Nepal’s Unity Day(?)

The worst thing about politicizing everything is that everyone is divided. We can’t even agree what unity means.

Today is Paush 27 according to Nepali calendar. On this day, 299 years ago, Prithvi Narayan Shah was born in a small kingdom of Gorkha.

Despite its small size, Gorkha had a huge reputation. King Ram Shah (six generations before Prithvi Narayan) was known for being just. People used to say, “If you go Kashi, you’ll find Gods. If you go Gorkha, you’ll find justice.”

Gorkha is also famous for Gorakhnath, the legendary cow-protecting Yogi. It is said Gorakhnath himself had blessed Prithvi Narayan in his dreams.

Another legend says Prithvi was the incarnation of Bhairav, the ferocious incarnation of Lord Shiva. Bhairav is also known as protector in the ethnic Newa community of Kathmandu.

Gorkha always had eyes on Nepal Mandal (present day Kathmandu Valley) because of its fertile soil and trade with Tibet as well as India (mostly Benaras).

Prithvi Narayan’s father Narabhupal Shah attacked Nuwakot (north of Kathmandu) to disrupt trade with Tibet. He lost because Jayanta Rana committed treason. Narabhupal lost his mind. He died 3 years later, which meant Prithvi became king at the age of 20.

Prithvi’s first mission was to defeat Nuwakot. He lost in the first attempt. Won in the second. Jayanta Rana was caught and flayed.

Prithvi toiled hard for the next 24 years. In the year 1825 Bikram Sambat (1768 AD), he won Kantipur (Kathmandu). This is the day Modern Nepal was born.

Prithvi had many challenges during his campaign. The most challenging was the British East India Company. What began as a desire to win Kathmandu became a desire to unite all the small states and create a big nation in order to defeat British India.

The argument that has been running against Prithvi Narayan is that he just annexed the states, but not the people. They say, he did not unify us as Nepalese.

The counter argument is that he took the blessings of Living Goddess Kumari, the incarnation of Taleju Bhawani as soon as he became the king. He did not destroy the culture.

I say we were lucky that someone like him were born at that time and began the unification campaign. His son Bahadur Shah and his grandson Rana Bahadur Shah continued the campaign until British India got very wary and retaliated.

Many Indian states lost with British India. Modern India came into existence in 1947. Despite some setbacks, Nepal is one of the oldest nations in Asia. It’s something to be proud of.

When monarchy ended 15 years ago, politicians fed us with the idea that Prithvi Narayan was a ruthless man who cared nothing but expanding his small state. Paush 27, which was being celebrated as National Unity Day, stopped being officially noticed.

People are still celebrating the birth of the Warrior King, though.

Dear politicians, he fought all the battles so that you can call yourself a Nepali and play your political games. If he had not begun unifying, who knows if Nepal would have existed.

#unity-day #Nepal #history