. He had written a book on Grammar in Sanskrit. The great grammarian Chandraverma, a scholar of Nalanda University, was patronized by him. He followed Shaivism but was tolerant towards all other religions. He can rightly be compared with the Emperor Asoka of India as regards his political outlook and impartial feelings without any religious prejudices. For the development of economic condition of the people he paid great attention to the improvement of trade and commerce of the country. Nepal had trade relations with India, Tibet and China and it became the thoroughfare of India's trade with China and vice versa. He gave equal importance to industrial advancement and agricultural prosperity. He made every effort to help the people by providing canals to irrigate the fields. He levied water tax, land tax, defence tax and luxury tax. He used the income from these sources for the development works of the country. He did not use it for his personal pleasure and luxury.
During the reign of Amshuverma, Harshverdhana of India and Srong Tsang Gampo of Tibet were trying to extend their territories. Keeping Harshaverdhana at arms length he made a metrimonial alliance with Tibet. He gave his daughter Bhrikuti in marriage to the Tibetan King Srong Tsang Gampo. He also gave his sister Bhoga Devi in marriage to an Indian King Shur Sen. With all this political sagacity and far-sightedness, Amshuverma maintained the sovereignty and independence of the country.
Hiun-Tseng was a Buddhist monk of China. In about 630 A.D. he visited India via Tashkent to study Buddhism. He stayed in India for 14 years and visited Varanasi, Gaya, Kushinagar Kapilvastu and Lumbini. Though he did not visit Kathmandu Valley, he visited Lumbini in about 637 A.D. He prepared a detailed account about Indian culture, civilization and the successful administration of Harshaverdhana. He also noted down a brief account about Nepal. He described Nepal in the following way :
This country, Nipolo is surrounded by snow-clad mountains, of an area of 4,000 Lee (Chinese scale which is equivalent to 1067 km). The area of the capital is 20 Lee (about 6 km) Food and fruits are found in abundance. Copper, Yak and Mingming (Chinese name of a bird) are also found here. Copper coins are used in trade. The people of this land do not speak the truth. They are not dependable and trustworthy people. They have ill manners. They are not educated but highly skilled in art and architecture. Their appearance is not attractive and they do not look friendly. Apart from Buddhism, there are also people following other religions. Buddhist stupas and Hindu temples are constructed side by side. About 2,000 Buddhist monks have been studying here about Hinayan and Mahayan of Buddhism. The regining king is of the Lichchhavi dynasty. He possesses a wide variety of knowledge. He has a noble character. He has faith in Buddhism. Recently, Anchufabo (Amshuverma) was ruling the country. His glory and greatness is renowned. He has composed a book of Grammer. He respects learned and talented people.
Hiuen-Tseng also mentioned an oil line to the south-east of the capital. This source of oil was again metnioned by other Chinese travellers who visited Nepal during the reign of Narendra Deva.
SUCCESSORS OF AMSHUVERMA
After the death of Amshuverma, Usay Dev I, son of Shivadeva, ascended the throne. He was dethroned by his younger brother, Dhurba Dev. He went to Tibet and took shelter under Srong Tsang Gampo. Jisnu Gupta, chief of the Avir dynasty, helped Dhruba Dev to acquire the throne. Now Jisnu Gupta bacame powerful. Dhurba Dev ruled from Mangriha and Jisnu Gupta from Kailashkut Bhavan. The administrative authority was in the hands of Jisnu Gupta. Kailashkut Bhavan was the adminitrative centre of the country. Thus, there was a dual government. Eventually, Jisnu Gupta became the de-facto ruler. He minted coins in his name as Amshuverma had done, and declared himself the king of Nepal. After Dhurba Dev, a descendant of Amshuverma was placed on the throne. But again Jisnu Gupta's son Bishnu Gupta became the real ruler.
Narendra Dev was the son of Uday Dev II. Uday Dev had to take shelter under the Tibetan King Srong-Tsang-Gompo. Narendra Dev, with Tibetan aid took revenge against the enemy of his father and restored his ancestral throne by defeating Bishnu Gupta. Thus, he ended the double rule and became the 7th king of the Lichchhavi dynasty. He ascended the throne in about 640 A.D. He was a wise and good ruler. He always wished to see his people happy and prosperous. He was a man much given to sensual pleasure. He always wore Jewelled earrings in his ears. He loved flowers and variety of perfume. It was he who brought the patron deity Machchhendranath from Kamrup(Assam, in India). A Chinese Mission visited Nepal for the first time during his rule in about 643 A.D. Again, in 647 A.D., a second Chinese Mission under the leadership of Wang Hiun Tse visited Nepal. This Mission highly praised the development of Nepalese art and architecture. Narendra Dev also sent a Mission to China with presents and messages of good will.
Narendra Dev was a pleasure-loving king. He found pleasure in decorating himself, his palace and his people. The people wore earplugs of bamboo and bone. They used utensils of copper. They wore long and loose garments covering the whole body. The people were skilled in dramas and playing musical instruments. They worshipped Panchayan i.e., five Gods- Ganesh, Shiva, Bishnu, the Sun God and Goddess Durga. The houses were made of wood, decorated with carving and paintings. The pictures of gods and goddesses and of different animals were carved on the walls of the houses. Thus, the rule of Narendra Dev proved to be much advanced in all fields, particularly in art and architecture. He died in 683 A.D.
After the death of Narendra Dev, his son Shivadeva II ruled from 684 to 705 A.D. He married Betsa Devi, the daughter of king Bhogaverma of Magadha. Due to this matrimonial relation, he maintained a very good relationship with the powerful Magadha kingdom of India.
JAYA DEVA II
After Shivadeva II, Jaya Deva II ascended the throne. He married Rajyavati, the daughter of King Harsha Dev of Koshal. He was a learned man and a great poet. When his mother Betsa Devi offered a silver lotus to Pashupatinath he composed a hymn and inscribed the same on a stone behind the huge brass image of Nandi (bull) in front of the temple of Pashupatinath. During his rule Tibet made an unsuccessful attempt to invade Nepal, but was defeated at the hands of the Nepalese. The Tibetan king was killed in the confrontation. Jaya Deva II ruled in Nepal till 729 A.D.
Aramudi was also known as Baradeva. He made Lalitpatan (Patan) his capital, He was a brave and clever king. According to Kalhan's 'Rajtarangini' King Vanayaditya Vinayaditya was a powerful king of Kashmir from 770 A.D. to 800 A.D. He conquered many principalities of India and then advanced to occupy Nepal in 782 A.D. When the troops of Jayapid reached the Kaligandaki river ( near Ridi, in Palpa), Armudi's troops attacked the enemies. Jayapid ordered the Kashmiri troops to cross the river. At that time, the water in the river was only knee-deep. But when the invaders stepped into the river, the Nepalese troops let out the water that was harnessed by a dam. Suddenly, the river was flooded and the enemies were swept away. Jayapid, the king himself was arrested and imprisoned. Later on, when Dev Sharma the minister of Jayapid, heard this news he came to Nepal and met the king. He organized the successful escape of the king at the cost of his own life. It is said that he committed suicide and king Jayapida Vinayaditya crossed the river with the help of Dev Sharma's dead body and reached Kashmir with great difficulty.
CIVILIZATION AND CULTURE OF THE LICHCHHAVIS
There was peace and prosperity in the kingdom of Nepal during the rule of the Lichchhavis. Before the rule of Lichchhavis, Nepal could not develop its culture, religion, economic condition and administrative system, and lacked a skillful ruler. But, when the Lichchhavi period began in Nepal there was a great change in the political condition and economic system of the country. The Lichchhavi rulers were perfect in good administration. They built 'Man Griha' and 'Kailashkut Bhavan' as adminitrative centres. The Lichchhavi kings extended the boundry of Nepal and maintained good relationships with India, China and Tibet. The important achievements of the Lichchhavis can be discussed under the following heads :
a. Administration : For the efficient administration of the country the Lichchhavis set up a council of ministers headed by Mahasamanta. For administrative conveniencec, the kingdom was divided into provinces, districts and villages. There were law-courts to administer justice. There were local bodies called the 'Panchali' to settle minor disputes and to carry out the public utility services. There were edifices like Mangriha and Kailaskut Bhavan from where the whole kingdom was administered. The administrative power was not centralized but was passed on to the local bodies, associations and assemblies of the People.
The Lichchhavis had a well organized army. It consisted of the infantry, cavalry and elephant-riders. Proper training was given to the army from time to time. During war, the king himself led the army.
b. Foreign Policy: The Lichchhavis maintained a good relationship with the neighbouring countries. Nepal had trade relations with India, Tibet and China. Nepal also had become the thoroughfare between India and China. The marriage of Bhrikuti and Srong Tsang Gampo resulted in a good relationship between Nepal and Tibet. Nepal adopted a non-aligned foreign policy and maintained friendship with her neighbouring countries : specially India, China and Tibet.
c. Social Condition : Though the Lichchhavis were Hindus and there was a caste system in the society, other classes of people were not neglected. There were Ahirs, Kiratas, Thakuris and Bhutias. There was inter-marriage among different classes of people. People gave co-operation to one another and developed the sense of nationality. National unity was not hampered because of the difference of caste, creed and dynasty. They had a great respect, faith and love for the king, whose main function was to establish peace and order in the country. The king was also responsible for the development of the kingdom. People lived simple and pious lives. Ornaments, house decoration and entertainments formed part of the daily life of the people.
d. Economic Condition : The main source of income of the government was taxation. The merchants had to pay custom duty for the imported and exported goods. The vanquished countries had to pay tribute and war indemnity. The cultivators had to pay land revenue. The main occupation of the people was trade and commerce. Nepalese art and handicraft goods and other cottage industry products were exported to Tibet, India and China. Some roads were paved with bricks. Horses, mules and elephants were the means of transport. In the hills, people carried goods on their backs. People wore ornaments of gold, silver and copper. In this way, Nepal had a sound economic condition under the Lichchhavis.
e. Judicial System : There were law courts to administer justice. Learned men were consulted to make laws. Punishments were inflicted according to the gravity of the offence. There were different forms of punishments. But most of them were of reformative type. Thieves, robbers, murderers and rebels were punished severely. The local bodies like the Panchali also administered justice in the adjudication of local petty cases.
f. Religion : There was religious toleration. Even in the same family people worshipped different deities. The Lichchhavi rulers were the followers of Hinduism, but they never hated Buddhism. However, when Shankaracharya III came from India, he suppressed Buddhist and preached Hinduism. It is said that he forced the Buddhist monks and nuns to get married and live together. He is also said to have burnt 84,000 books on Buddhism. Despite these facts, the Nepalese people retained Buddhism. Both Hinduism and Buddhism flourished in Nepal under the Lichchhavis and there existed a mutual good will and understading among the followers of the two religions.
g. Literature, Art and Architecture : Sankrit was the official language. Sone of the Lichchhavi kings were scholars; Amshuverma had composed a grammar in Sankrit and Jaya Deva had wrtten poems in Sanskrit. Threre was a great development of art and architecture as well. Fine architectural structures like Mangriha, Kailashkut Bhavan , the temple of Pashupatinath, Changunarayan, Bhadradivas, etc. testify this. Similarly, the images of Tribikram Narayan, Dhumbarahi, and the metal works and crafts speak of the excellence of Nepalese art in the Lichchhavi period.
In this way, Nepal made all-round development under the Lichchhavis. The Nepalese civilization and culture was spread over to India, Tibet and China. The Nepalese society was also influenced to some extent by other cultures and civilizations. For the efficient administration, peace and harmony, the development of art and architecture and friendly relations with neighbouring countries the Lichchhavi period has been called the 'Golden Age' in the history of Nepal.
The Thakuri Dynastey
RULE OF THAKURI KINGS
After Aramudi, many Thakuri kings ruled over the country up to the middle of the 12th century A.D Raghv Dev is said to have founded a ruling dynasty in October, 869 A.D., when the Lichchhavi rule came to an end. To commemorate this important event, Raghv Dev started the 'Nepal Era' which began form 20th October, 869 A.D. After Amshuverma, the Thakuris had lost power and they could regain it only in 869 A.D. The importance of this for the Thakuris must have been even greater because during Amshuverma's time they were only regents, but they became all powerful as the sovereign in 896 A.D. So, this historical event- replacing the Lichchhavis by the Thakuri rulers signified the start of a new era as 'Nepal Era'.
However, historians are of different opinions about the origin of the Nepal era. Some writers are of the opinion that Nepalese were superstitious. They dropped the unlucky number 8 of the Saka Era 801 and thus, they retained number 1 as the new Nepali Era. Some writers suggest that a new era was started in 869 A.D. to mark the occasion of Nepal becoming independent of Tibet. But our history does not agree with this view as Nepal was never under the Tibetan rule. There are also some other writers who say that there was a merchant called Sakhwal in Kathmandu during the reign of Ananda Malla. By his cunning tricks he changed the sand into gold and paid off all the debts of the people of Kathmandu. He then introduced a new era called 'Nepal Sambat' to commemorate this important event. But the reign of Ananda Malla comes three hundred years later, so this view also cannot be accepted.
All these opinions, except that about Raghav Dev, lack historical as well as logical proof. So, it can be concluded that the Nepal Era was started in 869 A.D., during the reign of Raghav Dev to commemorate the occasion of the Thakuri dynasty coming into power and the end of the Lichchhavi dynasty.
After the death of King Raghava Dev, many Thakuri kings ruled over Nepal up to the middle of the 12th century A.D. During that period, Gunakama Dev was one of the famous kings. He ruled form 949 to 994 A.D. During his rule, a big wooden house was built out of one single tree which was called 'Kasthamandup'. Kasthamandup was the root word form which the name of our capital town 'Kathamndu' is derived. Gunakama Dev founded a big town called Kantipur, the modern Kathmandu. According to Bamsavali, it cost him a hundred thousand rupees a day to build this town. He built more than eighteen thousand houses there. It was also Gunakama Dev 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 Dev. The next ruler was Laxmikama Dev who ruled form 1024 to 1040 A.D. He built Laxmi Vihar and introduced the custom of worshipping a virgin girl as 'Kumari'. Then, Vijayakama Dev became the king of Nepal. He was the son of Laxmikama Dev. Vijaykama Dev was the last ruler of this dynasty. He introduced worshipping of the "Naga" and "Basuki". After his death, the Thakuri clan of Nuwakot occupied the throne of Nepal.
NUWAKOT THAKURI KINGS
Bhasker Dev succeeded Vijayakama Dev, who was a Thakuri form Nuwakot. Thus he established Nuwakot-Thakuri rule in the country. He is said to have built Navabahal and Hemabarna Vihar. After Bhasker Dev, four kings of this line ruled over the country. They were-Bala Dev, Padma Dev, Nagarjun Dev and Shanker Dev.
1) Shanker Dev : Shanker Dev was the most illustrious ruler of the Nuwakot-Thakuri dynasty. He ruled from 1067 to 1080 A.D. He established the image of 'Shanteswar Mahadev' and 'Monohara Bhagawati'. The system of pasting the pictures of Nagas and Basuki 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 Shivism) for the harm they had received earlier from Shankaracharya III. Shaner Dev tried to pacify the Brahmins harassed by the Buddhists.
SURYABANSI ( SOLAR DYNASTY ) RAJPUT KINGS
Bam Dev, a descendant of Amshuverma defeated Shanker Dev in 1080 A.D. He suppressed the Nuwakot-Thankuris with the help of nobles and restored the old Solar Dynasty rule in Nepal for the second time. Harsha Dev, the successor of Bam Dev 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 Dev, a Karnatak king invaded Nepal from Simroungarh. According to chronicles, he made his residence at Bhadgaon and began to rule for some time. Mukunda sen, the king of Palpa, was another invader of the Nepal valley. He plundered and destroyed many houses and looted a huge amount of property. It is said that after the ivasion of Mukund Sen, the tradition of making Hakuwa rice, Gundruk and Sinki began in our country.
: After Harsha Dev, Shivadeva, the third, came to the throne. He 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 piece coins. He also constructed wells, canals and tanks at different places.
After Sivadeva III, Mahendra Dev, Mana Dev, Narendra Dev II, Ananda Dev, Rudra Dev, Amrit Dev, Ratna Dev II, Someswar Dev, Gunakama Dev II, Laxmikama Dev III and Vijayakama Dev II ruled Nepal in quick succession. Thus, there was the rule of many kings after the start of the new era introducd by Raghav Dev. Historians differ about the rule of several kings and their respective times. After the fall of the Thakuri dynasty, another dynasty's rule started in Nepal which was founded by Arideva or Ari Malla. This dynasty is popularly known as the 'Malla Dynasty' which has authentic historical records.
Malla Period (1200 - 1769 AD)
The early Malla monarchs held absolute power by divine right: they were considered to be incarnations of Vishnu, as are the present Shah rulers. Although the Mallas were Hindu Shaivites following strict Brahmin rituals, they were tolerant of Buddhism, which was widespread at the court and among the people - especially in its Tantric form, the cult of Vajrayana.
A feudal administrative structure was imposed, dominated by an aristocratic elite whose powers at times overshadowed those of the sovereign. Below them, Brahmins and Chhetris monopolized all offices of profit around the palace. Next on the social ladder were the traders and farmers, divided into 64 strictly enforced occupational castes.
The most popular kings of this period and their accomplishments are briefly described below:
Jayasthiti Malla (1354-1395)Jayasthiti Malla was the most famous of all the Malla Kings. As a great reformer, he codified the whole structure of the Nepalese society in a strictly orthodox Hindu frame. Jayasthiti was a builder of temples and a patron of art and literature. He was also an economic reformer and introduced a system of measuring land and houses.
Pratap MallaPratap Malla was the King of Kantipur, today�s Kathmandu. He was an authority in religion, music, and the art of warfare. And though he was a Hindu, he tolerated other religions. He even reconstructed the Buddhist shrine of Swayambunath. He constructed Krishna Mandir, the Shrine of Taleju, Rani Pokhari, and Guheswari temple.
Jaya Prakash MallaJaya Prakash was the last King of Kantipur. Although brave and confident, he was unlucky. He tried to save the Valley from a Gorkha attack, calling for unity among the three states around Kathmandu. But he was not heeded to. Even calling on the army from the East India Company did not help. Fighting within his family was partly to blame.
Ranjit MallaRanjit Malla was the last King of Bhaktapur. As a lover of rare and precious things, he added many courtyards to his palace. And to improve economic conditions in his Kingdom, he imported silver exporting it as coins.
Shah Period (1769 to date)
Down South, Nepal was expanding its territory into India. By 1810, the kingdom extended from Kashmir to Sikkim and was double its present size. Confrontations led to a two-year war with the British between 1814-1816. Nepal was defeated and the Sugauli Treaty was signed in 1816, under which Nepal lost one-third of its territory. Another stipulation was that a British citizen reside in Kathmandu, bringing great resentment from the Nepalese. The borders were subsequently closed to foreigners, not to be reopened until 1951 The British resident and his successors were the only aliens within Nepal�s frontiers for well over a century.
The prime minister, Bhimsen Thapa, suffered humiliation from this defeat and was arrested and locked up and committed suicide in 1839. The period between 1836-1846 was marked with confusion and intrigues. Pandays, Basnyats, and Kunwars were all fighting each other for power. In 1846, Jung Bahadur Rana had himself designated prime minister and later "Maharajah" with powers superior to those of the king. He established an oligarchy which would last 104 years. The country was kept in isolation and the people were deprived of political and social rights. Enemies were assassinated or persecuted and the power structure and state moneys were directed solely to the self interest of the Ranas. The King was there but he was kept under complete control of the Ranas. In 1850, Jung Bahadur visited England and France bringing back ideas with him. One prime minister reformed the forced labor system, another started a college and started a newspaper but altogether much more harm than good was done.
After World War II, many changes were taking place. Colonies were gaining independence, particularly India from Great Britain. The Communists of China invaded Tibet, forcing many refugees to flee to Nepal and India.
A "liberal" Rana prime minister proposed a new constitution offering a measure of people�s participation through an administrative system known as panchayat. Village elders would solve problems locally with leaders elected to a national panchayat. But this new idea was soon undone by a successor.
With the support of the Indian Congress Party, opponents of the Rana rule - including some prominent Ranas - joined the Nepali Congress Party under the leadership of B.P. Koirala. The rightful sovereign of Nepal, King Tribhuvan, still powerless in his palace, was heralded as the embodiment of the democratic aspirations of the people.
In November 1950, the King fled to India under the pretense of going hunting. The "freedom fighters" of Nepal fought the Ranas, setting up bases in the Terai. As their was no decisive victor, India presided over a compromise. The King returned from India and soon thereafter, the Ranas went to live in India.
The period between 1951-1959 passed with uncertainty as the King did not comply with his promise of holding elections for the constituent assembly. Finally, only under pressure from the parties, King Mahendra (son of King Tribhuvan) declared elections for the parliament in 1959.
The Nepali Congress surprisingly won a majority of the seats in the new parliament. This led the King to fear he would be reduced to a ceremonial role and thus, on December 15, 1960 declared foreign politics were not for him and had the Nepali Congress put under arrest. He would have direct rule. Two years later, he started the panchayat system. The local five-man panchayat would send representatives to the district which would send others to the national panchayat. But this body had few real powers.
Under the "Panchayat Democracy"
In 1989, a trade impasse erupted with India. India blockaded 17 of the 19 entry points. This led to much discontent from which the opposition parties capitalized. The Nepali Congress, with support of the Communists, launched a mass movement against the Panchayat system. It was successful in mobilizing people from all walks of life. Two aspects were unprecedented in this movement. One was the alliance of the Nepali Congress with the Communists. The second was the international support for the movement.
After the change, the interior government headed by the Nepali Congress leader Krishna Prasad Bhattarai was formed. The tasks of the government included framing the constitution and holding a general election for Parliament.
Today, the Nepali Congress and United Marxists/Leninists are the two main parties that make up the government. The King, however, reserves the right to name one-fifth of the members of the legislature and continues as a strong monarchy.
|A Brief History of Nepal|
Newars are thought to have lived in the Nepal Valley since the 4th century AD, developing a Hindu-Buddhist culture. The Gurkha principality was later established by RAJPUT warriors from India, and in 1769 they conquered lands beyond the present-day borders of Nepal. After incursions into northern India in which the Gurkhas were defeated, Nepal lost part of its territory to British India but retained its independence and enjoyed close ties with the British.It has maintained its close association with India since the latter gained independence in 1947.
Nepal, the world's only Hindu monarchy, was controlled by a hereditary prime ministership until 1951. The nation's first election was held in 1959, but in 1960, King Mahendra dismissed the cabinet, dissolved parliament, and banned political parties. A 1962 constitution created a nonparty panchayat (council) system of government. After a 1980 referendum approved a modified version of the panchayat system, direct parliamentary elections were held in 1981. A dispute with India led to India's closing of most border crossings from March 1989 to July 1990, and the resultant economic crisis fueled demands for political reform. After months of violence, King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev dissolved parliament. The opposition formed an interim government in April 1990, and a new constitution creating a constitutional monarchy and a bicameral legislature became effective on Nov. 9, 1990. Multiparty legislative elections held in May 1991 were won by the centrist Nepali Congress party; the Communists became the leading opposition party. Mid-term elections in November 1994, which were called after the government lost a parliamentary vote, resulted in a hung parliament and the communists, who emerged as the single largest party, formed a minority government.
Source: Grolier's Encyclopedia
Nepal: Chronology of Important Events