Volume 1: Early Medieval Period 750-1530 A.D
Volume 2: A History of the Three Kingdoms 1520 A.D. to 1768 A.D
The first of a two-part series on Medieval Nepal, this volume deals with the period following the decline of the Licchavi dynasty, which witnessed little growth in the geographical or administrative power of the Nepalese state. This is arguably the least understood time in Nepal’s history, and the author with only a few inscriptional sources supplemented by some dated religious manuscripts has tried to bring to light Nepal as it was at that time.
Included in the book are descriptions of the Kathmandu Valley and surrounding valleys as a single political unit; religious foundations: developments that suggest the founding of a new dynasty; and the introduction of early Newari, the language of the Newar people in the valley. Medieval Nepal is a thorough research of the era, a treat for both students as well as researchers.
In this, the second of his two-part series on Medieval Nepal, Dr. Regmi encompasses the period from the later Mallas till the mid-eighteenth century. Medieval Nepal II deals with the complete flowering of the unique culture of the Kathmandu Valley which occurred during this period. The kings still based their legitimate rule on their role as protectors of dharma, and often they were devout donors to religious shrines. Gems of late medieval art and architecture, the older temples of Nepal were built during this late Malla period. Buddhism remained a vital force for much of the population, especially in its old seat of Patan. Long-term support of traditional forms of worship or ritual was supported by land donation; this support resulted in the preservation of a conservative art, architecture, and religious literature that had disappeared in other areas of South Asia. Newari was in regular use as a literary language along with the main language in urban areas and trading circles based in the Kathmandu Valley. Anyone interested in the complete history of Nepal cannot ignore this detailed book.
This volume also includes source materials. Included in these are details of inscriptions, chronicles and diaries of the era, which have helped him piece together a past shrouded in mystery.
Ancient Nepal is a journey through Nepal’s past, presenting the history of this great nation from the earliest times. It deals with various aspects of early society, religion, literature as an effective measure in society, the development of architecture, the caste system, astronomy and its uses, social life and political invasions. The author has presented the nation’s chequered history with meticulous regard to authenticity of facts.
Ancient Nepal has deftly touched upon differing views on controversial matters, pinpointing the most likely scenario in an objective manner. The book meets the long-felt need of a nationalist, yet independent, appraisal of our past in a concise manner. It avoids the preconceived notions of foreign historians and their blind followers, at the same time avoiding undue glorification of the past.
The authenticity of presentation makes the book useful not just to the general reader, hut for discerning students of ancient Nepalese history as well.
Dr Dilliraman Regmi was born in 1913 in Kilagal, Kathmandu. He earned his M.A. and M. Litt. degrees from India. In 1961 Patna University conferred on him a Ph.D in economics and he later obtained a D.Litt. from the same university. Dr Regmi was the first Nepali who received an honorary D.Sc. degree from the then Soviet Union.
Dr Regmi wrote and published several volumes on Nepal’s history including A Century of family Autocracy, Nepalese Democratic Struggle and Indo-Nepalese Relations Through the Ages. He died in 2001.
I feel greatly honoured and take pride in introducing the great works, philosophy and life of a ‘Great Son of Nepal’ the late Dr Dilli Raman Regmi. Dr Regmi, for his whole life as a politician, fought for peace, nonviolence and democracy. As a matter of fact, he proved it true that, to be a successful politician, it is not always necessary that one needs to be in power. Gandhi never took the reign of power in his own hands, but he is remembered every moment by the whole world.
Dr Regmi was a great admirer of Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Buddha for their role as an apostle for peace. On Buddha, I personally have advocated an alternative title since 1995, as ‘Light of the Universe’ in place of the present title ‘Light of Asia’. in fact, if Dr Regmi was living today, he would have whole-heartedly supported this notion, for, he was a champion for peace. He even celebrated October 2, Gandhi’s birth anniversary and Buddhapoornimaa, Buddha’s birth anniversary, every year. At this juncture, I strongly believe that we need ‘Light of Peace’ even in this age of so called Space-War.
Politically speaking, Dr Regmi fought against Nepal’s 104-year-old-Rana- autocracy and stood firmly in favour of democracy during post-1950-period also. In between, he also became Minister of Education, Foreign Affaires, Health and Home Affaires, etc: But in his later part of life, he rejected even the post of the Prime Minister. The then King Mabendra, after his infamous Royal Coup against the then elected B.P Koirala Government in 1960, had offered him the post of Prime Minister of Nepal. He also rejected the late King Birendra’s offer to be PM several times during Panchayat System and even, to lead the post in the 1990 interim government.
These instances remind me of a Sanskrit verse from the oriental philosophical base of Geetaa
Meaning that I personally do not have any interest of having a nation- state, neither I want heaven, nor a re-birth in a high family; rather I want to work for the suffering people to relieve their pain. Pragmatically, this school of thought tallied with Dr Regmi’s later pan of life leading towards Vodhisattva.
Dr Regmi was a great scholar of Nepal. He never introduced himself as a historian hut has seventeen books in total to his credit. He was not only the first D.Lit. of Nepal, but also the first Nepalese to write Nepal’s history in a foreign language — English. Both spiritually and materially speaking, whatever he earned on this earth, he gave it all to the nation and the world. He donated all his property including monetary gains to the then His Majesty’s Government of Nepal. Presently, Government of Nepal is particularly taking care of his generosity and creativity.
Many pundits of History of Nepal regard him as the real ‘ltihaasShiromani of Nepal’. Some also decor him as Nepal Itihaasratna’. Both seem tending to denote a ‘Crest jewel’ among Nepalese historians. We, from Dr D.R. Regmi Foundation, are approaching the Government of Nepal, now, to declare Dr Dilli Raman Regmi as ‘Nepal ltihaasratna’ posthumously.
He had started his serious writing in 1940’s. Even though, he belonged to Guruju Family, very close to the Ranas, but he was a vehement critic of the Ranas, He had to leave Nepal to write against them. The outcome was the popular book A Century of Family Autocracy in Nepal.
In the early fourties, he was imprisoned by the Britishers for his active participation in the ‘Quit-India-Movement.’ Thus, he was a ‘Freedom Fighter’ in Nepal and abroad. But he had to pay a high price for it, for, he lost his first wife Mrs Kalyani Regmi, while he was in British India jail. Late Mrs. Kalyani Regmi had a heart attack in her mid-twenties from the fear of the bad news that the Britishers would kill/have killed him.
This great soul Dr Regmi offered valuable contributions to Nepal, South Asian Region and the world at large. Considering the high demand of his books in the market, out of his vast treasure of works, we are proudly reprinting and publishing his already out-of-print books: Medieval Nepal (four volumes) and Modern Nepal (two volumes). This volume in your hand is one of the great works of Dr Regmi as a part of his six volumes mentioned earlier.
I sincerely hope that the scholars of the world will highly benefit from this master piece.
I also take this opportunity to extend my appreciation to Rupa & Co, New Delhi, India, for taking interest to republish these books and my colleagues in Nepal for supporting my mission.
The volume in hand is the second of the series of the History of Nepal to be completed in four volumes.
The volume deals with events from the middle of the 8th century to 1760 A.D.
For the second volume, the title ‘Medieval Nepal, (740—1760 A.D.), has been adopted. Here we have two divisions of the work; (a) Part I, 740 to 1530 A.D.’, and (b) Part II, ‘Nepal Divided: A History of the Three Kingdom of the Nepal Valley, 1530 — 1760 A.D.’
The medieval history of the Karnãli Basin is given in. the first part in conformity to the arrangement of the subject- matter. This history is an account of the famous Khasa Kingdom of the 12th and 13th centuries and naturally came within the scope of the first part.
In the first edition our account closed with the event of Pratäpamalla’s father’s reign (1641 A.D.). Rut this was an abrupt closing. We have now a scientific basis for the division of history of the work covers. We start the medieval age since about the middle of the eighth century A.D. and end with the rise of Prthvinñrayaca Shah who laid the foundation of modern Nepal in about 1760—68 AD. The Part I of the volume covers the period of history beginning with the end of the Lichhavi period and ending with the division of the kingdom after Ratnanmila’s death. The part II of this volume with the title ‘Nepal Divided: A history of the Three Kingdoms of the Nepal Valley’ narrates the events leading to the rise and establishment of the three kingdoms in the Valley of Nepal and their eventual elimination at the hands of Prthvinarayana Shah. Here we have made a slight change in the scope of the subject covered. This new arrangement we thought was quite logical in view of the fact that the early history of the Baisi and Chaubisi states forms the background of the period covered by the third volume, and fits in well to be incorporated there.
The rise of the Baisi and Chaubisi dates from the early 14th century A.D. Just a Utile earlier to this time the ancient chronicle (Gopala Vathfãvali) introduces into the main History events of Khasia and Magar invasions from the Valley of Nepal But they do not occur since about 1326 A.D. As it appears from our history of the Karnali Basin, the Khasa Kingdom fell to pieces in the 15th century and new Rajput principalities took its place. These were later known as the Baisi (twenty two) princes. I think that about the same time the Rajput dynasties had firmly settled in parts of the sub-Himalayan ranges in the west of the Nepal Valley. These were called the Chaubisi (twenty four). All these start their own history as they grow up.
As we have already observed there was a flourishing Khasa kingdom in the Karnali Basin since the early 11th century AD.. We have no evidence to prove the suzeranity of Nepal rulers over this state. We do not know if ever the jurisdiction of the central kingdom in Nepal proper extended to the areas occupied by the Khasa Mallas and their neighbours of the! Gandak Basin. Of course, with regard to ancient history no political entity other than the one existing in the Valley of Nepal has been traced for the entire stretch of the territories between the Sapta Gandaki and Sapta Koéi and this entity functioned more or less in Nepal proper and the areas immediately surrounding it in the four directions. Quite possibly the Nepal rulers in the climax of power ruled over a kingdom not as much extensive as the present day Nepal and sometimes even not larger enough than the Valley of Nepal with the outlying territories outside on both sides between the Budhi Gandak and the Sun Kosi or the Tamä Kosi. Probably the same boundaries continued to exist in early medieval age so that excluding the region of the Baisi, farther west, the history of Nepal proper of the time could very well pass as the history of Nepal with its traditional frontier lines between the Gandak and the Tama Kosi. But the same could not hold ground in regard to the later medieval period. The Sapta Gadaki Pradesh had by this time become a scene of new activity and potentially rival political states had emerged to the detriment, of the power in the Nepal Valley. In this context the status of the usually functioning state of Nepal had greatly changed. It was no longer a powerful and dominating state as it used to be. Moreover under a condition of division, the unique personality of the state disintegrated. Now the Nepal Valley states formed just noticeable entities in the vast conglomeration of petty states. Their history was not the history of Nepal. This was the reason that we give the title ‘A History of the Nepal Valley’ to the work dealing with the history of the later period.
The Lichhavi dynastic history came to an end if not with Jayadeva II definitely with his successor Sankaradeva, for the epigraphic records of the period are not available after 740 A.D. if the dynasty had existed further then the few inscriptions coming alter 740 A.D. should have appeared with the usual titles of the Lichhavi kings, but these do not. The absence of any records in their name is clear evidence of the dynasty ceasing to rule since about 740 A.D. As records were abundant for the period preceding we are confirmed in our view that the Lichhavi rule could not exist in the absence of any kind of records. In the arrangement of the text as it was my view that the Lichhavi period was over with Jayadeva’s successor, I completed my first volume with Ancient Nepal as its title bringing the narrative to a close up to c. 740, which could be the last date of the Lichhavi dynasty. With the same consideration I have started my narrative of the medieval history of Nepal since the mid eighth century A.D. I did not follow such writers who take the epoch year of the Nepal era as the starting point in this respect. By not following them I could cover the history of the hundred years left between Jayadeva II and Rãghavadeva.
It will appear later that from 1755 onwards the history of the entire central Himalayan region. Is in a way the history of Gorkhä’s ruling dynasty which had acquired immense resources and power to become the sovereign of a new political unit with Nepal as capital. Now in the context of the rise and growth of (3orkhã all these Baisi, Chaubisi and Nepal Valley states lose their importance as separate entities as well as the positions of that nature. At this stage their history is intimately bound up with the history of the different phases of the rise of the principality of Gorkhä which was to become the kingdom of Nepal. As we describe the events of Gorkha’s rise to stature, facts are narrated dealing with the history of all the states in the area for the time. But this goes to the third volume of our series, which specifically deals with the history of Gorkhä becoming Nepal. The narrative in the second volume covers events of the history of the Nepal Valley only up to the rise of Prthvinarayaça Shah, the Gorkha ruler.
The work has 10 chapters in Part I and 8 in Part H. All these chapters provide political history of the period, while the last chapter in each part gives an objective study of the social and economic condition of Nepal at the time under consideration.
I express my gratitude to all those who have given me their unstinted cooperation in the preparation of this work, which is a pioneer attempt in the field of Nepalese historical research. In particular I ant indebted to Mr. Shubha Dir Pandey for typing the manuscript and laboriously undertaking allied duties and to the publisher for the publication of the work.
This is Part U of Medieval Nepal, which deals with the History of Nepal as it was then politically divided into two or more sovereign kingdoms for nearly 250 years until 1768 A.D.
This volume has six chapters, the last of which describes the social and economic condition of the later medieval period.
We have reproduced as appendices all texts of select inscriptions on stones and copper plates, select documents of land grant or sale deeds on palm leaves, the eight copies of Thyasapu chronological notices and similar records, which are used as source materials for our history,
In the preparation of this work I have obtained help from so many individuals, to whom my thanks are due. In particular I am indebted to Mr. H. B. Gurung for the map, to Mr. Shubha Bir Pandey for typing the manuscript and laboriously undertaking allied duties and to the publisher for the publication of the work.
H. E. Field Marshal Kaisar Shamsher Jung Bahadur Rana put me under deep obligation by allowing me to use his personal library, and I cannot but express my gratitude to him.
1 also thank the librarians of fir Library and the National Library in Kathmandu as well as the Curator of the Nepal Museum for enabling me make use of the many colophon data and other materials in their collections and reproduce them in the present text.
The volume in hand is the Third edition of ‘Ancient Nepal which is presented to the reading public in a thoroughly revised form. In the process of revision some chapters had had to be rewritten, and one or two new ones added, and consequently the book is also enlarged as new materials came to light to widen the scope of the history of the period.
At least one finding which had been left slightly vague in the second edition is now dearly established to the point. This is in regard to the epoch year of the era of the later group of inscriptions of the age which is fixed to the year 576 AD.
But there are still many chronological-gaps to be bridged, and reigning dates of almost all monarchs to be ascertained and settled correctly.
As we know it might require time for the discovery of sources. and we must conduct ceaseless search laboriously and patiently in this direction before a tangible result is within our reach.
This edition of the book is prepared under the auspices of the Nepal Institute of Asian Studies, which was recently founded, and I take the opportunity of expressing my thanks to the scholars attached to it and many others who have offered me their valuable cooperation.
I am also obliged to the publisher for bringing out the third edition of the book.
The second edition of the book was long overdue. This was not only because the copies of the first print had been sold out, but also because materials newly discovered had necessitated a revision of certain conclusions adopted earlier. The author, however, was so much pre-occupied with political activities that he hardly got time enough to devote to the task that came to his hand, with he result that the revision and consequent publication of the volume were delayed.
Under revision the previous volume had been much enlarged to assume double its original size. Consequently in the second edition it was thought desirable to divide the work into two separate volumes with different titles. The titles selected are variously Ancient Nepal for the first volume and ‘Medieval History of Nepal’ for the second volume.
As two more volumes follow this publication, the four together shall constitute a series on Nepalese History designated ‘Political and Economic History of Nepal from the Ancient Times to 1846 AD.
The first edition was prepared while the author was living in exile out of Nepal. There he had to work under severe limitations. Source materals were limited. Inside Nepal the Rana rulers had almost a dislike for history writing and frowned on such activities. Since S. Levi made a search of inscriptions in 1900 or so, no attempt was made to discover original documents because of this attitude of our rulers. While I wrote the edition of Ancient Nepal, the materials I used were mostly- the same that had been traced by Bhagwanlal Indraji and Levi. Any one interested in research knew that more inscriptions lay scattered, and some were buried underground, and it required new efforts to seek them out. But until 1951 the undertaking of such a venture could not be entertained.
In early 1951 the Rana regime was overthrown, and consequently research activities could be undertaken without fear of victimisation. Although the number is yet small, we have both foreigners and nationals of Nepal working in the field. Eight years after that date till now the volume of work put up is certainly something to be envied.
A sizeable bulk of new data is now available for the historians. The author feels satisfied that he himself did the job of collecting this materials in so far as these were availed of from original sites in the valley of Nepal and adjoining regions. For the rest I am grateful to those who have made things available to me in published or unpublished forms.
One special feature of the present edition is that I have added a new chapter to deal with economic problems to each of the volumes. In this way, the narration has also worn the character of economic history for the period concerned.
Broadly speaking, the most fundamental changes made in the first volume are in regard to the conclusions earlier reached about ±te origin and epoch year of the eras followcd in the inscriptions of both the series. These have been placed at dates 68-78 A.D. and 568 AD. respectively. We have determined these dates after thoroughly reviewing and examining the arguments for alternate dates suggested in this connection.
Two additional topics are more elaborately dealt with here than in the first edition. These are, (a) the regency of Jisnugupta and his son and (b) the restoration regime of Narendradeva and his successors. The history of ancient Nepal as delineated in the present volume carries the narrative of the events up to the eve of the Nepal era.
In the appendlces the roader will find statements on castes, religion, the three challLcrles and origin f the Lichhavi dynasty as they were found in ancient Nepal in the light of the data of the inscriptions.
The work has altogether six chapters and describes in different successive phases the political history of the country from the earliest time to the end of the Lichhavi period. The paleographic and archaeological data belonging to various reigns have been systematically described with reference to the evidence available through these records.
For the Second Volume, the title ‘Medieval History of Nepal’ has been adopted, but here we have again two divisions of the work, i.e. Part I. Early Medieval History of Nepal and Part IL Medieval History of the Nepal Valley and of the Territories of the Baisi and Chaubisi.
In the first edition our account closed with the event or Pratamalla’s father’s reign (1632 AD.). But this was an abrupt closing and any division of the periods coming in its wake will not be scientific. The present edition of ‘Early Medieval Nepal’ has covered the period of history between the founding of the Nepal era and the rise of Jayasthitimalla after the Muslim invasion. Part II of this. volume with the title “Medieval History of the Nepal Valley and of the Territories of the Baisi and Chaubisi” narrates the events leading to the rise and establishment of the three kingdoms in the valley of Nepal proper and of other principalities in areas known- today as West and East Nepal.
The rise of the Baisi and Chaubisi dates from the early 14th Century AD. At about this time the Chronicle (Gopala Vainsavali, introduces into the main history events of Khasia and Magar invasions- upon the valley of Nepal. For obvious reasons we can as well accept the facts of Rajput dynasties to have been firmly settled in parts of the Sub-Himalayas ranges in the west of the Nepal Valley at least a hundred years prior to the above date. In Karnali basin there was a flourishing Khasa Kingdom since early 11th Century AD. We have no evidence to prove the suzerainty of Nepal rulers over these- States. We do not know if ever the jurisdiction of the Central Kingdom in Nepal proper extended to the areas occupied by the Khasa Mall-as and their neighbours of the Gandak basin. Of course, with regard to ancient history no political entity other than the one- existing in the valley of Nepal has been traced for the entire stretch of the territories between the sapta Gandaki and Sapt Kosi and this entity functioned more or loss in Nepal proper and the areas immedately surrounding it in the four directions. Quite possibly the Nepal rulers in the climax of power ruled over a kingdom as extensive as the present-day Nepal, though we cannot say if the extent of territory covered the same areas as they have come to be under its jurisdiction up to date. Probably the same pattern of boundaries continued to exist in early medieval age so that excluding the region E the Baisi, farther west, the history of Nepal proper of the time could very well pass as the history of Nepal with its traditional frontier lines. But the same could not hold ground in regard to the later medieval period. The Sapta Gandaki pradesh had by this time become a scene of new activity and potentially rival political states had emerged to the detriment of the power in the Nepal Valley. Now in this context the status of the usually functioning state of Nepal has greatly changed. This was the reason we no longer called the second part of our volume as the history of Nepal. Instead we specified the Nepal Valley proper to make it look distinct from the Chaubisi region in our account of the late medieval age.
It will appear later that from 1755 onwards the history of the entire central Himalayan region is in a way the history of Gorkha’s ruling dynasty which had acquired immense resources and power to become sovereign in a new political unit with Nepal as capital. Now all these Baisi, Chaubisi and Nepal Valley states lose their importance as separate entities as well as positions of that nature. The development is eventful. In the nature of things the account has had to be incorporated in a separate volume, which is the third volume of our series. The narrative in the second volume covers events only up to the rise of Prithvinarayan, the Goriha ruler.
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