Monday, September 12, 2016

Prime ministers of Nepal before Bhimsen Thapa

The Unexplored Part of History

Nepal as a country existed long before 1768 A.D when King Prithivi Narayan Shah of Gorkha led the unification campaign. There has been mentions about Nepal even in various ancient Tibetan scriptures and also in "Arthasastra" of Kautilya which is more 5000 years old. There are also mentions in a Sanskrit inscription of 512 CE found in Tistung, around west of Kathmandu Valley. But in public way we consider existence of Nepal after unification of Kantipur (now Kathmandu) into Gorkha empire in 25th September 1768 A.D.

For those who must be wondering why Nepal got its official existence from 1768 AD but Bhimsen Thapa who became prime minister in 1806 A.D is considered as the first prime minister and none before that. There are many people in Nepali history who have served in capacity of Prime minister even before Bhimsen Thapa. Prime minister or "Pradhan Mantri" in Nepali history were known with different names. For example earlier Prime ministers were simply called "Kaji". In later years prime ministers were called "Mul Kaji" or "Pratham Kaji" and also in some instances "Dewan", which was an Persian title for ministers. "Mukhtiyar" was a title created by Prince Bahadur Shah for himself who was the chief administrator under the King. Bhimsen Thapa was the first person outside the royal family to adopt the title "Mukhtiyar" in 1806 A.D even though some historians also consider Damodar Pande to be the first in 1799 A.D. Mathbar Singh Thapa was the first to be called "Prime minster" in 1843 A.D.

Coming down the lane in history upto Pushpa Kamal Dahal who is serving his second office as a prime minister of Nepal from 4th August 2016 after resignation of KP Sharma Oli, 38 person have hold the post of Prime minister after Bhimsen Thapa in a time expanding 210 years.

Some of the unmentioned Persons who have served in capacity of Prime minister before Bhimsen Thapa are:

  1. Kaji Abhiman Singh Basnyat: He was the son of Kaji Shivaram Singh Basnyat. He became the Kaji during the unification campaign after the death of Kaji Kalu Pande. He also became Mul Kaji after the killing of Prince Bahadur Shah until he was replaced with his nephew Kaji Kirtiman Singh Basnyat in 1798 A.D. 
  2. Kaji Sarwajit Rana Magar: He belonged from the Magar nobility and was appointed as a Mul Kaji by Regent Queen Rajendra Laxmi after death of King Pratap Singha Shah in 1777 A.D. He was killed in a palace conspiracy.
  3. Dewan Kaji Bansaraj Pandey: He was the eldest son of Kaji Kalu Pandey. He was given the title of Dewan by King Pratap Singha Shah in 1775 A.D. He served  as the chief administrator and the general of the army but was soon removed by Regent Queen Rajendra Laxmi and later killed in an palace conspiracy.
  4. Kaji Swaroop Singh Karki: He also served as a Mul Kaji briefly during the period of rule of Regent Queen Rajendra Laxmi. He was killed in a palace conspiracy.
  5. Prince Bahadur Shah: Prince Bahadur Shah himself took the title of Mukhtiyar and served as the chief administrator from 1785 A.D to 1794 A.D. He was killed in a palace conspiracy.
  6. Kaji Kirtiman Singh Basnyat: He was the son of Kaji Kehar Singh Bansyat and the grandson of Kaji Shivaram Singh Basnyat. From his mother's side he was the grandson of Kaji Kalu Pandey. He was made the Mul Kaji during the regency of Queen Raj Rajeswori between 1798 A.D to 1799 A.D. He was killed in a palace conspiracy.
  7. Kaji Bakhtwar Singh Basnyat: He soon replaced his older brother Kaji Kritiman Singh Bansyat as Mul kaji after his death in a palace conspiracy in 1799 A.D. He served briefly as Mul Kaji as during the regency of Queen Subarnaprabha and was repalced by his maternal uncle Kaji Damodar Pandey.
  8. Kaji Damodar Pandey: Kaji Damodar Pandey was the youngest son of Kaji Kalu Pandey. He became Mul Kaji under the regency of Queen Subarnaprabha and later under Queen Raj Rajeswori from 1799 A.D. He along with other palace courtiers was successful in sending the troubled King Rana Bahadur Shah in exile to Benaras, India. Kaji Damodar Pande also brielfy shifted the capital to Nuwakot and rule under infant King Girwan Yuddha Bikram Shah, mainly to be away from the trobuled Rana Bahadur Shah. Rana Bahadur Shah was considered as a mad King in Nepali history who created hard time for his courtiers to administer the country. Kaji Damodar Pandey was the most powerful Prime minister after Prince Bahadur Shah who stood in office until 1804 A.D. After return of Rana Bahadur Shah from Benaras in 1804 A.D, Kaji Damodar Pandey beheaded in Bhadrakali Temple which was instigated by Bhimsen Thapa.
  9. Dewan Kaji Ranajit Pandey: Dewan Ranajit Pandey was a son of Kaji Tularam Pandey. Kaji Tularam Pandey and Kaji Kalu Pandey were cousins having common grandfather Kaji Birudatta Pandey of Gorkha. Dewan Ranajit's daughter Rana Kumari was married to Kaji Nain Singh Thapa (younger brother of Bhimsen Thapa) making Ranajit Pandey and Bhimsen Thapa relatives. Ranajit Pandey and Bhimsen Thapa were together with Rana Bahadur Shah in Benaras during their period in exile. After the killing of Kaji Damodar Pandey in 1804 A.D., Dewan Ranajit briefly became the Mul Kaji.
  10. King Rana Bahadur Shah: King Rana Bahadur Shah stepped from his throne and made his infant son Girwan Yuddha King in 1798 A.D. After return from his exile in 1804 A.D, he took over the post of Mukhtiyar and acted as the Prime minister until he was killed by his own half brother Sher Bahadur Shah in 1806 A.D with a sword. Bhimsen Thapa then took the post of Mukhtiyar and ruled for next 31 years until 1837 A.D.  

Even though most part of Nepali history differs from historian to historian and books to books, I have extracted these information after going through various writers. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Kaji Kalu Pandey: The Great Warrior

Kaji Kalu Pandey: The Great Warrior

Kaji Kalu Pandey has stood as a symbol of great valour in Nepalese history. Born in Gorkha in 1770 B.S (1713 A.D) into a family of Chhetri nobles, his father Kaji Bhimraj Pandey was also an influential noblemen in the court of Gorkhali King Prithivipati Shah, the great grandfather of King Prithivi Narayan Shah. Pandey family in those times formed the stronger section of aristocracy.
As he was born into the family of warriors, Kalu Pandey whose real name was Banshidhar soon followed his forefather’s legacy. Very soon at the age of 20 he was in the Gorkhali administration. He was an influential Bhardhar since 1798/99 B.S. Along with being a warrior he was also a great tactician. He is credited for mediating a friendship treaty between King Prithivi Narayan Shah of Gorkha and King Ripumardan Shah of Lamjung diminishing a century long rivalry between the two states.
                                                          Potrait of Kaji Kalu Pandey

It is not known to whom he married but historians assume that he must have married to a daughter of another palace courtiers. He had three sons and a daughter. His eldest son was Dewan Kaji Sahib Bansaraj Pandey who continued the legacy and became an influential courtier of unified Nepal. His other sons were Sardar Ranasur Pandey and Mulkaji Sahib Damodar Pandey. Damodar Pandey went on to be the prime minister of later unified Nepal. His only daughter Chitrawati Devi was married to the son of Kaji Shivaram Singh Basnyat, Kaji Kehar Singh Basnyat. As also mentioned in the Dibhya Upadesh (Divine Counsel) King Prithivi Narayan Shah has emphasized on the marital ties between the two noble houses of Pandey’s and Basnyat’s as he considered Basnyats to be his Sword and Pandey’s to be his shield and proper cooperation of both was needed.
Kalu Pandey was a right hand to King Prithivi Narayan Shah and his most trusted adviser. Even though King Prithivi Narayan Shah favored Biraj Thapa Magar (Biraj Bakhate) over Kalu Pandey for the post of Kaji (equivalent to prime minister) and Pradhansenapati (Commander in Chief) he chose Kalu Pandey because he was more popular than Biraj Thapa Magar amongst the gorkhali people.
He was against King Prithivi Narayan Shah’s decision to attack over Kirtipur at the crucial moment when Gorkhali forces lacked preparations for a war. Kirtipur was located in a very strategical location and Kalu Pandey knew it was difficult to invade it without proper plans and preparations. Gorkhali forces were badly defeated in the first Battle of Kirtipur. Kalu Pandey aged 44 died in war
at Tyanglaphat in 19th Jyeshta 1814 B.S. King Prithivi Narayan Shah also had a narrow escape from death as he ran away disguised as a saint. Kaji Kalu Pandey’s weapons used in this war can still be seen hanging in the roof of the Bagh Bhairab Temple in Kirtipur. Kalu Pandey’s body was cremated in Dahachowk. King Prithivi Narayan Shah was depressed after the death of his loyal adviser and regretted not following his advice regarding this war.

Kaji Kalu Pandey valiantly fought in wars and succeeded in annexing Nuwakot, Belkot, Naldhum, Tadhi and Sirhanchowk to the Gorkha Empire. He served as the prime minister of Gorkha for 14 years until his death. He is also the first Commander in Chief of the Nepalese forces. He has a great contribution towards building this nation. But his contribution along with the contribution of other brave warriors has been forgotten by the people of the modern Nepal.