Sunday, November 23, 2014

Divya Upadesh of Prithvi Narayan Shah, the Maker and Unifier of Modern Nepal

(Prithwi's Instruction)
FTER His Majesty captured the three cities of Nepal (tin
sahar Nepal) and the Hindupati Raja» he went to Nuwakotfor
the last time." He summoned his priests, teachers,
household,' family, nobles, and his tutor, Surath Singh Rana,
and all the elders and spoke to them thus:
When an old man dies, his words die with him, so they say.
What you who are gathered here will hear from me, pass on to
your children, and they to ours; and this kingdom will endure.
Our mothers were three.' Of three bridal chambers we
brothers came, avatars of the Pandavs. My own marriage took
place in Makwanpur. The bride was not given to me.? I went to
Makwanpur to take the bride and return by way of Nepal (Nepal
pani dekhi bhani au bhani). When I arrived, I said to Dikbhanda
Sen: " If you will give me the one-tusked elephant and the nine-
1. Hindupati Raja: the kings of Makwanpur and Bijayapur had taken
this title. Sharma, p. 205; also Acharya, p. 60.
2. There are three well-known towns named Nuwakot; this one is on
the left bank of the Trisuli River. Narharinath, p. 1. note.
3. Narharinath and Acharya give the date for this as 1774. Narharinath,
p. 1, note 7; Acharya, p. 67.
4. Thar Ghar: one or more members of the families of those men who
had helped Drabya Shah capture Gorkha always sat on the councils of
Gorkha. The six thars in question were those of Ganesh Pande, arayandas
Arjyal, Bhagirath Pantha. Gangaram Rana, Sarbeshwar Khanal, and
Keshav Bohara. They were called colloquially the Thor Ghar. Narharinath,
notes, p. 24.
5. U'pranta: Indicates a new train of thought.
6. This does not seem to agree with the accepted historical tradition
assigning [our wives to Narbhupal Shah. Cf. Regmi, p. 46. However,
it is possible that this means that all the sons of Narbhupal Shah came
from three mothers, in which case it would agree with the tradition, since
the eldest queen was childless.
7. " It is said that the quarrel started over the custom of allowing
the bride to remain at her father' place for some time further, which the
Gorkhalis were intending to break." Regmi, p. 46.
lakh necklace.t I will take the bride. If you refuse, I will take
her and cut my way through with the sword." Threats
were made. .That the king of epal might not recognize me and
seize me, I covered my shoulders with a ghum9 and moved up the
banks of the Rapti. Companions to me were Bhanu ] yotisi,
Kulananda ]yotisi, and others of my family. From Chandragiri's
top I asked, "Which is Nepal ?"lO They showed me, saying,
" That is Bhadgaon, that is Patan, and there lies Kathmandu."
The thought came to my heart that if I might be king of these
three cities, why, let it be so. At this same time these two astrologers
said to me, "0 King, your heart is melting with desire."
I was struck with wonder. How did they know my inmost
thoughts and so speak to me? "At the moment your gaze rested
on Nepal (Nepalma) you stroked your moustache and in your
heart you longed to be king of epal, as it seemed to us." "Will
this come to pass?" I asked. "You, 0 Prince, have held at
all times great respect for cows, Brahmins, guests, holy men, the
gods, and goddesses. Also, in our hands lies the blessing of
Saraswati. You will one day be king of Nepal." And I said: "Beyond
Thankot's great pass, a day and a night beyond Kalleri Ghat,
up Dhading and beyond Champabati River, under the protecting
arms of Ligligkot, I have three men. ]yotisi, send a letter to
call them." "Their names?" he asked. "Ranjit Basnyet,"
I said, "Man Singh Rokaya, Birbhadra Pathak." "Come
straightway, without sleeping, to Maidhi," I wrote. And they
came. I spoke privately to these three. "I have exchanged
threats with Dikbhanda Sen ; I have come to Nepal and have seen
it. And I have decided it must be mine. What say you?"
" Attack, 0 Prince," they said. And they agreed with me. But
I asked them, " If I go to seize another's kingdom, will not another
come to seize my kingdom?" "Yours, 0 Prince, is the
voice to frighten elephants. If those Baisi and Chaubisi princes
come, a river of blood will flow in the Chepa," they answered.
We rose from our secret place and went to Gorkha. My uncle+
had taken the Deoghat road to have darshan of Nilkuntha and
Pasupati. After having darshan of Nilkuntha and Pasupati, he
came to Gorkha to have darshan of Gorkhanath. After his
worship, he met me. And I said: "Uncle, I have gone to
. 8. "The partyofthe bridegroom asked asadowry a valuable necklace (the
bride had it during the ceremony) called Navlakhia and one particular elephant
(Ekdantey) with one tooth, which earlier the owner had refused to present
to the Nawab (Mir Kasim)." Regmi, p ..46, quoting the Gorkha Vamsavali.
9. A kind of rain shelter measuring about two and a half by four feet,
fOlded longitudinally. It is made of thin bamboo lattice-work frames,
between which a layer of plantain leaves is spread.
1.0; One does not see how this should be interpreted, in view of the
trad~hon that as a youth Prithwinarayan Shah had spent some years with
Ranjit Malia of Bhadgaon. Regmi assigns the years 1736-37 to the stay
rn . Bhadgaon, and Prithwinarayan Shah's marriage he places in 1740. If
th~s is so, there is a serious discrepancy, it seems, between this account and
Dlbya U'padesh,
11. Udyat Sen, yuvaraj of Palpa,
Makwanpur. I reached Nepal and saw that kingdom. I have
decided I must attack that kingdom. What must I do to succeed?
Instruct me, if you will." And he answered: "At the time
ofPancharatri I hada dream. There wasa great war in which there
were five men, avatars of the Pandavs, as it were. Without war
Nepal will not be conquered. Lamjung is called a Garud.
Gorkha is called a snake. Nepal, a frog. The snake must deceive
the eyes of the Garud, and then it can eat the frog." "I have,"
r said, "four clans of warriors. Which of these must go, if the
work is to be finished quickly?" "Which are the clans?" he
asked. "Brahmin, Khas, Magar, Thakuri,' I said. "Which
of these should go to finish the task quickly?" "The Brahmin
goes as a bullock," he said; " if he goes, it will be sin everywhere.
The Thakuri goes as a lion; afterwards comes his craft. The
Magar goes as a mountain pony. He will be slow. The Khas goes
as a swift Arabian steed. If the Khas goes, it will be quickly
done, or so it seems to me." And with this he gave me much
other advice. I took his advice, and then I went to meet the
king of Lamjung, Ripumardan Shah. We met at Chepe Ghat.
We spoke of a treaty and of home affairs. The matter for which
we would agree to conclude a treaty was as a knot in my heart.
This thing Kalu Pande did. And the treaty was strong and lasting.
And I was in wonder. But I was also pleased. He, with
whom the people are pleased, he it is who is made kazi, so the
shastras say. I consulted the wishes of the people and found that
the people also wanted him. If Kalu Pande is made kazi, all
the people will be pleased, I was advised. Then I looked to the
Baisi and the Chaubisi princes. And they told me that if Kalu
Pande were made kazi, the home and foreign policy would be
strong. It was in my mind to make Biraj Bakheti kazi. But
Kalu Pande was thought to be wiser, and Kalu Pande was made
kazi. Now I made a marriage bond between the Pandes and the
Basnyets. "Give your daughter to the son of Shivaram Basnyet,
Kehe Singh Basnyet,' I said. And I married them and made
the bond between the Pan des and the Basnyets. I made a Pande
the shield (foreign policy) and a Basnyet the sword (war minister)
and prepared to ascend t,o Nepal.
I stationed Ranjit Basnyet, Man Singh Rokaya, and
Birbhadra Pathak at Ligligkot for the protection of Gotan Birai
and went to have darshan of the devi at Sallyan Kot. They say
she gives inspiration. I went to learn the auspicious time. To
Sallyan I went, and I camped there. And I asked the headmen
of the fort if one might have darshan of the devi. "To go into
the temple for darshan is for the priests only," they said. "So
be it," I answered. " But might one have darshan at the gate ?"
"This is permitted," they answered. So morning and evening
I sat at the gate, reading, worshipping, and praying. One night
I had a dream. A seven or eight-year-old maiden came to me,
bearing a sword in either hand. She covered her head with a
pale rose-coloured cloth and came close to me. I asked her whoDIBYA UPADESH 41
her father was. She answered that she was the daughter of the
Rana (Magar) priest of the temple. Saying this, she placed the
swords in my hands. Then she took from her bosom a small object
shaped like the arasi and placed it on my lips, saying: "This
also you must swallow. Then, whatever you wish for, you will
receive. I also have a request," she added. "Receive this and
go." And so saying, she took steps and vanished. At this, I
awoke. I called for Bhanu Jyotisi and Kulananda Jyotisi as
well as the Rana priest, and I asked them to explain this to me.
The astrologers and the priest said that this was the devi and that
I had received darshan. At this moment I presented incense,
lights, flags, and a feast. For the permanent worship I added
seven buffaloes and seven goats and the income from Borlang
Ghat and the ridge near the Ghat. This same hour I took my
leave, travelling without pause until I camped at Simalchaur
Chautara. My intention was to take Nuwakot, but to outward
appearances I· went to Kinchyat-" for farming and digging irrigation
channels. I used to go by boat regularly to the Temple
of Indrayani at Betravati Beni, where I worshipped. I had darshan
of the devi of Sallyan Kot and of the bairabi of Indrayani.
At Mahamandal the Savata of Nuwakot was being held.P In
Mahamandal there was a Gyami Rana. "Be one of us. Leave
Mahamandal. Come with me." Thus the message I sent to
him. And he answered that it was true, that he did belong to
14 "But," said he, "I have eaten the salt of Jaya Prakash
Malla, and I will be true to this until death." One day I sat in
council. I sat there dreaming. Ana in my daydream I was
sitting at the temple of Indrayani. "One week from today there
will be a very auspicious time. That day's omen will be the
cure of Nuwakot," I heard. I asked the astrologer to look into
his book and see. "That day, a week hence," he said, "early
Saturday morning is an auspicious time. On this same auspicious
day let us climb Mahamandal." And we fought ... 15 My
12. Kinchyat lay on the eastern border of the kingdom of Gorkha. One
of the two rivers in question is the Trisuli. Maps of the area indicate the
other as probably being Phalangu Khola, The confluence is certainly at
Betravati, and perhaps Phalangu Khola also goes by the name of Betravati.
The Gorkhali tactics of having the soldiers cover their operations by posing
as farmers and preparing the land gives an interesting sidelight on the
methods used by the hill troops.
13. Savata: Variant explanations are given by pundits for this word. It
could be Sauteni or co-wife. in which case Mahamandal would be taken as
a rival of Nuwakot. I have taken it to be the seven days of religious readings
from the shastras with the accompanying lectures. I confess rierther
interpretation satisfies me completely, and J suspect that only a very thorough
knowledge of the geography of the area will make it possible to accept or
reject the Sauteni interpretation mentioned in this note.
14. Jayant Rana, who had led Nurbhupal's attack on Nuwakot and
then later. when suspicion of collusion with the enemy fell on him, had
gone over to Jaya Prakash Malla. Jaya Prakash Malia had placed him
in charge of the troops at Nuwakot. Cf. Gyawali, pp. 196 and 198. .
15. There follows here a short passa~e whose meaning is obscure owmg
to a lack of historical reference. according to Baburam Acharya. (Hamra
nun ka lesli le jlmkai dine pan/halo42 PRITHWINARAYAN SHAH
twelve-year-old brother, Dalmardan Shah, struck the Rana on
the head with his sword and ended the battle. We crossed beyond
uwakot, setting up posts at Kakani and heopuri
and digging entrenchments. Parsuram Thapa-" gave his hand
to me, aying," Come, attack Nepal." And he sent his brother
to make offers to the Chaubisi princes and to stir them up to attack
us from the rear. I learned of this, and I asked where he had
gone. "To Hatiya Pass near Pokhara. There he stayed."
" Who can go and put an end to him ?" I asked in council. They
could think of no one. I said I thought Jhagal Gurung could
do it, and so I sent for him and gave him the command
to go. Before he left, I gave him my khukari. Jhagal Gurung
put on a minstrel's clothing, carried a fish pole in one hand and
his sarangi in the other, with a few dharnies of fish over his shoulder.
When Parsuram's brother's soldiers were eating, he saw his
chance, put an end to him, and came back. Later, after I had
strengthened the rear, I opened epal, joined the east and west,
and took Nepal.
This country is like a gourd between two rocks. Maintain
a treaty of friendship with the emperor of China. Keep also a
treaty of friendship with the emperor of the southern sea (the
Company). He has taken the plains. He will realize that if
Hindustan unites, it will be difficult, and so he will come seeking
places for forts.t? Prepare forts, without burdening the people.
Set traps in the trail. One day that force will come. Do not
go down to the plains to fight. Withdraw to the hills to fight.
Chure Pass will be much used. Store arms and ammunition there
for five to seven generations. The Ganga is also a line of defence.
If this does not suffice in war, regardless of trickery or schemes,
the strength of Nepal lies in her forts. If he takes these, the four
emperors will come.IS God has given us the places for these
forts. There is no need to ask where. 1. Shivapuri, 2. Phulchowki,
3. Chandragiri, 4. Mahadevpokhari, S. Palung, 6. Dapcha,
7. Kahule, At these places permanent forts should be built.
Behind the forts, on a higher place, cannon should be placed. In
. 16. The brother of the slain Kasiram Thapa. He was sent by the conspirators
against Jaya Prakash Malia to summon Prithwinarayan Shah to
Kathmandu. Gyawali, p. 200. The sense of the passage here seems to indicate
that he went over to the Chaubisi Rajas after making these overtures to
Prithwinarayan Shah.
17. There is some difference of opinion on the interpretation of this
pas5ag~. pro Malhotra (Historical Glimpses oj Modern Nepal, Prof. G. C.
Shastn, Kathmandu, 2024, p. 8) translates it: "When they shall become
masters of the whole of India, they would create trouble for us." I see no
justification for ;,histranslation either in the Nepali or in the context. The
passage IS thl~: Hindusthann. dabai rashe chha. sarajim» ma pari rahe chha.
Hindusthana Jamyo bhanya, kalhin """Zf! ... ," p. 12.
18. arhannath (I· 26, not!') suggests \thcse four emperors as India,
China, Ru SJa, and Rome. One \\ criders why he speaks of Russia and Rome.DlBYA UPADESH 43
the gaps in the mountains an iron door should be built.P Behind
each door, on a higher place, cannon should be set up and a band
of five soldiers stationed at each place. If this is done there will
be no opportunity for ambush, spying, routing, destroying, sneaking,
trouble-making, murder, or anything like these. Even if
the four emperors come, they will avail nothing.
I observed the arrangements of King Ram Shah. I saw the
arrangements of Jayasthiti Malla, also. I saw, too, the arrangements
of Mahindra Malla. If it is God's will, I would like
to make this sort of arrangement for the 12,000.
20 Roads to the
east and to the west being closed, I would open the roads
of Nepal.P I would arrange that each class (jat) do its own
special work. This three-citied Nepal is a cold stone. It
is great only in intrigue. With one who drinks water from
cisterns, there is no wisdom; nor is there courage. There is only
intrigue." My wish is to build my capital at Dahachowk. And
I would build around me houses for the leaders and priests of my
people, my family, my court, the leaders and chiefs of the hill
states. My capital would be set apart. In these cities, apart
from my capital, let there remain empty pomp and pleasure.
Do not let the merchants of India come up from the border.
If the merchants of India come to our country, thev will leave
the people poor. We have won for homespun the -three cities
of Nepal, the nine lakhs of Kiratis, and the Hindupati Raja. Forbid
the use of cloth made in India. Show samples to those who
know how to make our cloth. Teach them and begin to make
clothing. If this is done, our money will not go abroad. Send
our herbs to India and bring back money. When you acquire
money, keep it. If the citizens are wealthy, the country
is strong. The king's storehouse is his people. In our country
19. Narharinath quotes in his notes an old poem (p. 27, note) that speaks
of such an iron door as being found at Sindhuli and Chisapani up to the
time of Rajendra Bikram.
20. The reference is to the Corkhalis. Originally there were 12,000
households in Gorkha, according to Narharinath, Later, even when the
population numbered far in excess of three lakbs, the reference was still
made to the Gorkhalis as the 12.000. Narharinath, p. 27, note.
21. The sense of this passage seems to be that the roads to the east and
west of the Valley would be closed to traders from the plains who attempted
to gain an illicit share in the trade with Tibet by by-passing the Valley or
to trade with Nepal. The roads would be closed to such travellers, but the
roads throughout Nepal would be open to Nepalis,
22. It is interesting to compare this statement with that of Desiderius,
who passed through Nepal at the close of 1721. He says, "These Neuars
are active. intelligent, and very industrious, clever at engraving and melting
metal, but unstable, turbulent and traitorous," Desiderius, An Account
of Tibet, ed. Filippo De Filippi, London, 1937.PRITHWINARAYA SHAH
there should be no tax farming. Let the government set the
rates and collect the taxes and have an annual audit taken.
Whether a man be selected as a soldier or as a courtier, let him
not acquire wealth. Give a man only honour, and that according
to his worth. Why? I will tell you. If a rich man enters
into battle, he cannot die well; nor can he kill. In a poor man
there is spark. If my brother soldiers and the courtiers are not
given to pleasure, my sword can strike in all directions. But if
they are pleasure-seekers, this will not be my little painfully acquired
kingdom but a garden of every sort of people. But
if everyone is alert, this will be a true Hindustan of the four
jats, greater and lesser, with the thirty-six classes. Do not
leave your ancient religion. Don't forsake the salt of the king.
Do not take the chamberlain's post from Kalu's family. Do not
take the care of the foreign policy for Tibet from the hands of
Kalu Pande's family. In giving the kazi's post to the Pandes
Basnyets, Panthas, and Magars, give it to them each
in turn. They are the true servants of my salt. Even if they
should commit some crime deserving of death, do not kill them
yourselves. Instead, give them the kaziship or command and
send them into battle. If they come back alive, it is well. If
they are killed, it is well that they be killed by another in place
of you. Let the king not kill a servant in his house. Let the
king see that great justice is done. Let there be no injustice in
our country. Justice is crippled when bribes are given and when
bribes are taken. If either of these is done, it should not be
considered sinful to confiscate all their property. These are
the zreat commands of the king.
An important point is that the soldiers required for the king
should be given their house and land and that they farm it, so
that they can support themselves by both means. Then, without
concern for their family's welfare, whether they are in the
capital or in the field, they will be stout-hearted. And in
the annual pajani23 make. up companies of one hundred rifles.
Appoint as commander of them one who has tested himself in
four or five battles. In choosing a sat pagari commander, choose
one who has been successful in several battles. In placing his
sohra haoildar, let him appoint a man he has tested as a man of
courage. The sohra havildar should choose soldiers whom he
knows from experience to be courageous. In their own companies
enlist Khas, Magars, Gurungs, and Thakuris, and only these
four jats.24 In time of war such an army will be strong. Let
23. Pajani: annual reappointment of soldiers and officers.
24. This was more or less the practice of the hill kingdoms. Though
Sanwal (p. 44) seems to indicate that the secret of Prithwinarayan Shah's
success lay in the fact tha t he chose from these four classes, while others
chose only the Thakuris, the Magars formed an important part of the army
in the Valley as well. Cf. GyawaJi, p. 196.DIBYA UPADESH
these four jats only serve in the military, and in time of war all
will be strong; and the enemy and heaven itself will tremble. If
the enemy had thousands of bows and thousands of flintlocks,
thousands of swords and thousands of cannon, heaven would
tremble. In battle, both those who press the attack and those
who act in support are equally important. In giving jagirs and
birta lands, these should be equally rewarded. If a soldier
is killed, give his land to his son until the boy is ready for military
service; then raise him to a jagir. If the king is discerning, the
soldiers will also be confident. If these instructions are carried
out, the nation will have experienced soldiers. Soldiers are the very
marrow of the king. If the soldiers and the peasants are with
the king, he is wise. Join the soldiers and the peasants and there
will be no insurrection. Keep the soldiers prepared. A soldier
who is alert and prepared does not play favourites, and his work
is straight. Gurungs, Magars, and Khans are very loyal. Their
nobles, chieftains, and headmen, and the very old families should
be tested and placed close to the king. The Chettris and Brahmins
of the east and west should not be permitted to enter the
court. "Why?" I will tell you. Outsiders do not obey the court
traditions. Keep the command of the king firmly.
I made three peaks very strong. To their headmen I gave
signal flags and drums. I gave them also sufficient money."
Whatever Sallyan, Liglig, and Dhading set their face to do was
done successfully. This is God's work. Always arrange to keep
your old, tested servants near you; and your nation will be strong.
If the king is wise, he will keep the soldiers and the peasants on
his side. Don't allow them to play favourites and seek bribes,
but let them be loyal.
Keep the mint pure. In the courts put tested Thakuris as
judges and tested Magars as clerks. In each court put a man
skilled in the law. Conduct the courts according to law. Money
collected .in the courts must never be used for the palace. Use
it to feed holy men, guests, yogis and sanyasis. If any money
is left over, let the money be used to buy offerings of dhotis and
cloth for these holy men. If this is done, there will be no false
accusation. In a place where there are minerals, even though
a village be situated there, the village must be moved and the
mine worked. In places suitable for paddy, canals should be
dug, fields cultivated, even if it means moving a house.
At one time I came to help, and they had called me. But
later they betrayed me and caused me great sorrow by trying to
stir up the Chaubisi and Baisi princes against me. But I secured
the rear and took Nepal. They brought Nagas from the south
25. Literally, a bundle of Rs. 240/-.
at Jaya Prakash's behe t, but I conquered them in seven villages.
Kasim Khan attacked Makwanpur, but I defeated him with 120
men with khukaris, and took the equipment of his men. Hardy
Sahib came to attack Sindhuli Gadhi with three or four companies.w
I defeated him also and took his flintlocks. Three
mussulmen came from Lucknow seeking to enter my service.
They came to uwakot. They repaired rifles. The e three
mussulmen were artisans. I made them adjutants: Sekhjar, Bar
Mama, Bherekasim; and they gave my men training. In the
history of Nepal I saw that the Turks, the Magars, and the
Iughals might attack epal. The Turkish attack had come.P?
But I am a Magar king.28 To meet the Mughal threat, I established
forts, and I gathered companies. I made the companie mixed,
half with khukaris and half with rifles. With a company of 100
rifles, the work will be ea y. With such a company of 100 rifles,
I can resist 1,000 men. Placing one company at each fort, divide
the ridge , maintain reserves.
I am in doubt about one thing. Which thing? Muglan
(India) is near. In that place there are singers and dancers. In
rooms lined with painting, they forget themselves in melodies
woven on the drum and sitar. There is great pleasure in these
melodies. But it drains your wealth. They also take away the
secrets of your country and deceive the poor. Let no one even
practice the ragas. Let no one open the mountain trails for these
clas es of people. If they are needed for H oli, bring a few;
but send them away quickly, and they will not discover your
country's secrets. For your own enjoyment, according to the
shasiras, bring some of the Newar dancers of the three cities of
epal. This is quite all right. If anything is given to these, it
remains inside your own country: If this is done, your country
will be well protected.
26. It is interesting to note that no mention is made here of any Capuchin
connection with the Kinloch mission, called here the Hardy mission. In
fact, the omission of any mention, of the Capuchins in this document, despite
the rather detailed account of traders, singers, and military dangers eems
significant. Gyawali, Sharma, Regmi, Sanwal, Chaudhuri, Malhotra,
Bhandari, Aryal, and the English historians always seem to link the
Capuchins with this mission of Kinloch. Yet no mention is made here of
the Capuchins, nor do the historians in question offer any reference as
support of their statements. The fact that the authors mentioned differ
as to significant details, combined with this lack of supporting references,
raises the interesting question of their accuracy in this regard.
27. Shams ud-din I1yas. Cf. Petech, Mediaeval History of Nepal, Rome,
1958, pp. 118-20, for the best documented account of this raid.
28. This pas age is indeed confusing. The sense of it seems to be something
like this: There were to be three invasions of Nepal, one by the Turks,
one by the Magars, and one by the Mughuls. The Turkish invasion had
come and gone. The Magar invasion is that carried out by Prithwinarayan
Shah himself. The Mughul invasion was that of Mir Kasim , Prithwinarayan
Shah seems to be trying to show that the predictions of the Chronicle are
fulfilled with these three invasions mentioned.

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