KATHMANDU – Gorkha was a small and weak principality that had endured continuous threats from its more powerfulneighbours. The history of Nepal displays, that regardless of the analysis, Gorkha had neither the means nor the military power to conduct a military campaign. However, after his return from Banaras,Prithivi Narayan Shah went to the corners of his realm and visited Gorkha’s wise men and seasoned soldiers. He was astute enough to understand that the previous battles lacked public support.
Therefore, the great king, garnishing Clausewitz’s trinity of state power, political leadership, military power, and the people’s will, armed the Gorkhali population. He smartly twisted Clausewitz’s “war is an act of policy” into “all policies lead to war, ” involved the citizens directly in his struggles, andturned the feudal skirmishes into a national war. A quarter of a century before Napoleone Buonaparte was even born, Prithivi Narayan Shah had developed the concept of “Nation in Arms,” led Gorkha to war, and occupied Nuwakot Gadi on September 26, 1744, achieving the long-awaited first triumph of his long quest.
His strategy of economic embargo around Kathmandu Valley for his later battles; demonstrates that his wars aimed to sap the enemy’s morale, disrupt their forces, and bring about their collapse without strenuous, protracted armed struggles. The fact that it took him 24 years to conquer Kathmandu Valley after invading Nuwakot proves that, rather than applying sheer military might, he strove to win the hearts and minds of the enemy’s citizens before subduing his enemy.
His DivyaUpadesh states that he had conquered the Valley’s principalities with the goodwill of the people from the east and the west. History is the best testimony that Prithivi Narayan Shah’s victory over these divided principalities became the means of lasting peace and prosperity in the country. Thus, it proves that the governing idea of his battles was peace, and victory was only the means towards its achievement.
In recent decades, the sway in world politics has brought multiparty democracy to Nepal.Sadly, after Nepal achieved democracy, party interests replaced those of the people and the country; politics in Nepal functions as a means for the political leaders to advance their own self-interest.Thus, for the sheer self-interest of grabbing state power, the political forces of Nepal underwent the Maoist insurgency, which claimed the lives of more than 17,000 people. Additionally, over 8,000 people were injured or became physically disabled, over 1,530 people went missing, and approximately 400,000 rural families were internally displaced. According to National Peace Campaign research from 2004, the cost of conflict from 1996 to 2003 was $66.2 billion.
After utterly ruining the nation and putting the people through great suffering, the Maoists joined the mainstream government. Then with great pride, the political leaders of Nepal dubbed this devastated nation “New” (Naya) Nepal. Calling the countryNaya Nepal has madethe country united by Prithivi Narayan Shah, old (Purano) Nepal. Thus, an analytical compression between “Naya Nepal and Purano Nepal or Nepal now and then” is a topic of interest to all Nepali people.
Surprisingly, in various manners, Naya Nepalis similar to pre-Purano Nepal or Nepal before Prithvi Narayan Shah united the country. At present, three prominent political party leaders are acting like the three Rajas of Kathmandu Valley, and other political leaders as the Rajas of the Baisi and the ChaubisiRajays, respectively, along with various other ethnic groups all advocating for their independent status and a share of Nepal. These new Rajas are continuously combating amongst themselves in the political coliseum of Nepal.
Their alliances are constantly shifting and fragmenting, returning Nepal to the pre-unification era when the country was divided into many principalities and there was no stability, only misery and uncertainty.
In his final days, Prithivi Narayan Shah, through his DivyaUpadesh, expressed his sincere desire to adopt the good practices of previous worthy kings. He had also advised the rulers regarding the policies of statecraft Nepal should adopt to safeguard the country’s territorial integrity and,at the same time, become prosperous. An analytical study of Prithivi Narayan Shah’s DivyaUpadesh helps to prove that these instructions are the first rough draft of an incipient constitution for Nepal.
However,in this twenty-first century, when humanity has set out to colonize Mars. Sadly, Nepal was forced to go seven long years without a codified constitution. Furthermore, Prithivi Narayan Shah’s DivyaUpadesh firmly bonded all the castes and creeds living within the boundary of Nepal. On the other hand, from the very first day the New constitution of Naya Nepal was promulgated, it brought the feeling of regional segregation based on caste and ethnicity from the first day of its promulgation.
Ever since the prehistoric Kirat era, the region’s government and justice system have been crucial to the growth and prosperity of the nation. According to the history of Asia, Nepal was the first nation to practice natural justice, “jaskopaapuskogardhan( it is the sinner’s neck). It was also the first nation to construct the most thorough legal code and judicial system, known as “ManabNayayasastra.”DivyaUpadesh unequivocally demonstrates that Prithvi Narayan Shah provided great importance to justice. He felt his responsibility as king was to provide justice to his people.
Therefore, he mentioned, “the king should ensure that justice is done, eliminating injustice from the country.” He sought to establish a society where the rule of law was dominant. However, Naya Nepal has been unable to manage an effective judicial system; it has failed to deliver timely and equitable justice. Controversial appointments, endemic corruption, and people’s limited access to justice have severely threatened the justice system in today’s Nepal.
Prithvi Narayan Shah was a king who visited the people and respected their will. side from his wishes, he had stated, “He, with whom the people are pleased, he is made Kaji.” This quotation supports his embrace of citizens’ participation and representation in the political system. Naya Nepal today is a democratic country; in a democratic country, the people’s will should be held supreme.
However, the behaviour and attitude of the representatives of our people show that they are in no way on the side of the people; in fact, people are never a priority for them. As a result, researchers have noted that the current circumstance necessitates an in-depth investigation of the nature of political leadership for the substance of democracy in Nepal.
Furthermore, many academics claim that the Nepali people are dissatisfied with how democracy operates in Naya Nepal. In “Democracy, Security, and National Interest,” Meena Vaidhya Malla analyses the way Nepali democracy is functioning and notes that “it is far from the people; it is off the people; it buys the people instead of being for the people, of the people, and by the people.”
Thus, it demonstrates that these political parties in Naya Nepal have nothing to offer the people apart from a rudimentary concept of democratic government. The only thing people want is for Nepal to achieve actual democracy, which it has so far been unable to do.
The wellbeing of the people is the main focus of DivyaUpadesh, which emphasizes that the people are the real wealth of the nation. It directs decision-makers to implement a governing structure that advances the interests of the general people. As a result, the government in Purano Nepal focused on serving the public.
The civil servants acted in the people’s best interests while upholding their integrity and aiming for professional competence. However, today several academics have explicitly mentioned that Naya Nepal’s civil service sector has degenerated into disorder and no longer serves the public interest. Moral and ethical values in the civil service are deteriorating; rules and regulations are entirely disregarded and inconsistently followed, and they cannot carry out their duties effectively.
Purano Nepal housed various ethnic groups with distinct linguistic and cultural histories. Prithivi Narayan Shah had managed to assimilate them into a single national culture. He further enhanced this bond with a common language spoken and understood by all under a single administrative umbrella. He made no changes to the existing social practices of the subjugated areas. He rebuilt the Chaityas and Bhiars, giving them additional (Ghuti) lands so they could maintain their customs and traditions. He encouraged the regional culture and strengthened the indigenous identity,for to him, Nepal was a garden where people of all castes and creeds could flourish.
Furthermore, to consolidate identity as a means of independence from imperial influence, he mentioned Purano Nepal: “Yehi ho Asali Hindustan (This is the true land of the Hindus).” However, in Naya Nepal, the indigenous and local cultures are undermined and devalued, and the country is influenced primarily by western culture. Even the fund for temples is being eyed by political forces, who are trying to assert control over it. This assertion was demonstrated by the federal government’s attempt to introduce the contentious Guthi bill into the National Assembly in June 2019. Such a move would have destroyed the century’s old customs and traditions, making it easier for westerners to impose their values.
DivyaUpadesh indicates that Prithvi Narayan Shah had urged the citizens, “Do not leave your ancient religion.” This unequivocal assertion demonstrates that Purana Nepal saw religion as a critical tool for fostering social harmony.It further demonstrates that a state requires to be neutral regarding religion.Purano Nepal provided the citizens with freedom of religion, which stood as the leading reason for Nepal, with a diverse population with different cultures and religious faiths, to remain united as a Hindu country for almost two centuries.
However, in the recent past, Mark’s views that perceive religion as a drug or “spiritual booze” have tremendously influenced Naya Nepal.Numerous academics have mentioned that the communists have always fashioned themselves to put atheism into practice to overthrow all preexisting social conditions forcibly.The present political leaders of the country refused to acknowledge this reality when they proclaimed the only Hindu nation in the world a secular state.Unfortunately, this has shattered the fundamental principles of the country’s social harmony, which had stood firm for generations. Today, the streets of Naya Nepal are filled with evidence of this clamour. Prithivi Narayan Shan sought to transform the nation’s industrial and agricultural systems.
He prohibited the importation of clothing from India and taught people the required skills
to make clothing locally.Besides this, he had instructed the people, “Send our goods and herbs to India and bring back money.” The quotations above show that Prithivi Narayan Shah wanted to reduce reliance upon foreign countries and sought to make Purano Nepal a self-sufficient, export-oriented, prosperous country. However, the local industries remain in dire condition today, imports far outweigh exports, and indigenous goods are discouraged and disregarded. The entire country of Naya Nepal depends on foreign assistance, aid, and support from abroad to survive.
During Prithivi Narayan Shah’s period, the English vigorously expanded their domain in the Indian Subcontinent. They had even eyed Nepal as fertile land that would advance their interest in enhancing their relationship with China.Prithivi Narayan Shah had correctly assessed their intentions and cautioned, “One day that force will come.” Therefore, to counter such aggressions, he instructed his army to fortify the mountain ridges and make Nepal an impregnable fort.His strategy was to limit the enemy to the difficulties of the mountains and prevent them from fully utilizing their resources.
After considering our neighbours’ increased border incursions, one cannot deny that the same threat exists today. However, today, due to advancements in combat technology, Nepal’s formidable barriers are merely regarded as a hazardous obstacle for ground forces.The deer have augmented themselves with the means to soar over the tiger guarding the mountain pass. Moreover, military thinkers in Nepal must comprehend that when an adversary is powerful, even allies offer little to no assistance. As a result, a country that depends on the goodwill of other states perishes.Therefore, it is advised that Nepal’s current military thinkers turn the pages of the past.
The Nepali Army should learn from Prithivi Narayan Shah,and as he did, they should also attempt to consolidate the trinity of state power. Then actively involve the people in the national defence efforts adopting the strategy of the great king, and fashion Nepal’s wars according to “the weak defeating the strong.”
Following the complete fortification of the mountain ridges, Prithivi Narayan Shah had given orders to his troops: “Do not go down to the plains to fight (Jaiekataknagarnu” Entice the enemy to the hills to fight (jhikekatakgarnu).”In the situation that if our ambitious neighboursever conduct any aggression that may threaten Nepal’s sovereignty, the motto of today’s Nepali Army should be to “Sarwotra Phaila iSarwotra katakgarnu, spread the enemy everywhere and destroy them everywhere.”
DivyaUpadeshquotes, “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.” These wise directives received little attention from Naya Nepal’s democratic government, and as a result, the Maoist insurgency spread throughout the nation. Even after the Maoists joined the mainstream, nothing changed.
Today, the political leader, the security forces, and the people of Naya Nepal do not share the same view. The quote from Niti Shastra states that when the country’s Tri-Angha (government, army, and people) are not united, it demonstrates the ruler’s inefficiency. The Tri-Angha not sharing a common goal stands as the fundamental dilemma of Naya Nepal.
Concerning corruption, Prithivi Narayan Shah adopted a zero-tolerance approach.In his view, the biggest enemy of the people and the country were corrupt officials in the administrative system.However, today, those responsible for eradicating corruption are promoting corruption in an unrestrained manner.According to the 2019 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, Nepal is ranked 113th out of 180 nations. The quotes of Bhagavad Gita state, “Whatever action Great men perform, common people follow. And whatever standards they set by exemple all the commoners pursue.”
Therefore, the epidemic sowed by our political leaders has deeply ingrained its roots in all governmental and non-governmental organizations across the nation.Thus, in contrast to the days of Prithivi Narayan Shah, when it was considered prosperous, citizens meant the country was strong. Today, the politicians of Naya Nepal are becoming incredibly wealthy, while most of the population lives in poverty, and the nation is in an unstable condition.For those involved in corruption, DivyaUpadeshexplicitly warns that “It is not a sin to take away life and property of these two.” Unfortunately, most of the politicians of Naya Nepal today belong to the group that was most despised in Purano Nepal and was viewed as the country’s biggest enemies.
Prithivi Narayan Shah inspired the states and the people and used wars as a tool to build nationalism. His wars had united Nepal and the Nepali people into one strong nation where the citizens placed the country before self, community, and ethnicity. Today, nationalism has been supplanted by party loyalty, and individual interests have taken over the people’s interests.
Although overwhelming numbers of representatives have filled the parliament and many progressive laws have been sanctioned, and in a situation where the state has all the necessary infrastructure to function effectively, it is a pity; Nepali people are deprived of good governance. These events demonstrate thatthe war of the recent past waged by these new Rajas of Naya Nepal had nothing to do with the people and the country.
Prithivi Narayan Shah was a visionary who correctly assessed Nepal’s geopolitical sensitivities. He understood that a country could exercise its external affairs effectively when its internal policies were united and strong. Thus, he strengthened his internal policies, exercised immense diplomatic maneuvers, and remained clear of unwarranted foreign entanglements. His policies prevented the neighbours from interfering in Nepal’s internal politics. However, in recent decades, it has been observed that our neighbours and their allies from the other side of the ocean have been exercising substantial influence over Naya Nepal’s internal affairs.
George Modelski viewed the internal policy as “the system of activities evolved by communities for changing the behaviour of other states and for adjusting their own activities to the international environment.” Thus, many scholars of the country view that given the traits of our current honourable people’s representatives, it raises a good question regarding whether or not Naya Nepal can strengthen its internal policy to change the behaviour of other countries within the region and on the international stage.
Furthermore, after the country’s once-firm unity shattered, along with the northern and the southern emperors, other emperors across the ocean have become active andhave entered Nepal with their agendas. Purano Nepal reaped significant profit due to its geopolitical situation. However, today Naya Nepal is not only a yam sandwiched between two giant boulders but, a yam squeezed by several giant boulders.
Prithivi Narayan Shah, the great king of Purano Nepal, waged wars and united Nepal. He strove to fulfill the saying, “Prajasukhesukhamrajnah, in the happiness of the people lies the happiness of the king;” “Prajanam cha hitehitam, the wellbeing of the people is his wellbeing.” Today, however, the never-ending brawls among political leaders have broken the once-strong unity of the country and have also changed the ruling policy of Purano Nepal.
Today,”Prajanamamsowaimsukham, personal happiness in the name of the people,” “sowaim cha hitehitamPraja, and in the wellbeing of the rulerlies the wellbeing of the people” seems to be the new motto for these new Rajas ruling Naya Nepal. Thus, Naya Nepal remarkably resembles the pre-unification era Nepal; when the principalities constantly engaged themselves in fruitless conflicts and the people were forced to live in suffering and uncertainty
About the author:
Suman SJB Rana (13.07.1967) took premature retirement from Royal Nepalese Army, he holds a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Tribhuvan University (Nepal) and MBA from Southern New Hampshire University (USA)