PRITHVI NARAYAN SHAH: Remembered For A Reason

Several other Kings and monarchs of the Indian sub-continent including Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Ranjeet Singh, and the Queen of Jhansi had launched movements to preserve the unique diversity of culture, values and religions retaining the unique character of this region. However, King Prithvi Narayan Shah, a King of a small hill, succeeded to liberate a small portion of the region declaring it as a garden of diverse ethnicity, culture and race with its identity of original Hindustan. Along with the unification of Nepal, King Prithvi Narayan Shah also injected all ingredients of modern nationhood including secularism, inclusion, equality and sovereignty of the nation. Nepalese are celebrating the birth anniversary of Shah, who gave Gorkha an identity of bravery, loyalty and greatness, on January 11

Jan. 11, 2021, 8:22 a.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL. 14 No. 10, January 08, 2021 ( Paush 24, 2077) Publisher: Keshab Prasad Poudel Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla, who had served as India’s Ambassador to the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand and as High Commissioner to Bangladesh before being appointed the foreign secretary, recalled Prithvi Narayan Shah for his role in championing the word Gorkha as symbol bravery in India and all over the world.

Inaugurating a school building constructed under Indian Government Support beneath the Palace of Shah in Gorkha last month, the statement given by Indian foreign secretary Shringla, who has connections with Indian Gorkha, is highly important.

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Suppressed by politicians of the current ruling dispensation under the guidance of Maoist leader Prachanda and his gorilla, the current Nepalese state does not recognize his status officially as they have tried to delete his legacy.

However, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari is the first head of the state following a declaration of the republic to show courage to visit the statue of Prithvi Narayan Shah and paid homage to him. With the blood of Kalu Pande, prime minister of Prithvi Narayan, president Bhandary paid respect to the founder of the nation.

Nepal Army

Although Nepal Army faced all kinds of assaults, as with the name of Prithvi Narayan Shaha, following the signing of a peace agreement between seven parties and Maoists, Nepal Army took a strong stand in favor of the founder of the institution.

As a founder and commander, Nepal Army also hangs a life-size drawing of Shaha at the center of the Nepal Army’s formal halls where every high-level meeting takes place -- Shaha’s portrait stands as an eye-witness.

Despite the state’s policy to discard the legacy of Prithvi Narayan, Nepal Army has never given up its respect and glory to the founder of the Nepal Army. Even after the abolition of the monarchy, Nepal Army respects him as in the past.

Chandragiri Hills

Chandra Prasad Dhakal, the founder of Chandragiri Hill Resorts and senior vice president of Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), had rarely imagined that the full statue of Prithvi Narayan at the top of the hill would be the most visited place by visitors in his recreation center.

However, the statue of King Prithvi Narayan, which was unveiled by President Bidhya Devi Bhandari three years ago, is one of the most visited selfy sites for all the generations in Chandragiri Hill and cable car.

Whether with family or individually, tens of thousands of photographs are posted on different social media sites by various groups of people from that venue. Taking risk of possible vandalism by political hooligans and the threat of the ruling class, Dhakal, a gentle person, had erected the statue in a spot from where Shah drew the plans for national unification.

Discarded for almost a decade and disowned by the political dispensation, people from different walks of life have realized the need to highlight the important step taken by Shah in nation-building and unifying the people of different ethnic and religious groups to preserve the unique culture, religion and values of this subcontinent.

However, Prithvi Narayan is one of the popular figures among all groups of people. He was popular not only in Nepal but all over the world.

Gorkha, the state in which Shaha was born, is regarded as a place of pride and bravery outside Nepal. “So great is the sense of pride felt by all the Nepalese for the name and tradition of Gorkha that even social and political organizations of the Nepalese domiciled in India and elsewhere are often called Gorkha,” writes Rishikesh Shah in his book Heroes and Builders of Nepal.

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With the division of black and white around the world and when the right of the people was nowhere to exist, Shaha had propounded the concept of inclusion, secularism, anti-colonialism, socialism and nationhood. He emphasized strong people can make the ruler strong, encouraging use of the locally made goods, and not going for foreign goods. He wished to have a tailor (untouchable) as his prime minister.

By calling his newly built state a garden of all castes, creeds and religions within true Hindustan, he made Nepal a total fabric of customs and traditions that have evolved through centuries.

“The second half of the 18th century, King Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha decided to stand against colonial power to protect the holy land and preserve the culture and religion of the sub-continent. It was during this period that the British East India Company began to engage itself in making the plan of strategy for the establishment of its hegemony over the land stretching from the Himalayas to Cape Cameron.

“Although Nepal is small in size, she is one of the oldest countries of the world and a very bright record of philosophical, religious, poetic and artistic activities of her people. In all the ages she has been the pure fountain of spiritual salvation to all the Hindus. The inhabitants of this country have always endeavored to keep vigil against the foreign tormentors of this holy land and thus have preserved her cultural heritage by all means,” writes Hit Narayan Jha, professor of History, Culture and Archeology of TU.

Jealousies and intrigues were the order of the day, and corruption and inefficiency had sapped the vitality of all the states. Under such circumstances, not only the freedom and independence of the people but also their culture, religion and values were in a great threat.

Visualizing the troubles ahead, Prithvi Narayan Shah took upon himself the task of keeping the banner of freedom and cultural heritage high by unifying the minor states under his leadership. He exhorted the people to make sustained efforts to meet the danger any time. As he was the person to make a correct assessment of the world and his surroundings, Shah jumped to take lead to protect the civiliation.

“Prithwinarayan Shah stepped onto the stage of Nepali history at a time when the whole Indian subcontinent was in a ferment. The sap of the Mughal Empire had dried up and the leaves were weathering on the branches. Rot had set in, and there was no lack of those who were prepared to seize advantages. The Marathas in the west, the scheme of Haidar Ali in the south and least of all, the relentlessly growing influence of the British factory at Kalighat (Calcutta), all were more than sufficient to shred the peace of the land,” writes Ludwig F. Stiller, SJ in his book Dibya Upadesh.

As a diplomat, he was a unique figure in his time. After conquering Nepal, he wanted to make his victory a stable one. That is why he did not do any such work which would affect the social, religious, economic as well as cultural lives of the Newars of Nepal. Rather he encouraged them to follow their tradition without any fear both from within and without.

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Manisha Koirala

As people from different walks of life are preparing to celebrate Shah’s birth anniversary, Manisha Koirala, a popular Bollywood actress and granddaughter of BP Koirala, recently called a meeting of a broader group of people to celebrate the founder of the nation without any political bias.

“As a Nepali, all of us need to be proud of him and his contributions. He is equal to all who are proud as Nepali,” said Koirala.

In the word of academician Dipak Gywali nationhood core value of Prithvi Narayan Shah, national unity, one king and one nation. Socialism, secularism and in-divisible nation are some of the core philosophy Prithvi Narayan Shah propounded.

Recognized and reckoned by foreign diplomats, scholars, historians and common people, Prithvi Narayan Shah is a great King. “Prithvinaryan Shah’s valor, statesmanship and administrative qualities fill Nepalis with a sense of pride and glory. As a result of his foresight and wisdom, a synthesis of Hinduism and Buddhism exists to this day in Nepal. The strong nations he created were to be for a long time the only free and independent Hindu nation in the world,” writes late Rishikesh Shaha in his book Heroes and Builders of Nepal.

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