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.